Published on December 6, 2017 | by Alastair Gilmour


Station master has the bottle

There’s hardly a major transport hub now that doesn’t have a branch of Boots, M&S, Sainsbury’s or WH Smith. Costa and KFC are everywhere. The local scene isn’t ignored at Newcastle Central Station, though. For the past six months, CentrAle bottle shop has been consistently picking up its share of travelling custom.

The small outlet facing Platform 12 is a beer emporium stacked with all manner of goodies in can and bottle, run by husband-and-wife team Bruce and Donna Renwick.

“It’s going canny; we’re getting a lot of regular travellers and return visitors,” says Bruce. “We still get a lot of people heading for the ticket office or the toilets who say they never knew we were here.

“Everybody tells us there’s no pattern to trade in the station. For example, one week for some reason we had four very quiet days and by the Thursday we were wondering what was going on. Then it picked right up and we were rushed off our feet – and missed having our best week since we started by £2.31.”

CentrAle is a home from home for North East beers in particular – bottles and cans are arranged in geographic order in sections marked Co Durham, Northumberland and Newcastle, followed by sizeable national and international sections and a couple of fridges stocked predominantly with ready-chilled cans.

Anything with the slightest hint of music about it sits on a separate section – Rōadcrew from Camerons Brewery which celebrates the mighty Motōrhead; Tyger Blood from Box Social Brewing which was specially brewed for North East rockers Tygers of Pan Tang, and Penny Lane, a Triple IPA from
Mad Hatter Brewing.

Clearly, selling great beer to an appreciative audience can have an effect on the way one thinks, as Bruce admits. He says: “Before we opened this, Donna only drank Carling Extra Cold. Now she’s right into her beers and loves BrewDog Punk IPA and Fell Tinderbox. And I’ve become a right train spotter.”

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Alastair Gilmour

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