Here Are Our Favourite Riverside Pubs in London

When the sun comes out, there’s nothing better than enjoying a drink outside while soaking up the views along the river. Famous for its traditional pubs, London also offers some great locations to laze away a summer’s afternoon right on the banks of the River Thames.
If you’re looking for a traditional pub atmosphere combined with fantastic waterside views and a bit of history thrown in too, here’s a selection of our favourite riverside pubs in London.

Prospect of Whitby, Wapping

With a popular beer garden and views of the Thames, the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is one of the most famous historic pubs in London. Once frequented by villainous smugglers, pirates and thieves, London’s oldest riverside pub, which dates back to 1520, was also a regular drinking spot for Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens.
The pub views have been sketched by both Whistler and Turner, while most recently the pub featured in one of the most famous episodes of TV classic Only Fools and Horses.

Trafalgar Tavern, Greenwich

Boasting fantastic views of the Thames from its magnificent Georgian windows, this 19th-century waterside pub is steeped in the maritime history of the area, and is the perfect spot to stop off for a pint before enjoying the attractions of Greenwich.
Another favourite of Charles Dickens, the pub is the setting for the wedding breakfast in his last novel Our Mutual Friend.

Anchor, Bankside

Adorned with colourful window boxes and hanging baskets, this quintessential British pub on the South Bank can be found between Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and The Golden Hinde.
Samuel Pepys watched the Great Fire of London from here in 1666. He describes seeking refuge in ‘a little alehouse on bankside… and there watched the fire grow’.
Today visitors can enjoy the views stretching along the River Thames to the City from the riverside terrace. But be sure to get there early, it gets very popular in summer.

The Dove, Hammersmith

This much-loved 17th century riverside pub in West London was where Charles II reportedly romanced his mistress, Nell Gwynne.
As well as a lovely riverside terrace boasting one of the prettiest views of the River Thames, this delightful pub also features in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the smallest bar room in the world.

The Gun, Docklands

Boasting some of the best views of the Thames in East London, this charming and atmospheric 18th-century pub in Canary Wharf was once a favourite of Admiral Lord Nelson, who would regularly arrange clandestine meetings with Lady Emma Hamilton in the upstairs room.

The Ship, Wandsworth

If you’re looking for a buzzing atmosphere and lively party vibe, head to The Ship near Wandsworth Bridge. This lovely 18th century pub has a spacious outdoor deck overlooking the River Thames and is very popular on summer evenings when visitors can enjoy live Irish music sessions and an outdoor barbecue kitchen.

Our London experts at Premium Tours know all the best riverside pubs around the capital. For more information and booking advice on our best-selling London tours, call us today on 020 771 31311 or visit us online.

Everything You Need to Know About Tower Bridge

One of London’s most symbolic structures and one of the most famous bridges in the world, Tower Bridge is a must-stop photo opportunity for almost every visitor to the capital, and should be included on your London tour.
But there’s so much more to this fascinating bridge than meets the eye. History, purpose, function and a stunning example of Victorian architecture, Tower Bridge has a character all of its own.
If you’re planning to visit this treasured and iconic London landmark, here’s everything you need to know about Tower Bridge.

History

Tower Bridge is not as old as many assume. This is probably because it is often confused with London Bridge further downstream, which has existed in one form or another for 2,000 years. Tower Bridge only dates back to the late 19th century.
In 1876, the City of London Corporation faced the challenge of constructing one more river crossing due to the high level of traffic arising from London’s East End commercial development. However, a traditional ‘fixed’ bridge couldn’t be built as it would disrupt the river traffic activities and cut off access to the port between London Bridge and the Tower of London.
Faced with this dilemma, a ‘Special Bridge or Subway Committee’ was formed and a design competition was announced to the public. The committee, chaired by Sir Albert Joseph Altman received over 50 ideas for consideration.

It wasn’t until 1884 that a final design was approved. Engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry, together with city architect Horace Jones designed a Gothic styled ‘bascule’ suspension bridge with two towers at both ends connected by 2 horizontal walkways. The hydraulically powered bascules could be raised to allow sailing ships to pass.
After receiving the go ahead from Parliament, the construction finally got underway in 1886. It took eight years, five major contractors and over 430 construction workers to build the bridge.
Horace Jones died in 1886 and was replaced by George D. Stevenson, who designed the Victorian Gothic framework in Cornish granite and Portland stone to match the look of the bridge with the Tower of London. The bridge was officially opened on 30 June 1894 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and his wife, Alexandra.

