One of London’s friendliest and smallest pubs gains West London’s top award!

One of the best pubs in London, and top Pub of the Year 2018 as judged by the members of CAMRA's West London branch from hundreds of pubs across the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea, and the City of Westminster, is the West End's very own Harp.

The branch presented the certificate to the pub and its staff on 18th April. While there we sampled some of their beers which that evening included some of the award winning London beers from the London Drinker Beer Festival. The Harp is widely known for its great selection of well-kept beers and ciders including local London beers, and is a participant in the CAMRA LocAle scheme.

CAMRA West London chairman Les Maggs welcomed the news “As long as the tradition of quality established by the sadly late former owner Binnie Walsh lives on, this is not the first time and will certainly not be the last time that CAMRA's National Pub of the Year 2010 will be in the running for awards!”.

 

The branch will present the runner-up certificates to the Churchill Arms (3rd place) on 2nd May and the Cask Pub and Kitchen (2nd place) on 15 May.

Presentation to Dennis Reed

The branch recently presented a certificate of appreciation to Dennis Reed, on his retirement from managing The Speaker on Great Peter Street in Westminster. Dennis has been manager of the Speaker for 15 and a half years, but has been in the pub trade for over 40 years. Previous pubs he's managed have been the Kings Arms in Poland Street, Queen's Head in Chelsea, Ye Olde Rose & Crown in Greenwich, and The Aquarium in Brighton.

The pub is known for it's good beer and is featured in the Good Beer Guide 2017. In addition to three regular beers (Tim Taylor's Landlord, Sambrook's Wandle, Adnams Pleisure Principle) there were two guests. The guests were both from the East Midlands: Flipside Dusty Penny (a porter from Nottingham) and Mr Grundy's Big Willie (from Derby). The latter was part of Dennis's theme of 'Embarrassing Ales You Wouldn't Want Your Granny to Order!'. There was nothing embarrassing really about the name of the beer though: it's the nickname of a First World War tank, unlike some of Dennis's infamous ties which he was auctioning off to the pub's customers for charity - one went for over £100! We also had some of his excellent homemade Thai curry which he was kind enough to let us try.

I'm sure we'll continue to receive the same warm welcome and excellent beer under the new manager, Uri Enoch, who had been the pub's deputy manager until now. So why not visit - but not on the weekend - like a few of the pubs in the area it's open on Monday to Friday only.

We also recently learned that Gerry O'Brien from the Churchill Arms on Kensington Church Street has also retired after over 30 years at the pub. We would like to wish Dennis and Gerry all the best in their retirements and good luck for the new licensees of both pubs.

Two Brewers ......... and they all rolled over and one fell out

It's been 26 years, and licensee Stephanie Lawler (a trim vivacious and youthful 51, married to Rob with three children), reluctantly, is on the move.

Prompted by Greene King there are a number of changes in the old Taylor Walker estate - re-branding and makeovers, and a different demographic perhaps is being targetted. Stephanie and her team have moved from the Two Brewers in Covent Garden to take over the Swan, Cosmo Place, Bloomsbury - not one I know well - and some of her loyal customers have already followed!

She has built up a good crowd and loyal following, and that is also changing - the cast of Stomp are moving on as Cameron Mackintosh has bought the Ambassadors, and the Lloyds people are moving lock stock and barrel to Chiswell Street.

And there's an irony there - as she started with Whitbread as a management trainee at the Railway Tavern, Liverpool Street - almost within spitting distance of the brewery - around thirty years ago.

The daughter of a haulier, from Northern Ireland, and a mum in catering, she'd always wanted her own business, like Dad, but with the support of a large company.

Her first own pub was the lamented late King of Bohemia in Hampstead - one where we as choir boys used to be able to get a half of cider after a fish 'n chip lunch, between morning and afternoon weddings on a Saturday. She then jumped ship to Chef and Brewer then owned by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, and then sold to Greene King in 2003.

The Two Brewers have been their home for twenty six years, and it will be a wrench to move. Stephanie had started the Sunday night jazz in 2009 or 2010, but the tradition dated back to at least 1969. She's been a trainee manager trainer, as well as running the pub and the cellar, and in 1998 she's proud to have been awarded a medal by Prince Philip as the first to gain the supervision management Level 3 NVQ.

Although there was an opportunity to buy the freehold from Punch she decided that was perhaps a bridge too far. But she admired and respected what Binnie Walsh had managed to achieve down the road at the Harp.

So it is a move that had not been looked for, but probably the right time for it.

There's opportunity as well as challenge, and Holborn isn't so far to go.

She'll be graduating from three cask ales on a short cramped bar to a long bar and seven or eight ales.

Judging by the quality of the beers on last night the customers of the Swan have a lot to look forward to. Problem was that they were running out, and the one that should have been ready to go on - Hackney H - had been fobbing just a tad too much that morning. I know, 'cos she specially checked again for me. So it was a matter of gently supping the Rockin' Rudolph, and with CAMRA member discount a reasonable for the area £4.00. The Robinson's Trooper was fine - just a little on the sweet side for me.

(Thanks to Dominic Pinto for this article and photo)

Bronze award for Golden Eagle

Earlier this month we presented the Golden Eagle in Marylebone with the third place award for West London Pub of the Year 2017 following the vote by branch members earlier this year.

It is a well-deserved award for this traditional pub, one of the few remaining old style Marylebone pubs. It's been run by the same family for 25 years, and also features in CAMRA's London Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors (click here for details).

Presentation by Less MaggsWe'll be presenting the second and first place winners during June - the Union Tavern (second place) in Westbourne Park on 20th June and the Star Tavern (first place) in Belgravia on 27th June. For full details of these and other events please see our branch diary.

Presentation to Linda at the Uxbridge Arms

On 26th October, the branch gave a presentation to Linda Lawton, landlady of the Uxbridge Arms shortly before she left after 23 years at the pub. The award was given in recognition of her dedication over many years to great beer, great service and a great pub! The pub is a welcoming and comfortable back-street local. The presentation of the certificate was given by our branch chairman Les Maggs.

After a couple of pints at the Uxbridge we then hopped on the tube at the nearby Notting Hill Gate station up to Earls Court where we continued with the scheduled survey crawl in that area. We went to the Prince of Teck and Earls Court Tavern.

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