Dudley and South Staffordshire

Campaign for Real Ale

Campaign for Real Ale

A trip to London

Following Andy Carwright's great article on Focus on The Bridge Inn, Robin Shields has kindly written a piece for us, detailing his recent trip to London...

A visit to give inspiration to go in search of my roots

Image by Robin ShieldsA Saturday trip through some favourite haunts (and some new ones) in London took me and my son along a street where my great grandfather had lived with his family back in the 1800s, and that has given me the idea for my next venture south, a trip around the East End and out to West Ham, in search of more ancestral homes, but perhaps more of that on another day.

Image by Robin ShieldsThis trip to celebrate some of the fantastic architecture which still exists in London pubs started at Black Friars at the Black Friars pub, a beautiful wedge-shaped building filled with art nouveau reliefs reflecting the priory that once stood there. With body fuelled by Timothy Taylors Landlord and a bostin’ Steak and Ale Pie, we ventured on into the City of London. On St Andrew’s Hill was The Cockpit, and old Courage pub with loads of memorabilia of former days as a scene of cockfighting, and still maintaining the viewing gallery upstairs. A Harvey’s Sussex Best helped us on our way to The Rising Sun in Carter Lane, a pub which claims a secret tunnel leading to St Pauls Cathedral. Sadly, no cask ale was available, so we went swiftly onwards after a half of Kirin lager. We turned onto Fleet Street, where there was a profusion of choice.

First up was The Punch Tavern where the Victorian dark oak panelling was befitting of a pub named after the magazine which was produced close by. A Dark Star Hophead was a more modern twist and provided sustenance before the long trip (maybe 10 yards or so!) to The Old Bell Tavern. This pub had been built by Sir Christopher Wren to house the stone masons rebuilding a nearby church following the Great Fire of London. Another Sussex Best rebuilt my strength after the long trek to get there! Yorkshire brewer Sam Smiths have many pubs and other properties in London, and next on our list was one of them, Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, a pub dating from 1538, but rebuilt in 1666 after the fire. Packed full of bric-a-brac and having multiple drinking areas on multiple floors, we could have spent the entire day there, but after one Sam Smiths Best Bitter we were on our way. Still in Fleet Street, we arrived at a McMullens pub, The Old Bank of England, where their IPA was sampled. A former branch of the bank for the nearby Law Courts, the interior mahogany counters, brass fittings and chandeliers reflected the opulence.

Image by Robin ShieldsA turn into Chancery Lane brought us to Holborn, and my particular favourite London pub, The Cittie of Yorke, another Sam Smiths gem, requiring partaking of another Sam Smiths Best Bitter. Loads of wooden booths, a triangular metal stove in the middle of the long bar, old vats which had been used for storing wine, another place to happily while away some hours. However, we went on into the Hatton Garden area. Unfortunately, Ye Olde Mitre (another favourite pub of mine) doesn’t open at weekends, so we came to Saffron Hill and The One Tun, supposedly the inspiration for a pub in Dickens’s Oliver Twist where Fagin, the Artful Dodger et al used to meet.

There was not a lot of choice on the cask ale front, so I had a Doombar, the only other option (Atlantic Pale Ale), being off. We continued to The Viaduct Tavern on Newgate where a Fuller’s Oliver’s Island tickled the tastebuds. Still resembling the gin palace of its origins with loads of stained glass and ornate carvings, the pub was named after nearby Holborn Viaduct.

Image by Robin ShieldsA detour from imbibing took us via King Edward St (the place where my great grandfather had lived) to the Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice in Postman’s Park, a poignant remembrance spot for those who had given their lives to save others. From there we had a bit of a trek and went into Leadenhall Market, where we were spoilt for choice but went into The Lamb Tavern, and an Adnam’s Ghost Ship filled the bill.

Then we headed south past the Monument and over London Bridge with spectacular views of Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast, and onto our final destination, The George on Borough High Street. Another favourite of mine, this old coaching inn has a myriad of rooms and a courtyard outside, all thronging with early evening drinkers. I finished the day as I had begun it several hours earlier with a pint of Landlord, again in top-notch condition, and along with the Oliver’s Island these were my beers of the day.

A short stroll took us into London Bridge Station for our train home after an enjoyable day out sampling at twelve interesting pubs in the City area.

Our thanks to Robin for sharing such an interesting insight.

Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields
Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields Image by Robin Shields
Images in order of article...
London Monument
The Black Friars
The Cittie Of York
Tower Bridge, from London Bridge
Ye Old Cheshire Cheese
The Viaduct Tavern
The Punch Tavern
The One Tun
The Old Bell
The Old Bank Of England
The Lamb Tavern
The Cockpit