Facts and Figures

• The total cost of construction was £1,184,000 (around £120m today).
• The bridge is supported by two massive piers containing 70,000 tonnes of concrete sunk deep into the riverbed.
• The framework of the bridge, including the towers and walkways, consists of over 11,000 tonnes of steel.
• 31,000,000 bricks were used to construct the bridge.
• It takes just five minutes for each bascule to rise to their highest level (86 degree angle).
• Each tower is 213 ft. high.
• The total length of the bridge is 800 ft. long.
• The bridge connects Tower Hamlets on the north side with Southwark on the south side of the River Thames.
• The weight limit for vehicles crossing the bridge is 18 tonnes.
• The speed limit for vehicles crossing the bridge is 20 mph.
• The bascules are raised approximately three times a day.
• Around 40,000 motorists, cyclists and pedestrians cross the bridge every day.
• In 1974, the hydraulic steam-powered machines to raise the bascules were replaced with an electro-hydraulic system.
• In 2000, a remote computer-controlled raising system was installed.
• The bridge underwent a massive renovation project between 2008 and 2012. It now has a state-of-the-art protective coating system consisting of six layers of paint, and energy-efficient LED lighting.

Did You Know?

• The high-level, open-air walkways weren’t very popular when the bridge first opened. Due to the number of steps and dark lighting, they soon became the regular haunt for prostitutes and pickpockets. In a bid to rid the bridge of unsavoury types, the walkways were closed in 1910. They were re-opened in 1982 with an admission fee.
• In 1912, pilot Francis McClean, during an emergency, flew his Short Brothers floatplane between the bascules and the high-level walkways to avoid an accident.
• In 1952 as the number 78 bus was passing over the bridge, the process of ringing a warning bell failed, and the bridge began to open. The driver Albert Gunton, accelerated and managed to ‘jump’ the bus over a 3 ft. gap. There were no serious injuries and Albert was awarded £10 by the City Corporation for his bravery.
• In 1968, Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock, in protest at the lack of aerial displays for the 50th anniversary of the RAF, flew a Hawker Hunter jet three times around the Houses of Parliament before flying under the top span of Tower Bridge. He was arrested on landing and discharged from the RAF.
• In 1977, Tower Bridge (originally painted brown) was re-painted red, white and blue in honour of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
• Ships always have the priority. In 1997, Bill Clinton’s presidential motorcade was split between bascules when the bridge opened to allow Thames sailing barge Gladys to pass. A Tower Bridge spokesman said they had tried to contact the American Embassy about the scheduled opening but ‘they wouldn’t answer the phone’.
• In 2012, Tower Bridge became a symbol for the 2012 London Olympics. A set of Olympic rings weighing 13 tonnes were suspended from the bridge and the west walkway was transformed into a live music sculpture featuring 30 classical musicians positioned along the entire length of the bridge.
• Vessels don’t have to pay for the bridge to be opened. Passage is free for ships that are over nine metres in height, although 24 hours notice is required.
• When the bridge was first built, there were concerns that horses wouldn’t be able to pull their carts up the incline to the bridge, so horses were stabled at the bridge to provide extra help if needed.
• In Victorian times, so many dead bodies were washed up under the north side of Tower Bridge that it was nicknamed ‘dead man’s hole’. A mortuary was built at the bridge to temporarily house the bodies until they were collected by the coroner. Although the mortuary is long gone, visitors can still see a ‘dead man’s hole’ sign at the base of the bridge on the East side.
• As an iconic symbol of London, Tower Bridge has featured as a backdrop in many films and television series including Doctor Who, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Independence Day: Resurgence.

Visiting Tower Bridge

There’s so much more to visiting Tower Bridge than meets the eye. As well as seeing the magnificent Victorian Gothic architecture up close, visitors can also step inside and find out about the history of the famous bridge while enjoying breathtaking views of London at the Tower Bridge Exhibition.

