10th Anniversary crawl around Marylebone

18/12/2016 at 10:54 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In November 2016 the crawl celebrated its 10th anniversary, and Phil marked the occasion by retracing (almost) the route of the very first crawl back in 2006.

We met at the Masons Arms, close to Regent Street, which was pretty busy with the whole ‘Black Friday’ thing in full swing in the West End. The pub was busy too, and very warm, and perhaps would be better visited at a time other than 6 in the evening on Black Friday! It’s a fairly small and cosy Greene King pub with the familiar GK ales on tap (including one badged for this establishment).

After a little background info on the history of Mayfair, we headed next to the Iron Duke, a Fullers pub selling their standard beers plus the odd guest, with a nice Cascadian pale ale on offer when we visited.

As we left we heard a brief history of the River Tyburn, one of London’s lost rivers, which flows beneath the street and whose course we would roughly follow for the evening.

We continued past the neighbouring former homes of Jimi Hendrix and George Handel, marked by blue plaques and now subject of a small museum, to the Spread Eagle. This is a fairly standard West End Taylor Walker pub, busy with some decent ales (such as Old Hooky) but nothing too exciting.

We crossed a very busy Oxford Street and past the showroom of Steinway pianos, to the Cock & Lion, visited on the first crawl a decade ago, where we found a very handy table in the nicely appointed upstairs room, with some interesting old cricket and football pictures on the walls.

A short stroll up Marylebone Lane brought us to the Coach Makers, which was also visited on the first crawl but which was then called the O’Conor Don, and has since been nicely refurbished, and upped its beer range to include more interesting ales such as Canberra, Lubricant and Truman’s Zephyr.

Outside the pub, Phil surprised us all with a set of T-shirts commemorating the 1o years of these crawls, which was a lovely gesture.

10 year crawl

We next moved onto the inspiration for the crawls, the Golden Eagle. When Phil first found the Golden Eagle, and its piano singalongs, he thought he should bring people here, and find new pubs – and so the crawls were born. The singalong is still going strong, although is perhaps a victim of its own success – it was rammed when we called in, although perhaps that was the ‘Black Friday’ effect. It’s certainly worth visiting, but perhaps try the Tuesday or Thursday if you want to be able to enjoy it without the crowds.

A few minutes north and we reached the King’s Head, where a lovely ‘then and now’ map on the wall highlighted our route along the River Tyburn, both as it would have looked about three centuries ago when the area was still rural, and how it looks today; pretty different, to be sure, but with a few constants, including the path of Marylebone Lane which still follows the river.

The Pub of the Crawl has to be the one which inspired 10 years of crawling… the home of the piano singalong, the Golden Eagle. Congratulations!

Edgware Road

01/11/2014 at 13:26 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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As the dark evenings of Autumn 2014 arrived, Artie took us for a crawl around the Edgware Road area.

We met at the Portman, formerly the Masons Arms, close to Marble Arch. It is now a gastropub, retaining some decent ales on its central bar including Timothy Taylor’s Landlord as well as a much lesser-spotted Havercake Ale.  We stood outside watching the world, or at least a small but wealthy part of it, go by. It is a strikingly urban if genteel scene, with fairly narrow streets in a grid pattern, so I take the pub’s description of itself being in “Portman Village” with a large pinch of salt!

Once Phil had customarily joined us at the end of the first beer, we headed west, across Edgware Road for the first time, past the police guarding Tony Blair’s house, to the Duke of Kendal. This triangular pub forms the wedge between two roads, and is a traditional pub, with a small dining area on the Connaught Road side. The beers were decent but unexceptional, Greene King standard fare.

We soon left by the Kendal Street door (except for one who went to the wrong street) and headed back towards and across Edgware Road to the next duke, this time the Duke of York on Harrowby Street. This also had just some standard GK ales on, and was a bit lacking in atmosphere for a Friday night.

WargraveThat couldn’t be said of the next pitstop, the Lord Wargrave, formerly the Wargrave Arms but now a modern pub, specialising in whisky, with a choice of around 200 from around the world. The beer selection it pretty special too, with a wide range of ales as well as some interesting craft keg beers, including the tasty Hackney Hopster from London Fields. The formula is obviously working, the place was certainly pulling in the punters compared with the previous couple of places, and was very lively.

