Friday 29th March 2013
Situated at the opposite end of the station to the King's Head, the Head of Steam is a completely different type of pub, both in appearance and purpose. It is situated in the former ticket office of the London and North Western Railway. For a more extensive look at the history of this beautiful station please take a look at the article on the King's Arms at the other of platform 1.
It is part of the small Head of Steam pub chain owned by Tony Brookes. The chain of nine outlets is a mixture of station pubs that have music and non-station pubs that are more heavily into live music. In fact there were more station locations at one time.
If I recollect correctly, Huddersfield was the first of these, in 1996, followed by London Euston. This pub was later sold on to Fuller's Brewery and they currently run it as the Doric Arch, selling a mixture of the own and guest beers. However the magnificent display of railway signs, poster, nameplates etc, still remain.
The next purchase was on Scarborough station. Sadly, it didn't last too long as Tony thought that it didn't fit too well with the concept. The premises had a lot of glass and had a very un-pub like feel.
I well remember talking to Tony in that very bar over the weekend of a CAMRA AGM in the town. Surprisingly there was very little spoken about beer, mainly about his fabulous collection of railway artefacts that decorated the railway pubs, especially Huddersfield. The Scarborough outlet is now a café.
The last of the station pubs is that at Liverpool Lime Street. It is said that it is the largest licensed premises on Merseyside.
Strangely, Tony never leased the first pub he first went after in 1994 and that was the superb Refreshment Room on Newcastle Central station. He found that the new fragmented railway was too difficult to deal with. Ironically, it is now an award-winning pub! It just proves he was right all along.
The other pubs in the chain are at Durham, Gateshead with several in Newcastle.
There are four distinct rooms in the Huddersfield hostelry each with a bar or counter. Entering from the street and passing through the left door you will find yourself in the Lounge.
Live bands play here and the walls are dripping with ancient enamel advertising signs, mostly tobacco products. There is also a lovely tiled fireplace with a large Bass Red Triangle mirror displayed above it.
Continuing our tour by exiting though a door on the left of the bar, we enter the Family Room. This has a feel of a dining area as there menus on the tables.
One wall is covered with more enamel signs. There is a large tile mosaic on one wall that is a representation of a railway station. There are a number of embossed and neon signs, mostly for continental breweries.
The other room on the platform side is the Buffet which displays chocolate bars, confectionary, crisps, and there also menus on the tables. They also sell ice cream. On the walls are a number of locomotive nameplates, steam and diesel. There are also several railway paintings. This is where the entrance / exit to platform 1 is located.
The final room on this clock-wise perambulation is the Bar. This is quite small and is often the most crowded of the four. More signs decorate the walls along with some express train headboards. In summer months there are tables and seats out the front of the pub and also on the platform.
There was a typical selection of beers offered when I called in. This comprised of: White Gypsy (Templemore, Co Tipperary, Ireland) Mustang (6.5%); Copper Dragon (Skipton, North Yorks.) Golden Pippin (3.9%); Two Crowns (Sowerby Bridge, West Yorks.) Golden Crown (3.8%); Saltaire (Saltaire, West Yorks) Cascade Pale Ale (4.8%); Black Sheep (Masham, North Yorks.) Best Bitter; Holt's (Manchester) IPA and Cameron's (Hartlepool, Co Durham) Strongarm.
Just an observation on the White Gypsy Mustang. Tony has long been a champion of small Irish breweries and often imports their beers for sale in his pubs.
There was a large range of ciders: Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosie (7.3%) and Bounds Scrumpy (4.8%); Saxon (Elland, West Yorks.) Greensleeves (7.2%); Gwynt y ddraig (Pontypridd, South Wales) Dog Dancer (6.5%) and Fiery Fox (6.5%); and two perries: Broadoak (Clutton, Somerset) Premium Perry (7.5%) and Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Country Perry (4.5%).
There are often themed beer festivals. Food is served on Monday to Saturday from 11.30 to 21.00 and on Sundays from 12.00 to 18.00. There are daily specials and they do Sunday roast dinners.
All in all, a fantastic place to drink beer in superb surroundings.
The Head of Steam, St George's Square, Huddersfield HD1 1JB. Tel: 01484 454533
Open: Monday and Tuesday 11.00-23.00; Wednesday and Thursday 11.00-24.00;
Friday and Saturday 11.00-02.00; Sunday 12.00-22.30
The Head of Steam is at the West end of Platform 1 on Huddersfield.
There is also an entrance from St George's Square.
Huddersfield station is served by express trains operated by First Trans Pennine Express which connect the town with Manchester, Leeds, York and many other places. Local services are run by Northern Trains and connect Huddersfield with Sheffield, Bradford, Wakefield and other towns in the area.
Many buses call at the railway station and the bus station is not too far way. The two are connected by a free bus.