Alma

The Alma
499 Old York Road
Wandsworth
SW18 1TF

The Alma is one of London's Real Heritage Pubs on the CAMRA's London Regional Inventory of Pub Interiors of Special Historic Interest.

The Alma, now a smart dining pub owned by Young's, has the vestiges of a truly sumptuous decorative scheme from around 1900. The pub is right opposite Wandsworth Town Station from which the name can be seen writ large in the parapet: it commemorates the Crimean War battle of 1854 and was no doubt built shortly afterwards.

The Alma's ground floor has vivid green tiling of about 1900. Inside, the large servery sits in the middle of a now wholly opened-up area. The outstanding feature is a series of back-painted mirrors with flowers, foliage and birds (mainly herons considering their next meal): the mirrors even line the stairs to the upstairs function room. In an alcove a lovely fireplace with another painted mirror above (note also the original gas-light fittings).

The other notable decorative feature is a series of three mosaic roundels surrounded by flecked grey marble frames and bearing the name of the pub. The woodwork is high-quality work: note the bar counter furthest from the main road - it has truly gigantic scaley pilasters. Some etched glass also survives in the lobby on the corner and to the former billiard room at the rear (now restaurant). Here there is a deep classical frieze of swirly foliage and unclad youths.

History nearby: Wandsworth was home to a thriving community of Huguenots who fled persecution in late 17th-century France and established textile factories here. There is a Huguenot burial ground on East Hill, near the top of Alma Road, which opened in 1687 and closed in 1854.

The Alma featured on the Daytime Crawl of SW17, SW18 and SW11 in October 2004, the Evening Crawl of Battersea and Wandsworth in December 2007, and the From the Crimea to Death's Door via Cats, Birds and Breweries: Evening Crawl of Wandsworth and Battersea in April 2013.

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