The Red Lion, 13 St Mary’s Road, Ealing, is the Branch pub of the year for the third year running. An official presentation was made to the landlord Jonathan Lee on 23 August 2004.
The earliest record of the pub is believed to be in the local newspapers in the early 1700s. At that time a farmer in Acton let the pub, then called the Red Lyon, to a brewer for a rent of £7 a year.
The pub is mentioned again in local papers in 1826 as having favour with the then vicar of St Mary’s, Sir Herbert Oakle. Apparently, it was a suitable distance from the vicarage and had a good image with its gardens, bowling greens and a tree in front.
In the coaching days of the mid 18th century, until 1879-80, the pub was on the coach route from Kew to Uxbridge.
The Red Lion is a splendid example of a traditional London pub.
It is known to its regulars as Stage Six, the hallowed watering hole of characters, workers and actors from the famous Ealing film studios which are almost opposite. Inside the walls are hung with photographs depicting glorious moments in British filmmaking.
Ever since Fuller, Smith & Turner of Chiswick was formed in 1845 it has been a Fuller’s pub. It has been both a managed and a tenanted house. The current licensees, who have been in the trade since 1985, took a ten-year lease from Fuller’s in June 2001, having beaten off competition from about 60 applicants. Trade has tripled since they took over.
In early 2002, the pub was closed for a major refurbishment that involved extending the public area. The Branch had been unaware of the closure until just before it happened, and inevitably there was concern that the work would destroy the character and ambience of the place. Our fears were unfounded. The front of the pub was virtually unchanged and the new, rear part was decorated and furnished in a style compatible with the rest of it. There is now a small, walled garden at the rear. The refurbishment has received many accolades, as it is a very rare example of an extension actually improving a pub.
In June 2002, the pub reopened and business has been booming ever since. The pub is nearly always busy.
In addition to the full range of Fuller’s draught beers: Chiswick, London Pride, ESB and the current seasonal ale, there is a guest beer that changes every two or three weeks.
Up market food is a major aspect of the business, although great care has been taken to maintain the integrity of the pub. Lunch is served from 12 to 2.30 Monday to Saturday, 12 to 4 on Sunday, and dinner from 7 to 9.30 Monday to Saturday. Bookings are only accepted for parties of eight or more people. The head chef is Jonathan and Victoria’s son, Keiran, who previously worked at the highly regarded Old Parsonage in Oxford.
As well as being the Branch pub of the year for three years in a row, in 2003 the landlord and his wife won the highly coveted Griffin award for having the best of the 240 Fuller’s pubs.
Eight people from Fuller’s, led by John Roberts, the beer and brands director, were at the pub on 19 January 2006 for the presentation by the West Middlesex Branch of a certificate for having achieved 15 consecutive entries in the Good Beer Guide.
Brian Lawrence - June. 2006