29/10/2011 at 15:18 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Following last month’s crawl around Kensington, Phil decided to change just the one letter and take us on a tour of the sights and hostelries of the lesser known Kennington, filling a gap in our coverage of zone 1, and indeed with some quality research his trivia filled some gaps in our knowledge.

The traditional close-to-a-station meet was at the busy Black Dog, tucked away in a back street close to Vauxhall. Once assembled, we headed to a pub with a difference, the Tamesis Dock, a 1930s Dutch barge now converted into a 3 level floating pub moored off the Albert Embankment.

As it floats (if only at high tide) they can’t keep casks but at least always have some decent beer in the fridge (as well as lagers on tap), so we depleted their stocks of Doom Bar and settled in up on deck. There aren’t many places you can sit with a beer and look across at Parliament but this is one.

Phil was our guide this time and started with the history as we left, pointing out in particular the amazing building which once housed Royal Doulton, before they left for the Potteries in the 1950s. Just a short hop from the former Doulton HQ was the next pub, The Windmill, presumably named after the constant manouevres you have to make to keep out of the way of the people setting up for the band.  We ended up outside to keep out of the way, standing on Lambeth High Street, London’s only High Street without a single shop (though at least you can buy a beer).

After passing some examples of Doulton’s work under the railway bridge in Black Prince Road, the next stop was the Queens Head. It wasn’t open at the time, but was worth the stop for the best piece of trivia of the night; it was outside this pub that a young Charlie Chaplin saw a tramp staggering around, inspiring one of the most famous comic characters of the early 20th century.

Almost next door is the Jolly Gardeners, or Zeitgeist as it is now. It’s a large and lively German pub, showing live Bundesliga games and serving a great range of German beers, some familiar and others less so – 24 on tap in total and 30 types of bottled beer.

We passed the Lambeth Walk (oi!) and headed along to the Black Prince, a lovely pub offering a chance to put our feet up for a bit and learn a bit about the Black Prince himself, who once owned the manor of Kennington and built a royal palace very close the site of this pub.

We tore ourselves away for the very short walk to the Dog House, which is about as good a pub name as I’ve come across, for a bit of Trivial Pursuit from their collection, which is a lot cheaper than the £1 a pop versions and just about as likely of leaving you with a profit. Hopefully all the cobwebs around the bar were because they were making a bit of a Halloween effort rather than a reflection on their cleaning standards.

Round the corner from here is the small Prince of Wales, a traditional Shepherd Neame pub set in lovely Cleaver Square, although by this time it was rather too late to sit outside and enjoy it but I’m sure I’ll find an excuse to return on a nice day.

We were then foiled in our attempts to try out the White Bear as they had called last orders so we headed back towards Kennington Cross and the Tommyfield, which is large and at the time of our visit fairly empty, as it was around midnight and they were winding down. After this the more foolhardy among us decided on a final pint back in the Dog House, which was still doing a good trade in the early hours, before belatedly calling it a night.

Earls Court to Kensington

02/10/2011 at 11:14 | Posted in Crawls | 6 Comments
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After a lengthy summer break, with overlapping holidays making it eleven weeks between crawls, Archie kicked off the 2011/12 crawling season in fine style with a walk around Earls Court and Kensington.

We met at the Blackbird, a Fullers pub a handy 50 metre stroll from Earls Court Underground station and fairly quiet for 6pm on a Friday. After a first pint and the arrival of Phil we headed back out onto the Earls Court Road and into Hogarth Road for Hogarth Place, a lovely little street very out of keeping with most of the area, and into the King’s Head. This is now a fairly trendy affair but still has some decent ales on.

Another small hop north from here to the Earls Court Tavern, now under the re-born Taylor Walker brand, a busy corner pub and pretty warm when we visited; as with the previous one the burghers of Kensington and Chelsea council won’t let you drink outside, which was slightly unfortunate given the warm evening.

After that we moved north again, passing Logan Place – former home of Freddie Mercury – and through some mews to the Scardale on Pembroke Villas. This is another Fullers pub, with a nice interior and even nicer front garden, which was packed when we called. This was a real gem, let down only by the terrible state of the toilets; with the Gents out of order the only facility was a single overused portakabin outside, with no water left. Very poor indeed, Fullers. Presumably very temporary though, and otherwise I would certainly recommend the place.

Another lovely Mews walk took us past Graeme Hunt’s rather unique car showroom, and on to the Devonshire Arms, another pub with an attractive and popular front garden, and some interesting ales on offer.

Onward to Kensington High Street from here, and over to the Elephant & Castle. This is another pub with a lovely setting, overlooking Gordon Place – surely somewhere on my shortlist if I come into money. Sadly it was 10pm by this time, so again we couldn’t stand outside despite the hot weather. If I ever win the lottery and move here, I promise not to moan about pub noise to the Council!

After a little debate about the time and legality of revisiting a pub frequented on an earlier crawl, we decided on a last beer in the Prince of Wales, also now a Taylor Walker pub, before the short stagger walk to High Street Ken station.

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