Mark Briggs has been a real ale connoisseur for over 35 years. A self-professed ‘beer geek’, Mark visits East Lancashire’s pubs for his weekly column. Read of Mark’s straight talking views on ale at his website or follow him on Twitter @realaleupnorth

This week’s pub review leads me to my first venture to Nelson — and to one of the largest drinking establishments in the area.

The Station Hotel, ideally situated across from the bus and railway station, was built in 1839 and is an impressive, grandiose example of Victorian architecture and design.

It's had what you might say, a fluctuation in fortunes over the years. The pub was quite run-down and looking ever so tired up to about 18 months ago. Fortunately, Amber Taverns stepped in and purchased this rambling structure in 2012. The Preston-based company has done a most impressive job in refurbishing the old place.

As I climbed the tiled steps and opened the large double-ronted doors, I immediately realised that much of the original interior design had survived.

The pub still boasts a quite superb Victorian mosaic tiled floor, along with ornamented plasterwork and lighting. The attractive, L-shaped, dark oak panelled bar is huge and is directly in front of you, as you walk in.

The staff must cover some distance along its lengthy walkway. However, it didn't seem to concern friendly staff member Marie, who was briskly walking up and down, efficiently serving the clientele.

The bar was displaying a good selection of lagers and cask ales, the three real ales on offer coming from Bank Top and the Old Bear Brewery. I went for the latter, and their Goldilocks brew — a robust, fruity, lightly-hopped slurp, in excellent condition . . . and 11p change from two quid! There are lots places to relax with your beverage.

It’s a spacious, mostly open-planned room, with plenty of comfy seated areas. I sat in a pleasant enclosed one, adjacent to the bar, with its studded, soft leather chairs and ornately tiled fireplace.

I counted four fireplaces in the pub, which indicated that there would have been separate rooms in days gone by. However, these areas are screened to a degree and they provide a good sociable environment to have a quiet drink.

Nelson is known for the part it played in the cotton industry — weaving mostly — and there are many pictures decorating the walls depicting that industrial era. There are also many of the old town too, a most impressive collection indeed.

It's quite a friendly hostelry, with a few colourful characters exchanging 'topical' conversation.

They were certainly providing some interesting and varied social entertainment during my visit. One or two were singing along with the background music - but I don't think they will be applying for an audition for the BBC's The Voice.

The Station Hotel was an enjoyable and, in some instances, an enlightening experience. It's certainly an ideal place for a drink after some shopping and it's perfect if you have time on your hands, before an onward bus or rail journey.

Thank goodness this pub was saved. It could have easily been another addition to the many that have closed their doors in recent years. Well done Amber Taverns, I say — and many more, I am sure, will concur with that view.