Tower Bridge Exhibition

Travel back in time to the 19th century inside the Tower Bridge Exhibition. Entry is via a grand Victorian staircase or a four-level lift that will take you up to the north tower. The exhibition is fully accessible for all and is fully equipped for disabled visitors.
Visitors can learn about the construction of the bridge inside the Exhibition Room, which displays photos, exhibits and films including some of the 50 designs that were submitted.

Family Days

The Exhibition also hosts family days each month with hands-on interactive family-friendly activities to encourage exploration and imaginative learning. If you’re visiting with children, be sure to download the family trail app beforehand. It includes games, stories about the bridge’s history and fun interactive functions younger visitors will love.
The walkways are the settings for Tots at Tower Bridge play sessions held for younger children. Tower Bridge also holds regular yoga sessions on the glass floor walkways for both adults and children throughout the year.
There are British Sign Language guided tours the last Saturday of every month at 11am, for hearing-impaired visitors. And there are also early opening Autism Friendly sessions throughout the year.

Glass Floor Walkway

The highlights of the Tower Bridge Exhibition are the incredible high-level glass floor walkways on the east and west sides of the bridge leading from the north tower to the south tower.
The glass floors allow visitors a unique and spectacular view of London from138 ft. above the River Thames. Made up of six half-tonne panels on each level, the glass floors are perfect for getting a bird’s eye view of the bridge below, and maybe even a bridge lifting if you’re lucky to be there when one’s scheduled.
If you’d rather not look down, the walkways offer spectacular panoramic views of London including famous landmarks such as the Tower of London, HMS Belfast, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Monument.
On the east walkway visitors can enjoy the Great Bridges of the World exhibition featuring 40 of the most famous bridges around the world.

Victorian Engine Rooms

The exhibition includes a tour of the Victorian Engine Rooms, where visitors can learn about the unsung heroes of Tower Bridge and learn about the working history of the bridge and those who worked here. Over 80 workers were needed to maintain the bridge, which would have been raised around 20-30 times a day at the end of the 19th century.
Explore the coal-driven steam engines and experience the noise and smells of the historic steam engines that once powered the mighty bascules.

Insider Tips

• If you want to coincide your glass floor walk with a bridge lifting, the daily bridge lift times can be found on the official Tower Bridge website.
• Before you visit Tower Bridge, make sure you download the free app that includes a 360-degree video of the bridge being raised. You can also perform your own virtual bridge lift!
• The bridge and exhibition are fully accessible and equipped for disabled visitors. There are two lifts, one in the north tower and one in the south. Wheelchairs are also available to borrow.
• Toilets are located in both towers and the engine rooms. Disabled toilets are located in the south tower and the engine rooms.
• Benches are located along the walkways, in the towers and in the engine rooms.
• Blue uniformed staff are available for information and guidance throughout the exhibition.
• Glass bottles and glass items are not permitted near the glass floor.
• One of the best vantage points to snap a photograph of the bridge and watch one of the bridge lifts from afar, is on the South Bank or just in front of the Tower of London on the north side.
• The Tower Bridge Exhibition also features a gift shop. If you don’t have time to browse on the day, the official Tower Bridge website also has an online store.

Exhibition Opening Times and Admission Prices

Summer Opening Hours: April to September, 10.00 – 17.30 (last admission)
Winter Opening Hours: October to March, 09.30 – 17.00 (last admission)
Closed 24 – 26 December

Standard ticket prices (as of May 2018)

Adult £9.80
Child (5 – 15) £4.20
Disabled, Students, Seniors £6.80
Under 5s FREE
Family, group (10 or more), and joint Tower Bridge and The Monument ticket discounts are available.

How to get there

The main entrance and ticket office are based in the northwest tower. The Victorian engine rooms can be found on the south side at ground level. A blue painted line connects the two parts of the exhibition.
The nearest transport links to Tower Bridge are:
By Bus
Routes 15, 42, 78, 100 and RV1 all stop at Tower Bridge.
By Tube
To access the north side of the bridge: Tower Hill Station (District and Circle lines).
To access the south side of the bridge: London Bridge Station (Northern and Jubilee lines).
By Train
The nearest stations within walking distance to the bridge are London Bridge, Fenchurch Street, and Tower Gateway DLR.
By Boat
Riverboats stop at St Katherine Pier and Tower Pier on the north bank and at London Bridge City Pier on the south side.
By Car:
The nearest car park is located at Tower Hill coach and car park, 50 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6DP, next to the Tower of London.

