Pub review: The Hope, Carshalton, Surrey

pints of beer
Credit: Alamy

How many people does it take to run a pub? The traditional answer is two: a husband and wife, working around the clock.

At The Hope in Carshalton, however, the answer is 38 because this is one of the tiny number of places in Britain run by the local community.

Step into the bar billiards room at the back of the pub and hanging on the walls are not the usual, grumpy signs asking you not to bang your car doors or start singing as you stagger outside. Instead, there is a rather skilfully drawn illustration of all the people who have come together to keep The Hope, as it were, alive.

You sense something is different the moment you walk through the door. Instead of being met by a world-weary couple asking if you want beer or lager, the two men behind the bar invite you to take your time and choose the kind of drink you want.

And selecting one isn’t easy. A quick totting-up of beer pumps comes up with at least 17 different types of drink, none of them household names.

There is Goddards’ Ale of Wight (3.7 % abv), Windsor & Eton’s citrussy Knight of the Garter (3.8%), Siren Undercurrent (hints of grapefruit and apricot), fruity Dark Star Revelation (5.7%) and super-dark Kissingate Six Crows (6.6%), not forgetting three ciders, two lagers and one perry. Oh, and 11 wines, seven rums, six whiskies and five gins.

There are two or three doors’ worth of peanuts and other snacks, and the food is half the price you might pay in a rural pub. Beef stew, chicken stew, liver, moussaka and shepherd’s pie all come with a choice of potatoes plus salad, and a price tag of £6.50 to £7.50. Chilli con carne, chicken curry, sausage cassoulet and chicken chasseur squeeze under the £6 barrier.

Another appealing feature is that different groups sit in different areas. At lunchtime, turn left on entering and you are among the 50 to 70-year-old regulars who all have stories to tell about their starting wage (£4 a week in 1964) and complaints about how Alf Garnett isn’t allowed on the telly any more.

If sentimental returns to the Sixties don’t appeal, seek out the 20 to 40-somethings around the corner (there are a lot of corners) getting stuck into their boss, or the way their mother is driving them around the bend, over a fruity kriek or draught lager (they currently have Bavo pilsner from Belgium, and a German Helles beer, Hacker-Pschorr, from Munich – there is a “beercam” on the website with updates).

So although The Hope isn’t as large as some of today’s mega-bars, everyone has an area they can call home. Of course, you could stay in your living room and have online conversations with people on the other side of the world.

But if you’re interested in the people who live just down the road – your community, in other words – then a place like The Hope is just what you need.

48 West Street, Carshalton, Surrey: 020 8240 1255;