Whitby, North Yorkshire:
The Waiting Room
Saturday 18th March 2017
I had wanted to visit this micropub ever since I heard of its opening. That was in April 2016 and it has taken me just under a year before I crossed its threshold. I visit Whitby every few years or so. As is often the case, I arrived here on a steam train. There is something eminently satisfying in drinking good beer on a railway station and then just walking out the door to catch a train, especially if it steam-hauled.
It is the inspiration of and operated by Rob and Sue Wildsmith who gave up their previous careers to become publicans. The location was previously in use as a “Copy Shop” a combined printing, framing, retail shop and gallery. It is situated on Platform 2, and the entrance door is in a small passage that takes passengers past the ticket office out into Station Square, which is on the way to the quayside.
The venerable station was opened in 1845 and is quite rightly a Grade II listed building. Originally there were platforms 1 and 2. In the 1850s numbers 3 and 4 were built to handle traffic to and from the newly-opened lines up and down the coast. There were now four routes into the town. The original “main line” ran via Pickering to Malton and on to York, now partially occupied by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
There was also the coastal route south via Robin Hood’s Bay to Scarborough. And as well there was a route to the north of which run along the coast for some of the way. Finally there was the route along the Esk Valley to Battersby.
The route beyond there to Pickton on the Middlesbrough to Northallerton line is now closed. Instead trains reverse and continue to Middlesbrough. As can be gathered this the only route to Whitby that is still in the national network, although it is still possible to get to Pickering on the NYMR.
The station had been severely cut back after the loss of these lines. Platforms 3 and 4 disappeared and their location is occupied by a Co-op supermarket. With only four trains a day platform 2 was cut back to accommodate nothing more than four car trains.
Then a renaissance as the NYMR extended its service of steam trains over Network Rail to Whitby. Because of their length they used platform 1 between service trains but had to shunt back out of the station to get the locomotives on to the other end. They operated three trains to Whitby a day but wanted more. This was achieved in 2014 when platform 2 was rebuilt and reinstated to its full length. There are now five steam trains a day, more than that operated by Northern on the national network.
Because the NYMR railway was not operating on this day our train was able to utilise platform 2. We had come from York on the “Whitby Flyer”. Of course its title is a misnomer; many steam trains are similarly named “Express” etc. They hardly ever go fast, and never over the Esk Valley line! The traction on this day was a steam locomotive at each end of the train. This was necessitated by the five reversals en route.
As soon as the train arrived I scampered to the pub as quickly as I could as I wanted to experience it before the hordes descended upon it. It proved to be a wise decision as it soon filled up and was very busy when I went back just before the train departed at 16.30.
Basically this small pub is a room with a bar counter in one corner. Around the entrance door are some very comfortable looking red leather sofas with accompanying tables and loose seats. The remainder of the room is served by tall tables with high stools and chairs. There are some nice framed photos of local features on the green-painted walls.
There are normally five cask beers on offer and on this occasion they were: Bad Seed (Malton, North Yorks) Aussie Pale (3.8%); Bowland (Clitheroe, Lancashire) Hen Harrier (4.1%); Consett Ale Works (Consett, Co Durham) White Hot (4.0%); Breworks (Pickering, North Yorks) Great Scot 70/- Heavy (3.8%) and also their Coal Porter (4.9%).
Although it has been open less than a year it is celebrating its first award as the Waiting Room is CAMRA Cleveland Cider Pub of the Year 2017. When you look at the range offered when I visited that should be no surprise. The ciders and perry are kept out of sight so I guess they come from cool storage.
The selection was as follows: Thistly Cross (South Belton, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland) Whisky Cask (6.9%); Lilley’s (Frome, Somerset) Mango Cider (4.0%); Celtic Marches (Bishops Frome, Herefordshire) Cuckoo Penny Rhubarb Cider (4.0%); Sandford Orchards (Crediton, Devon) Devon Scrumpy Medium Cider and Weston’s (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Country Perry (4.5%).
There were two from Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, Glamorgan, South Wales): Black Dragon Cider (7.2%) and Ancient Warrior Cider (6.5%). Additionally, there were no less than three from Tutt’s Clump (Tutt’s Clump, Berkshire): Special Reserve (6.0%); Blackberry (4.0%) and Jazz (5.5%). The latter is a single variety cider made from Kent-grown Jazz apples.
So, as can be seen, there is a fantastic selection of traditional drinks to be had in this little pub. Wines are also offered. No food is served, but as the pub is right in the middle of Whitby, there is no shortage of restaurants and take-away outlets in the immediate area.
Waiting Room, 2 Whitby Station, Whitby YO21 1YN. Tel: 07584 311886
Hours: Wednesday-Thursday 16.30-21.00; Friday: 16.00-21.00; Saturday: 12.00-21.00; Sunday: 12.00-17.00.
Whitby station is served by four trains a day provided by Northern to and from Middlesbrough.
In summer the North Yorkshire Moors Railway also contributes five steam-hauled trains from Pickering.
Whitby bus station is just around the corner and is served by the route 840 from Leeds, York and Pickering.
There are also local routes including one down the coast to Scarborough via Robin Hood’s Bay.