Friday 29th March 2013
An early pioneer of the new wave of station pubs, the West Riding Refreshment Rooms were opened in 1994, but not without a struggle. Mike Field needed to raise capital to make his dream of establishing a pub in the station a reality. As the usual sources of loans, the banks, weren't interested he had to look elsewhere. A familiar story this, it could be contemporary. The backing came from Bateman's Brewery of Wainfleet in Lincolnshire and this classic pub was born.
The line opened on 18th September by what was shortly to become the London and North Western Railway. The station was built in a very unusual architectural style, a mixture of Tudor and Italianate. To me the section where the pub is, with its ivy-clad stone exterior, resembles a strange lodge keeper's cottage at the entrance to a stately home, certainly not a railway station.
Despite its oddness, it is still a beautiful building that could have easily been destroyed and replaced by a bus shelter and a ticket machine. In the middle part of its existence it was named Dewsbury Wellington Road to distinguish it from the other three Dewsbury stations. Yes, three! Each of the other major railway companies in the West Riding had a station. These were the Midland Railway, the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and the Great Northern Railway.
It is said that the pub occupies the area that was formerly the first, second and third class waiting rooms; that's certainly feasible. It has three rooms. Entering from Platform 2, there's a corridor that leads to what was once a beer garden, now a smoking area. You then enter a smallish room, on the occasion of my visit there was an open fire on the go. The bar is on the right and if you leave this room through the arched doorway it continues into the next room. There is yet another in the same direction and it is from here that you can access the station forecourt. All of the rooms have their walls covered with railway ephemera and signs, along with a large amount of old photographs.
There are always eight beers available and of these, three are regulars, the remainder being guests. The three standards are Timothy Taylor's (Keighley, West Yorks.) Dark Mild (3.5%) and Landlord (4.3%), also Black Sheep (Masham, North Yorks.) Bitter.
The guest beers on that day were: York Brewery (York, North Yorks.) Centurion's Ghost (5.4%); Saltaire (Saltaire, West Yorks.) South Island Pale Ale (3.5%); Sportsman Brewing (Huddersfield, West Yorks.) Alpha # 5 (4.5%); Cottage (Castle Cary, Somerset) Norman's Conquest MM (5.0%) and Magic Rock (Huddersfield, West Yorks) High Wire West Coast Pale Ale (5.5%).
At least two traditional ciders are available. Unfortunately, on this occasion I failed to note the details.
Food is available but it adheres to a rather complicated timetable. Mondays to Fridays, cold platters and pies are offered from 12.00 to 20.00. In addition, from Wednesday to Friday, hot meals can be had between 12.00 and 14.00. On Saturdays, between 10.00 and 15.00, breakfasts and cold platters, are on the menu. Finally, on Sundays, lunches can be had between 10.00 and 14.00.
The pub, rightly, has won many awards. It was CAMRA Yorkshire Pub of the Year 2006 and the following year was a runner up in the CAMRA National Pub of the Year competition. Dewsbury is in the Heavy Woollen District of CAMRA and more recently has been their Branch Pub of the Year 2010 and 2012. These results prove that the West Riding is well worth a visit with at least four trains an hour on weekdays.
The West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Wellington Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire WF13 IHF
Tel: 01924 459193
Open: Monday 12.00-23.00; Tuesday to Thursday 11.00-23.00; Friday 11.00-24.00;
Saturday 10.00-24.00; Sunday 11.00-23.00
Dewsbury station has a basic service of four trains each hour. Two are operated by Transpennine Express and run from Middlesbrough and York to Manchester Airport via Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly. The other two trains are local services operated by Northern Rail and one runs from Leeds to Huddersfield and the other from Leeds to Manchester Victoria via Sowerby Bridge and Rochdale.
The bus station is less than ten minutes walk away.