Pub Science Experiment #1

Pub 6: The Railway, Station Rise, SE27

Category: Railway

There’s no mistaking the Railwayness of this place. It’s a hop, step and stumble from the side door to the front of Tulse Hill station.

What’s more at issue is whether this is really a pub. Walking up Station Rise I thought I was going to be faced with a rough old boozer’s boozer, all frayed carpet and manky looking dogs staring insolently at you from the ripped-up seats you’re too scared to shoo them off. How wrong I was! This is a place which was obviously blond-wood-and-identikit-gastropubnoshified some time ago, very sub All Bar One.

I often think, when I see such places open, that the passage of time will make them more acceptable, knock a bit of character into them. Certainly some of the smooth edges have been roughed here, but The Railway looks a bit shabby and uncared-for. And the place is more or less a student common room. Draped over every available chair and table, and horizontal on the fashionably scuffed leather sofas, are students. The bar stools are mostly free. Do students sit at the bar? I suppose not…

This needn’t be a bad thing. I’m no hater of students. This lot are friendly, talkative and enjoying themselves. The football’s on and there’s no sense of associated lairiness (this isn’t the case in every pub around here – the match, after all, is the Palace-Charlton South London derby). There is only the slightest of hints of the air of unjustified arrogance which large groups of students sometimes generate.

The remarkably relaxed atmosphere almost wins me over to the place. It’s just that, if I wanted to go to a smoky hole stuffed full of our NUS-affiliated friends, I’d probably go up SOAS and drink better beer at a lower price.

So why’s it not a pub? Well, it is really. I could try some line about the furnishings and the food making it into a bar, or the monocultural clientele making it a social club, but I know I’d be clutching at straws in a drowning argument. Fundamentally, and for the various reasons noted above, this Railway doesn’t feel like a pub to me and, although I’ve spent afternoons in far less convivial places, I don’t much like it in here.

Overall mark: (out of 10): 4