Friday 12th June 2015
We were on a first-time visit to likeable little pub. Its name is a bit of a conundrum as it is to be found in an arch under Wigan North Western railway station. Yet it is named after another that was to be found on the other side of the town centre. Although the first railway line to the town opened on 3rd September 1832 as a branch from the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, its station was at Chapel Street.
When this was connected to a new railway from Wigan to Preston the station was relocated to its present position. This was on 31st October 1838 and I presume this is when the line above the arch, also opened. The station entrance is on the other side of the line to the east of the town centre and is reached by a road under the railway.
Wigan Central on the other hand was to be found on the western side of the town just over a half mile from its namesake pub. It was also a branch from another Liverpool to Manchester main line and was built by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire, later the Great Central Railway. This line opened on 3rd October 1892 and closed to passengers on 2nd November 1964.
Station Road is still exists and the old station was demolished in 1973. The site was used for the Grand Arcade Shopping Mall, built 2006 to 2008.
For the sake of completeness I’ll quickly mention the other Wigan station which is around 200 metres from the pub. This is Wallgate and is on the Manchester to Liverpool line (yet another) of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. The line opened on 20th November 1848 and in 1896 the old station was demolished and the present-day Wigan Wallgate was opened and still is.
Once inside the pub you still can’t get away from railways as that is the theme. From the door you see the bar counter in front on the left side of the room. This is disguised to resemble an old buffet kiosk. The left side wall has the bare brick exposed and there are loose wooden tables, large and small along with chairs and stools.
The railway theme is taken to a higher level on the right side of the arch. Here we found three booths that were designed to resemble the interior of railway carriages from the 50s and 60s.
The side walls are painted to look like a central door with a window either side. “Outside” we see country scenes.
There is a small table with a lamp and above there are luggage racks complete with old-style knitted string “hammocks” dangling below.
As is the style these days they have a large range of bottled beers and these are contained in fitted shelves to the right side of the arch. It includes local products and international styles and is known as the “beer library” There is a small table with stools in front of the rows of bottles.
Outside there is more seating for al fresco imbibing. This looked down on by a huge railway station-like clock.
The pub opened its doors for the first time on 4th December 2014. It is owned by Patsy and John Slevin. They operate the Prospect Brewery at nearby Standish where Patsy is the brewer (should be brewster?). Jo Whalley is their pub manager.
In their first year (2015) they succeeded in landing three awards from the CAMRA Wigan Branch: Cider Pub of the Year, Best New Cask Outlet of the Year and overall Pub of the Year.
There are seven hand pumps that serve one permanent cask beer with the remainder dispensing an ever-changing selection. When we visited the choice was from: Six Bells (Bishops Castle, Shropshire) Revive Pale Mild Ale (3.4%); Thornbridge (Bakewell, Derbyshire) Jaipur (5.9%); Big Hand Brewing (Wrexham, Clywd, North Wales) Little Monkey Mild (4.0%).
There was also Liverpool Craft Beer (Liverpool) Rye Pale Ale (5.6%); Quantock Brewery (Bishops Lydeard, Somerset) Quantock Stout (4.5%); Stonehouse Brewery (Oswestry, Shropshire) Sunlander (3.7%) and the house beer from the owner’s brewery: Prospect (Standish, Greater Manchester) Totem (3.8%). There were also two ciders available that day: Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, South Wales) Pyder (6.0%) and El Cantina (Elland, West Yorkshire) Moody Blues (5.0%).
Wigan Central sells all of the other drinks you would expect in a pub. Not much food though, but that is not what you should be here for! Just pork pies, pickled eggs and snacks in a pack. It is a fantastic pub to while away the hours between trains. Should you miss one it is entirely your fault as there are real-time electronic arrival / departure boards on the wall for both nearby stations. See photo, above left.
Wigan Central, Arch No 1, Queen Street, Wigan WN3 4DY. Tel: 01942 245425
Hours: Monday-Thursday 12.00-23.00; Friday 12.00-24.00;
Saturday 11.00-24.00; Sunday 12.00-22.30
Wigan North Western has trains operated by Virgin West Coast, Northern Rail and
Trans-Pennine Express to many places such as London, Manchester, Birmingham,
Liverpool, Preston, Blackpool and Scotland.
Wigan Wallgate has local trains to Manchester, Bolton,
Southport and Kirkby (change for Liverpool).