Sunday 17th March 2013
If you didn't know exactly where this pub is located you might miss it. It is found in Mill Lane, a small cul-de-sac off Market Street. This is a very ancient part of the town. On the left side of the lane the Washford River comes over a little waterfall just before emptying itself into the ocean. On the right is the former station of the West Somerset Mineral Railway, opened in 1855, which ran up the river valley to Washford and beyond to the Brendon hills where iron ore was mined. This was shipped from Watchet across the Bristol Channel to South Wales for the steel works there. The line was closed in 1910 and lifted in 1917. There is a great deal of history in such a small area.
The Star was originally named The Royal Oak and according to the pub's own information dates from 1794. However, whilst researching this piece I found a reference to its existence in 1787 and it is more than likely, older than that. In 1825 it closed and then opened again in the same year as the Star. It was owned by a couple of country estates in the late nineteenth century. One thing I have not been able to establish is what brewery leased (owned) it. Whoever it was, they sold it in 1989 and it became a Free House.
I visited on Sunday lunchtime. Probably not the best time to call in for just a drink, but I soon found a small corner of the bar. This is a remarkably comfortable hostelry and it is certainly good on the eye.
There are normally four beers on offer but on this day they were down to three. But that didn't matter as two of them were from Quantock Brewery of Wellington, Somerset, whose beers I like very much. They were Quantock White Hind (4.5%) and Will's Neck (4.3%). The other beer was Exmoor Ale (3.8%) from Wiveliscombe, Somerset. They also had cider on the hand pump in the form of Thatcher's Traditional (6.0%) from Sandford, Somerset.
Apart from a few other drinkers at the bar, people around me were tucking in to Sunday lunches. Despite that I didn't feel excluded and the busy landlord actually stopped a couple of times to chat about the beers. The pub has a medium sized garden at the rear and at the front there are tables for summer use. There is an open coal fire in winter.
This is a great pub to visit at any time of year and comes highly recommended.
The Star Inn, Mill Lane, Watchet, Somerset TA23 0BZ. Tel: 01984 631367
Open: Monday to Saturday 12.00-15.30, 18.30-23.00; Sunday 12.00-16.00, 19.00-24.00
The focus of public transport in Watchet is at the station of the West Somerset Railway which runs from Bishop's Lydeard, near Taunton, to Minehead. It's the longest steam-hauled preserved line in the country. It runs daily in summer and at weekends in winter. This is also where the town's main bus stop is. Watchet is served by routes 14, 18 and 28. The latter runs at least hourly all day from Taunton to Minehead. If you arrive by train, cross to the town by the footbridge. The bus stop is alongside the station building. Cross the road and walk down Swain Street. At the end, turn left and then left again after crossing the river bridge. You will then see the pub.