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The Nelson is a locals’ pub, through and through. Heads will turn when you first walk in, but don’t interpret this as a frosty reception. It’s just the regulars checking to see if it’s a friend. On Saturday’s busy karaoke night, no one will bat an eyelid. Go a few times and you’ll be welcomed with open arms possibly literally. An Irish-owned pub, it’s ideal for St Patrick’s Day, which is something of a speciality. The building itself is listed, with the exterior disguising beautiful gilded mirrors and antique woodwork inside. Its protected status means the Nelson has weathered hard times it survived as the only pub with an Old Kent Road address until the recent arrival of the Thomas A’Beckett bar. The staff are friendly, but don’t expect immediate service the place has a relaxed attitude to just about everything, which is one of the best things about the Nelson. You can grab a table with a few friends or have a quiet pint on your own and read the paper. There’s nothing exotic on tap. Mass-market lager (Stella, Kronenburg, Foster’s etc), or standard cider (Strongbow, Magners). Bottles have improved and they’ve started stocking Kopparberg. Spirits are served with mixers, but there’s a no-shot policy, unless you’re willing to down sickly fruit Sourz. Don’t expect to be furnished with any comestibles above and beyond the holy trinity of crisps, pork scratchings and peanuts (but you can eat food from the local takeaways). There are often dogs and sometimes children, but these are a staple fixture of most pubs in the area. If you’re a hardcore smoker, you’re unlikely to find a better pub in winter, or a worse one in summer. Make of that what you will In all, the Nelson is a simple, uncomplicated South London boozer, with its fair share of characters. An old building with an old-fashioned atmosphere.


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