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The Steamhouse, Urmston 

Come over to Urmston on Thursday 23rd July, when Trafford & Hulme Branch will be presenting their Pub of the Season Award for Summer 2009 to The Steamhouse at Urmston railway station (8 p.m. onwards).

What a transformation! For fifteen years Urmston’s original station building lay derelict after a modern ticket office was built on the opposite line of the line. It was succumbing to the ravages of flood, fire and tempest, not to mention vandalism. To locals it seemed it would soon have to be demolished.

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The Steamhouse

Fortunately it was rescued by the vision of a local entrepreneur, Rob Foster, who talked Network Rail and the Railway Heritage Trust into helping him fund its conversion into Urmston’s newest pub, The Steamhouse. Ironically, there used to be a pub on more or less the same spot in the 19th century, the Duke of York, demolished to make way for the station in 1872.

The Steamhouse only opened on 30th June 2008 and it has already become a firm favourite with locals and visitors who appreciate cask ale. It’s increased Urmston’s cask ale outlets from three to four and boosted the availability of independently brewed beers. There are four handpumps, with usually two beers from Hyde’s (bitter and a seasonal or dark mild) and two from local micro breweries such as Dunham Massey, Hornbeam or Bazens’. Belgian breweries feature strongly among the bottled beers.

Externally the building looks much as it must have done in 1873, except that the platform canopy has not been restored. There are even traditional enamel advertisements fixed to the walls, but now they advertise the likes of Duvel and Vedett beers, not Spratt’s dog biscuits. But inside there’s no hint of the building’s former use – don’t expect anything like Stalybridge Buffet Bar, this looks more like a Scottish hunting lodge. The floors and walls were too badly damaged to be renovated, and in any case there were very few internal doorways. What we have now is a much more open building, and just as well on a Friday night when there are crowds round the bar.

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The Bar

The ceilings have been opened up to give a very airy feel to the main bar, but separate side rooms have been created out of what used to be store rooms and the stationmaster’s house. There’s no real cellar: one has had to be created, at the side of the pub, on the site of what once were the station toilets. It’s quite a long pull to the bar! But there are a couple of open fireplaces that feature the traditional roaring log fires in winter.

The pub is managed by Lisa Sykes with assistance from Chris Sheehan, who’s also the head chef and responsible for the very popular Sunday carvery. Food is served every day from noon till 6 p.m. or so, and the pub stays open for drinks until 11 p.m. (midnight on Saturdays and Sundays). The regular team behind the bar consists of Sam, James and Sarah who between them create a very lively atmosphere.

Events include the Nuts Poker League on Tuesdays (no cash stakes of course), an Open Mike night on Thursdays and live music (acoustic) on Sunday nights. And don’t be surprised to find other entertainment from time to time, including a wandering magician.

If you don’t live near a railway station the pub is also served by numerous bus routes including the 15, 22, 23, 245 and 255.

Neil Worthington