Around the corner we paused for Phil to tell us about the Cato Street Conspiracy, an 1820 plot to assassinate the British cabinet, which was broken up when the conspirators were arrested in this alleyway.

Just across the street now for the Windsor Castle, an oldie but a goodie, visited on a previous occasion but worth the return, as this pub is a classic old London pub, full of memorabilia, especially royal stuff, to attract visitors but nevertheless retaining its traditional pub atmosphere. The beers were traditional too, and we had a nice mixture of 6X, Bombardier and Broadside.

Just across the road lies the Larrick, which was fairly empty by this time of the evening. The Bombardier Burning Gold slipped down nicely but we had to move swiftly on to the next and final venue to get another in before closing time.

ISISThe Thornbury Castle, just off the busy Euston Road, had the best ale range of the evening, and between us we drank a wide range of ales including Westerham’s General Wolfe, ELB Pale Ale, Rebellion Photo Finish and others – very impressive, and a high note to end the evening, though West Berkshire’s ISIS Pilsner was an unfortunate choice of name to pick this year.

Finally, it was time for the Pub of the Crawl debate, which was finely balanced this time with a three-way tie! However, there can only be one winner, so after a hearty debate and second vote, the Windsor Castle was declared the winner. Congratulations!


Marylebone revisited

23/08/2014 at 12:05 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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It was time for Alan to take the lead in August 2014, with a return visit to the Marylebone area.

We gathered outside the front of the Beehive, a mid-terrace pub tucked just off Baker Street. There was a smallish-range of beers, with Loddon’s Gravesend Shrimper the only ale on offer; I enjoyed it but without a paler ale on offer some took advantage of the Meantime beers on tap, including their tasty London Pale Ale.

Next up, the Barley Mow, a cracking heritage pub, which I think has somehow managed to fall between the cracks of previous local crawls.  It is famous – and indeed listed on CAMRA‘s National Inventory of Pub Interiors – on account of its unique drinking boxes, small compartments adjacent to the bar allowing for very discreet liaisons while still being alongside the bar to order fresh drinks. On this occasion, arriving as we were on a Friday evening, the boxes were unsurprisingly already taken, but we took our delicious beers – all Dark Star Golden Gate – to the back room, where Dimo proceeded to reveal a surprising talent for hustling people at chess.

A short walk down Manchester Street brought us to the Tudor Rose, a fairly old-school pub which has so far definitely escaped the gastropub trend, still offering such 1970s delights as spam fritter burgers! The ale was good enough if a bit unadventurous, with Pride, Rev James and Adnams on cask.

gunmakersWe called next at the Gunmakers, overlooking the car park-cum-farmers market behind Marylebone High Street. This is an attractive pub, with some interesting ales on offer, including a couple of offerings from London Fields brewery, their IPA, and Love Not War, which seemed appropriate given the current strife in the Middle East.

Continuing east, we skipped a possible venue on the High Street as it seemed pretty rammed, and arrived at a pub with the opposite problem, the Dover Castle, which was pretty deserted by the time we arrived. As with most Sam Smiths pubs, it’s a great place, in this case a little mews pub which was frequented by the Who ‘back in the day’ when they used a recording studio opposite.

Not far away lies the Stag’s Head, a nice little corner pub below an art deco building, which we sat outside while we enjoyed some Tring Side Pocket.


From here, we headed back towards the tube, and the Albany, opposite Great Portland Street. We visited this recently and it’s still a lovely pub, and I love it’s modest self-declared as ‘one of the best pubs in Great Portland Street’!

But which pub deserves to be the Pub of the Crawl this time?

As ever a lively debate was had to pick the winner, but in the end the wonderful unique interior won it for the Barley Mow, congratulations!

Marylebone and Maida Vale

17/08/2013 at 13:46 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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We returned to the Marylebone area in August 2013, for a crawl by Rich along the north-western periphery of zone 1.

