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The Little Driver, Bow, E3

125 Bow Road
E3 2AN

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Tris C left this review about The Little Driver

This place dates from the late 18th century but was rebuilt in 1869, subjected to a refit around 1900, which gets it a place in CAMRA’s heritage pubs inventory, listed as being of Some Regional Importance.
I’m not sure of the name’s origin as there’s a depiction of a railway engine to the window, but I suspect this was once a drovers’ trail, along which drovers would drive their cattle to market.
This is a large pub with a commanding interior. There’s much rich wood carving in here with a deeply textured bar front which features a boarded apron, thereafter carpet (see photo). Still retained, are some partitions with cut and etched glass, similar to the bar back. There’s a column with ornate capital and very fine Victorian fireplace. Walls are off-white with a white Anaglypta ceiling, from which chandeliers hang, though much of the illumination comes from the multitude of TVs, which no one appeared to be watching, the customers being exclusively older males and very East End; the old-school landlady was chatting away to them animatedly, so she’s probably as much of an old fixture as many of the heritage fittings, the most striking of which is the massive gilded Hoare’s mirror (Hoare’s was based at East Smithfield to the north-east of the Tower of London and created Toby ale, both of which were acquired by Charrington’s in 1933). Furniture comprises normal tables and chairs and music played at a decent level, courtesy of a jukebox.
I had made an abortive attempt to come here about a week earlier, but was thwarted by not having access to something called ‘cash’. Having found some of this so-called ‘cash’, I returned only to find that like the previous reviewer, I was deeply disappointed to be confronted by a bank of three Pride clips and as no one could be seen drinking it, I decided not to take the risk so opted for a Neck Oil at the reliably unjustifiable price of £5.70, though cheaper than some, served by a friendly barmaid, though unquestionably a short measure.
This is an interesting pub, not least because of the heritage value. The ale choice – or lack of – is a bit of a disincentive to visiting on its own, but it makes a reliable contribution to a crawl of the area.

On 24th September 2021 - rating: 5
[User has posted 1532 recommendations about 1510 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Moby Duck left this review about The Little Driver

The Little Driver is still much as Rex described it four years ago, in addition there were four tv screens placed around the room, two were showing football, sound up, and two horse racing, sound down. The pub was well attended on a Sunday lunchtime and the atmosphere was very east end. There are three hand pumps on the bar, but disappointingly all were clipped with Pride.
Despite the singular ale choice I quite enjoyed this pub.

On 27th November 2017 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1586 recommendations about 1567 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

hondo . left this review about The Little Driver

Central bar serves 3 real ales and food.

On 18th March 2014 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 2833 recommendations about 2774 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Rex Rattus left this review about The Little Driver

There were two ales on - GKIPA and London Pride - with a third handpump apparently unused. The GKIPA was advertised at £2.80 a pint, which is a very good price, with the Pride just a bit more expensive at £1.55 a half. Food is advertised on miniature chalkboards hanging from one of the walls, and included lots of pub grub staples, such as fish and chips for £6.95 and the all day breakfast for £5.50.

The magnificent, and enormous, Hoare and Co mirror still has pride of place on the right hand wall, and the bar back is rather nice, with some excellent floral themed mirrors on either side of a doorway. The panelling on the lower part of the walls also looks pretty ancient as well. Furnishings are metal framed tables and standard issue chairs. Free wi-fi is advertised. Once you look closely, there's a bit more to this pub than is immediately apparent. It's very East Enders - I even heard one of the locals call the barmaid treacle, and as she was English no doubt realised that it was a term of endearment!

This is a decent enough, unpretentious little place. A better ale selection would be a big plus, but nonetheless it's still OK as pubs go.

On 13th August 2013 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2599 recommendations about 2513 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

John Bonser left this review about The Little Driver

Situated on Bow Road, virtually equidistant between Bow Road ( District Line ) and Bow Church ( DLR) is The Little Driver, a Victorian era pub that has been opened out to create one large light and airy room, served by a central L shaped bar.

The interior features the trademark high ceilings, tall windows and some fine woodwork behind the small bar, but what really stands out is the splendid large old Hoare’s & Co Brewery mirror that dominates one of the side walls. There’s also several old photos of the pub in its former Charringtons days. Sadly, the normal green tinged leaded windows are absent, apart from in one small corner.

The pub sign depicts an old train and, whilst I didn’t see anything to give me a clue about the reason for this, the pub apparently began life as the waiting room for what was once Bow Road station.

Reflecting the area, it’s very much an unpretentious pub for locals, with something of a basic downmarket feel compared to what I remember from previous visits. The pub feels a bit run down and tired – for example, the carpet is very worn in places and, on my recent Sunday lunchtime visit, the gents toilet was without lighting. The youngish East End girl who served me appeared rather sullen and disinterested – more akin to a Central London or West End pub.

A small poster in the window was advertising traditional pie, mash and liquor with a much wider range of basic pub grub advertised inside.

A reasonable pint of London Pride – at a very cheap £ 2.80p – was enjoyed, but the other 2 pumps were unclipped and I got the feel that real ale was not a big player here at all

In all honesty, I found this pub slightly depressing and I don’t see a return visit on the cards

On 22nd March 2012 - rating: 4
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Little Driver

Located part-way between Bow Church DLR and Bow Road underground stations, this is now quite a basic pub but which was probably rather grander at one time. The 'J'-shaped bar has plenty of seating and a high ceiling, giving quite a spacious feel. The furniture is fairly traditional, but features such as the long bar back and the large 'Hoare & Co's Celebrated Stout' mirror add a bit of interest. Also has a beer garden (not visited). Only Pride was available from the three handpumps, but this was a reasonable pint at £2.80. Overall, all a bit 'faded glory', but not a bad spot for a quick pint.

On 3rd March 2012 - rating: 6
[User has posted 7108 recommendations about 7108 pubs]