You may think having two Railway Taverns within fairly easy walking distance (like 15 minutes, including a stop-off in a Sydenham charity shop to buy a shady-looking late ’70s Glen Campbell LP with a great version of Jimmy Webb’s “Cristiaan, No” on it) would be confusing. I can see it might lead to some misunderstanding, or at least surprise. But that’s nothing.
My friends, consider this: you have taken control of a little local pub in South-East London called the Railway Tavern. You think the old place needs a little bit of jollying up, perhaps some pictures, some bits and pieces according to a broad theme. Give people something to remember the place by, make it more homely. Seems sensible. And the theme’s fairly obvious, right?
Of course: nautical. This Railway is decorated with (though not dominated by) bits of old rope, some pictures and models of ships, the odd mermaid. The nuts and Mini Cheddars sit in a little net behind the bar.
It’s a very basic, smallish, one-room locals’ boozer, fuzzy big screen showing a pre-season friendly, seating which is losing its foam stuffing in places. I suppose it would have been a backstreet place before the great big Sydenham Sainsburys was built over the road, now it seems slightly like a train out of water. The bar top is made of half-inch square black tiles, which is another unusual move. They don’t seem especially pleased to see me, but they tolerate my presence uncomplainingly. At the bar, two fellows are having a conversation. Well, one is talking very loudly while the other sits mutely and slightly shamefaced. “YOU DOSS CANT! THE HAMBURGER IS CALLED A HAMBURGER BECAUSE IT ORIGINATES FROM THE GERMAN CITY OF HAMBURG. IT. HAS. NOTHING. TO. DO. WITH. HAM. YOU STUPID, DOSS CANT”. And on, and on.
I imagine this place might be something of a laugh when it’s busy, and not too bad for hangover reparation when it’s quiet. If, and only if, your face fits.
Overall mark: 4/10