Trains have been running through Shottle on and off since 1867. I say on and off because in 1947 the line was closed for passenger trains and used for goods trains only. However the recently opened Ecclesbourne Valley Railway now serves this delightful area of Derbyshire, which is rich in scenery and beautiful walks. The local pub aptly called The Railway Inn has been catering for the needs of travellers, locals, walkers and just the ‘thirsty person’ since the 1860’s. Situated smack on the crossroads, The Railway is perfectly placed to serve the local community.
The pub has undergone various changes of track itself during its 150 year life. New tenants, extensions, and clientele have seen the good times and hard times. This, for sure is a tough industry with many demands made on those who choose to spend their working lives running places for us to eat and drink.
So what is happening at the minute at The Railway Inn? We spoke to Manager Jane who has a great love for this building. She was very honest in telling us that the pub has had a few poor reviews and yet still maintains a good loyal client base despite this. However from October last year she was pleased to say that under the new tenancy things have picked up nicely. A decision was made when the new owners came in, to change things around and so gradually improvements have been and still are, in progress.
The important change they have made is to the food suppliers as this was an area of criticism. “ We now source most thing locally” said Jane, “ and our meat now comes from Owen Taylor butchers who have a great reputation, thus giving us great peace of mind”.
So trying the carvery was something I did when we dined. It’s okay buying meat from reputable sources but another thing cooking it properly and Chef Mark has succeeded in this. Some may like it a little rarer but I’m okay with ‘more well done’. The hot carvery area features not only 4 meats but also a wide range of dishes from steak and ale pie, sausages and onions, beef stroganoff, a turkey and Mediterranean type curry. The hot vegetables feature about 5 different ways of presenting potatoes! As well as English root vegetables and a roasted Mediterranean choice. I mentioned to my partner that it might be best not to give too big a choice but to keep it simple. But that’s only my personal view and I’m sure that on a busy Sunday lunch it moves very quickly.
The carvery isn’t the only thing on offer as a full menu is available with lite bites included, which will please those without a big appetite. It was noticeable that the portions served were quite large! They cater for walking groups and have regular groups who use the car park (with permission) and then dine at the all day carvery after their walk. I had to smile as I watched someone leave the carvery with a plate piled so high they could have done with a fork-lift to get it to the table. Not for the faint-hearted!
As we sat chatting Jane talked about the other changes taking place at The Railway. Comfortable settees are being introduced into an area near the bar for those who just wish to drink or have a lite bite. This makes common sense because they are still a public house and people still want to sit and enjoy a drink and chat. Finishing touches to the soft furnishings are also being made to brighten up the decor.
As Jane says, all these things take time and to that end she’s putting in around 70 hours a week to get things right. She explained that they are now seeing people returning to dine on a regular basis and, with space for at least 90 to dine, there’s plenty of room to grow. There are at least 4 different seating areas with room for groups of family and friends, as well as quieter corners for couples and in the summer a large outside seating area.
Jane and Assistant Manager Adam are putting a lot of effort into making The Railway a place to meet, drink and dine. After 13 weeks, progress is good and all Jane and Adam ask is that people give them a try, it is obvious that her passion is to make the Railway a huge success. Check out their web site for opening times and when food is available.