ALE Summer 2002 No. 307

Central London Pubs - Another Update

This is another update to the Central London Pubs articles in ALE 300 and ALE 301 around Spring 2001.

The Tube One-Day Travelcard is now £4.10, up from £3.90.

[Porterhouse frontage, with blue plaque for J.W.M. Turner]

Covent Garden

The Porterhouse in Maiden Lane was the well-deserved winner in the Conversion to Pub Use category of the annual CAMRA/English Heritage Pub Design Awards 2002. It has been fitted out beautifully, with well-thought-out detailing and consistent and imaginative use of materials, such as copper tubing. It also deserves its inclusion in the Good Beer Guide 2002, even though most of its fine Irish real ale from the Porterhouse Brewery in Dublin is served under top pressure (so it's not strictly real ale). If you want a quiet spot, the upstairs area at the back is often quiet outside peak times and when there's no TV sport. It's one of the few really good pubs heareabouts which opens at 11am (Mon-Sat; noon on Sun).
[The pub is on a historic site: J.W.M. Turner's father's barber shop was there and it's where Turner learned to draw by observing the customers.]

The GBG-listed Marquis of Granby in Chandos Place is a small Nicholson's pub which sometimes has interesting guest beers on: the likes of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild. In April the word was it was closing for conversion to a bland wine bar but as of August there's a new landlord.

The Lamb & Flag Free House in Rose Street (an alley just north of the Garrick Street/King Street/New Row junction) currently includes Charles Wells Bombardier and Youngs Waggledance in its six or so beers. This fine old pub can get very busy but the rear area is often quieter that you might think from the crowds at the front. It opens at 11am (Mon-Sat).

The Ship and Shovell in Craven Passage, just along from Arches Arcade, is thriving: its fine Hall & Woodhouse Badger beers (such as Tanglefoot) and good pub grub mean that it's usually busy. Beware: it's closed on Sundays and has been known to not open on Saturdays. Opening time: 12pm.
[A bit of history: there are two theories regarding the pub name. (1) It was Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's fleet's shipwreck off the Scilly Isles which led to the great Longitude problem competition, eventually won by John Harrison. (2) The name refers to Thames dockers in the days when there were docks nearby. ]

The small, untypical Hogshead at the corner of Wellington and Exeter Streets seems to have survived the recent Laurel changes in ordering policy and still maintains an interesting selection of guest beers. Like so many Hogsheads and Wetherspoons, it tends to display pump clips after the cask has finished and like many pubs hereabouts, it closes at 8pm on Sundays. [Wheatsheaf frontage in Aug. 2001]

Borough (Southwark)

The Wheatsheaf in Stoney Street was closed for a while but then bought and refurbished by Youngs, who've preserved its traditional interior. The long-running planning inquiry for the Thameslink 2000 scheme recently came out against the plans, which would probably have destroyed the pub, so the pub appears safe for the forseeable future.

The adjacent Market Porter remains successful, with an impressive guest beer list. Both are opposite the highly-popular Borough Market (Thursdays pm, Fridays & Saturdays). The Bramah Tea & Coffee Museum is now a short distance around the corner, in Southwark Street, and includes a café. [It's about 100 yards past the fine Hop Exchange building.]

Ian Kitching

ALE Summer 2002 No. 307 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA