Nov 09

THE FT TOP 25 PUBS OF THE 00s No 25: The Kings Arms, Borough

Pumpkin Publog13 comments • 1,403 views

The Kings Arms, BoroughThere are loads of good pubs in Borough, right? Well, sort of. The Lord Clyde and Royal Oak are both a bit fiddly to find to non-regulars and don’t start me on The George. Would you Trust the National Trust to run a pub? So why The Kings Arms? On a small side street just off of Borough High Street, it is not open weekends or holidays and is pretty poky. And yet in 2008 it felt like I spent half the year in there. And it was a lovely half a year.

Basically The Kings Arms was the nearest decent pub to the Resonance FM studios when we were making the second series of Freaky Trigger and The Lollards Of Pop. So every Tuesday night we would meet for swift pre-show pint, desperately try to plan the show and then reconvene an hour later. Occasionally a few extra members of the team might just wait in the pub for the team to come back. Because The Kings Arms is that classic of a type, a dependable, solid boozer which always had OK ale on, always had pork scratchings and seemed to bring out the best in us. Numerous examples spring to mind when we left the radio studios to continue the show in the pub, where with a few text messages and a few beers we usually created the radio show we wanted to make.

I remember in particular after the first show I hosted, the Murder show, myself, Alix, Sarah, Tom and Rob (who was producing) returned to the pub to discuss whether or not it was a good idea to have run a live murder mystery with my guests without really telling them what was going on. The consensus from the guests traumatised by the mystery gunshot was it was a bad idea. And yet after a few more beers it all seemed really rather ridiculous. Another night, after this show, we just got Al Ewing to say Tim Boo Bah over and over again.

And the last show of that season might as well have been recorded in the pub. And it certainly continued in this vein. My fondness for the Kings Arms is huge, and like many pubs on this list it has rather notable toilets too. Poked away without being poky, and with lovely staff – the great pity is when we made the third series it was a Saturday show and the Kings Arms was closed. We never found a suitable replacement. Though I can say in comparison The Blue-Eyed Maid is horrific. Actually in comparison with a shit pub, the Blue Eyed Maid would still be horrific. The Kings Arms, great.


  1. 1
    Not logged in carsmile on 15 Nov 2009 #

    Kings Part, call it by its name!

  2. 2
    Pete on 15 Nov 2009 #

    Ah yes, I forgot this particular part of the legend. When arranging to meet at this pub there was often much debate over whether this was the Kings Arms or the Kings Head and as such, the pub got referred to as the Kings Part as it covered both bases.

  3. 3
    Matt DC on 16 Nov 2009 #

    I have never actually been in this one. FAP sometime?

  4. 4
    Pete on 16 Nov 2009 #

    Always, its remains a lovely pub I believe. The weekend closure thing makes it a bit annoying, it would certainly be higher if we would have been able to use it earlier this year to meet in.

  5. 5
    Andrew F on 18 Nov 2009 #

    I think I’ve been with Matt when he wasn’t in this one – One of the pub crawls nearly foundered on its rocks!

    I admit that I don’t understand the things that make a great pub, but for a place to sit and have a pint, The George is very good.

  6. 6
    sarah logged out on 18 Nov 2009 #

    I dreamt once that I had a pint of Deuchars Dark in the Kings Arms – I am not sure if such a drink exists, but it should…

  7. 7
    marna on 18 Nov 2009 #

    The George is managed by Greene King these days. I preferred it when it was the National Trust – tastier beers, for one thing.

  8. 8
    Pete on 18 Nov 2009 #

    The George has always been either too busy in the summer with its rows of oiky tables outside, or oddly poky and cold in the winter, and often akin to drinking on a cross channel ferry.

  9. 9
    marna on 18 Nov 2009 #

    Patches of it had a lovely aged stale beer smell that always made me happy. (Patches of it probably still do have that smell, but eugh eugh Greene King beers mean I’ve not been there in *ages*.)

  10. 10
    CarsmileSteve on 19 Nov 2009 #

    I think it was when they painted the walls magnolia throughout that i went off the george. this was pretty much the same time as GK took over i think…

    the KP is much nicer and proper cosy.

    also, there was the night, after the radio that we watched the brits ceremony on the telly in there, much to the disgust of most of the locals…

  11. 11
    Andrew F on 22 Nov 2009 #

    Haha I can’t think of a word more likely to endear me to anything that ‘oiky’ – was it really the one you meant, Pete? I do really like the tables, when you can get them: inside has generally been warm in any weather, care to expand on the ‘cross-channel ferry’?

    Of course my weakness in these debates is that I have a tin tongue for beers – I only drink cider, and will drink any cider (that isn’t that one you only find in the Foundry).

  12. 12
    Tom on 23 Nov 2009 #

    One of the problems with the George is that it has a good reputation that has spread far and wide. The times I’ve been out drinking in that area with people who are not regular London pubgoers (with no disrespect – I’m hardly one myself nowadays) they have invariably mentioned The George. In itself this isn’t a sign of anything bad – and it’s a good pub, no worse than many others in that stretch – but multiply the effect and it makes the G very busy indeed.

    I also think – and this may just be the basest prejudice – that the pub enjoys its good reputation a little too much. There is a particular feeling you get from a boozer which fancies itself a bit, and I get it from the George. A few years ago I didn’t, mind.

  13. 13
    Pete on 23 Nov 2009 #

    I meant oiky. Though my oik in this case is just loud lager swilling city boys completely filling up tables and leaving bags in the way.

    Cross Channel Ferry pubs, thin and long, with multiple rooms. Its impossible to get any depth at the bar and you end up drinking in a completely different room to the one the bar is in, making it just like drinking on a cross channel ferry.

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