The Railway Telegraph and oasis in the veritable desert of pubs


In a veritable desert of pubs, The Railway Telegraph sticks out like an oasis for weary travellers – or at least Crystal Palace fans.

I’ve heard it described as Thornton Heath’s best-kept secret, but it’s more like its only secret or, as other pubs have wilted away, not a secret at all.

One is filled with despondency walking around this nether region near Croydon.

Many pubs have closed, a process that was happening even before the pandemic, such as the grand Thomas Farley down the road, now converted into HMOs.

Down the road, near Thornton Heath Pond, no fewer than three pubs, all in close vicinity, have closed in recent years.

But the Tele remains, as it has done for a hundred years.

A lick of paint a few years ago has not done much to change its character. When not flooded with football fans, it’s a local’s local.

A regular started talking to me about the dangers of sepsis and, slightly more upbeat, what his daughter was buying for her expected baby.

The conversation then turned to the subject of another man, obviously an absentee regular, who is 34th in the world in quizzes. So it’s a friendly place, if you can get used to the slightly eccentric turn of conversation.

Within a couple of visits everyone will know your name. It had that kind of self-regulating feel, conversations spreading across the whole pub, groups organically mingling, and an amiable but fierce landlady patrolling the bar.

It has a couple of distinct areas, with the main bar a large, Queen Vic style feature in the middle of the pub. I remembered it used to have a distinct stage area, complete with imposing curtain, but that was now gone.

It had the usual Young’s range, plus one guest ale, which had been used up by the time I arrived. While the choice was fairly standard, the prices were reasonable, though no doubt all pubs will feel the current financial pressures and will raise prices.

I’d still a pay a bit more for a pint in here though. The price of not doing so could be even higher.

The Railway Telegraph, 19 Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, CR7 7JJ.




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