The Load of Hay is the only genuine free house in Uxbridge. It is near Brunel University in Villiers Street, a few yards off Cleveland Road. It is well worth seeking out, having deservedly won several local CAMRA pub of the year awards.
It was built on the site of the officers’ mess and stables of the Elthorne Light Militia, and has been a public house since the 1870s. The main public part of the pub was originally stables, from which its name derives. The bottom section of it is a no-smoking area. There is also a cosy front lounge that is normally open to the public, but it can be used for private functions.
It changed ownership in September 2003, but the commitment to selling real ale in tip-top condition is undiminished. Fuller’s London Pride is the regular, and best selling, real ale. Normally, there are three guest beers from an ever-changing list; they are usually from small breweries, but always from the independents.
The pub is open from 11 am to 11.30 pm Mondays to Saturdays and from noon to 11:30pm on Sundays.
Food is served daily from noon to 2:45pm, and from pm (7pm on Sundays) to 9:30pm. Booking is strongly advised for the very popular Sunday lunches. About four times a year themed food nights are held, featuring food from different countries or regions of the world.
Darts is a very popular game at the pub, which boasts three darts teams.
There is a quiz on Tuesdays, and live music every Saturday.
There is a very small car park, but parking is normally available within a few yards of the pub when it is full.
The U3 buses go down Cleveland Road. There is a stop just beyond Villiers Street for buses travelling towards Uxbridge, but coming from Uxbridge the nearest stop is in The Greenway. The 207 and 607 buses stop in Hillingdon Road at the junction of the Greenway, from which it is about a 5-minute walk to the pub. The U5 and 222 can also be used to Cowley Mill Road – the stop is outside the Chiltern View pub – but you will need to look at an A to Z to make your way through the back streets. It is about a 7-minute walk.
Some three years late, on 30 January 2006, the Branch finally presented an award to the pub for having been in the Good Beer Guide for ten consecutive years. We considered giving a certificate for 13 years, but not unnaturally the pub’s owners thought that would look very odd and said they would prefer a ten-year one. As the chairman pointed out when he made the presentation, it means they will only have to wait 12 years between receiving a ten- and a 25-year certificate! .
Brian Lawrence - June 2006