Close to Baker Street station, we assembled at the Volunteer, a few doors up from the Sherlock Holmes museum and within sight of Regent’s Park. The pub has been refurbished and now sells itself as a speciality beer pub, although of the promised four cask ales, only two were on offer. Although a black IPA was unusual and tempting, for the start of a long evening we plumped for the slightly lower strength Doom Bar. Not sure whether the beer has changed or it’s something about this pub, but it felt quite heavy and I wasn’t overly impressed with it.

Anyway, moving on now to the Swan & Edgar, a very small backstreet pub towards Marylebone station. Although small, it has huge potential to be a wonderful little pub, but sadly it was let down by its beer range, if you can call it that, of just Becks Vier or Asahi. Seriously, that was it, without even any bottled beers. What a shame, give me the keys to the place and I’d turn it into London’s finest micropub.

Leaving the Swan & Edgar, we walked down Balcombe Street, scene of the famous 1975 siege, and through Dorset Square, site of the original Lord’s cricket ground, built in the rural fields of Marylebone by Thomas Lord for Islington’s White Conduit cricket club, which became the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The first match played here was White Conduit v Middlesex in May 1787, with Middlesex playing Essex a few days later for a prize of 200 guineas.

Passing by the front of Marylebone station, possibly London’s most charming terminus, we crossed over to the Perseverance in Shroton Street. Just a couple of beers on offer, Doom Bar (again) and Harvey’s Best, which most of us opted for. And what a good choice, whether it was the disappointment of the previous drinks or whether it was genuinely well kept, the Best slipped down very nicely indeed. And top marks to the friendly barman and his home-cooked crisps, which were made on the premises and were excellent.

LordsFrom here we had a longish walk north along Lisson Grove, where there is a temporary departure from the genteel affluence of Marylebone. We paused to take pictures of the plaque marking the second, short-lived Lord’s cricket ground; as we did so some youths emerging from the estate behind suddenly scarpered back into the estate as a police van arrived, so we moved swiftly on, and were very soon  back in plush surroundings, dipping our toes slightly into St John’s Wood. This brought us, not coincidentally, to the Lord’s Tavern, famous pub in the corner of the “new” (since 1814) Lord’s cricket ground. It’s a nice pub, recently refurbished, and is accessible from the street as well as from inside the ground on matchdays. Its outside terrace to the front was quite busy, although it was surprisingly quiet inside, and we had the interior terrace (overlooking the back of the ground) pretty much to ourselves. Nice ales were on offer, most of us going for Thrashers’s. Cricket was showing on TV, and cricket fans would appreciate the wallpaper inside the pub, which comprises copies of numerous interesting historical objects from the Lord’s collection.

There followed another slightly longish walk west to the next pub, taking us from St Johns Wood into Maida Vale, but the destination was well worth it. The Warrington was originally built in 1857 as a plush hotel, and remains stunning, with many beautiful Victorian features preserved today. It lies on the corner of Randolph Crescent, a haunt in Victorian times of high-class ladies of the night, and apparently the origin of the word “randy”. Importantly the beer was good too, including Westerham’s Summer Perle, which was top notch.

A pleasant (if slightly roundabout) walk brought us next to the Truscott Arms. The Truscott was fairly busy but we still got a table, from which to enjoy some interesting beer; I had the local Moncada brewery’s Notting Hill Summer, which seemed appropriate and was very nice, while others enjoyed a summer seasonal beer from Truman’s.

We were thwarted at the next target, the Warwick Castle, as last orders had been called before we arrived. No matter, we were just a couple of minutes from Little Venice’s Bridge House, a very pleasant pub just across the Regent’s Canal, serving well kept ales including Landlord and Windsor & Eton’s Knights of the Garter. After much debate about whether we were still in zone 1 (no) and the names of Australian cheeses, we got down to the serious business of voting for the Pub of the Crawl.

There were some strong candidates tonight but prestigious Pub of the Crawl prize was eventually awarded to the Warrington. Congratulations!


26/11/2011 at 15:54 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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This month it was Richard’s turn to lead, and he spotted a gap in our coverage of zone 1 around the northern half of Fitzrovia.

We met at the Prince of Wales Feathers, virtually opposite Warren Street station on Warren Street itself (although to be honest three of us did meet by chance in the neighbouring McDonald’s a few minutes earlier).

