Published: 06:00, 27 August 2021
| Updated: 08:14, 16 September 2021
My view of pubs next to railway stations is well known – if there’s not currently a fight going on, one will be along very shortly.
The aptly-named Wetherspoon in Rainham couldn’t be closer to the tracks and The Railway on Station Road looks like another typical example.
It wasn’t part of the plan, but a Travis Perkins truck was unloading and faced with the prospect of waiting while a lorry driver used a makeshift lift to deliver half a dozen piles of bricks I thought a pub visit had to be preferable.
Surprisingly, I was able to slot straight into an on-road parking space for free and, as directed, walked right round the pub to enter through the door at the back.
I was greeted by a barmaid who was even noisier, brighter and more full-on than the combined set of huge electronic fruit machines.
The front of the pub looks compact from the road and it’s only once you’re in you realise that, like so many other Spoons, it’s a cavernous place.
The aforementioned barmaid with the deep, booming voice stepped up behind a long run of pumps to serve me and I selected a pint of the 5.9% Ravening Wolf from the Wantsum Brewery.
One thing’s for sure, you can’t argue with Wetherspoon prices, my pint was £1.99 and if I’d been prepared to settle for a Ruddles it would have been another 30p cheaper. The Abbott was a little dearer, but even that was only £2.25.
Just like you see at airport pubs, there’s a screen at the end of the bar displaying departure times so punters grabbing a swift pint, before jumping on a train, can take full advantage of any delay.
Taking my pint I chose a high table where I could watch the trains come and go but immediately regretted my selection as I was trapped between a huge table housing an extended under five’s crèche and the long white-haired pub bore droning on and regurgitating historical facts about the Enola Gay and Little Boy. He got most facts wrong, but his drinking partner appeared happy enough to keep yawning without bothering to correct him.
After popping upstairs to the gents, the first carpeted toilet with a fireplace I’ve ever come across in a pub, I made sure I found a new table.
The barmaid was still cackling at full volume and when I bought a packet of salt and vinegar crisps I asked where she was from – she told me she was born and bred in Rainham, in the broadest Eastern European accent, and went off chanting to herself: “Work, work, work, work it girl”.
The pub might be big but this barmaid has the ability to make herself heard no matter how far away you are seated and for a while she provided the entertainment.
Until, that is, an even louder drinker dressed in a white singlet and sliders took up position at the bar. He was in to meet a mate and celebrate being given three months of community service. As soon as his buddy arrived he informed him, at full volume, he was ‘one lucky ******’ as having done the crime he should have been serving time.
Then, whilst downing a few pints, he recounted the full sordid details of his various misdemeanours before jumping back onto a train to celebrate further with his kids.
Regularly called upon to deliver food to tables, the staff were called away from the bar quite a lot and this, combined with the regular trips down the corridor between the coffee machines and the kitchen to take fag breaks beyond the fire door, did lead to some delays in bar service.
The indoor entertainment was over and although there was a TV screen by the kitchen hatch it was just replaying old news on silent so I decided to give the patio area a try.
The outside space is well maintained and, with an in-built irrigation system, the hanging baskets are a picture. There are even geraniums in special planters built into the back of some of the benches.
I sat at table 208 and if you place your foot on the loose slab under the table you can literally feel every train arrive. And then, just in case it was becoming too peaceful, the loudest barmaid in the world came crashing into the garden area – enough was enough.
In conclusion I have to say I’ve visited many better Wetherspoons than this one and been far more impressed by levels of service elsewhere, but I will admit the beer, when I got it, was good and the price is hard to beat.
However, although no fights broke out, the traffic congestion would need to be a good deal more serious than an unloading lorry to tempt me into a return visit.
The Railway, 113 Station Road, Rainham, Medway ME8 7SF
Decor: Standard Spoons’ furnishings, including the unique patterned carpet, but without the interest or charm of many other examples in the chain. A fireplace and carpet in the gents secured the second star. **
Drink: There is a large selection of drinks available and the beers are all well-kept. My pint of Ravening Wolf was well poured with a pleasant creamy head – a very good pint.****
Price: With a whole row of beers costing under £2 you simply can’t argue with prices. And, although I didn’t eat myself, the kitchen was serving up plenty of good-value meals. *****
Staff: Friendly enough, and certainly loud enough, there were plenty of staff on duty but constant interruptions to deliver food led to a few minor delays at the bar. ***