Traveller's Tales | Londoners meet for drinks under a missing arch

LONDON is an amateur photographer’s delight. Every which way one turns there is another palace, church, monument, cathedral or wonderfully historic building waiting for what has now become the obligatory ‘selfies’. 

One of them is the ornate Marble Arch on the north-east corner of Hyde Park.

Majestic, imposing, ornate, regal, commanding!

There would have been another such arch that would have attracted tourists in their droves but for Philistines in the Conservative Party government of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

An 1896 sketch of the now-demolished Euston Arch.

An 1896 sketch of the now-demolished Euston Arch.

It was Euston Arch, on the site of the old railway station of the same name. It became world famous through the Euston Road square on the board game Monopoly.

Completed in 1839, the 22m-high Doric arch was the largest ever built in Britain.

But the arch was demolished in the 1960s when the station was rebuilt.

Not even a campaign by renowned conservationist and Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman, who led the fight to save the grand St Pancras Station, could move Macmillan in an 11th-hour effort.

As one of Betjeman’s allies noted: “Macmillan listened – or I suppose he listened. He sat without moving, with his eyes apparently closed. He asked no questions. In fact, he said nothing.

And the not-so-super Mac did nothing!

In December 1961 demolition of the Euston Arch began, with more than 4000 tonnes of grand sandstone blocks thrown into the Prescott Channel, a waterway in London’s East End.

All that now remains are two of four opulent lodges that originally stood adjacent to the arch.

Today they have been converted into trendy mini-pubs, collectively named the Euston Tap.

REPURPOSED: One of the lodges that sat beside the old Euston Arch, now converted to a popular drinking hole. Photo: Euston Tap.

REPURPOSED: One of the lodges that sat beside the old Euston Arch, now converted to a popular drinking hole. Photo: Euston Tap.

Each of the lodges has 27 different draught boutique beers and around 100 bottled brands of the amber fluid.

And the barmen will let you taste a few of the brews before you buy.

With Australian tastes, we chose a Bernard Pilsener, from a 16th century brewery in the Czech Republic at £4 pounds ($7.20) a pint and a North Riding Aussie Pale Ale, created by a brewery in the North Yorkshire city of Scarborough, at £3.70 ($6.35) a pint.

BAR-NOTE: The two mini-pubs have become so successful that the local police now erect temporary fences to allow pedestrians to pass through the throng of drinkers, who gather daily on Euston Road at about 5pm to wind down after a hard day’s work in nearby offices. 

 – Malcolm Andrews

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