Saturday, 22 January 2000
E2K was our inaugural pub crawl. Its theme was simple: to combine an excursion along London's two most recent railway extensions the DLR Lewisham Link and the Jubilee Line Extension with visits to a number of local pubs for local people, of varying quality. It was, in short, a paper-thin excuse for spending a whole day getting completely wasted.
The participants were myself (Bob) and co-founders of the London Men's Self-Help Pub Crawl Group: Pad, Tim and Al. We were joined for the later stages of the route by Alex.
If my memory serves me correctly, we assembled at London Bridge at about 10.30 am. I invested ten full English pounds in a disposable "fun" camera, with which we proceeded to take 39 hilarious "fun" pictures throughout the course of the pub crawl. These were then to be posted on this site to allow visitors to see the kinds of wacky and "fun" escapades that we got up to. Unfortunately, however, I chose to dispose of the disposable camera a little prematurely, and lost it in a drunken haze in the way home from the last pub.
After making this purchase, then, we got the train to Lewisham in good time to be able to stand queuing outside the first pub before it opened. At 11.00 am the drinking commenced. If you are in need of ideas for pubs along this route, or if you would like to participate in some sort of bogus virtual pub crawl, or if you are a London Transport/Real Ale geek, or if you simply have nothing better to do, then read on. However, if you have a problem and no-one else can help you, and if you can find them, then I suggest you call The A-Team.
11 am Anchor, Lewisham Road, SE13
We kicked off in this ominously quiet pub (it had only just opened, to be fair) with some rancid Foster's, apart from Al, for whom the Cider House Rules. We enjoyed a couple of laid-back games of pool and although I did not experience it "at first hand", I was assured that the pub toilet was extremely foul-smelling.
12 noon Sydney Arms, 122 Lewisham Road, SE13
To choose this pub, we used the scientific principle of "lucky dip", whereby we chose the nearest pub to the station. As the address would suggest, it would probably have been much quicker to walk up Lewisham Road; but this would not have been in the spirit of the DLR, which is a railway based on the concept of stops which are too close together to be worthwhile. This was a textbook local boozer. Its fruit machine was in a good mood.
1 pm Bird's Nest, 32 Deptford Church Street, SE8
Already, at this early stage, we were beginning to have slight difficulties with navigation, although once we had worked out which direction to walk from the station (right, in case you're interested) we found it fairly easily. This pub was a bit livelier than the previous two, although I spent most of the duration in the toilet. We failed dismally to profit from the Monopoly quiz machine which wasn't even the Deluxe version.
2 pm North Pole, 131 Greenwich High Road, SE10
This establishment was more of a bar than a pub. At the hour we visited, it had what Time Out would describe as a distinctly beatnik milieu the air was heavy with the smoke of jazz cigarettes, although I don't recall any flagrant beret-wearing or goatee-sporting action. I like to think that there was a musical accompaniment of Furious Bebop. We got some random stranger to take a picture of us squashed up on some sort of low animal-skin-bedecked sofa. This picture is probably now in a skip somewhere.
3 pm Trafalgar Tavern, 6 Park Row, Greenwich, SE10
A textbook riverside pub. Tourists flock to it because it is the location where Chaucer wrote the Domesday Book before setting sail to America in the Cutty Sark. It is also a good boozer in its own right, with a fine selection of Ales and good views of the river and the Willennium Dome. Suspiciously, the level of the Thames was so high that it was flooding the footpath along the riverbank. This was our last stop on the Docklands Dark Rail extension we then stayed on it all the way to Canary Wharf (about 40 stops, covering a distance of some 15 metres).
4 pm Oporto, 43 West India Dock Road, E14
We originally planned to go to the City Pride (14 Westferry Road), but due to sheer incompetence we were unable to find it. This was perhaps not helped by the fact that I decided we should ignore some directions that a policeman gave us after all, what would he know? After stumbling around various streets and circuses for some time, we saw the Oporto and piled in. I remember this as having an interesting mix of friendly locals and what Time Out would describe as a distinctly Student Bar clientèle. However, I have since been informed that this was a slightly inaccurate and rose-tinted impression formed of a rough-as-fuck local boozer. Some old boy in the bogs dared me to pick a 5p piece out of the urinal; I declined, at the risk of being regarded a lightweight. By the time we'd found this pub, downed our beers and snacked on crisps and Mini-Cheddars, it was a serious rush to get back to Canary Wharf tube for our first taste of the Jubilee Line Extension.
