Fancy a pint when you are waiting for your train at Waterloo Station?
You could do worse than detour to The Hole In The Wall in Mepham Street. But you have to be in the mood.
The pub is built into a viaduct under the railway line. Rough and ready, the roof curves with the arch that supports the track, its tables could often do with a wipe and its staff have never shown signs of having been sent on a customer service course. And it may last have been given a lick of paint when Glenn Miller was top of the hit parade.
But I have been coming here thirty odd years and I don’t think The Hole In The Wall has changed a jot. And this, in a constantly changing city, is something to be recommended and delighted by. This is how many London boozers use to be. “Take me as you find me.” “Not one to make an effort.” Few pubs can afford to be so relaxed about the impression they make these days, as the city’s, and indeed the nation’s, pubs continue to close at a regrettable rate of knots. The Hole In The Wall can probably thank its proximity to Waterloo for being able to survive without undue compromise.
It’s not a bad pub (it just looks that way). I always expect the beer to be “sticky” and the glasses likewise (the pub looks grubby) and am always surprised when a decent pint is slapped down on the bar in front of me.
The clientele are largely commuters and folk headed for the theatre or cinema on the South Bank, with a few people settled in for the evening. In the front of the pub there is a snug bar with upholstered seating that at least tries to please. In the large back room, the decor is Welsh valley rugby club in the 1970’s. Chipped formica table tops, Exposed and painted brick work. A slightly stale smell of old beer and dust. But the mood is surprisingly friendly. The bar staff warm up during the evening and have even been known to break into a slow chat with their customers on occasion.
Not a pub for everyone, but in the right mood, its one of my favourites. And worth a try.