First the good news. Despite a global pandemic, huge increases in costs, a lack of staff, and pre-existing challenges for the pub industry, there are still plenty of excellent pubs where you can play darts in central London. Indeed, two new venues have recently been added to Capital Arrows, the Adam & Eve by St James’s Park, and the Griffin Belle near Vauxhall.
There are three places currently listed as “5-Star” in the guide, the permanently excellent but now occasionally closed Horseshoe in Clerkenwell, Nolans in Vauxhall (rough round the edges, but properly darty), and, mainly because you play darts on a stage and can eat pizza, The Libertine in the London Bridge area (actually Borough). And fortunately every area of central London, with the obvious exception of the dark blues on the monopoly board, has somewhere decent enough to toss some tungsten.
But that is the optimistic take on things. In 2022 so far I’ve visited about 50 central London darts pubs which are open, but I’ve also had to remove close to 20 from the guide. Some of these were belated pre-pandemic deletions, but many have simply failed to survive the turbulence of the last two years. Board removed, pub demolished, pub died; removed, demolished, survived – the rythym of wandering central London streets, finding pubs that opened closer to Henry V111s time than now, lay down their arrows for ever.
A full list of pubs removed from this guide is below – but three stand out. Firstly, the closure in 2022 of Spots & Stripes south of the river was a huge blow to darts and pool players alike – backdated and increased rent the given reason. [Note: thankfully S&S reopened later in 2022]. Secondly, the Constitution in Camden now stands boarded and ugly against the canal, awaiting a future reopening, but with darts an unlikely feature. And thirdly, isolated next to bike lanes on Farringdon Street, the three-hundred year old Hoop & Grapes is boarded up but untouched, presumably saved by a listed building status. There’s hope for this pub, but we shall see.
Notwithstanding the emergence of pay-to-play self-scoring darts venues (more on this to follow), the picture for the traditional darts pub remains precarious. The demise can be slowed by your support.
Pubs removed from this guide: Barley Mow W1, Belgravia SW1, Cheshire Cheese WC2, Cock and Lion W1U, Constitution NW1, Crown and Cushion SE1, Electricity Showrooms N1, Flying Horse EC2, Hoop and Grapes EC4, Loose Cannon EC4, Lyceum WC2, Mawbey Arms SW8, Nook Bar WC2, Rileys Haymarket SW1, Spots and Stripes SE1, Three Tuns W1H, Tudor Rose W1U, Victory W1H – and no doubt more to come when I’ve made it round Aldgate and a few other places.