Friday, 11 December 2015

First HS2 pub victim identified

Photo borrowed from pub website
A bit out of my area this, but I was really quite sorry to hear that a pub near Euston station in London may be demolished to make way for a proposed rail project.

I discovered the Bree Louise in Coburg Street, NW1, a couple of years ago after we had been on a massive anti-austerity demo in London. It was a real find in the normally boring landscape of London pubs, which so often just plump for the obvious and unoriginal - and then charge you through the nose for the privilege.

The Bree Louise, on the other hand, had 6 handpumps, and 11 beers on gravity dispense, plus an extensive range of real ciders. We didn't have any of the food, but it looked good. The beer was £4 per pint, but the discount for CAMRA members of 50p brought it down to a more palatable - for this Merseysider, anyway - £3.50 a pint. The pub was busy, but with a relaxed atmosphere and we were a bit disappointed when we had to go for our train home.

I've just learnt that one consequence of the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway development may well be that this pub might be demolished, which would not only deprive the licensee, Craig Douglas, and his staff (to whom he pays the living wage, not the minimum wage) of their livelihoods, but Craig and his family of their home. He named the pub Bree Louise after his daughter who had died, so it is clear this pub is much more than just a job. Let's hope the government sees sense, and doesn't apply plans that result in the unnecessary closure of successful businesses such as this one.

More info here.


  1. Nev, the Bree Louise has been under threat from the proposed enlargement of Euston station for quite a few years now. Whilst I wouldn’t dispute the fact the pub is well run, it is a family business and the staff are looked after etc, there are just far too many beers on sale. I would argue there is no pub in the country capable of keeping 17 cask beers in tip-top condition, and that half this number would be a more realistic proposition and should be enough to satisfy all but the most rabid of beer enthusiasts (tickers).

    I have only been there once, back in February of last year and had this to say at the time: “A bit dated, would be my summing up of the d├ęcor. Covering the walls with umpteen pump clips seems very 80’s, if not even older, but what was worse was the location of my table. Being close to the ladies loo, my nostrils were assaulted by a strong smell of disinfectant every time the door was opened. Not pleasant at all, although it could have been worse I suppose! There was no chance of moving elsewhere, as the pub was starting to fill up quite rapidly. In addition I planned on eating and so needed to remain seated.

    “Before my pie arrived I ordered another pint; this time opting for another Yorkshire beer, the 4.0% Pennine Real Blonde. Imagine my disappointment at seeing it being poured from one of the casks, despite there being a hand pump advertising its presence!

    My worst fears were confirmed when it was placed in front of me, totally lifeless and flat as the proverbial witch’s tit! It wasn’t off, but with virtually zero condition, it wasn’t particularly enjoyable either. Without the 50p CAMRA discount, this beer would have cost me £4.10 a pint; a high price to pay for such a lacklustre drink.”

    I know other drinkers feel the same; Tandleman was equally damming of the pub, as this post from 2009 shows:

    Leaving the issue of the pub aside, there is an awful lot of NIMBYISM surrounding HS2, but what most opponents of the scheme don’t realise is that it will provide much needed additional capacity to the rail network. (There used to be an alternative, well-engineered route to the north, in the form of the Great Central Railway, but in a stunning act of short-sightedness, the line was axed, back in the 60’s).

    As a country we lack far behind our European neighbours in constructing high-speed rail lines, and let’s not forget, railways are far more environmentally friendly than roads. This doesn’t help the Bree Louise, of course, but unless the pub ups its game, I have no intention of returning.

  2. Went in there a couple of years ago and ordered a Harveys Best Bitter. Although it wasn't bad enough to send back it was well,well past its best and was beginning to develop that stale taste. Even with the CAMRA discount I've never been tempted back. If I want a beer while waiting for a train I use the Euston Tap or the Doric Arch.

  3. I had seen your post, Paul, because it came up when I googled Bree Louise. All I can say is that my experience of the pub is different, but I accept there may be problems of beer going stale when you have so many on.


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