Shildon: Rails and Ales

I love it when a pub connects the first time visitor to the identity of its place. The Canteen Bar and Kitchen in Shildon may sound like a trendy craft venue but is a family run pub located in the canteen that once served the town’s railway industry.

There is often a close connection between pubs and railways but none more so than here. Locomotive No 1 made its first passenger service in 1825 and tickets could be bought from the bar of the Mason’s Arms. Later the railway company hired a room in the pub to use as a booking office. In modern times the Mason’s Arms followed a familiar decline, being renamed Paddy O’Sheas. It is now an African restaurant.

The Heritage Portal

Like some other places Shildon’s industrial heritage is now reflected in a museum, named after a leading figure in the development of the railways, Timothy Hackworth. In 1836 he built, in Shildon, the first locomotive to run in Russia. He also has a (closed) pub bearing his name. The wagons for hauling coal were made at the railway works here so the 1980’s closure of the mines caused huge collateral damage. When that was announced in 1982 2,600 people were employed there – in a town of around 10,000 people.

Northern Echo

The Canteen Bar and Kitchen is a family run initiative that immediately generates a sense of warmth and inclusivity despite a slightly unpromising entrance. The opening hours are odd. Whatpub says 08.00 to 14.30 midweek but fellow ticker Jim went there one morning to find they are not licensed till noon. Laura kindly gave him a sample of all the cask beers to help rack up his impressive Untapp’d tally.

Andrew Ferriman has installed his George Samuel Brewery here. My Travelling Light (4.5%) was very quaffable. His partner Laura and mum work behind the bar and in the kitchen, rustling up an astonishing turkey dinner for £5.50.

The customers love it. Pal Pete recommended it as a place to get respite from watching Sunderland. And John Boy and Fleur were entertaining company, regaling us with tales of derring-do (in their different ways).

Shildon has not had a pub in the Guide for 26 years but the Red Lion and Railway Institute have now taken Andrew’s cask beers. Long may this great community enterprise thrive.

9 thoughts on “Shildon: Rails and Ales

    1. I haven’t been there, it’s a branch of the National Railway Museum I think. If you look at Wiki there is an interesting bit showing a stretch of sleepers that have been unearthed on a long track incline near the town. The brewer supplies Little Tap in Spennymoor. A return to explore the town is needed!


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