Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton: The Trafalgar Freehouse

Published on 28 January 2009 in , , , , , ,

So it begins. The catchup has started and we reach part to of a small series I’ve cunningly called “Bods’s Guide to Pubs in Merton”.

The idea is that this is a series of posts about stuff that’s in walking distance of my house, and which I rate and recommend. It’s all mostly in Merton and Colliers Wood – two towns which basically merge into one and which no one really knows where they begin and end because they’re really ill-defined.

So with that said, this is Part 2 and another trip to the pub…

The Trafalgar

23 High Path, Merton, London SW19 2JY. Website:

A few minutes walk away, and hidden in a back street is another hidden gem of a pub.

It doesn’t look much from the outside – it’s a small, narrow pub tooked away in a side street opposite a school and near some flats. But step inside and you’re in for a treat.

For this is the Trafalgar Freehouse – lovingly known to all who know and love it as The Traf.

It’s a thin and small pub with a sort of 1950s feel thanks to its infamous red topped bar. A giant ships steering wheel splits the room into two, and the bar is perhaps too long given the size of the pub. But then it is a busy bar – despite its puny size, there’s six hand pulled ales available most of the time, and recently a seventh was added for real cider.

As a true freehouse (it’s not owned by any pub company or brewery), there’s lots of scope for a varied range of beers. The ale range changes regularly, mostly featuring smaller, local breweries, with a particular perchance for those of Dark Star, Downton and Sharp’s.

There’s also the house beer – the exclusive Tru’penny Hop. Named after an older nickname for the pub (from when Victorian train passengers on a long defunct railway, would hop over the wall to avoid paying the 3p fare), the beer is brewed by Reigate’s Pilgrim brewery.

The size of the pub doesn’t even put it off doing events – October 2008 saw its third beer festival, with an outside bar in the pub’s equally small yard. Then there’s the live music – bands regularly appear on Saturdays, bunched up at one end of the pub furthest from the bar near the roaring fire, whilst Sunday afternoons will see punters transported away to the fantastic New Orleans style jazz band. Pop in on the right night and you’ll see the Greensleeves Morris Men doing their Mummer’s play.

There’s so much about the Traf that just shouldn’t work. But it does and people come from nearby and from miles around to enjoy it. The Traf works, and works well – so well that it became CAMRA South West London Pub of the Year for 2007, and then went on to become London Pub of the Year for 2008!

Pop in on Trafalgar Day too, and you’ll probably find yourself enjoying welly throwing too, just for good measure…

Tomorrow in part three it’s our final pub – the Princess of Wales


  • Keith Edmonds says:

    Visited the Traf on Friday 27th August and witnessed Geoff Cole’s Traditional Jazz Band play to a completely packed house. Music = Perfect. Atmosphere = Tremendous. Company = Completely Convivial. Beer = Tip Top (Merton Market Bitter – Ascot). Special attraction – by chance Barry Cryer was in the audience and with a bit of arm twisting gave us a super rendering of Doctor Jazz. What a super afternoon it was (13.00 – 15.00). Thanks Traf – Keith

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    Barry Cryer in the Traf? Cool!