As well as being conveniently located, the pub does a nice line in beers; on our visit we generally went for UBU. It was very busy inside but despite the cold wind we joined the many pavement drinkers to get some space. Phil arrived last and popped inside to get in a quick beer for himself and another for Paul. Sadly he tripped over a stray bag on the floor on the way out, and the picture shows how much beer was left in the glasses by the time he returned from the bar with the drinks!

The Grafton Arms was the next call, just a short stroll around the corner, where most of us went for a Black Dog mild, which we enjoyed up on the rooftop terrace, despite the nip in the air with Christmas just a month away.

A short walk south now towards the BT Tower (which surpassed St Paul’s as the tallest building in the UK until 1980) and the halls of residence where Coldplay formed, to the Lukin. This small pub in the shadow of the BT Tower sports a modern look and was busy inside, but still sold some decent ales.

Another short hop via Fitzroy Square to the George & Dragon next, a smallish Greene King corner pub, and as busy as the previous pubs. Another zig-zag brought us to the Masons Arms, which I thought was very nice indeed and with great service.

Still heading generally west, we soon crossed from Fitzrovia into Marylebone on the other side of Portland Place, and into the Dover Castle, a well-hidden mews pub tucked away in Weymouth Mews.  As ever for Sam Smiths, a lovely pub with low prices, but also below average beer in my view. In this case, also below average seating, with Dimo falling through a broken bench seat in the back room.

The final leg of the evening took us to Marylebone Lane, and where it all began – the Golden Eagle. This was a prime target of the first crawl, almost exactly five years ago; it’s relatively well hidden, despite being within 500m of Oxford Street; its friendly staff serve decent ales; and the extra surprise up its sleeve is the thrice weekly sing-along, in which the small pub’s punters belt out the songs to accompany the pianist, Tony “Fingers” Pearson. There are not many places you can still find this traditional experience, which was once a very common feature of London pubs in the days before jukeboxes and Sky Sports, and long may it last!

Bond Street

12/06/2011 at 20:17 | Posted in Crawls | 2 Comments
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The very first crawl of this group was led by Phil, back in November 2006, and took in the Bond Street / Marylebone area. The meeting point was the Woodstock, near Bond Street station.  The idea was that we would head up Marylebone lane, which is an old right of way in a slightly different direction to the grid.   Having done the pub walk a couple of times the main targets were always the classic O’Conor Don , which sadly closed in 2007 (although it has been replaced, at least, with another pub -the Coach Maker – rather than housing); and the timeless Golden Eagle.   It was suggested that people should bring their singing voices and thinking it meant karaoke they were surprised to see a piano playing songs from the early 20th century and even earlier!

This approach allowed us to take in unplanned pubs along the way, however the quality of these two meant staying a bit longer in each – O’Conor Don , two drinks the pub was so great, and of course two in the “roll out the barrel” pub.

After the Cock and Lion, Phil led the crawlers to the O’Conor Don, on Marylebone Lane, The Golden Eagle (and its Cockney sing-a-long!) and Gunmakers finished off the inaugural pub crawl.

The Golden Eagle is a classic find being off the beaten track yet so close to the london being – and something worth even coming back for again and again.  And so you have it, every crawl since that point has allowed us to indulge in real London back-waters the more secluded and “lost”  the better!  With our crawls every now and again your forget where your are…..


04/06/2011 at 18:21 | Posted in Crawls, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Phil took this Friday evening crawl around Marylebone. First pub was the Three Tuns, not a bad refuge if you find yourself weary of shopping on Oxford Street. From here we headed west to the busy Carpenters, then north through some very desirable streets to a trio of pubs near St Mary’s church, before ending in the Windsor Castle. This is a somewhat eccentric pub and perhaps aimed at tourists more than locals, but worth seeing for the memorabilia and, if you’re lucky, the monthly meetings of the Handlebar Moustache Club held in the pub!

Well, I say we ended here, and for some it did, as some went home and one then somehow got lost; for the remaining few, the night ended with some Syrian fare on the nearby Edgware Road before the night bus beckoned.

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