The Falcon Clapham Junction

21 Mar

The Falcon in Clapham Junction has always been a lovely pub, to look at. There are some wonderful glass windows and skylights and plenty of carved wood scattered around the bar. The bar itself is famous, having been in the Guinness book of  Records no less, for having the longest continuous bar in the world. It literally purrs with Victorian majesty both inside and out. OK I’m getting carried away a little bit but it really does look very nice.

The pub currently belongs to the Nicholson’s pub chain, which seems to be like a more upmarket Wetherspoons. Perhaps that is being a little unfair. However, it is part of the Mitchells and Butlers portfolio of crap chain bars which also includes Harvesters, Ember Inns, All Bar One and O’Neills. What Nicholson’s has in its favour though are its properties. It has a large number of rather nice traditional style pubs which are of architectural importance, at least to those of us who value pubs and our heritage. Among its other pubs are the Blackfriar, the Tottenham and the Argyll Arms, all of which have classic pub interiors. In recent years, the beer ranges seem to have improved greatly too. Once upon a time only the ‘standards’ used to make their way onto the bars. You know, London Pride, Spitfire, Deuchars, Landlord, etc. (3 of which I do actually like).  These days the situation is far more inspiring, with the range available including many newer breweries or microbreweries such as Thornbridge or Otley. An increase in the number of handpumps has been witnessed in their estate across the capital.

Going back a few years and I don’t know who owned the Falcon but it was an unloved pub trading on its location and pretty much that alone (it is situated next to the busiest railway station in Europe). The beer choice was poor, really poor standard Green King IPA and Bombadier that hardly anyone used to order. A brief attempt to turn it into a sports led pub followed and I’d pretty much given up on the place. Nicholson’s have gone in and, in my opinion, done quite a good job. The redecoration was rare in that it only spruced up what was already there and played up to the interior’s history. It now holds beer festivals and typically serves 18 cask ales along with many keg beers good and bad, which should be great. I wonder if it warrants so many as they can be of varying condition but generally they are ok. The staff, it has to be said, are not the most efficient or friendly I’ve ever encountered but when are they ever in a station pub.

If you have to drink in a chain pub, you could do a lot worse than drink in a traditional interior with a fine selection of beers. Just don’t order the food!!!

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