Jon and Nick's Brockley pub crawl

A couple of weeks ago, Jon and Nick met up to share notes and to try out some of the venues that get least coverage on Brockley Central. We only managed two venues because it was a very cold day and places to drink in Brockley are very far apart.

Most pressing was the need to review The Talbot in its pre-makeover form, but first, the Brockley Barge...

When we got to the bar, the perky barmaids were playing a game of twenty questions, in-between serving the customers and cleaning the glasses. A sozzled Irish bloke, propping up the bar, regaled no-one in particular with a story that we couldn’t quite make out. But a cockney guy further down the bar responded and the two guys struck up a conversation. So, despite its cavernous nature and the presence of tacky adverts on every wall, the Barge creates a community atmosphere during the day.

It was also pretty busy and good natured – predominantly couples and family groups, making the most of the low-cost menu. They also had some suitably obscure ale, to keep Jon happy.

If they got rid of all the advertising banners and the garish carpets it wouldn’t be half-bad, but then, it wouldn’t be a Wetherspoons.

We then braced ourselves against the cold, peered in to see whether Gulens was open (of course it wasn’t) and set off for The Talbot. Walking through the streets of Brockley, we were struck by how many things along our route had been discussed on the blog, from the lovely big yellow police signs to the homemade signs, imploring people to clean up after their dogs.

Brockley Nick’s idea of a perfect pub looks something like ‘The Winchester’, from Shaun of the Dead. On the outside, The Talbot looks like the Winchester. On the inside, it looks like Shaun of the Dead. It really has been left to rot and it even had a whiff of decay. Solo-drinkers lined the bar, drinking their pints in virtual silence and reading the paper. Relics from a different era adorn the walls – our favourite being the 80s-style “Cocktails” neon tubing above the bar.

For all that, it had its charms – the barman was friendly enough and the clientele obliged when asked what the score in the football was. If The Talbot was a student union, packed with young drinkers who relished the low-rent surroundings, it could have been a lot of fun. But it wasn’t. Team Jon and Nick sat in a dark booth (the light fitting was hanging loose), feeling embarrassed to talk above a whisper.

When redone, it will be a slice of fried gold.

We’re hoping that at some point, Brockley Jon will wade in with his own thoughts and also with the photo he took of the Talbot’s snazzy glitterball.

[Update: Indeed he has, and you can also admire the textured nicotine-yellow walls...]


The Talbot looking into the main bar, via the snazzy glitterball.

23 comments:

patrick1971 said...

Does anyone remember the Brockley Barge from its days as the Breakspears Arms? When I first knew Brockley, back in 1996, the Breakspears Arms was a boarded up wreck, although the sign was still clearly visible. What's the history of the site? Was it always a pub (ISTR reading somewhere that Brockers, like Catford, was built by a teetotaller, hence the lack of corner pubs you see in other Victorian suburbs)? When did it close down? Why did it close down; the site's clearly profitable for Wetherspoons?

fabhat said...

When I was a teenager in the mid 90's the Breakspears Arms was one of the hardest pub around New Cross/Brockley. None of my mates dared enter it, even though we'd certainly have been served, but some of the Askes boys who fancied themselves as tough, used to go there to buy dope. If you waited for the bus outside you could get high on the fumes that came out of the windows.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, The Winchester, aka The Duke of Albany can be found in New Cross. This was the pub used for the shooting of Shaun of the Dead. This can be found on Monson Road and is currently being converted into a block of flats. But I'm sure everyone knew that.

Brockley Nick said...

Blow me! I didn't know that. Just googled it and you're right - what a travesty. Makes me all the more grateful for the Honor Oak takeover.

Thank you - anonymous!

Anonymous said...

So it's not a working pub we can all visit?

Don't Stop Me Now!

Brockley Nick said...

Does this answer your question?

http://www.movielocationsguide.com/forums/showthread.php?t=74

Tamsin said...

And the credits to Shaun of the Dead (lovely movie, especially the bit where they run through the alterntive rescue plans)thank the people of New Cross who were the extras playing the zombies. (Some obvious connection there...?)

tyrwhitt michael said...

You should have come in to the Talbot one evening, I would have been sat on the stool in the window.

No changes to report yet under the new regime, to the extent that they ran out of beer this week much as the previous management used to do on a regular basis......

Ah well better the devil you know.

Brockley Jon said...

