The Cutty Sark

This must be one of the oldest pubs in Greenwich – being on the riverfront it has survived when much around it has been lost. It used to be called the Union Tavern but changed its name in honour of our famous guest down the road.

A classic, high brick building with a beautiful bowed front, it commands some great views of Docklands, The Dome and any river traffic that passes. Downstairs it retains its spit-and-sawdust feel (sans the sawdust) with age-blackened partitions, 1930s style stained glass and seats made out of old barrels. The wooden staircase in the middle is fabulous – look up to see wonderful old beams and dusty candelabras. Look down to see carpet that has had so much beer and foot traffic that it is impossible to see any pattern at all. My kind of pub.

In the winter – and on a cool day in summer, the best place to sit is in the bow window on the first floor where you get all the view with none of the cold. In the summer you can sit outside across the cobbled street on benches looking out over the river.

It does all the usual beers and some pretty decent pub food. The burgers especially are good, and the chips crisp and enjoyable. Steer clear of the jacket potatoes if you like crispy skins though. The guy went to great pains to tell me how they get the super-soft skins – but to me, though the flavour was superior, the texture was microwave all the way… yeuch.

Next to the Cutty Sark pub along Ballast Quay are some delightful 19th Century (and perhaps older) cottages, some that seem so teeny from the outside one can only guess at their having some Tardis-like qualities inside. I once saw a planning permission notice outside one of them applying for consent to build a two-layer basement. I was mightily intrigued – surely that would take it to well below the level ot the Thames just ten or so yards away. Now, I’d love to see that conversion.

Some of them have fabulous little balconies with white-painted, trellis canopies – which combined with the cobbles make a wonderful photo opportunity. At the end of the way, the old Harbour Master’s Office is now split into two houses – one of which has recently been cleaned. Really – why couldn’t they have got themselves together to do them both at once? Nevertheless it is one of my favourite buildings in Greenwich and well worth a second glance.

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