With a roaring log fire and vintage Great Western Railway (GWR) carpet, this traditional Severn Valley Station pub in Kidderminster is a welcoming sight on a frigid day.
Built and owned by the Severn Valley Railway in 1985, The King and Castle appears to be over 36 years old.
That’s because he’s trying to recreate a vintage refreshment bar at the end of GWR station in Ross-on-Wye, to recall the heyday of steam trains.
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The pub is part of the glorious Victorian-looking station building, but has its own door and therefore remains open even when the Severn Valley Railroad is not running.
This makes it a haunt for locals and beer drinkers at any time of the year, to add to the day trippers who flock to see this tourist attraction’s stunning steam trains. Here’s what you can expect inside.
Beers with local flavors
The King and Castle won the CAMRA Gold Pub of the Year award in 2019 for its excellent beers, ambiance and friendly welcome, which is an indication of its beer standards. It wasn’t the first time either as he won a bronze from CAMRA in 2020.
There is a wide range of draft beers, including local breweries. They sell Bathams, Bewdley Brewery, Hobsons and Wye Valley among others.
Keep an eye on their Facebook page for regular updates on beers added to their guest pumps, as these can be interesting beers to try in microbreweries further afield, even as far away as Orkney Islands.
There’s also a lot of ciders and gins, so it’s not just about beer. Special offer nights see pints as low as £ 3 a pint, but it’s not particularly expensive most of the time. Faced with covid, they now prefer card payment but would still accept cash.
Vintage decor reminiscent of times gone by
To fit in with the Severn Valley Railway experience, the pub has a vintage flair that impresses from the moment you walk through the door with its lovely white and black tiled floor.
There is a classic wooden bar straight ahead but if it’s a winter evening (like when I went there), it’s when you turn around that you are caught in a wave of nostalgia.
A beautiful long carpet featuring the GWR logo leads elegantly under an archway and up to a roaring fire. Old railway posters decorate the walls with old engine name plates. It is warm, inviting, and looks just stunning.
Along with the metal plaques on trains like the Bearley Grange and the Macleod of Macleod, the signs for the toilets and the station correspond to this era and offer a piece of Victorian and Edwardian England to steampunk fans, even if the building doesn’t is really not that old.
There is a large room at the back which is more set up for dining, which is closed when the tourist trains are not running, but is decorated in the same way and means there is a lot more room when the numbers increase. .
The atmosphere in The King and the Castle
With banquettes lined up on all walls and tables close together, the pub is set up to encourage chatting and socializing. He invites you to take a bench, sit down and relax.
Dotted around the benches are plaques dedicated to lost parents, so there has obviously been a lot of love for this place over the years from drinkers of the past.
Maybe it’s because it’s a wide open room or it could be the high ceiling, but it gives a constant echo of jokes which adds to the atmosphere. It reminds me of the traditional Black Country pubs where it’s a mix of brasserie and house, especially with the fire and the buffet with trinkets and a nice train guard lamp.
Food at the King and Castle pub
At the moment, food is only available when the Severn Valley Railroad is in service and even then the bar manager said he was reduced to the simple option of a bacon sandwich during the ‘winter.
I visited when the trains weren’t running so there was no hot food but there are bags of crisps if you want a snack with your drink.
There is a small, friendly team of bar staff who are knowledgeable about all draft beers and ciders, including draft beers and craft beers.
What really impresses is how immaculately clean the pub is, from the floor tiles and that glamorous GWR rug to the washrooms and seating areas. The staff are obviously aware of this and take pride in making it shine.
The pub is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, although the Severn Valley Railway is closed because it has a separate entrance.
Verdict on the King and Castle pub
With the crackle of the fire, the historic decor and the warm ambiance, I found this pub a welcoming delight that feels like a trip to simpler times.
It’s unpretentious and simple, without comfort or background music that encourages friendly discussions around a good drink, often local.
The emphasis is on the beers and for those who like to try the offerings of the local breweries and microbreweries, they will be in heaven.
You can’t help but sit back and look at all the vintage details in the room and if you stop on a tour on the Severn Valley Railroad this is a lovely waiting room to start or complete your trip. It will truly be a fitting way to step back in time to the glory days of steam travel.
The King and Castle Pub, Station Drive, Kidderminster, DY10 1QX. 01562 747505
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