This is another of those posts that, like the one about the Cyclists Arms in Freckleton, features a bygone boozer whose appearance in an old photo stimulated an interest despite the fact that I've never, ever, set foot in the settlement where it once existed. It was the name of the Cyclists Arms that was the spur in that example to investigate its fate, and the tragedy which caused its loss ensured that I'd write about it. In this case it was the cyclists that caught my eye in this postcard that popped up whilst I was rummaging through some old stuff a bit ago. Where was it taken and did the pub still exist? And no, I'm not the one on the far left. I'm not quite that aged and, as I've already indicated, I've never been to this place.
So where was the Railway Tavern? The Brickwood family had been brewing in the Portsmouth area since at least 1851 and Brickwood & Co. was registered in 1899, so Pompey seemed like a suitable place to start the enquiries. A quick search in the 1911 census produced a retired officer of the Metropolitan Police, one Newman Stocker, as a publican at the Railway Tavern, which was situated at 6 Station Approach, Stoke Road, Gosport. Further delving threw up Dave Rowland's blog which contained this other old photo of the Railway Tavern confirming that its home was indeed in Gosport.
That's the first question, the location, solved. Easy peasy! Now, is it still serving? That proved to be a little more problematic to solve. Well, it didn't really for every search told me that the Railway Inn, right next to the former station in Gosport, had closed. It certainly looked very closed when Mr. Google drove by the corner of Spring Garden Lane and Forton Road in the summer of 2018.
The Grade II listed property was certainly a lot more closed that it was a decade earlier.
It may well have looked very closed but it certainly didn't look very much like my Railway. I now had two dead Railways to investigate. Things weren't made easy by the seemingly random application of the terms inn, tavern and hotel in the records, not to mention the street renaming and house renumbering that must have gone on at some time. Frustration was beginning to get the better of me when I had a look at an old Ordnance Survey map of the town only to find that there had been a number of different railway stations in Gosport. Perhaps my Railway was associated with a different one. And so it turned out.
All this use of Mr. Google's searching powers eventually produced a very serendipitous find indeed. It seems that the aforementioned Dave Rowland didn't just write a blog but has produced a booklet entitled The Lost Pubs of Gosport which is a mine of information. As it is "the result of several years’ worth of research, involving wading through around 20 directories 1784-1931..." I doubt that I'll find anything new myself and will gratefully 'borrow' from his work. If you fancy a look the booklet there's a flipbook version viewable here or a downloadable pdf version on the Historic Gosport site.
So what has Dave discovered about the various Railways? Let's start with the Railway Inn on the corner of Spring Garden Lane and Forton Road. It began life as the New Inn around 1828 and had changed its name to the Railway by 1844, which is no great surprise as the neighbouring station opened in 1841. It seems that this last real music venue in the town closed around 2012.
Now back to where we came in - Newman's Railway Tavern. It stood alongside the ramp to one of the platforms of Gosport Road Station, a stop on a branch which ran to Stokes Bay with its pier and ferry to the Isle of Wight. The station opened in 1865 and its accompanying pub was operating by at least 1868. The station closed in 1915 and it's thought the pub closed about the same time. The former has been demolished but the Railway Tavern still stands, the building much extended but still recognisable. Just about.
And again, for ease of comparison.
How many of these cyclists were able to sup a pint five years later, after the horrors of the hostilities and then their own pandemic which followed?
That's two former Railways in Gosport, but Dave Rowland's efforts have produced two more. What of them? Well, they're both still licensed premises although no longer Railways.
One of them is a 'sort of' pub. The RAFA club on White Hart Road used to be the Railway Hotel between about 1868 and 1913.
And for completion here's a pic of that fourth former Railway. Still serving as the Clarence Tavern. At one time it was the Blue Anchor before becoming the Railway Tavern and then, finally, the Clarence.
I'd like to thank Dave Rowland for eventually making this post possible. I'd like to thank him personally. I think we might have some interests in common. I'd really like to thank him, but sadly he went to meet the great barman in the sky last year.
The image of the Railway Inn in 2007 is © Barry Shimmon and that of the RAFA club is © Basher Eyre. Both are licensed for reuse under this license.
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