I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pubs near railway stations are at best functional, at worst tatty and unwelcoming with miserable bar staff.

In my experience you’re never more than five feet or five minutes away from a fight when you walk into bars by stations.

Where to start with this one?

I’d been in the Railway Bell 60 seconds before things were coming off the rails.

A man who always takes the safe option in challenging situations, I played safe and ordered a pint of Doom Bar but it tasted revolting.

It was all I could do to avoid spitting it out across the bar.

One sullen local in a high-vis jacket informed the Honey Monster behind the bar that cleaning the pipes might be a good idea.

My drinking buddy took one look at my face and immediately requested a London Pride before moving as far away from the bar as possible.

I handed back the doomed pint and tried a pint of Pride myself – but you know what they say about pride and falls.

Sadly this tasted very nearly as funky as pint one and was equally undrinkable.

The Honey Monster suggested the glasses might not be as clean as either he, or I, would like – which, although it might have been a plausible explanation, didn’t help as he clearly had no intention of washing anything.

Finally I went for Peroni which was warmer than you’d expect, with decidedly less fizz than usual, but could at least be swallowed.

Apart from the quite appalling beer, the next observation I’d make is that everything about the Railway Bell is sticky.

Your feet stick to the floor, the tables feel like they were last wiped when steam trains were in town and the glasses are glued to your hand.

You can tell a fair bit about places by the CCTV coverage – in this case there were considerably more cameras than there were customers being observed by them.

Actually, there were six TV screens, so there were more of those than there were customers too – and this was a Friday evening.

All in all the place was about as welcoming as one of those outdoor urinals you used to get at stations 15 years ago.

In fact there were too many similarities between this and an old toilet.

We took a seat on some collapsed sofas which had obviously seen better days.

They were as sticky as the rest of the place and the arms, like a number of other things, were clinging on by a thread.

The ceiling is painted blue and white with a pair of tell-tale flags so it obviously relies upon footie trade to survive.

I suppose if you’re desperate to watch a particular game and don’t mind drinking pigswill maybe you’d put up with everything else.

There’s a sign asking people to keep noise to a minimum but there was far more atmosphere outside in the street.

In fact, waiting in the cold for a bus looked the more inviting option.

Without match day and a few solid, clearly less than imaginative regulars, this place would have been shoved into a siding years ago.

Offers include four Jaeger bombs for a tenner and two mulled ciders for a fiver, but no amount of cheap alcohol could rescue this one.

Strings of Christmas lights still hang forlornly from the front windows but the barman claims the owner likes them and says they’re staying to “brighten the place up”.

Sadly it will take a bit more than this.

There is the promise of a hidden terrace but I can’t report on it as the door was firmly locked when I was in.

Other than this there’s nothing else to say really – the hand drier cut out, there are a few colourful football stickers on the ceiling of the gents (probably the brightest thing about the place) and it looks as if the wooden front doors might open up in the summer.

Leaving the Railway Bell I couldn’t help but notice the Grand Central next door was packed to the rafters and was absolutely buzzing.

I popped through the door to ask the barmaid for her opinion of her neighbour.

She was polite enough not to comment but the look on her face said it all.

I think Grand Central might well test my theory about pubs by stations, the Railway Bell certainly doesn’t.

The only good thing about the RB is the transport links allow you to escape quickly.