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The Salisbury Public House, Harringay, London, UK

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The Salisbury is a pub in Harringay, North London. It's at the end of Grand Parade on Green Lanes, at the junction with St Ann's Road. Along with such legends as the Nag's Head in Holloway1 and the Swan in Tottenham, it's one of a select few North London pubs to be listed as a bus route destination. It's an occasional terminus for the number 29 and 141 buses during busy times, although the 341 also passes right outside its front door.

A Little History

The Salisbury was opened in 1899 as the Salisbury Hotel, to loud cheers from the residents of the nearby Harringay Park Estate, whose builders had thought it too 'exclusive' to include public houses. Like the rest of Grand Parade in Harringay, it was built by the prolific Scottish builder JC Hill. It was the grandest building on Grand Parade - a huge and impressive gaff with a large billiard room, restaurant and concert hall. While remaining huge and impressive, it lost its grandeur as its fortunes slowly declined along with the rest of Harringay. By the 1990s, it had acquired the kind of clientele that made you take a deep breath before going in for a drink and contributed to the cultural life of the area by holding occasionally violent Saturday night discos in its back room.


Happily, new owners transformed the Salisbury in 2003. Previously a rough and dodgy boozer where you risked going out on a Saturday night and coming back without your teeth, it was reinvented as not-exactly-a-gastropub. It was sympathetically restored to make the most of the original Victorian features and started doing slightly upmarket food and selling imported Czech lager (good stuff - Zubr and Litovel) along with a bit of real ale2 on the beer front. The shady clientele were banished and it has since become an exceedingly pleasant place to go.

The back room was once a dining room and has also been restored to its original glory. The black and white tiled floor (a common feature of all Hill-built properties) is back on the scene, the stained glass skylight lets in some lovely rays when the sun shines and the addition of a few huge leather sofas and armchairs has been more than welcome.

The main saloon remains as impressive as ever. The central 'island' bar, made from carved wood, is one of the period features of the building that are subject to a preservation order. On the floor, black and white tiles are the order of the day once again, plus your usual standard pub tables and a good high ceiling. The walls are papered with a maroon Victorian textured pattern and there's a welcome absence of the usual Fake Olde Worlde Pubbe Rubbyshe3 that so many establishments mistakenly attach to their walls in a vain attempt to create atmosphere. Oh, and there's an alcove which serves as a nice, secluded booth to drink in, just on the right as you come in from the Green Lanes entrance4.

What's On

The Salisbury hosts an excellent quiz night on Monday nights and is branching out into comedy nights in the back room on Sundays and experimenting with various DJ-hosted nights. The jukebox in the main bar is well-stocked with CDs featuring most of the better guitar bands thrown up over the last 40 years, mainly leaning towards indie but occasionally venturing in the direction of Northern Soul and Ska. The one thing you won't find is a television or big screen showing football - this seems to have been a definite policy decision by the new management, to encourage conversation and discourage the less desirable element that used to infest the front bar5. Likewise, if you're after a game of pool or darts, you'd best head five minutes up the road to the Beaconsfield, just the other side of the railway bridge.

How to Get There

The Salisbury lies almost exactly halfway between Manor House and Turnpike Lane tube stations6, on the Piccadilly Line of the London Underground. It's about 15 minutes walk from either, but as mentioned above the 29, 141 and 341 buses pass right outside the door. Any of them will take you there from Manor House, but the 341 veers off towards Tottenham rather than carrying on to Wood Green and Turnpike Lane, so from that direction only the 29 or 141 will do you. Additionally, Silverlink Trains' Gospel Oak-Barking railway line crosses Green Lanes at Harringay Green Lanes station, which is about five minutes' walk away7.

If You Liked This One...

There are two other pubs in North London built by JC Hill - not quite as grand as the Salisbury, but certainly worth a look. The Beaconsfield, mentioned above, is five minutes walk further south along Green Lanes and very near to Harringay Green Lanes station. The Queens Hotel is a couple of miles away on Tottenham Lane in leafy Crouch End. And if you like this sort of thing, the cut-glass mirrors and stained-glass skylights of the Great Northern Railway Tavern on Hornsey High Street are also well worth a look.

1The Nag's Head suffered the ignominy of losing its name and becoming an O'Neill's 'Irish' pub in the 1990s and subsequently closing down and becoming a furniture shop in 2004.2At the time of writing, Fuller's ales have just taken over from Ridley's as the beer of choice.3In the 1990s, brewery marketing men cottoned on to the fact that traditional Victorian pubs were popular. Unfortunately, rather than going in for spectacular architecture and cut-glass mirrors, in the main they tried to achieve the 'traditional' effect on the cheap. The walls of previously perfectly serviceable pubs started to be festooned with antique agricultural equipment, or shelves of obscure hardback books (bought by the yard) that no-one would ever wish to read. And so it came to pass that your average local boozer resembled an unlikely cross between a library and a Corn Exchange.4There's another entrance on St Ann's Road, plus one more on the corner of Green Lanes and St Ann's Road.5The nearby Old Suffolk Punch, part of the JD Wetherspoon's chain of pubs, closed down around the time the Salisbury re-opened. Presumably they'd concluded that were bound to lose their better-behaved customers to the Salisbury and, given Wetherspoon's bargain pricing policy, attract the former denizens of the Salisbury's front bar.6In fact almost exactly on the site where a station for Harringay was suggested, but London Transport - in their wisdom - elected not to build one at the time.7It's a very handy east-west link across the top of London, if you can work out the train times...

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