Hidden Pubs With History On The Thames – A Boating Pub Crawl
Woolwich Pier: There is wonderful industrial architecture right near the pier, including one 18th century foundry that has been converted into a rather decent pub. The Dial Arch serves brunch from 10am and we think it’s an ideal place to set yourself up for the day. Tons of history here. Home to the Royal Arsenal from the late 17th Century, this vast area is full of former factories that once produced guns, ammunition and explosives for the British Army.
NOTE: You will have to take a shuttle from Woolich Pier to North Greenwich Pier on the weekends after 12:05pm Please see timetable link below.
North Greenwich Pier: There is a row of cottages at Ceylon Place, (now River Way) that date to 1801 and at one end of these is probably the oldest pub on the peninsular, The Pilot. There are also Victorian gas holders that are remains of what was the largest gas works in Europe.
Greenwich Pier: There is a bewilderingly amount of history within walking distance of the pier, but we are sticking to beer today. We highly recommend The Cutty Sark Pub, which is right on the river and Plume of Feathers which was established in 1691, and it’s the oldest pub in Greenwich. It’s tucked away from the tourists and feels like a proper Kentish country pub. The service was fantastic and so was the food. We also suggest The Gypsy Moth if you love sitting outside. It’s also pretty close to the pier. Greenwich has so much to offer, I’ll be adding a Land of Time Pub Crawl very soon.
Masthouse Terrace Pier: There are a few decent pubs here. The Ship is a great little place worth a visit. Nearby you can see the remains of the slipway where Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Britain was launched in 1858. Now google maps says you have to walk under the Thames at Greenwich Pier. If so, I suggest The Lord Nelson pub instead as it’s closer to the walkway.
Greenland Dock Pier: London’s dockland heritage is easy to appreciate here. The name of the nearby Ship & Whale recalls the area’s former whaling trade.
Canary Wharf Pier: We think the short walk to The Grapes is well worth the effort. The Grapes – originally The Bunch of Grapes – has stood on the pebbled Limehouse Reach, for nearly 500 years and is partially owned by Ian McKellen! The history itself makes this a fantastic pub to visit. A characterful and historic pub with thespian connections. With the likes of Samuel Pepys, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle writing inside and about this place, makes it a must see on our trip down the river.
London Bridge Pier: There are a lot of places to go, but we have decided on The Horniman At Hayes. With their great selection of beer, you will love this place. The decor is really cool too. Don’t want to sit inside, well they have a nice size outdoor seating are right on the Thames with a fabulous view of the tower of London. We’re going to walk to the next pier because the sites along the way are not to be missed. We’re headed towards The Clink!
Bankside Pier: OK, so we walked to this area, but it was well worth it. Now that we’re here we’re going to go and visit The Old Thamseside Inn. It’s a beauty of a pub that serves real ale.The Old Thameside Inn, handpicks their ales from some of the best breweries across Britain. Its a great place to savor an unrivaled range of expertly conditioned brews at London Bridge. Another great pub is The Anchor. It’s a nice cosy spot in the winter and has fabulous views from the river terrace on a sunny day.
Embankment Pier: Way too many pubs to choose from here, both boozy and cultural. I think one place that’s often dismissed as a tourist trap, and it is, deserves a shout out anyway. The Sherlock Holmes Pub is besieged by tourists taking photos outside pretty much all day long, everyday. Some venture inside for a pint but not so many make it upstairs to the restaurant area. Here is housed a loving “recreation” of Holmes’ study. It dates back to the Festival of Britain in 1951. Conan Doyle’s son was involved as was the Sherlock Holmes Society of Great Britain. Every tiny detail in the room is something that was mentioned in the original stories or novels. When it was relocated here from Baker Street in the mid 1950s the brewery even issued this 54 page catalogue detailing every item. It is the oldest exhibition devoted to a fictional character anywhere on earth and we find its attention to detail impressive and strangely moving. They have a great selection of Holmes inspired ales and decent food. The outside seating is limited and so is the bar area. the place has been packed every time I’ve gone in there. It is a great little pub, even if you don’t like Sherlock Holmes.
London Eye Pier: Now that we’re at the London Eye, I as well as my mate love to visit the BFI Riverside Bar. No, it’s not a pub, but we love it there. It has a great atmosphere and is fun to hang out at. Great outside seating along the river and good food. I can’t say it’s cheap, but it’s a fun hang out. I would start here the day off here. If you want a pub instead, I really don’t have one to suggest. If you can suggest one to me, post it and I’ll add it to this listing. You can always skip this pier too. Just walk across the Thames and start your journey at the Sherlock Holmes and get the boat at Embankment Pier.
Since the BFI is NOT a pub, I want to suggest The Wellington Hotel & Pub. It’s right across the street from Waterloo Station and is a cool little pub as well as a hotel. If you want to stay pure to pubs, go to this one, you won’t be sorry.
You don’t need to go to all of the pubs on this list as I got a bit carried away. You could do half the list and have a great day out. Since I live in Richmond-Upon-Thames, I would do this crawl backwards to how I have it written. This way I end in Woolich and can take a nice relaxing boat ride back to the city and hop on a train at Waterloo station to head back home. Some might want to start at Woolich and head back into town. Either way this is a fantastic day and evening crawl sure to please ale enthusiasts and history buffs alike. If you love boating on the river, try this crawl. Oh! Did I mention you can buy alcohol on the boats? 🙂
Remember: You must respect your fellow passengers on the boat. Don’t be obnoxious and rude. It’s uncool and you’ll probably get kicked off the boat. Drink responsibly and have fun.
Here are links to help you on your way:
Tickets for Day Pass – Groups of 10 or more can get a 10% discount on tickets.
Check out Group Information for Day Pass Boat Tickets.
Time Table for Boats – Can be downloaded.
Directions to Each Pub (I used Google maps, so hope there aren’t any errors. Please let me know if there are.)
If you want to sell tickets to the event and have your mates all pay upfront, you can use this handy system called EventBright. I love using it because I can send out the invite or post a link and everyone can pay in advance. This way you have numbers for your crawl and you don’t get suck paying for everyone yourself. It’s really helpful, even if you want to charge for the group rate all-day pass for the boats. charge that rate and if you have less then 10, everyone owes you roughly a pound and a half on top of their tickets. Obviously, if you just want everyone to buy their own tickets, that fine too. Some people join in later or towards the end and don’t go on the whole crawl. Hope this idea helps you when you plan your next boat pub crawl.