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Harp Pub London Crowned “Best In Britain”

Submitted by Tim Brice on February 16, 2011 – 2:29 pm3 Comments

The Harp pub has been named “Best In Britain” by UK reel beer advocacy group CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale).  The award marks the first time in its 23 year history that a London area pub took home the top prize.  Often cited as the most successful consumer group in Europe, CAMRA works to protect consumer rights, promote quality, choice and value, to support the British public house as a focus of community life and to campaign for appreciation of traditional beers, ciders and perries as part of British heritage.  For the last 38 years the group has published the Good Beer Guide, now available for iPhone and Android, with this years edition giving detailed descriptions of over 4,500 pubs nation wide.  The 2010 guide describes The Harp as:

The Harp 2 268x300 Harp Pub London Crowned “Best In Britain”

“a small, friendly, independent free house which has become a haven for beer choice, generally including a mild or porter, Dark Star and London Micro-brewery seasonal. The narrow bar is adorned with mirrors, theatrical memorabilia and portraits. There is no intrusive music or TV and a cosy upstairs room provides refuge from the busy throng.”

At the helm of The Harp since 1995 has been Bridget Walsh.  Bridgett has steadfastly worked to maintain the pub as  one dedicated to real ale, real cider and real sausages.  She has over forty years in the pub business and has been recognized for her cellarmanship since the 1970′s even winning CAMRAs 2010 John Young Memorial Award.  The ward recognizes those who have done the most to promote and protect real ale in the Greater London Area.

This news came as a complete shock but of course we are delighted to be named CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year. We pride ourselves on the range and quality of our real ale and to be London’s first ever National Pub of the Year is a real honour,” said Bridget.

According to Bridget, The Harp has a unique mix that makes it a special place.

“It starts with our staff.  They are all great people and truly passionate about great ale.  Next it is our regulars, those that come in for a real British pint nearly every day.  Then it’s our great beer and sausages.  The Harp is a perfect place for a bite and a pint. “

Although it is only a few yards from Trafalgar Square The Harp is not usually full of tourists.

“We’re not a touristy spot,” she said, “we are a true public house.  We have no t.v.s, no music playing and have two levels for guests to meet and discuss their days.  We like being a peaceful spot in the middle of the big city.  We’re kind of a throwback, really,” adding, “we treat everyone like a regular, even if for just one draught.”

Bridger Walsh of the Harp Harp Pub London Crowned “Best In Britain”

Courtesy harpcoventgarden.com

It is clear that Bridget has a passion for her work and a real care for her staff, her regulars and her beer.  She sees herself as just part of a bigger whole.  As she said in recognition of the award on The Harp’s website:

I really want to thank the various CAMRA groups for their support over the last 40 years – starting in the ’70s with the Croydon & Sutton group when I was at the Albert in South Norwood. Then it was the South West London group when I ran the Rose & Crown in Clapham and now the West London group who have stood by me in the 17 years I have been at the Harp in Covent Garden. I am extremely grateful to all of you.

This pub would be nothing without my excellent staff – some of whom have been here for many years. They work extremely hard especially at busy times to ensure that everyone gets served as soon as possible, and that there is some great beer to drink.”

CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year accolade recognises all the criteria that make a great pub, including atmosphere, decor, customer service, value for money, clientele mix, and most importantly, the quality of the beer.  The National Pub of the Year competition is judged by CAMRA’s 120,000 members. Each CAMRA branch votes for their favorite pub. The branch winners are entered into 16 regional competitions, with the 16 winners then battling it out to reach the final stages of the National competition.  Julian Hough, the Pubs Director for CAMRA believes passion is what sets The Harp apart.

I never ceased to be impressed or surprised by the continuing success of a pub staffed by individuals so passionate about the real ale industry. The Harp is a perfect example of how the London cask beer scene is reaching out to new drinkers.”

the harp taps 300x214 Harp Pub London Crowned “Best In Britain”The Harp pub is located in Covent Garden, close to Charing Cross rail and tube stations and just round the corner from Trafalgar Square.  Their address is 47 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2N4HS.  They can be reached by phone at 020-7836-0291.

More information on CAMRA and their activities can be found here.

For the record, Bridget’s favorite pint these days is Sambrooks Wandle Ale from the Battersea area of London.  A local beer, of course!

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  • [...] again go out Bridget Walsh and her West End pub The Harp for being named “Best in Britain” by CAMRA, the UK’s Campaign for Real Ale.  Her establishment was the first London Pub to win [...]

  • Jack says:

    I visited the Harp pub during my last trip to London and I second that the staff is pretty great. I did wish that they had a few TVs though – even if they weren’t on just so there was something to watch.

  • Randy says:

    Nothing like the real thing! We have a few similar pubs in my area, you wouldn’t even know they were there unless somebody told you. They are the best!
    Great friends, great food and drink and awesome music.

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