Thursday, October 24, 2019

Long live the White Hart SE14

I've fallen back in love again with the White Hart in New Cross Gate recently. This iconic pub has been overlooking the historic junction on the old Watling Street/New Cross Road for 150 years or more, in fact I gave a whole talk about this spot in Telegraph Hill Festival a couple of years ago that is far too invovled to go into here.

I think the first time I went in the pub itself was back in the mid-noughties in the company of the late Paul Hendrich and others. In those days the pub was under the management of local character Ken Linwood, there followed a few years in which he tried to turn it into a strip club etc. I didn't agree with all that, but hey keeping a pub going in the middle of a busy road in SE London is difficult so it was easier to criticise than to see a way forward.

Since then pub has been refurbished but without losing its soul. Most recently it has faced an apparent threat from the people who own the bulding - the Wellington Pub Group have wanted to redevelop the upper floors of The White Hart into residential flats. Experience elsewhere has shown that when this happens new residents soon start complaining about noise and late nights and restrictions on the licence threaten the viability of the pub. Back in August though Lewisham Council turned down the planning application after more than 3,000 people signed a petition against the plans. Hopefully Patrick and Joseph Ryan, who currently run the pub, can keep it going for the foreseeable future.

I love the Irish music session there on Sundays (2 pm to 4 pm),  last week there were five fiddles, two flutes, a whistle, a guitar, a bodhran and an accordion and there were sublime moments when all of these meshed together perfectly. Irish sessions are one of the great gifts of London pubs to the world (see a bit of history and my limited involvement in scene here), so everywhere that these are still happening needs to be appreciated and nourished.

Another great London pub tradition is the Sunday roast, and the White Hart certainly delivers there. The vegetarian option is a very reasonably priced nut roast in filo pastry served with potatoes, carrots, kale and a massive yorkshire pudding.

The pub now gets pretty busy on a Sunday, with the session at 2 pm followed by the pub quiz round 5 pm - so they do eventually run out of food, but thankfully not beer.

The only improvement I would like to see is a reinstatement of the stag statue on top of the building, shown here in 1912. Then nobody would have any excuse for not finding this fine pub.


Anonymous said...

Never heard of the Watling St name before, when was that used?

Anonymous said...

Thanks; love hearing about this area, which I miss .

Now living in Sussex- every time I return to my old stomping ground of Peckham/Camberwell it has changed so much.

Loved Brockley and Deptford where I worked for a while.

Trouble with leaving London is you can't afford to return.

I'll raise a glass in memory at my next Irish session- in Brighton.

Anonymous said...

Love the revived White Hart ...

BUT - £8 a pint for some of the beers? Now outside my price range.


Transpontine said...

Couldn't see any £8 beers when I was in there this week, most in the £5ish range which I'm afraid is pretty much the going rate for a pint in London these days

Anonymous said...

The £8 beer, when it’s available, has a very high volume (and tastes great too boot). So one pint of that is the alcoholic equivalent of about two pints of anything else on tap.