What’s it named after? This building used to be a post office. There are two other Wetherspoon pubs called The Postal Order: one in Blackburn, the other in Worcester.
What’s the carpet like?
When we planned our big pub adventure for World of Spoons, we were going to restrict ourselves to the boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.
But then we looked again at the map, and realised there was one we couldn’t ignore. Partly because its story straddles the border. So here we are, 200 metres inside the borough of Croydon, in The Postal Order.
What do you call this place, anyway? Upper Norwood? Anerley? Crystal Palace? Passing Upper Norwood Library makes up our minds for us.
The Postal Order is heaving on the Saturday evening we visit – largely down to the football crowd, nursing pints after a defeat at Selhurst Park. (Well, we assume they are a football crowd, though we can only see one Palace scarf…)
This is a super-efficient Spoons. Service is speedy, and when we order chips, they come within a minute. When we finish our chips, the bowl has gone within a minute. Woah.
Beyond the Palace fans – notably a loud, pissed group of idiots making grim comments about women on their phone screens – it’s a fairly mixed crowd in the Postal Order.
There are plenty of women too and a dad taking photos of his son with a glass of wine. There’s laughter here, and lots of it.
A telly’s showing BBC News with the aspect ratio all wrong, while the usual local history boards tell the story of the Crystal Palace and the Beulah Spa. The Christmas decorations seem to fit in well with the display of hops behind the bar.
Unusually for a London Wetherspoons, there’s a pub quiz on Sunday nights. Otherwise, it’s all pretty standard stuff.
But it’s also a small Spoons – making it a bit awkward when you’re trying to squeeze around a massive bloke who’s just come back from the football. The gents’ loos are cramped and reek of air freshener.
So you can hardly blame JD Wetherspoon for wanting a bit more room. And a quarter of a mile away, that’s caused a big commotion. Because the firm owns two pubs here…
Perched at the top of Anerley Hill, The Grape and Grain is a cracking place – with real ales, live music, and even dance classes. You can barely get a seat outside on a summer evening.
It’s nearly winter and it’s chucking it down when we take a look, but there are two live bands on, one straight after the other. There’s a big crowd in here, and they’re lapping it up.
All this is due to end early in 2017. Wetherspoon bought the pub for £1.9 million in 2014, and last year it gave the licensee 12 months’ notice to quit. It appears conversion into a standard Wetherspoon is imminent, despite a 900-strong petition. So no more live music.
A name change to The Palace has been mooted, although both Bromley Council and a planning inspector refused permission for an extension at the front, so the building can’t be changed too much. But you can see how the pub might be laid out as a Wetherspoon outlet.
It’ll be a huge loss to the area – there should be room for both the Grape and Grain and a second Spoons to exist, especially with one pub building – The Cambridge – lying empty over the road.
But will there be two Spoons here? All this places a question mark over the Postal Order’s future. Back in 2014, JD Wetherspoon confidently stated it was comfortable running two or more pubs in some towns. But it’s recently pulled back from that policy, and has been trimming back its estate.
All of which leaves us with a lot of uncertainty. But if you’re in the area, you could do a lot worse than pop into the Postal Order.
That said, if you’ve time free during December, do take a look at the Grape and Grain – so you can be the one that remembers it before it was a Spoons.
Update: We’re delighted to hear The Grape and Grain – which had been due to close on 4 December – is continuing into the New Year.
The Postal Order: 32-33 Westow Street SE19 3RW
(Grape & Grain: 2 Anerley Hill SE19 2AA)
Buses: 3, 122, 157, 202, 227, 249, 322, 358, 410, 417, 432, 450
Train: Crystal Palace (Southern, Overground)
Social media: The Postal Order is on Twitter.