16/12/2012 at 09:29 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

A week before Christmas, Artie took the final pub crawl of 2012 from St James’s Park to Pimlico via Millbank .

albertI have to confess that I was a little disappointed with the choice of opening pub, the Albert on Victoria Street, a stone’s throw from St James’s Park station.  Not that there’s anything much wrong with the pub – it’s a smart late Victorian pub and a very popular stop on the local tourist trail, and often busy. My only problem was that it’s literally next door to my office – very handy you might think, but sadly I was on annual leave for the day and was hoping not to have to travel to exactly where I commute every day! Still, it was a very handy meeting point and we assembled there for our walk towards Pimlico.

The second stop was the Speaker, a very nice pub tucked away on Great Peter Street and a short walk via my usual lunchtime haunt of Strutton Ground market. The Speaker is well known locally for its good beers and good value food, and its only drawback is that as with all small and good pubs in an officey area it can be very busy in the post-work rush, so highly recommended but best enjoyed during the day or later in the evening. Luckily for us a table was being vacated as we arrived so we were able to settle in to enjoy our ales, including Landlord and a Christmas beer with a name involving Santa (can’t remember more than that!)

From the Speaker we headed south past the Channel 4 building, its large 4 on the forecourt sporting its Christmas look, to the Royal Oak on Regency Street. Almost opposite the famous Regency Cafe (where three of us usually grab some food before a crawl), the Royal Oak is a Youngs corner pub, and was very busy when we called, doing a brisk trade in Special and Winter Warmer.

Marquis of GranbyWe headed east next, choosing to skip past the Loose Box and saving ourselves for the Marquis of Granby, just off Smith Square with its famous concert hall which was formerly St John’s Church. This is a Nicholson’s pub which has been very recently refurbished, and we focussed straight away on the decent range of beers on handpump; my Nutty Black was delicious, but too late we noticed that there were three ales being served by gravity direct from the cask. We have to keep moving on these crawls to try as many places as possible so we didn’t get to taste the ales on gravity but I shall certainly be back to try them another time.

Towards the Thames now, and past the imposing bulk of the MI5 headquarters which looks across to the newer MI6 building upstream on the other bank at Vauxhall. We walked along the riverside to take in the views (and be blasted by a bitter wind) and admire Tate Britain, built on the site of Millbank Prison. Artie may be Australian but his ancestors didn’t pass through the doors of Millbank Prison, but many of the early settlers of Australia did, as this was a major point of departure for prisoners sentenced to transportation. Very near the gallery lies the Morpeth Arms, another Youngs corner pub, which was busy with workers while we were there, and receives a steady flow of gallery visitors by day. It’s allegedly been haunted since 1845, but although we arrived later than that (at about 2130) there was no sign of a ghost as far as we could see.

Further along the river finds the Grosvenor, our next stop and another lively pub, which felt more like a community pub than many others in central London, lying as it does in a fairly residential area. After a brief missing bag false alarm, we settled into a pair of sofas and cracked open the box of Family Fortunes which was lying under the table, although sadly the quizmastering skills were somewhat below the standard of the television version.

For the final stop of the night we stopped at the White Swan for a swifter-than-planned pint before they closed their doors. Another good range of beers here but they were very keen to sweep everyone out the doors before midnight.

All told a great night and some places I’ll definitely be back to before long!

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.