A guide to some of the licensed premises that contribute enormously to Britain’s renowned pub culture. Most of them have featured in some form in publications such as The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, written – and researched – by Alastair Gilmour
(head past the Hogwarts-bound Platform 93/4), it is huge, bustling, impressive, and perfect for a game of people-watching. Tourists, business folks, commuters, diners and fellow idlers all have different reasons to be here.
A mighty glazed atrium highlights three storeys lined with listed sash windows; each divvied up into function rooms, dining areas, lounges and a fashionable bar distinguished by timber and tile. Reclaimed wood and brick from the massive Kings Cross reconstruction project prompted by the 2012 Olympics bear the scars of steam and diesel history, while exposed fabrication, trunking, girders and cross-members echo utilitarian grandeur.
A handy display screen informs me the 15.30 to Glasgow Central is boarding. It’s my route, it’s 15.10 and my London Pride (4.1% abv) deserves another turn. Which shoulder do I obey, angel or devil?
My pint is well balanced, malty and fruitily hoppy with a spread of orange marmalade that lingers into the aftertaste, developing a touch of toffee as it goes. Devil, then.
The Parcel Yard counter stretches across the width of the main hall, forested at intervals by traditional handpulls and stylish keg dispensers. Fuller’s is represented by Black Cab Stout (4.5% abv), Chiswick Bitter (3.5% abv), ESB (5.5% abv), Bengal Lancer (5.0% abv) and Gale’s HSB (4.8% abv). Guests include beers from Butcombe, Redemption and Windsor & Eton breweries.
I gaze out of the window overlooking platforms 10b and 11b and wonder which one warrior queen Boudicca reputedly lies under. “Nine”, says the chap next to me, barely raising his head from his newspaper.
I imagine steam trains hissing and belching far below and, through half-closed eyes, I take off into Brief Encounter reverie.
“You’ve been a long way away.”
“Yes. I want to remember every minute, always, always, to the end of my days.”
Although I’ve delayed my original travel plans, there’s still time for a late lunch of calf’s liver, pancetta, spring onion mash and soubise sauce (£13.75), but potted hot smoked salmon, pickled cucumber and toast (£6.75) is perfect bar food.
The screen refreshes itself with “16.30, Doncaster, Darlington, Durham” – 20 minutes left to hail a rich chocolate-infused Black Cab before a dash downstairs and a sprint across the concourse.
It’s Peterborough before I get my breath back. And there are people watching.
*The Parcel Yard, Kings Cross, London N1 9AL (0207 7713 7258: www.parcelyard.co.uk)
+44 (0)7930 144 846
THE PARCEL YARD, KINGS CROSS, LONDON
Railway station pubs are in a world of their own. Transitory by nature, they buzz with expectation and are constantly refreshed by a relentless ebb and flow of humanity.
A disused chasm, formerly the 1852-vintage Great Northern Railway parcel office above the Grade-I Kings Cross Station in London was transformed into The Parcel Yard pub by Fuller’s Brewery. Now a destination in itself
IT'S ABOUT EVERY AGE GROUP
More than ever we need pub owners with the vision and determination to do something that will persuade people to venture out on a wet Tuesday when Holby City might seem the better option. We have plenty of them around the North East and the better ones are doing very well, thank you very much.
Entrepreneurial publican Dave Carr is one such chap.
Meet and Drink writer Alastair Gilmour regularly conducts beer events throughout the UK and internationally – tours and tastings that have included a platform suspended 30 metres above the River Tyne and a real ale festival in a Moscow nightclub – and was for several years on the judging panel of the Pilsner Urquell International Master Bartender programme. [READ MORE]
+44 (0)7930 144 846