Thursday, November 6, 2008
On tuesday night I went to a book launch party. I haven't been to one for a couple of years, but normally they involve standing in a big white room drinking lukewarm bottles of whatever the latest lager du jour is. This launch, however, was different. The free bar was mostly real ale from Youngs and Nethergate, and the venue was smack in the middle of Borough Market, ghostly outside trading hours without the familiar bustle of punters and vendors. The book being launched was Wheatsheaf RIP, a collection of photographic portraits of regulars of the eponymous pub by John Ross. The Wheatsheaf is closing because the new Thameslink rail development is being driven through the area, removing the boozer's top floor, part of the market's roof and a large part of the character and charm of this thriving pocket of soul and atmosphere. The Wheatsheaf is 237 years old, and is definately a proper pub - functional, friendly, popular and retaining lots of features like frosted glass leaded windows. It has two bars, simple decor, and great beer. The market traders can go in and not have to take their aprons off. In short, it ticks a lot of my boxes. But it's going, despite being grade 2 listed. Unfortunately, the railway couldn't be shoved through the nearby All Bar One instead.