I'd like to think they ran out of beer due to an influx of customers, but having actually been there...

tyrwhitt michael said...

Jon

To be fair the excuse from the new manager Rob (and which is probably justified)is that they only had in stock, what was left by the previous management. Next week is the acid test..

I must say I have not seen the avalanche of supportive Brockley Bloggers descend on the place as promised, maybe this weekend?

Anonymous said...

When the Brockley Barge was the Breakspears Arms it was an intidating place as were the streets around it. People used to come from far and wide to buy drugs. It was the frontline full of men who looked as if they were just passing through between prison sentences. There were fights and murders in Brockley then. Where the Kings grocery shop is now used to be a shop that sold tickets for events. It was a front for drug dealing and was attacked by a rival gang from Streatham armed with a machine gun killing one man.

If you google around enough you can piece together the story. The atmosphere around the Breakspears was pretty much like Loughborough Junction.
The Alpha Club were the Jam Circus is now was another haunt of local thugs and gangsters. Also the scene of murderous fights.

Some very heavy people live in Brockley. They don't go away just because the pub changes management.

Anonymous said...

...Although they can be found frequenting the Brockley Fun Run, the Cross Action Group and the Ukulele Club.

Brockley Nick said...

@tm - to be fair, I think most people are probably waiting for the makeover, or at least some progress. At the moment, it looks like it would implode if more than six people set foot in it at the same time.

patrick1971 said...

Loughborough Junction is grim, isn't it? Relentlessly seedy. A bit like Lewisham Way ;-)

Bobblekin said...

A big loss is the sky sports cos i would go in to watch some of the big games. I've since had to go down to the Cranbrook.

Because the Talbot is closing for a bit for refurb then I understand they won't be renewing the subscription.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1833 so what if there were some hard people around five years ago? They don't affect my life now. Things change...

Anonymous said...

I watched the Arsenal v Liverpool match at the Albertines (at the end of Wickham road, on Lewisham Way. They've tidied the place up and it had a decent mixed crowd & really friendly banter. It was a free for all on the pool table & the drinks were flowing. It's really looking up - i'll definitely be heading back for the game Saturday noon!

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Strangely, or not depending on your view point, I find the loss of Sky in the Talbot and the reduction to a single domestic scale television, rather than two televisions including a flat screen monstrosity, the most positive aspect of the new management to date.

Still you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Anonymous said...

I went in the Talbot for the first time t'other day and Rob seems really lovely - and seems like they'll pack in the punters once refurbed! but at the moment it's quite depressing in there. we'd be in there 5 minutes and a group of football yobbos came in shouting, swearing and generally intimidating everyone. one dodgy guy was staring at us in a menacing 'who the f%*k are you?' way for the rest of our drink. needless to say, we left pretty sharpish. but without the yobbos i'd go in there happily until August when the refurb starts. i can tell there'll be tensions though when the new clientele start drinking there - but the less yobbos the better!
They're doing a pub quiz on Thurs 10 April so it'd be good if lots of BC bloggers go along to lend Rob their support I say!

Anonymous said...

hello

Talbot Rob said...

Hello all,
My name is Rob and i'm the new manager of the Talbot. ive just been reading through the site and can i just say thankyou to everyone who has offered their support. Thankyou, and also just to let you know that the Talbot holds a Pub Quiz every thursday from 8pm. come a long you could win a gallon of beer and dont worry you dont have to drink it all on the night. come down a become a one of the locals for when we re-open
Thanks everyone.

Sam said...

Hi Rob, welcome to Tyrwhitt Road! As a fellow TRer, I'm really excited about your plans for the Talbot. I've walked past so many times on a lovely summer's evening and longed for a welcoming place to stop for a drink. Good luck with the rennovations - you have a lot of support.

Anonymous said...

First the good: Lovely refurb, the pub is much more open airy, and welcome than it used to be, and the lack of blaring tv's is great.
Then the bad: Tried the new Talbot twice (for food) and I'm afraid I won't be eating there again. On both occaisons I experienced incredibly slow service (how can you justify 20 mins between serving two diners their respective desserts, especially when one was a slice of brownie stuck on a plate?). Quality of food on a normal night was average at best, and on the saver night (Tuesday??) was poor at best. Don't bother buying a bag of crisps either - at nearly two quid a packet you'd be better off putting it towards the next beer.
So in summary, nice place for a drink, but if you want a good meal and better atmosphere go to The Orchard or Jam Circus instead.

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