Virgin Trains has helped open an alehouse at Doncaster station which has seen a disused Victorian buffet room transformed into a stunning new customer attraction.
Russ Thompson’s passion for the history and heritage of his home town has combined with his love of real ale and an opportunity to draw on his family history.
His father Barry was a draughtsman for the railways, based in Doncaster, so there was only ever one name for the new alehouse: The Draughtsman.
Russ said: “My father, who died in 1978, used to make the drawings to manufacture train engines, some of which were used at this station. I’m so proud of my railway history and being born and bred in Doncaster, and I wanted to do something to promote the history and heritage of the town and its great railway past, as well as provide a special place for customers to sup real and cask ale at the start or end of their journeys.”
Russ, 51, has used his 30 years’ experience in the building trade, along with the support of his family, to restore the former buffet to its former glory, opening as an alehouse on Platform 3b.
“The room was formerly a buffet, latterly for railway workers throughout the night,” said Russ. “But it had not been used for 20 years and it took seven weeks just to strip paint from the walls, but it was well worth it as it revealed stunning ornate Victorian tiles which now adorn the walls.
“I have also added my dad’s tools to the walls, including his compass, which also forms part of my branding. I’m sure he would have loved it and I could not think of a more appropriate name, given his job for the railways and, of course, we’ll also serve draught ale!”
Natasha Wilding, general manager for Virgin Trains, which manages Doncaster station, said: “We’re thrilled with the transformation of what became a disused store room into a beautiful alehouse and a fantastic place for customers to relax.
“Virgin Trains is committed to promoting history and heritage, and it’s fitting that Russ draws on his and the town’s railway past as we’re about to embark on a transformation of our east coast route with the introduction our new Azuma fleet of 65 trains from next year, many of which will be serviced at a new depot in Doncaster.”
To celebrate the opening, Virgin Trains has combined with North Yorkshire brewer Rudgate and The Draughtsman to offer a prize of two cases of its Hop on Board beer and two First Class tickets to any of its east coast destinations for customers of The Draughtsman.
Craig Lee, managing director of Rudgate Brewery, said: “Rudgate brewery is exceptionally proud to be involved in the launch of a new local business at Doncaster Station in association with Virgin Trains. The east coast route passes through the heartland of Rudgate Brewery and Doncaster is one of our main customer bases.”