Sunday 10th March 2013
The Brunswick has a bit of history behind it and its story starts in 1840 with the opening of the North Midland Railway from Derby to Leeds. Derby was a big railway Junction between separate companies in those days and the new railway connected with the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway and the Midland Counties Railway from the south. The railway opened the pub in 1842 as Brunswick Railway Commercial Inn along with several terraces of Railwaymen's cottages behind it, all designed by Francis Thompson.
I've seen it said that it was the first purpose built railway pub in England but I have my doubts. How is this known? The country at that time was in the middle of "Railway Mania" with lines opening very rapidly all over the land. There were no overnight passenger trains so travellers had to stay somewhere between journeys. There would have been many Railway Inns and Hotels opening at the time; do any predate the Brunswick? Those three railway companies that entered the station at Derby merged together in 1844 to form The Midland Railway, one of the largest in the country.
The pub, by now a Hardy Hanson's (of Kimberley, Notts.) house continued uneventfully though the nineteenth century and in to the twentieth century until the Second World War, after which it went into decline, eventually closing in 1974. However, it became a Grade II listed building and it and the attached terrace street could not be knocked down. There was a real threat of demolition after the closure. Thanks to a grant from the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust the pub was restored commencing in 1984 and reopened to admiring customers in 1987 as a Free House. The purchasers were Trevor Harris and John Evans.
The next major change was in 1991 when a small extension was built to house a brewery. This is still turning out Brunswick beers and is currently a ten barrel plant.
In 2002 the pub was taken over by Everard's Brewery of Narborough, Leics. However you would hardly notice it as there is still the full range of Brunswick beers plus a number of guest beers with just a couple from Everards.
When I called in the home side was represented by three regulars: Brunswick White Feather (3.6%), Tripple Hop (4.0%) and The Usual, aka The Second Brew (4.2%).
There were three specials: Brunswick Railway Porter (4.3%), Last Orders (Graham's Retirement Ale) (4.3%) and Father Mick's Dark Rich Ruby Mild (5.8%). The guest beers were Lymstone (Stone, Staffs) Stone Gold (4.7%); Oakham (Peterborough, Cambs) Bishop's Farewell (4.6%); Milestone (Newark, Notts) Luck of the Irish (4.0%) and St Austell (St Austell) Trelawny (3.8%). There were two regulars from the owners: Everard's Beacon (3.8%) and Tiger (4.2%). Finally, there was also Timothy Taylor (Keighley, Yorks) Landlord (4.3%), another regular.
There was also cider in the form of Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) First Quality (5.0%) and Old Rosie (7.3%).
It was fairly quiet on this Sunday lunchtime so I was able to get some reasonable photographs of the interior, something I have not been able to do before. On entering there is a room in the apex of the triangular-shaped building which is known as the family room. It has some leather-clad armchairs and a nice original fireplace. At the entrance to this room the corridor turns to the left and continues to the end of the pub. There is a nice comfortable room on the left of the thoroughfare with wooden furniture and green-painted lower walls.
Next on the left is another room that I don't think was originally part of the general areas in the pub; maybe a dining room. Nowadays it is a pleasant room with a window to the corridor and has fitted wood settles that have fixed red leather cushions and there is another nice fireplace. Opposite these two rooms is the bar, actually in two sections with one facing to the corridor and the other at 90 degrees facing the main room. This has a lovely bench seat upholstered in red leather. The remainder of the tables and chairs are of the normal wooden variety. There's yet another classic fireplace here also. The corridor with the lower sections painted red continues along to the brewery and the facilities past other private rooms.
Food is served only at lunchtimes; see below for the actual hours. There is a Jazz evening on Thursdays and the pub operates several beer festivals throughout the year.
As can be seen this is a classic pub in every way, from its great selection of beer to wonderfully historic interior. It is certainly one of my favourites in the whole country.
The Brunswick Inn, 1 Railway Terrace, Derby DE1 2RU. Tel: 01332 290677
Open: Monday to Saturday 11.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-22.30
Food is offered: Monday to Thursday 11.30-14.30; Friday and Saturday 11.30-17.00.
The pub is just five minutes from the front of Derby station. Walk to the road in front, Railway Terrace, turn right and you will find the pub on the left. It's possible to cut diagonally right across the station car park.