Jul 04

The Nags Head, Kinnerton Street, London SW1

Pumpkin Publog7 comments • 2,039 views

The Nags Head, Kinnerton Street, London SW1: A lot of the pubs we write about here have unpromising exteriors but great atmospheres. This is a pub which looks great and has a really promising, trad-boozer interior but feels lifeless. Its position in the heart of Belgravia is probably something to do with this: the walls of the Nags Head are covered in fading cartoons and sketches, reminders of bygone jollies, but the clientele now are huddles of plotting businessmen, not bon viveurs. There was nobody there who I could remotely imagine as a regular. (And no coincidence that I was in there for an appraisal, rather than a social drink.)

Perhaps it livens up on Fridays or at the weekend: I hope so. It’s a charming place – several little rooms, old wood panelling, rickety stairs, and plenty of character (I liked the rusting 1930s fruit machines left outside the loos). Once, you imagine, it was a really pleasant, bustling London local. It’s just a shame the punters don’t live up to their pub.


  1. 1
    JMaciol on 25 Oct 2007 #

    Not much has changed in three years – visited this establishment yesterday (Oct 2007)….I found it to be dingy, lifeless and someone’s idea of how a ‘typical’ English pub should be….for me, and I would suspect many ordinary working folk, it failed on all counts.

    The drink choices were poor and very expensive, and it lacked any true atmosphere – would imagine ‘Tim nice but Dim’ loving the place….do yourself a favour…if you’re in the area and in need of a drink drop into The Wilton Arms just a few yards down the road – clean, tidy and friendly and the same round I bought at The Nags Head was £1.55p cheaper.

  2. 2
    Tim on 25 Oct 2007 #

    Now funnily enough I was in there last night also, for the first time in ages (and only the second time ever) and I rather liked it, though I was in excellent comapny.

    Should I take the previous response a bit personally?

  3. 3
    JMaciol on 25 Oct 2007 #

    “Should I take the previous response a bit personally?”

    No Tim not unless you’re Harry Enfield..lols…

    I think ANY pub no matter how bad will be good if you’re with the right company….I was totally underwhelmed by the place.

  4. 4
    Tom on 25 Oct 2007 #

    I had forgotten writing this review!

    The NH is the kind of boozer that good company would really improve (more so than most) – it has the potential to be something like the Quin.

    The Wilton Arms is a good pub though I agree. They all seem quite good now I don’t work in that area any more.

  5. 5
    Margaret Major on 15 Dec 2009 #

    My family’s favourite place for a drink or lunch when in London. We’ll be there again in 2010. I hope the Nags Head remains an oasis in this brash world.
    Mrs M

  6. 6
    Christopher White on 26 Jul 2012 #

    I remember the Nag’s head from 1959 when it was run by Len Cole and Eva, his wife. I worked there for a while with Mary Talbot, the Australian artist. She was a serious raver, and Len and Eva were hilarious and permanently pissed. Eva’s “Time, Gentlemen, please – some day my Prince will come to me, the bastard never turned up!” lingers hysterically in the recesses of my mind – what’s left of it…..

    Mary and U were scarce far behind the proprietors in our consumption of the juices. “What sort of evening shall we have, darlind – let’s make it a gin evening.” or sometimes, “the full terrifying thing!” which meant whatever came to hand and lots of it……

    Cheers to anyone else who cherishes the good old days when having a drink could last a month!

    Never a dull or sober moment up at the “Nag’s”

    Christopher White

  7. 7
    Frederick Walsh on 1 Feb 2013 #

    Although it is 53 years later, I must agree with Mr. White. The Nag’s Head under Kevin Moran is every bit the entertainment it was under Len Cole. I first walked into the diminutive pub in 2000 and make a beeline for Kinnerton Street on any visit to London. Judging any pub on “just the one” is never a good idea. To get the true flavor of any place requires several visits and perhaps extended stays. The Nag’s Head has a wonderful life which ebbs and flows thru the day just like the tide. Maybe the regulars of ten and twenty years ago have passed with the decades, but their memories are held dear, their stories told by those who once knew them and have taken their places. Personalities and characters abound in today’s Nag’s Head and I have always found it to be a delightful place to enjoy a few pints in an afternoon, an evening….or as Mr. White said, a month.

    The place is so agreeable and intriguing that last year I wrote a history of the pub….and wish I had stumbled on “Freaky Trigger” and Christopher White’s comment before today. It would still be nice to talk with him about Len Cole and his days at the Nag’s Head. Perhaps I’ll find him sitting at the bar–it’s a very different bar today, Mr. White, than it was in 1959–when next I am able to lift a glass at the Nag’s Head.

    Rick Walsh

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