PINT TO PINT
The Mawson Arms, London W4
Simon Griffiths glances out of the front window before remarking: “We probably have more people going past this place than any pub in the world.”
Very few of those passers-by are in a position to stop off for a pint. Beyond the narrow strip of Mawson Lane lies the A4. All six lanes of it. Quite a contrast, it must be said, with a stunning stretch of the Thames which runs past some 300 yards or so to the rear of this Grade II* listed pub.
Between river and road stands Fuller, Smith and Turner’s brewery, that longflowing source of London Pride.
Simon is the deputy manager of the Mawson Arms and the main “fella in the cellar”. He’s charged with ensuring that fine pints keep flowing in this longstanding tap. Brewery executives can call in at any time. So can brewery tours.
Having seen off a pint of Pride with some relish, I’ve settled on Oliver’s Island. Yes, it’s named after the nearby nine-acre clump of trees and, no, it tastes nothing like the river water that laps around it.
Slightly darker than most golden ales, its citrusy aftertaste lingers – a splendid accompaniment to my chicken breast and potatoes with chorizo butter from a menu best described as “pubby” with a few twists.
A well-polished floor of dark, gleaming boards seems to stretch into the middledistance. But then there were two pubs on this site at one time. The other was called the Fox and Hounds. Indeed there’s still a sign outside with a huntsman riding through rustic scenery.
The one I’m in today was named after Thomas Mawson, who was brewing here long before Messrs Fuller, Smith and Turner came together in 1845. Whitepanelled walls are strewn with paintings, photographs, old adverts and much else.
Among them is a print of Hogarth’s Gin Lane, another London byway where mobility was as impeded as traffic on the A4 in the rush hour, albeit for a very different reason.