Visited on: Tuesday 2nd May 2017
The Draughtsman is the story of the culmination of one man’s dream. The inspiration came about when Russ Thompson visited the York and Sheffield Taps, both award-winning examples of the restoration of Victoria station refreshment rooms.
Back in his home town of Doncaster, whilst waiting for a train, he thought that something similar could be done there and he would like to be the man to do it.
The station is operated by Virgin East Coast and he contacted them to enquire if there was any possibility of setting up a small pub. They found an old waiting room on platform 3B and offered a lease. There followed twelve months of preparation as he sought planning permission for his venture as well as identifying health and safety requirements and drawing up a master plan.
After that period he eventually gained access to the old waiting room. He then started stripping it out, especially the walls. It was then that he discovered the prize asset of this room, the tiles on the wall. Covered up by paint for many a long year these green tiles were in absolutely remarkable condition. Without a doubt they are the most striking feature of the new pub.
The room hadn’t been used for over twenty years and its last incarnation was as a staff canteen for those railwaymen working nights.
Whilst excavating a small cellar to the side of the room he discovered an old newspaper that is dated during 1944. This be displayed in the pub.
Russ, who is a builder, has been assisted by his wife and son throughout this phase of the transformation along with his brother in law. Now the pub is open his son is the main barman.
The official opening day was Wednesday 26th April 2017 and the little pub has not looked back. I visited at 11.00 on a normal weekday.
Outside, on the platform, there is a small enclosed area with a couple of tables with chairs. Inside I found the bar counter occupied the furthest left corner. Looking around the room in a clockwise direction, I first noticed a fitted corner unit of leatherette-clad seats with three small tables with stools in front.
Working my eye along the left side of the pub there was a fireplace next. This is not in use but there is a cast iron wood-burning stove in front, which is. On the mantelpiece above was a vase of fresh flowers and reflected in the framed mirror behind.
Then there is the aforementioned L-shaped bar counter. Along the right side of the room are high tables with tall stools. Light floods in through large windows at either end of the room and shining on the beautiful ceramic tiles that line both sides.
There are normally three cask beers offered and when I visited these were as follows. Two from Chin Chin Brewing Company of South Elmsall, West Yorkshire, which is just up the line towards Leeds. They were Sandusky American Brown Ale (4.2%) and Campfire Session Pale Ale (3.9%). The trinity was completed by Little Black Dog American Pale Ale (4.5%). This brewery is in Carlton, near Snaith, North Yorkshire.
Now, a look at the pub’s name. Why the Draughtsman? Well it is an homage by Russ to his late father Barry who died in 1978 at the young age of 42.
I can do no worse than quoting Russ on the subject of his father: “My father, who died in 1978, used to make the drawings to manufacture train engines, some of which were used at this station”.
“I’m so proud of my railway history and being born and bred in Doncaster, and I wanted to do something to promote the history and heritage of the town and its great railway past, as well as provide a special place for customers to sup real and cask ale at the start or end of their journeys.”
There is a framed photograph of his father on the wall along with several examples of his draughtsman’s tools.
The official opening was conducted by Natasha Wilding of Virgin Trains. Although the pub opens earlier for speciality brewed teas and coffees, it is licensed to serve alcohol from 11.00. There is food in the form of hand-made sandwiches and baguettes along with pork pies from Topping’s of Doncaster. Keg “craft” beers are available along with a full license that encompasses wines and spirits including Gin from small producers in the area.
I thought that the Draughtsman was a wonderful recreation of railway refreshment rooms past with some modern touches. Should you be changing trains there or just passing through please give some thought to adding a little extra time to visit this superb little pub.
The Draughtsman, Platform 3b, Doncaster station, DN1 1PE. Tel: 07999 874660
Hours: Monday-Saturday 09.00-21.00 (Licensed from 11.00); Sunday 12.00-18.00
Doncaster station is easily reached by train. Virgin East Coast operates a frequent service from London Kings Cross to York, Leeds, Newcastle and Scotland.
Hull Trains call there between running from London to Hull.
Grand Central call there en route from London to the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Cross Country trains stop whilst running from the South West to York, Newcastle and Scotland. Trans-Pennine Express stop on their Manchester to Cleethorpes route.
Finally the local trains are run by Northern Rail.