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Doing The Bromley Beat...

Another away trip watching football, followed by a rainy night exploring some of the delights of a corner of South-East London....
It rained. And then it rained. And then it rained some more.

The water was flowing down the street as the taxi dropped me at the Station Stop Cafe. I was the first of the gang to arrive. The staff were dealing with a leak as I arrived. Help was called. I ordered breakfast, and was half way through it as the rest of the lads started to appear. We were setting off from Brighouse to go to London, where Town, top of the National League were playing Bromley, who were in second place.

Duly fed, we got the train from Brighouse, and once in Leeds, boarded our London-bound train. We had booked seats, but for those who hadn't there was a mad scramble for seats. There was a spare seat next to me, and a girl in her mid-twenties manoeuvring a large suitcase joined our table. The train set off. The lads opened their cans of Bud Light. I got chatting to the girl. She said she was tired, having been working. I asked her what she did. "I'm a stripper" she revealed. "Busy night?", I enquired, not quite sure how to follow up on that curveball. Meanwhile, the rain continued. Our companion left us at Doncaster, and was replaced by an Anne Robinson-lookalike who was watching the Rugby World Cup semi-final on her phone. She leapt up in her seat every time there was an England score. It was an entertaining journey, but we were pleased to get into Kings Cross, having had to endure a longer journey than normal due to work on the line which entailed going via Lincoln and passing interminable flat and soggy fields as we passed through Fenland.

Across town via the Underground to Victoria to catch the overground to Bromley South station. There was just about time for a pint before kick-off. Opposite the station was a Wetherspoons, the Richmal Crompton, named after the author of the Just William books, who was born in Bury but eventually settled in this part of South East London. It was a typical large town centre Spoons with cheap and OK beer, although I have forgotten what we were drinking. From there it was just over 10 minutes walk to Hayes Lane, home of Bromley FC. A local fan guided us past large houses with double garages and plenty of garden in a pretty affluent part of town. After a walk in the drizzle, we turned off, passing a field with horses, to the ground. The away end was at the far side of the ground, and as the rain started up again we realised to our horror there was no cover for away fans. Really? The home fans were amply catered for with a smart stand and cover on 3 sides, the club had forked out for a 4G pitch, but couldn't spend a bit on looking after visiting supporters! And what made it worse, there was a covered section in which 4 policemen spent the entire afternoon, nothing to do as there wasn't a hint of any trouble from either set of fans. And what made it even worse was that an out-of-sorts Town got thumped 5-0 by their well-organised hosts, who consequently took their place at the top of the National League table. Not a good afternoon!
Hayes Lane: Ain't no cover in the away end
We trudged back into town, a dejected throng with spirits low. We went to find our Travelodge. Like many places, Bromley has more than one, and inevitably, on this miserable day, we went to the wrong one! We decided to go for a pint before we walked much further, and popped into the Partridge, a large Fullers pub on the High Street, which owed its impressive interior to its former life as a bank. One of the benefits of Fullers pubs these days is the availability of Dark Star beers, who Fullers took over a year or two ago, before they themselves were taken over by Asahi of Japan earlier this year. So I went for a pint of Hophead (NBSS 3), which was spot on, and as we drunk our pints sat in an alcove in this friendly pub, our spirits began to rise.

Back on to the High Street, and as we spotted the familiar Travelodge logo in the distance, the rain came down with a vengeance. We got checked in, and a few minutes later we re-convened in the Lock & Barrel, a micro pub just down the road from the hotel. After the miserable weather and the even more miserable experience at Hayes Lane, this was a welcoming oasis and just what was needed. I ordered a pint of Shakermaker, a pleasant 4.4% pale ale from Brithop brewery (NBSS 3), based a few miles away in Belvedere. There were 4 cask ales on, poured straight from the barrel in the room at the back of the bar, with a similar number on tap.
I then went for a beer from the taps, a Lemon Scream from Kent Brewery. This was a hazy pale ale with a 4.7% ABV which also hit the spot. We got chatting to Dave, one of the regulars, who just happened to be a Bromley fan, and who had been to the game. Rob, who was working behind the bar, joined in the conversation, turned out he was from Newcastle where I had been a few days before. He told me the Lock and Barrel had only opened in February, but, with a steady stream of visitors in the hour and a bit we were there, it seems to have been well received by the gentlefolk of Bromley, in an area, which like Tyne and Wear where I had been recently, is a well-established location for micros. And with a warm welcome and good beer, the Lock & Barrel has to be a contender for the 2021 Good Beer Guide!

We left the Lock and Barrel behind, and resumed our showery journey, heading off for the very impressive, Grade II-listed Star and Garter, a few minutes walk away down the High Street. It was shut for a number of years and hadn't sold any real ale in recent memory, but all that changed when it re-opened in 2016. It now sells an impressive array of beers on both hand pump and tap. There were a few decent beers to be had on both, but I opted for a familiar favourite in Wylam Hickey the Rake on tap, which was as good as ever. The Star and Garter went down well with all of us, but we decided to re-visit the Partridge, a short walk down the road.
Star and Garter, Bromley - impressive frontage
The Partridge had livened up when we revisited. A band was just doing final sound checks before starting. I ordered a Hophead as I had done earlier. The band started to play,. They were called the Belles and played an impressive set of covers, including tracks from local boy David Bowie, born in nearby Brixton before moving to Bromley where he studied at the local Technical College. We had a couple more pints and watched the band, who seemed very popular with a pretty eclectic clientele. The Partridge was another good pub, the Hophead was spot on, and those that stuck to London Pride were happy too.
The Partridge, Bromley
It was getting time for food, and we ended up at the New India restaurant a few minutes walk away, where the curry went down well, before we headed back to the hotel. We'd had a good night in some good pubs with good beer, and after the disappointment of the football and the weather, it was most welcome. There is another pub in the Good Beer Guide, the Red Lion, which we didn't get chance to try, but overall Bromley is a decent place for a drink, and despite being only 9.3 miles from Charing Cross, it feels like a separate town rather than a London suburb.

The clocks were going back, so we had an extra hour in bed. Not that made much difference to the guys in my room as my snoring had disturbed the calm of the night! But on a positive note, the rain had gone and it was a beautiful sunny morning. We assembled downstairs, and decided to get an early train into London and get some breakfast there. The train from Bromley South was pretty busy with people heading into town. Outside, we passed through places like Brixton and Denmark Hill, the city suburbs looking at their finest in the sunshine. In the distance, the towers of The City and O2 Arena came into view, but not long after we pulled into Victoria, and found a pub doing breakfast, whilst on TV, South Africa were in the ascendancy against Wales in the Rugby World Cup.

Suitably fed and watered, we returned to Victoria and caught the overground to King's Cross. We had some time to kill before catching our train back North, so we headed to the reliable Mable's Tavern just off Euston Road for a pint of Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay (NBSS 3), before concluding our time in London with a pint of London Pride (NBSS 3) at the Euston Flyer opposite St Pancras Station....
Mable's Tavern - always worth calling in
Follow me on twitter: @realalemusic


  1. Sounds like a great day out!

    You have to take those hammerings in the rain on the chin. Saw Cambridge lose 6-0 at Brentford once, 0-0 after 60 minutes before a sending off.

    Congested at the top of the Conference this year. Good luck.

    Bromley must be a bit of a comedown from the crafty heights of the Fax. Mrs RM used to go to Bromley from Tunbridge Wells as its the shopping hub for that SE London /Kent area.

    Star & Garter is well done middle class craft place, liked that.


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