Have you ever visited the large Sainsbury’s Supermarket at Bell Green? If you have then there the first question to ask is ‘Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?’ and the second question to ask is ‘Do you know the rather narrow railway bridge that crosses Southend Lane?’.
A very short distance from that railway bridge is a small turning called Farmbridge Close and on the corner is a small unimportant pub called the Railway Tavern. It was still in use in 2001 when (at that time) outside the pub was a stout wooden post supporting the pub sign in this article.
Many pub signs are produced ‘on the cheap’ but this one was obviously painted by an artist with an eye for detail. The scene, painted in silhouette, depicts four men sitting or standing in a bar on a railway station, with a 19th century steam train seen through the windows of that bar. Sadly the sign is no longer to be seen, even though the pub is still in use. When I saw it I felt that the picture just seemed to encapsulated the very essence of how railway travel was in days gone by.
The four men are carefully portrayed: The man on the left is sipping his beer; the next one wears a ‘stove pipe’ hat and holds his glass as it rests on the table, also holding a pipe with his left hand; the third man also wears a ‘stove pipe’ hat and holds a glass of sherry or port which is catching the light coming in through the large windows in the scene; and the man on the far right holds his glass of beer and has a cigarette in his mouth.
This is no particular work of art but it caught my eye as I was passing one day. I am only glad that I stopped to photograph it because I have not seen a pub sign since that matches the evocative scenario shown on this pub sign. The design is very simple but, at the same time, it conjures up a scene in a station bar from a different era to our own.