Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Centenary year for the Watson family at The Railway Inn in Dorridge

The Watson family in Dorridge are getting ready to celebrate an incredible 100 years of running The Railway Inn at the heart of the village.

The first Watson, Thomas, took on The Railway Inn in 1915, together with his first wife Fanny and later his second wife Adeline. Thomas and Fanny’s son Eric took over in 1959, with his wife Nellie (known as Babe), and their grandson Joe began assisting from 1978. Joe took over as publican in 1982, but Babe was a continuing pub fixture for 53 years, until her death in 2012, aged 88.

Today, Joe runs The Railway Inn with his daughter Becky Neal and wife Janet. Over the years, ownership of the pub premises has changed hands several times, with Punch Taverns as the current owners.
The Railway Inn is intriguingly nowhere near the railway – which was built in 1852, leading to the creation of the village of Dorridge. Instead, the pub is sited on the outskirts of a village that has grown much larger over the years.
With Watsons behind the bar (and Janet in the kitchen), the two-roomed pub, which boasts a lovely garden, is a longstanding favourite with locals. A member of Cask Marque and SIBA (the Society for Independent Brewers), the pub has featured repeatedly in the Real Ale Guide and has the support of the Solihull Campaign for Real Ale group. It currently offers six real ales and a good range of traditional pub food.
In the family’s 100th year at the pub, Joe, Becky and Janet have been giving their customers centenary offers since January – with reductions so far on real ales, game meals, wine and fish dishes. September will be pie month and the pub will also offer a special Centenary Ale supplied by Marston’s. October will be ‘magnificent seven’ month, with customers given a free seventh pint of real ale, after purchasing six.
Now the family are planning a special centenary celebration, which will take place over the weekend of 12 September.
Becky said: “Many of our customers are families who have known our family through the generations. We class a lot of them as good friends. So we decided to make our centenary bash an invitation-only evening for friends and regular customers. We will be featuring live music, a buffet and a prize raffle, as our way of saying thank you to our very loyal customers.
“We are really proud of the pub and our family’s history. We’re going to keep on going much as we are, because by respecting tradition, we have a built a fantastic base of regular customers – and we gain new ones as we go.
“But I am rather proud that I’ve made a contribution to bringing the pub into the 21st century – I’ve set up the pub’s first website!”
Sandi Tipton, New Business Development Manager for Punch Taverns, said: “One hundred years and still going strong is a fantastic achievement – and testament to the family’s hard work and commitment to an evolving and compelling offer. Punch Taverns will be honoured to continue offering any support the family need.”

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