Saturday, 16 January 2010

London Calling

I was in the London Hotel in Southport a couple of days ago for a CAMRA meeting.  I don't get there very often as it's a bit out of my way; I generally head towards the town centre and brave the drunken anarchy that I read about so much in the local papers, but rarely see in reality. 

The London is a large pub in a residential area, the only outlet in Southport for Barnsley Bitter (3.8%) and Old Tom mild (3.4%).  At £1.57 and £1.47 a pint respectively, these are the cheapest pints in town, Wetherspoons sometimes excepted.  The bitter is a standard Yorkshire-style bitter, not remarkable, but certainly quite good enough to sup all evening, and I found the Old Tom to be a pleasant mild.  The bitter is certainly far superior to that most famous of Yorkshire bitters, Tetley's.  So you can have a cheap night out there.

The London is a real community pub:  it is the home venue for two quiz teams, three darts teams and a pool team, and for all of these activities an ordinary strength beer must be ideal if you don't want to begin staggering half way through a match.  I like my beers a bit stronger, but I appreciate that a lot of people don't.  It is a multi-roomed pub, the rooms being quite large and comfortable, and I get the impression that it is very much a locals pub, by which I don't mean it's cliquey.

It was quiet on the mid-week night we were there, but there was still a lot of treacherous snow on the ground at the time, which probably didn't help.  This is a good straightforward local in Southport:  what you see is what you get, and you don't have to pay through the nose for it.


  1. I really like the London but it is hard to get pals to venture up there, the Zetland suffers a similar fate of 'too far'. Another reason people used to avoid it was a horrible old dog that barked at strangers. Trust that it's gone now?

  2. The London was one of the places considered when the Bothy Club was looking for a new home, some 3 years ago. The landlord, Bill I think, was welcoming and friendly and as RedNev says, it's a real community pub and one I used (and my parents) when I lived in Southport over 40 years ago. That little vaults room at the side with the over-sized bar, would've done quite nicely for a music club with a fair old bit of refurb. but as things panned out, it wasn't to be. I still try and get in when I can and I'm still remembered. Long may it run.

  3. PS
    Incidentally, the name the 'London' comes from the Southport hamlet "Little London" which was still in use in the mid-19th century and referring to that area of Forest Road/Ash Street/Hart Street of which the 'Anchor Inn' (now the Blue Anchor) was the centre. Rose Hill is another arcane name for the district close by. It's suggested that the Little London tag goes back as far as the 15th century when London merchants would travel up here to buy North Meols wool - I'm personally a bit sceptical on that one.

  4. Sir Clive of Pownce: every minute that goes by without you casting a thought towards putting pen to parchment and scribbling out that autobiography is a moment wasted.

    I for one (and probably the only one) find you absolutely fascinating. I'd go so far as to say 'riveting' since that's very much a mot du jour, especially in the manufacturing industry.

    Get a bottle of sherry and do a big mind dump. I'll buy one of the first editions so long as it's signed and comes in a velour cover with machinations of grandieur upon it.

  5. SD: the current licensee took over a couple of years ago; I saw no dog. I agree the pub's location is probably why it is neglected.

    CP: the name Little London is also commemorated in the name London Street, presumably as it was the road from the town centre to Little London. A short stretch of road over the Manchester railway line is still called Rose Hill; the name changes to St Lukes Road one way and Ash Street the other. I do like these obscure survivals.

    SW: if Clive simply put together a compilation of the various record reviews he's written over the decades, it would constitute a substantial book, I feel.

  6. Also famous for the typo on "it's" pub sign?

    A lot of places in the South-West have a "London Inn" which I assume is where the stagecoach departed from.

  7. Funnily enough, I hadn't noticed that typo!


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