Earls Court & Chelsea

12/04/2015 at 20:28 | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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For March 2015, Phil took us back to the Earls Court area, our first visit since 2011, taking us on a circular walk through Chelsea and back to Earls Court.

We met up at The Bolton, a large corner pub where Earls Court Road meets Old Brompton Road, and until recently branded as an O’Neil’s. No longer however, it’s now a rather smart airy pub with a few ales on offer, though surprisingly empty for a Friday evening. We mainly went for one from the Channel Islands, Liberation Blonde, although it turned out to be rather bland.

We soon moved on, just across the Old Brompton Road to the Pembroke Arms. Another corner pub, this one was much busier, certainly around the bar – some of the ground floor was reserved for dining – though there is more room upstairs. The beers were reasonable, most going for an Essex Blonde, but more interesting was the pub’s history. Before turning into the Pembroke gastropub, it was the Coleherne, a gay pub since at least the 1950s which counted Freddie Mercury, Kenny Everett, Rudolf Nureyev, and Ian McKellen amongst its regulars.

finboroughAfter a short* walk past the flat from An American Werewolf in London we arrived at the Finborough Arms. Recently subject of a feature in CAMRA‘s Beer magazine, this attractive wedge-shaped Victorian pub only recently emerged newly refurbished after years of closure, and has done so with an excellent range of beers; I had a lovely Portobello VPA, others generally had the same or UBU. We learnt that one of the pub’s previous regulars was one Thomas Crapper, of flushing toilet fame, who used to drink champagne in the Finborough before going to work! Sadly there were not many customers when we were in, though the pub is somewhat out of the way; however it has a theatre upstairs so can probably be quite variable depending whether or not there is a play on. Indeed by the time we moved on it was already getting busier.

*Well it should have been a short walk, and that’s how it’s shown on the map above; no-one need know the route Phil actually took! 

On now to the smallest pub of the night, the Fox and Pheasant, tucked down into a very small side road near the Chelsea FC ground. It’s so small, in fact, that Phil thought we might not be welcome if about eight of us arrived together, so decided we should split into two groups so as not to be too overbearing. This turned out not only to be unnecessary but only seemed to make the landlord and customers at the bar suspicious of our motives, as they clearly twigged that we knew each other. Anyway the landlord was very chatty about football – evidently this is a major matchday pub when Chelsea are at home with up to 300 fans crammed in and out in the street, so big groups are clearly not a problem. The pub is very traditional and hasn’t been changed in years, with two simple bars either side of a central servery, a great survivor in an area somewhat overrun by chain or gastropubs, though for ale drinkers there’s only Greene King IPA and Abbott on draught.

clockWe doubled back towards Chelsea now and passed the famous World’s End without pausing for a drink – it looked busy and we were behind schedule – but we did stop at 484 King’s Road to hear how the building used to house Led Zepellin’s Swan Song record label, and at 430 King’s Road, famous as Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s SEX boutique in the 1970s, pioneer of punk fashion, and former employer of shop assistants Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde and Sid Vicious. Still owned by Vivienne Westwood, it’s been called the World’s End since 1980, with its iconic backwards-running clock.

The next stop was just around the corner, the Sporting Page on Camera Place. This was a bright, modern and busy pub, but with efficient service of some good ales, including Hopfest, Truman’s Swift and Blindside, Doom Bar and Wandle. The atmosphere was fun and lively though we were able to find a table.

Next, to the Fulham Road, and Geronimo’s King’s Arms. This is an upmarket single bar pub in the shabby chic style, with a decent selection of ales and tables available on a Friday night. They could though usefully add Gents/Ladies signs or pictograms to the toilet signs, which would have saved one of our number from “accidentally” using the ladies.

boltonschurchFrom here we walked back through the beautiful Boltons, home of some of the most expensive property in London, to Earls Court. The crawl officially ended here as the last tube trains east were to run shortly so most of us headed off, though a hardy few stayed for a final one in the Blackbird.

All in all a very fun crawl. A wide range of views were aired on the Pub of the Crawl, but the winner was the Sporting Page. Congratulations!

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