One star - A pub interior of special national historic interest
Listed Status: IIStation Road
Tel: (020) 8889 9436
Real Ale: Yes
Lunchtime Meals: Yes
Evening Meals: Yes
Nearby Station: Alexandra Palace
Station Distance: 10m
Public Transport: Near Railway Station (Alexandra Palace) and Bus Stop
View on: Whatpub
An impressive two storey corner pub with a considerable amount of its rich, late-Victorian furnishings remaining.
The building started life as the Palace Café and opened in 1875, the same year as Alexandra Palace, which still dominates the skyline to the west. It had turned into a pub by 1896 and was known as the Alexandra Palace Hotel; in1955 it became the Starting Gate in honour of the nearby race course. It was refitted by the obscure architect Richard Dickenson of John Street, Adelphi, in 1899 – no doubt the date of much of what we see today.
This is a large, airy pub with high ceilings and large windows. There is an ample central servery with a good original panelled oak counter, albeit one crudely overlaid with a modern top. At one time, there would have been numerous separate bars, and two impressive full height timber and etched glass partitions remain from the original scheme, plus several baffles (cut down partitions). A timber glazed arch above the servery spans two mighty, fluted cast-iron Corinthian columns (one has been denuded of its decoration). There’s a bank of snob screens on the counter on the left-hand side of the pub. On the left-hand wall is a series of framed watercolour paintings, possibly Edwardian and mainly of pastoral scenes, but including one of Alexandra Palace.
From the St Michael’s Terrace entrance, marked with mosaic flooring, there was formerly a corridor leading to the erstwhile saloon bar at the rear. A striking full height timber and etched glass partition divided it from the body of the pub. Thankfully, this is still extant, but the corridor now houses a staircase leading to the floor above. The aforementioned bar displays a fine wooden fireplace supporting a plain mirror in a decorative overmantel.
In the front part of the pub is a modicum of matchboard panelling. Of the vestibules which remain, that at the front beyond a mighty depressed arch is most impressive. It’s a full height affair, with a copious amount of etched glass, and lacks only its inner doors. The area to the left of the pub has been brought into use in recent times, but it in no way detracts from the ambience of the historic interior.
Now a modern-atmosphere eating and drinking establishment, some considerable vestiges of this pub’s rich, late-Victorian furnishings remain. Interestingly, this pub didn’t start life as a pub but as the Palace Café, opened in 1875, the same year as Alexandra Palace. It turned into a pub by 1896 and was refitted by Richard Dickenson of St John Street, Adelphi, in 1899 – no doubt the date of much of what we see today. Inside is a central servery from which compartments once radiated and the six outside doors show these were numerous and therefore small. The surviving screen panels are formed of timber and etched glass, the latter embellished with the small birds and swirling foliage that never failed to delight late-Victorian pub owners and customers. The panelled oak bar counter is Victorian as are the mirrors in the central stillion (although the structure itself is modern). The timber arch above, however, is Victorian, and spans two mighty, fluted cast-iron Corinthian columns. Another item of interest is the mosaic flooring marking out a former corridor leading from the St Michael’s Terrace entrance. You will also find a well preserved bank of snob screens sitting on the counter.
Other Heritage Pubs with snob screens are Bartons Arms, Aston, Birmingham; Prince Alfred, London W9; Lamb, London WC1; Posada, Wolverhampton , West Midlands; Bunch of Grapes, London SW3; Crown, London N1; and Crown & Greyhound, London SE21 but these have been moved.