Prince Alfred, Maida Vale

5A Formosa Street
Maida Vale
London
W9 1EE
020 7286 3287

Traditional Pub, 3* Heritage Pub

The pub is an elegant Italianate building built in the 1860s (photo 3) but the most interesting part is the 1898 interior. The Victorians were fond of dividing their pubs into several rooms or compartments and a popular style was to create divisions with wood and glass screens. Many pubs have kept one or two of these screens but the vast majority have swept them away to create a large open space. The Prince Alfred is the only pub to have kept all of its compartments (six in total including the main bar), and each compartment has its own entrance from the street (photos 1, 5 & 7). It was one of only two pubs that English Heritage upgraded to Grade II* in 2022.

The picturesque canals of Little Venice are only a short walk away and even closer is the striking modernist church of St Saviours, opposite Warwick Avenue tube station. The pub is big on food with a gastro-leaning menu served all day, starting with with a brunch selection which includes a full English breakfast. Beer is from Youngs Brewery who own the pub and includes their Original bitter, Special or Winter Warmer and a guest ale. Lagers and craft ales include Peroni, Pravha and Neck Oil. Lords Cricket Ground is a short distance away and the pub is busy when a match is on.

The impressive main entrance has a mosaic tiled floor, a tiled wall to the right and a curved timber and etched glass wall to the left (photo 2). This leads into the the original main bar but this was extended in 2001 to create the Formosa Dining Room. This is a modern pub room but doesn’t impact too much on the rest of the pub. It’s best to head for the other bars, but you’ll need to be nimble and flexible. In each of the screens between the compartments there is a very low wooden door which means you have to duck down to get through (photo 7). The assumption is that these were to deter drinkers moving from one room into another but were suitable for pot boys when the pub was open or cleaning staff when it was closed.

The second room is the smallest and has a lovely old set of snob screens on the bar (photo 6). Camra’s Heritage Pub Group reckons that these are one of only eight sets left in the country. They are rectangular cut and etched glass panels that can be open or closed and their purpose was to divide customers who wanted privacy from the bar staff. There is a suggestion that this was the ladies room and the snob screens provided privacy to women ordering at the bar.

The artist Edward Ardizzone was a resident of Maida Vale, and two of his illustrations for Maurice Gorham’s classic book The Local are of the Prince Alfred. The 1939 edition has colour illustrations and and features Saloon Bar at the Prince Alfred ( (photo 8). The 1949 edition has black and white line drawings and features Darts at the Alfred (photo 9).

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