Just off the corner of the market square, it’s fair to say the Elephant and Castle was not the world’s most enticing prospect from the outside.

It looked a little unloved with its unforgiving architecture and flat roof, net curtains, the kind of tables outside that you find at cheap greasy spoons and throwback hand-painted signs (which I grew to like).

The old geezer outside with a socks and sandals and a fag lodged between knuckles tattooed with the word ‘hate’ gave off a slightly menacing vibe too.

Unnecessarily, it turns out. If ever there was a case of not judging a book by its cover, this was it - based on my visit, anyway.

My initial feeling of ‘what the hell have I just walked in to?’ was not immediately set back but it didn’t take long.

Inside was not inconsistent with outside. It was compact, dated and won’t win any design awards but had its charms, notably murals of the market and the riverside at either end of the building.

If it wasn’t already clear, a pool table, slot machine, jukebox and the cricket on the telly left no doubt whatsoever that this was a proper boozer.

It could not have been more of a polar opposite to the swanky Guard House over the road, nice though that was in a different way.

After a just a few seconds of being inside, the Elephant and Castle’s appeal was obvious: the atmosphere.

There were a handful of beers on the bar but the punters weren’t coming here for unusual ales.

Sitting in this pub was like being in a social club. It was busy with mostly older folk, all deep in conversation or reading the paper or doing the crossword together while the friendly woman behind the bar joined in the discussions.

Where the Guard House impressed me and filled me up but didn't warm me inside, this place did. Now this is a proper pub, far from perfect but I'll raise a glass to the Elephant and Castle.

The Elephant and Castle, Greens End, Woolwich

How it rated:

Décor * Not exactly the Ritz

Atmosphere ***** Regulars chatting away

Staff **** Seemingly popular with regulars

Drink *** Adequate range

Price *** Acceptable

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