Wednesday 4th December 2013
There is a lot of approval nowadays for the increasing number of pubs that are opening on Britain's railway stations. Yet this tiny example is often overlooked as one of the founders of this revival.
I have tried to establish exactly when The Mallard actually opened. It was certainly in existence in 1997 but I believe it was in operation before that. It is said that it is in the same room as a previous buffet. Yet another report that states it was the former waiting room.
It is to be found on the Sheffield-bound platform which is the main one of the two. Please forgive me for a little history of this rather beautiful old station and the railway that runs through it.
The first station was opened on 7th July 1849 by the Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway on the completion of its Sheffield to Lincoln line via Retford. It was built by the architect James Drabble of Carlton.
In 1875 the Midland Railway company completed a line from Nottingham via Mansfield to nearby Shireoaks and obtained running rights into Worksop station. It was at this time that the Station Hotel outside in Carlton Road was opened. The passenger service over this line finished in October 1964 but the line remained open for the extensive coal traffic from the nearby mines.
The line through Worksop is also very busy with freight trains and it is very unusual to be in the pub without a coal train rattling through. The line carries a lot of the "black gold" from ports to the power stations on the banks of the River Trent.
Once the major traffic from Worksop itself was malted barley from the maltings around the station area to the breweries of Sheffield and Manchester. In 1860 there were no less than 29 along the railway line.
There is a good story in the end, as the passenger service was restored in 1998 to the Nottingham line and is now known as "The Robin Hood Line". South of Mansfield this line takes a different route to original Midland Railway route. There has always been a passenger service on the Sheffield to Lincoln line.
The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway was renamed Great Central Railway in 1897 upon the opening of its London extension that terminated at Marylebone station.
This was the last complete inter city line to open in Britain until the completion of the last section of HS1 into St Pancras station at London in 2007. In 1899 the station was rebuilt and this is the attractive structure in the Jacobean style we see today and in which the Mallard is located.
As stated earlier we do not known exactly when the Mallard was born but we are aware that it came under present ownership in 2001.
The pub has two entrances; the main one out to the station approach and the other to the platform. If travelling toward Sheffield it is possible to sit in the pub and gulp the last of your beer down and rush out as soon as your train arrives!
The room is very small but very comfortably furnished. As befitting a hostelry named after the fastest steam locomotive in the world there is a replica of its nameplate on the wall and there are many other photographs depicting railway scenes of the past, in and around Worksop.
There are four hand pumps on the bar and when I visited dispensed the following: Black Jack (Manchester) First Deal (4.4%); Chantry (Rotherham, South Yorks) Diamond Black Stout (4.5%); RAW Brewery (Staveley, Derbyshire) JR Best (4.2%) and Double Top (Worksop, Notts) Golden Arrow (3.9%). It appears from the blackboard there is always a beer from both of the last two breweries on this list.
In the case of the Double Top beer it is not surprising as that brewery is run by Wayne Cadman, who also leases the pub. If I have got the story right the brewery is a 2.5 barrel plant that was originally installed in the cellar of the pub in 2011. It was relocated to an industrial unit on the outskirts of town in 2012.
Incidentally, they also offered Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Old Rosie cider (7.3%).
The Mallard has been awarded North Nottingham CAMRA's Pub of the Year in 2003 and 2012. The pub hosts four beer festivals a year with up to 16 different beers offered. This is achieved by use of the cellar to provide additional accommodation.
After I had left and crossed the footbridge to the Retford-bound platform I looked across to the pub on the other side and thought how welcoming it looked with the lights glowing on a cold and wintery night. I nearly went back but it would have made a much longer journey to York, and then my train came in anyway.
It's a great little pub to visit, even if you are only taking a break between trains.
The Mallard, Station Approach, Worksop S81 7AG. Tel: 01909 521824
Open: Monday 17.00-23.00 Tuesday-Thursday 12.00-23.00;
Friday-Saturday 11.00-23.00; Sunday 12.00-22.30
Worksop is the terminus of the Robin Hood Line from Nottingham via Mansfield. Trains run hourly Monday to Saturday. It is also on the cross country line from Sheffield to Lincoln via Retford. Trains also run hourly on this line from Monday to Saturday.
Sundays are quite problematical as there is no service on the Robin Hood line and the frequency is only every two hours on the Lincoln to Sheffield line with no trains at all before 14.00.
Worksop is well connected to surrounding towns by bus but there is a much reduced service on Sundays.