Tuesday 6th August 2013
The railway station at Carnforth has been transformed over the last ten years. The station's buildings now constitute a heritage centre and a lot of work has gone into restoration. Firstly though, a little history; the railway arrived in the town in 1846 with the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway and they built a rudimentary single platform. This changed when the Ulverston & Lancaster Railway was completed in 1857 and terminated here. The station was enlarged to accommodate the new arrival.
Still the station developed with the Furness Railway taking over the over the Ulverston (and Barrow) line in 1862. The Lancaster & Carlisle was absorbed in to the London & North Western and was part of its route from London (Euston) to Carlisle where it met the Caledonian Railway and on to Glasgow (Central). This line forms what is know known as the "West Coast Main Line".
Another large company, the Midland Railway built a line that skirted the town to the north and connected directly on to the Furness Railway. This was a branch off their London (St Pancras) to Carlisle line. Soon a curve was built to enable Midland trains to enter the station. This was the catalyst for the station's rebuilding, which was completed in 1880 and these are the buildings we see today. A locomotive depot was established and this provided local employment and led to the development of Carnforth as a "Railway Town".
The platforms on the Barrow line were extended to 300 feet in length during 1937 by the London, Midland & Scottish Railway, and the successor of the three previous companies. It also rebuilt the locomotive depot. The station now had six platforms. This situation continued into the British Railways / British Rail era.
A major change was in 1970 when the platforms on the main line towards Scotland were closed on the withdrawal of the stopping service to Carlisle. At more or less the same time the two bay platforms that served the former Midland Railway trains to Leeds ceased to be used as these trains ran through to Lancaster or Morecambe.
So at the time of this visit just two platforms remain. The full station was open back in 1945 when "Brief Encounter" was filmed on and it the station. This famous British weepy stared Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard and is still enormously popular nowadays. The clock that featured so prominently is still there guarding the station from a position at the top of the slope up from the subway.
The famous station refreshment room reopened on 17th October 2003. The 1940s water boiler is still used for its original purpose and many devotees of the film come to soak up the atmosphere. It is an interesting fact that all of the filming was done at night so as not to interfere with the operation of the railway; after all, it was still wartime. Next door is the Visitor Centre that often shows the film.
Fast-forward to 1st August 2012 and the opening of The Snug. It is a micro pub inspired by Martyn Hillier's Butcher's Arms in Herne, Kent and is the work of Gregg Beamon and his wife Julie. The help of Colin Aris of the Conqueror Alehouse in Ramsgate is also acknowledged.
Snug is a very good description of the interior as Russell and I found a standing place in the small alcove opposite the bar. The pub is a small, irregularly-shaped room.
There is an entrance from the street and also one from what was the platform. We entered this way and noticed the bar on the right along with a small area looking out on to the station. It has a book case stuffed full of books.
Behind the bar are cool cupboards that contained the beer casks; these looked to be very well-made. The facility is beyond the storage area which separate from the main room.
There was a good selection of beer and the choice was: Dunscar Bridge (Bolton, Greater Manchester) IPA (3.7%); Blythe Brewery (Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire) Palmer's Poison (4.5%); Marlpool (Heanor, Derbyshire) Owd Sowt (5.0%) and more locally: Hardnott Brewery (Millom, Cumbria) Continuum (4.0%). From Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) there was Old Rosie Cider (7.3%) and Country Perry (4.5%).
As far as food is concerned there are Pork Pies, Cheese and Crackers and Pickled Eggs. Naturally there are packaged bar snacks such as crisps, peanuts, scratchings and Bombay Mix.
This is a useful little pub if you happen to be changing trains or for a visit in its own right.
The Snug, The Railway Station, Carnforth, Lancashire LA5 9TR. Tel: 07927 396861
Open: Tuesday-Saturday 12.00-14.00, 17.00-21.00. Sunday-Monday: Closed.
There are two train operators; Trans-Pennine Express and Northern. Between them they provide trains to and from Leeds, Barrow, Morecambe, Lancaster, Preston and Manchester.