On Saturday 18 June 2022, the London Pubs Group visited six pubs in and around the Teddington, Hampton and Hampton Court areas. We met at midday in the Masons Arms in Walpole Road, Teddington (TW11 8PJ). This former Watney’s pub has a green and brown tiled façade and a secluded garden at the rear. Entry is through a door lobby that leads to a single space dominated by a generously sized servery, whose wooden bar counter is decorated with fielded panelling and reeded reliefs. It has some beautiful wooden handpumps, made especially by the brother of the owner of the Roebuck, Hampton Hill, and a pub we would visit later.
Pub and brewery memorabilia line the walls and hang from ceiling beams. On one wall is an original pub sign lettered God is our Guide, which is the motto of the Worshipful Company of Masons, and, on another wall there is a wonderful Bass & Co mirror. The regular beers are Hop Back Summer Lightning, Sambrook’s Junction and Vale Best IPA, plus a guest ale and one real cider.
A short walk around the corner brought us to the Abercorn Arms in Church Road (TW11 8EY). This was one of the Ram Pub Company houses which Young’s sold to Punch in 2021 and Punch have leased it to the Big Smoke Brewery Company. It is a pleasing pub, with several drinking and dining areas. Of note is the traditional gilded brewery mirror modified to display the Big Smoke company name.
The pub takes its title from the Earls of Hamilton and Abercorn and it is believed that Young’s acquired it from the Kingston Brewery. First recorded in the mid-1860s, the building was extended into the shop next door in 1940 but remained a beer house without a spirits licence until 1950. There is a 10% discount offered on real ale for card-carrying CAMRA members. Beers include Big Smoke Celebration Bitter and Underwood Milk Stout, Harvey’s Sussex Bitter, Siren Broken Dream and Thornbridge Jaipur.
We then retraced our steps to the High Street and into Field Lane where we found the Builders Arms (TW11 9AS). Although this ex-Courage pub is not a listed building, it is on the CAMRA Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest. The pub was almost certainly rebuilt in Edwardian times and shows a marked contrast with earlier Victorian ornateness. Outside, the ground floor is distinguished with brown glazed brick, a band of blue-grey mottled faïence and some attractive designs in the window frames. The pub consists of two rooms: the public bar, entered off Field Lane, is the smaller of the two while the saloon stretches back along Bridgeman Road. There is a modern, arched cut-through between the two rooms. There is some detailed glazing with green leaves and other motifs but, sadly, the main window panes are now plain glass. Both rooms have beamed ceilings which were used at the time to create a kind of olde worlde effect.
The public bar has a rather unusual semi-circular shaped counter and an individualistically detailed bar-back. The counter in the saloon is straight and, along with the bar-back, looks as though it might be an inter-war replacement. A prominent Tudor-style flattened arch spans the width of the saloon. A charming detail not to be missed is the Art Nouveau-style spear-like recesses carved in the panelling, which are probably a unique feature in pub ornamentation. Although Fuller’s London Pride, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Young’s Original are usually offered, on our visit only the last of these was ready to be served.
A return to the High Street and then either a 285 or R68 bus to the Oxford Road stop on Hampton Road took the participants to the Roebuck (TW12 1JN). Another former part of the Grand Metropolitan estate, though in this case Truman rather than Watney, this is a characterful street corner local with eccentric bric-a-brac décor. Among the many items on display you will find a wickerwork motorbike, aviation photographs, a Watney’s Red Barrel keg font, a Friary Meux lantern, a nautical-themed domestic lounge drinks bar, a London bus stop flag and a collection of fishing rods, horse collars and Davy lamps.
The nearby Fulwell bus garage (formerly a trolleybus depot) is represented by a framed London Transport poster and an associated collection of staff badges. There is a pleasant garden at the rear. As in the Masons Arms, beautiful wooden handpumps grace the bar counter. The beers are St Austell Tribute, Young’s Original and two guest ales. The pub is in CAMRA’s 2022 Good Beer Guide.
After this it was back on the R68 bus to the Park Close stop in Hampton and a short walk to the Jolly Coopers (TW12 2SJ) in the High Street. Not only is this a Grade II-listed building but it is also on CAMRA’s Inventory of Pub Interiors of Some Regional Importance. It is an 18th century two-storey and attic building of brown brick. The front door has attractive leaded glass with the legend ‘Bar’ and there is good etched glass in the windows on either side. Plans displayed within show the evolution of the layout over the years and it is likely that the present configuration derives from an interwar refit.
Until recent times, the central doorway led to an off-sales section, with an inner door on the right leading to the public bar and one on the left to the saloon. The former public bar has been extended into an area previously occupied by toilets. At the rear of the old saloon was a separate room and the site of the partition can be clearly seen. This room has a still intact hatchway to the servery. Another ex-Watney house, its past ownership is recalled by a 1980s Watney’s exterior Stag lamp which is now on display inside. The pub is in the 2022 Good Beer Guide and is CAMRA Richmond & Hounslow Branch’s current Pub of the Year. Bedlam Benchmark and Phoenix, Exeter Avocet, Hop Back Summer Lightning and Portobello Star are normally available.
From here we had a choice of three bus routes, 111, 216 or R68, to Hampton Court Green and the Mute Swan (KT8 9BN) at Palace Gate, Hampton Court. This pub has no previous affiliation to any of the former Big Six breweries, having been converted from a restaurant in 2014. A rather upmarket establishment, the pub is also in the 2022 Good Beer Guide. Seven handpumps dispense six real ales from local and national microbreweries plus one real cider.
Here ended the official tour, with people free to move on elsewhere or conclude their evening’s activity as desired.
Jane Jephcote and Kim Rennie
Editor’s note: I’m sad to report that the Builders Arms closed at the end of June. See here.