Satire from East of the A627

Long-awaited alternative to Rail Ale Trail launched along Trans-Pennine routes

Merrie England
Not a Batman costume in sight: compare and contrast this genteel scene with the Hogarthian scenes you see at Marsden station on a Saturday afternoon. This image was taken at the 2011 Huddersfield Food Festival by Chris (Creative Commons License – Some Rights Reserved).

Passengers cheesed off with the ale trail on Saturdays have been given a new way of exploring both the red and white rose counties. Starting on the 15 August 2016, it aims to provide a gentle alternative to doing battle with assorted Spidermen, Batmen and cowboys.

Known as the Trans-Pennine Tea Trip, it aims to connect the Northern Powerhouse by means of terrific tea shops, cafés and restaurants. Highlights of the trail include:

  • The cluster of Merrie England shops in Huddersfield.
  • The tearooms at Harvey’s department store in Halifax.
  • The much-lauded of tearooms in central Europe, Betty’s of Harrogate.
  • Afternoon tea at Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar.

Mr. Shifter, chief of Public Affairs for Northern Rail’s GNATS Department said, “The Rail Ale Trail has been a resounding success, but we believe in catering for as many passengers as possible.

“Our Trans-Pennine Tea Trip will add life to cafés and restaurants that would otherwise lose out to coffee shop chains. Some of them do fantastic breakfasts.”

Charlie Brooke, 34 of Mirfield said, “It’s a tea-riffic initiative. With the price of beer in some places costing more than a MetroRover ticket, I have made new friends.

“I asked my girlfriend, Catriona Doyle if she fancied going. After saying ‘go on’ several times (she’s a Father Ted fan as you may well guess), she joined me on the Halifax train.”

In spite of Northern’s good intentions, it has had one detractor. Nadia Bond, aged 21 of Netherthong, said “how can you have a session on Typhoo or Sainsbury’s Red Label? Tea is tea.”

Huddersfield, it is said, is noted for its number of Merrie England coffee shops. It is also noted in the soon-to-be-released leaflet, Tea Trip Tips, as having the closest Wimpy bar to Manchester city centre. There is reference to the gem of a buffet bar on the Leeds platform and the joys of having a brew in the company of Felix, the ever-popular station cat.

Harrogate, without question, is noted for being the home of Betty’s and Taylor’s – makers of Yorkshire Tea. It waxes lyrical over the fancy cakes, the plethora of pastries, and its freshly ground coffee at the company’s flagship shop.

In the red rose county, it mentions the legendary Brucciani’s café in Preston, a mere amble from its palatial railway station. There is reference to Rachel’s Pantry in Cleveleys, once noted for having the cheapest brews in Lancashire. Even a chunk of Cheshire for good measure, with the Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar’s afternoon teas being lauded.

Once we get details of the map (entitled the Tea Trip Trail), you as ever shall be the first to know. Here’s to a nice celebratory mug of strong tea in honour.


S.V., 10 August 2016.

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