Jubilee Refreshment Rooms, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax
Don’t you just love cafes at railway stations? We do. There’s something romantic about them; a journey beginning, a sense of the unknown, new experiences to be had, and who knows, perhaps a brief encounter? You’ll get a whiff of all of this and more at the Jubilee Refreshment Rooms at the station at Sowerby Bridge.
Train enthusiasts and brothers Andrew and Chris Wright bought the almost derelect ticket office in 2003 and spent the intervening years wrangling with officialdom, finally throwing the doors open in 2009 after a dramatic refurbishment and the help of the Railway Heritage Trust. And you can feel the love. It’s a big, light, airy room full of old British Rail posters, vintage enamel advertising signs and wonderful clocks – notably the one over the door from John Tempest, Jewellers.
A no-nonsense menu delivers the likes of bacon and egg butties (‘would you like your egg set or runny?’) beans on toast, pies from Lockwoods in Halifax and home made cake from ‘a lady in Cragg Vale’. All this and very good coffee from a gleaming Italian espresso machine. But it’s not only a caff. There are half a dozen well-kept, local, hand pulled beers from the likes of Elland Brewery – on tap the other day the magnificent sounding Maximum Darkness. In 2012 they won CAMRA Pub of the Year. All kinds of folk were taking advantage; cyclists, office workers, train geeks and a party of four elegant retirees on their way to Leeds partaking of a round of Bombay Saphire gin & tonics. Class.
There’s a Bronte connection too; Branwell was the first Assistant Station Manager here and an area of wasteland by the entrance has been planted with flowers and shrubs mentioned in the Bronte literary canon. It’s so lovely they’ve just won the Gold Rose Award for Yorkshire in Bloom.
All the papers are there plus a pile of very readable track related hardbacks. Let the train take the strain, we say.