Pub Science Experiment #1

Pub 2: The Railway Tavern, Globe Road E2

Category: Railway

Bang goes one side-theory: that these places would all be super-quick to get to because they’re all near stations. The Railway is only a five minute walk from Stepney Green tube but I wasn’t expecting to have to walk past three pubs (all variously shut or shut down) before reaching it. There it is, though, nestling just north of the railway arches which run through Globe Town.

This isn’t the most promising of areas, but I quite like it: I’ve spent many a happy weekend afternoon in this neck of the woods traipsing merrily around the art galleries. It’s clearly not rich but it’s pretty friendly. The Railway Tavern, likewise, is plainly not rich. It’s detached and painted white and (I would guess) early Victorian. It looks OK from the outside with just a feint chance that it might be a bit forbidding. Pretty much your standard backstreet boozer.

Inside, the decor is like the storeroom of The Museum of Pub Furnishings (still an imaginary museum, sadly). Built-in comfy seating over there; low-ish ’70s wood and leather armchairs pulled up to some formica tables over here; nasty ’90s (maybe ’00s) tubular metal plus pink moulded plastic barstools. The bad part of the decor is that at some stage, probably in the early 1980s, someone plainly decided to give the place the feel of an old country inn. Their M.O.? To stick up some nasty, fake half-timbering and plaster in the gaps. It looks terrible.

All of which can be of no importance at all if there’s something else about the pub to charm or please or relax you. Early enough on a Saturday for the smell of last night’s cigs to remain unoverwhelmed by the smell of today’s, there isn’t. Everyone in the pub gives an impression of being related, or at least sufficiently close that they’ve given up even using each other’s names. The barmaid scowls as I ask for a Guinness, and sniffs and sneezes as she brings it over. The poor dear shouldn’t really be at work. I’m mostly ignored, which is fine, but I do feel like I’m intruding in a private space.

A really good pub will often beguile by lightly tripping an ambiguous line between public and private. The Railway doesn’t manage it. It’s a perfectly sound place ot go and watch the football or stop for a swifty but A Good Pub? Not really.

Overall mark: (out of 10): 4