Lager and fancy dress ban imposed on Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar and other pubs on the Rail Ale Trail
The Rail Ale Trail was based on an idea by The Independent journalist Stephen O’Loughlin, in an article from 12 December 1988 entitled ‘Trains Pass So Close, Your Drink Rocks Gently in the Glass.
It was commercialised by Northern Rail in 2009, following a TV programme with Oz Clark and James May featuring Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar. It has resulted in footfall passing the million mark at Stalybridge railway station. As a consequence, it has made the Manchester Victoria to Huddersfield all stations service a big earner on Saturdays.
Though created with good intentions, the Rail Ale Trail has been hijacked by numpties who care little for real ale. Instead of the idea of sampling cask conditioned ales, some passengers have turned it into a ‘must-do’ event for Stag Dos and Hen Dos. Therefore, the boorish atmosphere has put locals off using the stopping service on Saturdays, with an atmosphere more akin to Football Specials than leisurely weekend services.
There has been reports of antisocial behaviour with some using nearby streets as public urinals. This year’s annual Marsden Hymn and March Contest has had to be switched from late Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening.
In the last four years, Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar has had to remove its picnic tables from the Yorkshire platform. Plastic glasses, hard and soft plastic varieties have had to be introduced on Saturdays.
From the 15 June, anyone wishing to visit Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar on Saturdays will be refused entry if seen in fancy dress, or if seen as part of a Stag Do or Hen Do party. Shots, double spirits measures and lager won’t be sold. These restrictions will be effective between 1200 and 2000 hours.
Other pubs participating in the scheme are: the West Riding Refreshment Rooms in Dewsbury; The King’s Head on the Manchester platform at Huddersfield railway station; The Commercial, Slaithwaite; and The Navigation Tavern, Mirfield. The Riverhead Brewery Tap on High Street, Marsden plan to introduce Street Marshals on the 15 June to keep watch for potential troublemakers.
Large groups will need to notify Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar and any of the above four pub mentioned in advance.
Though this seems draconian for some, it is a good step towards reclaiming the original purpose of the Rail Ale Trail. Furthermore, it enables weekend travellers to use local services free of local and not-so-local people unable to handle their booze.
However, some may choose alternative venues which may shunt the problems elsewhere in the town and village centres. That too ought to be addressed, though this shouldn’t come in the way of anyone’s right to a quiet drink. Be it real ale, lager, vodka or whisky.
S.V., 07 June 2013.