Friday, April 25, 2008

The Fulham Dray RIP

I'm sad to find out one of my favorite pubs, The Fulham Dray in SW6, London, is no more. I'm probably the last person on earth to find this out, as it actually closed its doors in 2002.

Shortly after I was employed by Teletext, The Dray opened right around the corner from my office. It became a favorite spot for our traditional lunch hour drink (and traditional lunch two-hour drink on Fridays) as well as a favorite on the way home. It was only the second pub I can really call a "local" after The Railway in Hatch End, where I drank heavily (in both quantity and frequency - I was there almost every day between the ages of 17 and 20.)

I would walk in and be greeted by the landlord, Ollie, who would pour my usual before I asked for it. We played pool, put the world to rights, and even did some work aided by the Fosters lubrication. The fact it was a Chelsea supporters pub mattered very little to me. On an average weeknight the crowd was a mix of the locals propping up the bar, the Teletext louts, a bunch of teachers (who taught at the school Tony Blair sent his kids to) and some postal workers who had probably been there since their shift finished. It was always friendly (apart from one night when... well, I wasn't involved but it all got a bit nasty in the street outside) and I have many, many fond memories of the old place.

The writing was on the wall shortly after the unpleasantness that one Friday night, and Ollie (wholly unrelated to it) moved on to take charge of another pub. I'm not sure I went there after Ollie left, as I was soon after to move to Manhattan, but I'm sure it was a bit rubbish without him there. I hadn't actually vocally ordered a drink there in more than two years, so it would have been like starting again.

Following its demise (assisted, I'm sure, not only by Ollie leaving but by Teletext moving to a new site miles away) it turns out it re-opened in 2004 as a trendy bar. Gone was the "burger in a basket with chips" and the pool table. In came a variety of fancy fancy and, in an effort to be a bit hoity-toity, a credit card only policy. Behold - a pub that doesn't take money!

Anyway, a little after the event, I ask you to raise a glass to The Fulham Dray. God bless all who sailed in her. Especially during Euro '96. Magnificent times.

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