Friday 9th August 2013
The clue is in the name, as this pub is almost opposite Whitby Railway station. Yet it hasn't always been known as the Station Inn. The present pub is not the first on the site as there was one there in the 19th Century. I have read that it was called the Cutty Sark. Well, that ship was built on Clyde-side in 1869, so it couldn't have been until then. I don't think it was named after the dancing witch in the poem Tam O' Shanter by Robert Burns, from which the ship got its name.
It is said that the name was changed to Station Inn sometime after the first railway arrived at the town in 1835. Without the benefit of precise research results I can't confirm if it was renamed from any previous name to become the Station Inn or, whether it has always been that way, although the sign carried the image of a sailing ship to the 1930s.
Back in 1835 the railway only ran to Grosmont, although it was extended through to Pickering the following year. The middle section was at that time operated by horses, and it wasn't until the next decade that that section was rebuilt to be worked in the conventional manner with steam locomotives. By a happy coincidence that is still the case, as the Grosmont to Pickering section is the present-day North Yorkshire Moors Railway.
Yet it gets better, as since 2007 the NYMR has been running through to Whitby over the national network from Grosmont and what's more, there are likely to be more of these trains in future.
See one of their trains at Whitby station in the photo, left. It can only benefit the Station Inn, with it bringing more visitors to the town.
The normal train service is run by Northern Rail and runs to Middlesbrough along the beautiful Esk Valley. It is a sparse service that takes a long time with a reversal at Battersby, as the original route onwards from there has been shut. The other two lines to the town, from Scarborough and Middlesbrough (via the coast) both closed in the 1960s.
The old pub continued as the Station Inn until 1932 when it was destroyed by fire. Till then it was nicknamed the Rat Pit and this may have been linked to the smuggler's tunnel connecting the old pub with properties in Baxtergate. It was rebuilt in a rather strange version of the Mock Tudor style and named (renamed?) Cutty Sark. I remember it as Cameron's (Hartlepool) pub and it could have become that way via one of two routes.
It could have been a pub of the Scarborough & Whitby Breweries, whose 99 pubs were acquired by Cameron's in 1956. Or possibly it was owned by Russells & Wrangham Brewery, a merger of two Malton breweries. They were taken over by the Melbourne Brewery of Leeds which itself absorbed by J W Cameron in 1961.
This explains why there were previously a large number of pubs in Whitby selling beer from the Hartlepool brewery.
In the late 1980s Cameron's were involved with the Pubmaster chain and they bravely launched the Tap and Spile concept. This was a series of pubs that majored on cask ales, offering many from small breweries. There were many in the north on the east side of the Pennines, although they extended over most of the country. Century Inns acquired the company and reduced the range of beers.
By the mid 2000s a lot of these pubs were sold on, some keeping the Tap & Spile name, other reverting to their previous names, or getting new ones. What has this to do with the Station Inn? Well, it became a Tap & Spile back then and was part of the chain for almost twenty years.
In 2007 it reverted to the Station Inn a name last used in the 1930s. It is an Enterprise Inns house and has been managed by Andrew Waller and Colin Stonehouse since then. They have breathed new life into the pub and it is at the centre of the community.
The number of real ales has increased and a lot goes on in this pub. It is very much a music pub with live bands on Friday and Saturday evenings, also Sunday afternoons. Tuesday and Sunday evenings are for Folk music and Thursday night is Quiz night.
It is usual in pubs that shift a lot of ale to have a few regular beers and an ever-changing list of guest beers. I suppose because of the constraints of the tie imposed by Enterprise Inns this has been looked at in a different way in this boozer.
I may be wrong, but there appears to be seven regular beers and a daily guest beer. There is not necessarily anything wrong with that as several of the standard range are good uns.
When I called in the range was as follows: Timothy Taylor's (Keighley, West Yorks) Golden Best (3.5%); Cameron's (Harlepool, Co Durham) Strongarm (4.0%); Otter (Luppit, Devon) Best Bitter (3.6%); Ossett Brewery (Ossett, West Yorks) Silver King (4.3%); Sharp's (Rock, Cornwall) Doom Bar (4.0%); York Brewery (York, North Yorks) Guzzler (3.6%) and Whitby Brewery (Whitby, North Yorks) Platform 3 (3.6%), an exclusive beer for this pub. The guest beer was Robinson's (Stockport, Greater Manchester) Trooper (4.8%). They also sell Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosie Cider (7.3%).
Inside the pub has retained most of its original 1930s interior layout. On entering you will find a small room to your left with a tiny counter, a bit like a snug. To the right is another lovely room with a brick-surround fireplace, without a bar counter.
Continue on through to the main bar room, this is where the largest part of the counter is to be found. It is decorated in an appropriate railway theme. There are tables and also a shelf on the opposite wall, where I propped myself.
Should you be in Whitby, please don't miss this pub, especially if you arrive by train. The town has many attractions that include Dracula, as it is mentioned heavily in Bram Stoker's book. That also supplies a link to modern day Goths, who meet here. There is also Captain Cook who was a local and had his four ships built in the town. Add in the whaling connection and the distinctive jet, and its jewellery, which can be bought here.
Finally, it is still a working fishing port, so the restaurants are well supplied with the spoils of the sea; seafood, shellfish as well as fresh fish. Plenty of reasons to visit!
The Station Inn, New Quay Road, Whitby, YO22 1DH. Tel: 01947 603937
Open: Monday-Saturday 10.00-24.00; Sunday 10.00-23.30
Whitby station is almost opposite and is served by the Esk Valley line from Middlesbrough. This is not a frequent service and takes a long time but the compensation is that it is a very beautiful line. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway also accesses Network Rail for the last few miles into Whitby. When this visit was made there were three trains a day from Pickering but I understand this is to be increased in future.
The bus station is just beyond the railway station and is served by route 840 "The Coastliner" every two hours, sometimes more frequently, especially in summer. This runs from Leeds via York, Malton, Pickering and over the moors to Whitby. Note: it connects with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway at Pickering. There are also hourly buses to Middlesbrough and Scarborough on weekdays. Sunday services are sparser.