Raise a Glass . . . . . .
The Prospect of Whitby
As the Thames makes its way from East London and on toward the low- lands and mud of Tilbury and Gravesend, the river seems to belong to the world of Pepys, Dickens, the dark waters of Our Mutual Friend, of smugglers and bargemen. At Wapping, a sense of history is overpowering, and no more so than at the ancient inn, The Prospect of Whitby, a place of traditional ale, and views of tidal changes, blackheaded gulls skimming the water, and the vessels that pass by on their passage to the sea.
Both Turner and Whistler came to this spot, finding inspiration in the views of the Thames; and no doubt both distinguished artists enjoyed the distractions of the tales and company of the rivermen who supped at The Prospect of Whitby — so named after a Tyneside collier which once berthed by the inn. The pub dates from the early 16th century, and is said to be the oldest of its kind on the Thames. The infamous Judge Jeffreys also came here, and in olden times the place was known as The Devil’s Tavern.
Once popular with fashionable 1960s’ celebrities, the pub is now part of the Taylor Walker empire. The Prospect is known for its exceptionally good food: venison pie, for example, or “the ultimate fish and chips” ( as opposed to
their ordinary, yet mouthwatering fish and chips!) and Taylor Walker’s own steak and ale pie. And if that was not enough, the visitor can enjoy a chicken breast, smothered in a Cheddar cheese and crispy bacon sauce — or even the pub’s own 1730 ale, BBQ sauce.
Doubtless, the traditional Londoner ( hungry after a day on the Thames barges) needs to be sustained by... a “British classic!” The menu announces: “Juicy Boroughbridge pork sausages served on mashed potatoes with lashings of gravy and sticky onion chutney.” Members of the Campaign for Real Ale clearly have a liking for this Thameside institution, which takes beer very seriously — and a 10 per cent discount is offered for those
dedicated CAMRA loyalists. Craft beers ( the specialist brews produced by smaller, independent concerns) are championed at The Prospect of Whitby — good London names, such as Shoreditch Triangle, and Portobello IPA and Market Porter.
On a sunny day, enjoy a refreshing cool cider — a fruity Old Mout, or the Kopparberg pear — or maybe a fizzing lager, such as the well- known Budweiser brand, or a full- offlavour alcoholic ginger beer from Crabbies. The wine cellar is also first- class, with the vine- growing regions of France, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia all represented. The house wine comes from Italy, a delightful Pinot Grigio.
So allow yourself to drift down the river to Wapping Wall, to the pewter- top bars and gentle backdrop of conversation and conviviality at The Prospect of Whitby — and a prospect of the Thames and its history, second to none.
The Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London E1W 3SH. Tel: 020 74811095
Passers- by tempted by the inviting frontage are not disappointed when they enter the bar.
The old Tyneside collier is no longer there, but the “prospect” of the river remains a fine one.