Tonbridge Tour January 2010

Tonbridge Tour

The recent tour of a few selected Tonbridge pubs was a great success, with one of the best turnouts for a mid-week social that most of us can remember. We kicked off at the Ivy House at the top end of the High Street. This 350 year old inn re-opened earlier last year after an extensive refurbishment. Only one cask ale was on sale, Harvey’s Best, but it was in good condition, if a little expensive at £3.20 a pint!

We then moved on to the Wharf, in Lyons Crescent. This converted former wharf building has been through several changes since it first opened as a Beefeater Restaurant back in the mid-1980’s. Several of us have fond memories of its time as a Hogshead Alehouse when it offered a wide range of real ales direct from casks kept behind the bar. In more recent times it had stopped selling cask beer, changed its name to the Wharf and become something of a young persons haunt. We understand that it even closed for a while. Now we are pleased to welcome the Wharf back to the real-ale fold.

When we visited on Wednesday night, there were two cask ales on offer; Adnams Old and London Pride. There was some doubt that the former was Old Ale, as it certainly wasn’t the dark colour this style of beer should have been. The London Pride was quite drinkable though, and just before we left the bar staff put on a third ale – Black Sheep Best. The pub didn’t seem to have changed all that much since its Hogshead days and it is definitely a place worth keeping an eye on.

Out third port of call was Mojo’s, at the back of the station in Barden Road. Again this is a pub that has a couple of name changes. Older drinkers will remember it as the South Eastern, but in recent years it was known as the Station House and unfortunately acquired a bit of a bad reputation. All that seems to have changed following the recent refurbishment and change of name. Decorated in a modern, minimalist style, Mojo’s was selling Harvey’s Best alongside Sharp’s Doom. The latter was very acceptable, and on a quiet Wednesday night I think the young barmaid was glad of our custom,

Time was getting on so we moved on to the last pub of the evening, the Punch & Judy in St Stephen’s Street. This is yet another pub that has seen several changes of name, being formerly known as the Gardener’s Arms. It has also been through several changes of licensee since the departure of its former, long-serving landlord, Mr Colm Powell. Youngs Bitter and the ubiquitous Doom Bar were the ales on offer, but unfortunately the former was way past its best and had to be returned. It was replaced, without question by mine host, and several of us got stuck into the Doom Bar whilst a fresh cask of Young’s was brought into service.

So ended a most enjoyable and highly successful tour of Tonbridge, during which we were pleasantly surprised by what these selected pubs had to offer.