For booking information on Premium Tours’ fantastic range of best-selling London tours, contact our friendly travel experts today or visit us online.

Five of the Best Farmers’ Markets in London

There are many reasons why shopping at a local farmer’s market is so much better than going to a supermarket. Often organic and most definitely seasonal, produce from ethical and sustainable suppliers just tastes so much better.
A good farmers’ market connects farmers and small, independent producers directly with their customers, offering the freshest, just picked produce, free range meats and fish straight from the sea, all with guaranteed provenance and low food miles.
Here’s our top pick of the five best farmers’ markets in London.

1. South Kensington Farmers’ Market

Located just five minutes from South Kensington Tube, this lovely little market in Bute Street sets up stall every Saturday morning from 9am till 2pm.
FARMA approved, the market features just 18 stalls where you can buy fresh, seasonal products directly from local producers. Favourites include fresh, south coast fish and shellfish from Christchurch Fish; seasonal, just picked organic veg from Ted’s Veg; breads, cakes and pastries from Olivier’s Bakery; and free-range sausages from The Parson’s Nose.

2. Pimlico Road Farmers’ Market

Priding itself on provenance and low food miles this small market, which takes place every Saturday from 9am to 1pm, only sells produce that’s been grown, raised or fished within 100 miles of the M25.
Located in quaint Orange Square just off Pimlico Road, the 25-30 stalls offer a delightful array of products including unusual vegetables such as radish pods, seasonal tarts, delicious cheeses and even edible flowers.

3. Wimbledon Farmers’ Market

This family-friendly neighbourhood market on Havana Road is open every Saturday from 9am till 1pm and features seasonal cut flowers, organic meat and poultry, seasonal game, and a huge range of organic fruits and vegetables.
Head over to March House Farm stall and their wonderful selection of free-range rare breed meats and try one of their delicious beef or lamb ‘Hetties’.

4. Brockley Market

Open every Saturday from 10am to 2pm, this lovely South London market is well known for its delicious ‘street food’ vibe where you can tuck into burritos, sourdough pizza, beef patties and flatbread wraps.
The award-winning food market supports location traders selling seasonally sourced fruit and vegetables, freshly caught fish, raw dairy products, natural wines, native breed meats and locally roasted coffee to name just a few.

5. Borough Market

The most famous and oldest farmers’ market in London, Borough Market at London Bridge is a haven for food lovers, not only serving the residents of Southwark, but attracting visitors from all over the country.
The historic market features a massive range of exceptional organic and seasonal produce in a wonderful and lively atmosphere. Open every day except Sunday, the market offers a fantastic day out for visitors. Part of the Slow Food UK movement, many of the traders focus on distinctive local foodstuffs and sustainable products and are only too happy to pass on their culinary knowledge with shoppers.
The market also hosts a range of events such as cookery demonstrations and educational programmes.

Our London experts at Premium Tours can offer information and advice on the very best farmers markets across the Capital. Call us today on 020 771 31311 or visit us online.

Victoria Coach Station

Address: 164 Buckingham Palace Road – London SW1W 9TP
Phone: 0343 222 1234

Ticket Hall

Open daily from 07:00 to 22:00.
Tickets for most coach companies can be purchased from the Ticket Hall at Victoria Coach Station.
The departures terminal closes at 01:00 and opens at 05:00. you are travelling on an overnight service, please arrive 20 minutes before your coach is scheduled to depart.

How to Get to Victoria Coach Station

Victoria rail station is a 300-metre walk from the Victoria Coach Station.

Left Luggage

Opening Hours

The left luggage facility is open daily between 07:00-22:45.

Security Notice

All items of left luggage will be examined using detection equipment, so you may be asked to open your bag for physical inspection. If you refuse, your luggage will not be accepted and the police will be notified.

Left Luggage Tariffs

  • Up to two hours: £3 per item (no weight consideration)
  • 2-24 hours: £5 per item under 20kg
  • 2-24 hours: £7 per item over 20kg
  • Multiple days charged at daily rate as above (£5/£7 by weight)
Deposits left longer than 24 hours are charged at multiples of the full 24-hour rate per item.
 