5 pm Mayflower, 117 Rotherhithe Street, SE16
From this point onwards my memory of events is somewhat cloudy, to say the least. The Mayflower is another good riverside pub, with a little pier-type thing out the back which juts out over the river, although January is not the best time of year for this, so we stayed inside. It seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to find the pub from Canada Water station, even though it is childishly easy to find (this was probably sheer incompetence again). On the way there, some bloke in the street said that we really wanted to be down Spice Island. Maybe next time.
6 pm Angel, 101 Bermondsey Wall East, SE16
By now we were in serious danger of falling behind schedule. This was another case of a pub being much quicker to get to on foot but of course, it was only respectable that we should return to Canada Water, travel one stop, and then walk for miles again at Bermondsey. (I would like to thank London Underground for installing those glass doors on the platforms, which are a boon for serious drinkers who wish to travel on the tube and survive.) I remember little about this pub except that its atmosphere was rough and its customers ready. In the face of adversity we managed to leave and get to the next pub on time, thanks to Pad's dedication to the E2K philosophy, though our speech was becoming increasingly slurred and we found it necessary to "lark around" on works of public sculpture.
7 pm George Inn, Borough High Street, SE1
This place has been a pub since the year dot and is owned by the National Trust or something. It fronts onto a courtyard, just off Borough High Street, where Shakespeare once performed Pride & Prejudice. By the time we left we were starving, so we took our custom to a delightful little American-style café called "Burger King", conveniently located on the upper concourse of London Bridge station. I was enraged that they did not have any Veggie Whoppers, and had to make do with a Beanburger. At some point around this time, we encountered Alex, who joined us a sober man, but proceeded to catch up with admirable speed.
8 pm Lord Nelson, 243 Union St, SE1
We meant to visit the Hop Pole (14 Gambia Street), but apparently it was closed for refurbishment or something I don't remember. In fact, I have very little idea of what the Lord Nelson was like, although I feel certain that it did not have an entirely welcoming atmosphere. Not surprising, given our condition by this time. There may or may not have been some shenanigans with a canine-style animal, I wouldn't like to say.
9 pm Hole In The Wall, Mepham Street, SE1
This is an aptly-named boozer, tucked away down a side street under the fetid railway arches of Waterloo. By this stage I and, I strongly suspect, others were completely lagged. Thus I have a vague memory of being in this pub, and hearing the trains rattle past overhead, but that's about it. By now Alex was making a good job of nearing our levels of drunkenness, despite this only being his second pub.
10 pm Red Lion, 48 Parliament Street, SW1
to the official E2K schedule, our last pub should have been the
Westminster Arms (9 Storey's Gate). However, while Al, Tim and
myself generally horsed around, Pad and Alex undertook a
reconnaisance mission, only to find that the Westminster Arms was
shut. At 10 pm on a Saturday night I ask you, some people
have no concept of decency. I then decided it would be wise to
run ahead and order five pints of Stella, despite the fact that
none of us actually wanted to drink Stella. Confusion ensued at
the bar, as it became clear that no-one was prepared to pay for
such a rank beer. It then occurred to me that the best thing to
do would be to leave the pub for five minutes, during which time
the matter would naturally resolve itself. Unfortunately, when I
returned, everyone concerned was still standing at the bar,
waiting for me. Eventually we somehow sorted things out, without
being expelled from the pub, and it brought a successful day's
drinking to an end. Except that Alex had decided that two of the
spare pints of Stella should be taken as "carry-outs"
after last orders. His plan was to take these two drinks back to
my place and drink them there. A noble intention. He made it at
least five metres down the road before spilling the contents of
the two plastic pint pots all down himself, putting an end to his
August 2001 update: I found my travelcard!
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