Published on July 11, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour0
Central station attracts rail ale
There’s a new departure on Platform 12 at Newcastle Central Station. Not a Trans-Pennine Express or Northern Railway service, but a beer emporium stacked with all manner of goodies in can and bottle.
CentrAle is run by Bruce and Donna Renwick – with mascot Dixie – who until last year worked for Asda in Washington, Tyne & Wear. Bruce was transport operations manager and Donna worked in training before the company went through a restructuring exercise and they felt it was time to stop dreaming and get on with doing something for themselves.
“I’ve always been interested in beer and we’d been thinking about doing something like this for about 18 months,” says Bruce. “I left Asda on July 1 last year and thought we’d be up and running by Christmas.”
The couple believe they probably looked at every empty shop in Newcastle and Gateshead before setting on an empty station unit next door to a Sainsbury’s outlet.
“We saw this place and thought it was just right for us,” says Donna. “My dad worked on the railways, the last few years at Central Station, so it seemed to all come together.”
A counter and shelving units constructed from reclaimed timber are now chock-full of bottles and cans predominantly from the North East and sectioned off into breweries (from right to left) Tyne & Wear, Northumberland and County Durham before continuing into nationwide offers and international beers – and even a rock’n’roll “ducket” reserved for beers with music connotations, such as Brinkburn Street Brewery’s House of the Rising Sun and Rōadcrew from Camerons Brewery which celebrates the mighty Motōrhead.
Bruce says: “It’s taken a full year to get off the ground although everybody concerned was pretty receptive to the idea. But with the licensing coming under two police forces – Northumbria and British Transport Police – and with Virgin Rail operating the site and Network Rail owning it, there was always a double sign-off with everything.
“Eight million people use Central Station every year and five million use the Metro, we’re in the city centre, so we have a good mix of people to go at. CentrAle is intended to be a showcase for local brewers, all of whom have been very, very supportive. We’ve even got local gins, vodka and rum, plus all local soft drinks from Fentimans – and Gateshead snacks from All Good on Team Valley.”
All aboard for the Dixie line.