Porters

If you are arriving at Victoria Coach Station (VCS) by coach, porters will be available in Arrivals. Our porters can help you get to:
  • Departures
  • Victoria rail and Underground stations
  • The Green Line coach terminal
If you are departing from VCS by coach and require the assistance of a porter, either speak to a uniformed member of staff or visit the Mobility Lounge by Gate 0 in Departures.
All licensed luggage porters at the station are self-employed and rely on your generosity for their income. A payment for their services will be expected.

Toilets 

Toilets can be found:
  • By Gate 2 in Departures (via stairs to basement level)
  • By Gate 12 in Departures (at ground level)
  • In Arrivals (unisex toilets, at ground level)

Baby Changing Rooms

Baby changing rooms, for both mums and dads, are located next to the toilets in Arrivals and next to the toilets by gates 2 and 12 in Departures.

Accessible Toilets

Easy-access toilets for people with impaired mobility can be found:
  • In Arrivals
  • Inside the Mobility Lounge, opposite Gate 0 in Departures
If you don’t carry a Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (Radar) key, please ask the attendant in Arrivals or inside the Mobility Lounge.

Payphones

There are a number public payphones located in Departures and Arrivals. There is also a MiniCom-enabled payphone next to the information desk in the main entrance of Departures.

Money

Bureaux de Change

Bureaux de change are located in Arrivals and inside the main entrance in Departures.

Cash Machines

Cash machines are located by Gate 1, inside the main entrance to Departures and in the Arrivals terminal.

Refreshments

Refreshment facilities are available throughout Departures and Arrivals. Shops include:
  • Delice de France – by Gate 5
  • Burger King – opposite Gate 1
  • City Kiosk – in Arrivals
  • Il Corriere – in Arrivals
  • Treats – by gates 3, 11 and 12
  • Upper Crust – by Gate 4
  • Whistlestop – main entrance and by Gate 13

Coach Companies

Victoria Coach Station is the largest coach station in London, located in the central district of Victoria in the City of Westminster. It serves as a terminus for many medium- and long-distance coach services in the United Kingdom and is also the departure point for many countryside coach tours originating from London. It is operated by Victoria Coach Station Limited, a subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL).
It should not be confused with the nearby Green Line Coach Station for Green Line Coaches, or with Victoria bus station which serves London Buses operated by TfL.

Victoria Coach Station was opened at its present site in Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, in 1932, by London Coastal Coaches, a consortium of coach operators. The building is in a distinctive Art Deco style, the architects for which were Wallis, Gilbert and Partners.In 1970 the coach operators’ association which managed the station became a subsidiary of the National Bus Company.
In 1988, ownership of Victoria Coach Station Limited was transferred to London Transport. In 2000, Transport for London was formed and took over the station.
The freeholder of the site, Grosvenor Group, announced in 2013 that it wishes to redevelop the site and relocate the station elsewhere in London.However, the building was listed at Grade II by English Heritage in 2014.

Once you’ve arrived in London, there is so much to see and do, so it is wise to prepare an itinerary in advance. You can have a look at our array of tours here. If you require any more information about Victoria Coach Station, you can call us on 020­ 771 31311 and we’ll be happy to help.

Wed in the City: Beautiful London Wedding Venues that Aren’t Windsor Castle

The wedding of the year is just around the corner. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to wed on 19th May 2018. The wedding will be taking place at the incredible Windsor Castle, and with everyone talking about the upcoming nuptials, the Royal Wedding is sure to be a key source of inspiration for brides and grooms currently planning their own big day, but unfortunately this beautiful venue isn’t available to the general public to marry in.

However, in a fantastic city such as London there are of course a multitude of other wonderful wedding venues to choose from.

That said, when it comes to wedding planning, many brides and grooms-to-be may not immediately think that a busy city like London would be able to offer a blissful and romantic setting for a wedding and that they have to retreat out of the city for the big day, but in fact right here in the city there is an incredible selection of awe-inspiring venues available – whether you are looking for a pretty outdoor affair, a luxe and lavish do, or something a little bit quirky.

So, with wedding fever in the air we have rounded up some of the very best wedding venues in London to inspire your London wedding, including London Zoo, the Gherkin, The Globe Theatre and more.

Have a look below and start planning for your very own big day.