All aboard this peculiar floating pub, which makes a great party spot, should you have the sealegs for it.
Summer days were made for pubs like Tamesis Dock, where you can sit on the top deck and soak up the rays on the River Thames, without ever setting sail. This boat pub has moored at Albert Embankment, just a short walk from Vauxhall station and overlooking the Houses of Parliament at the other side of the river. The original Dutch barge sets itself apart from the dreary road and murky Thames waters with its bold yellow, red and green paintjob, reminiscent of a Rastafarian flag. Scale the boat from a permanent wooden ramp and you can choose to venture to the top deck, which is spread across several tiers and split into two sides, with plenty of picnic bench seating. Or there’s the lower deck, where you’ll find the bar. The main source of light in here is from a few cute portholes as well as fairy lights when darkness falls, and it’s colourful and cluttered in this cosy boat thanks to a mishmash of art on the walls. A disco ball is suspended above and the deck splits down to a further basement level, which can be hired out and is also used for gigs.
If you’re a bit sensitive to seasickness, you may find yourself feeling queasy on Tamesis Dock - even though it’s moored to dry land – thanks to the choppy Thames waters. But on rare pleasant days, this floating pub is a real treat, overlooking the Houses of Parliament and with sun bouncing off riverside buildings and those rocking waters. On these occasions, you’re best advised to book some space on the top deck, as the pub is small and in demand from local office workers who are regular faces throughout the week. Indie gig nights are just as popular below deck, and this space is also in frequent use for private hire events. But it’s the top deck discos you’ll want to know about on occasional weekends, and the boat also acts as a host venue for Finnstock music festival.
Honest pub grub is what’s in store on board Tamesis Dock – sharing platters, burgers and wraps. Don’t be expecting any catch of the day here, although you can order classic fish and chips (£8.95) or a fish finger wrap (£4.50), should the mood take you. Nachos (£7.50) are a hit, as are chips served with aioli (£2.95). A nice idea is a weekend brunch, so if the sun is shining particularly hard, locals can tuck into a Full English (£7.95) or eggs benedict (£5.95) while the boat laps up the waves. And even dessert is available – it looks like mostly run of the mill options until you reach the largely appealing sight of gin and tonic sorbet (£3.95) on the menu.
Draught lagers are in good supply and aren’t from your bog standard big brewers either, suiting the pub’s independent vibe nicely. Bitburger, Coors Light and Camden Pale Ale range from £3.90 to £4.40 for a pint. Bottled beers continue this feel, with Blue Moon (£4.20) and Brooklyn Lager (£4.50) also available. Spirits come in double measures as standard for around £6.50, and include the obligatory Captain Morgan rum for classic seafaring. For a full-on boat party experience, a few classic cocktails are on offer including a Mojito, Caipirinha and, for a bit more class, a Cosmopolitan.
The Last Word
This would be a pleasant enough pub if it were just down to its sprightly independent ethos, fun music line-ups and party atmosphere, but the very fact it’s a pub on a moored Thames barge makes Tamesis Dock a character-filled spot with a difference best enjoyed in the summer.