How to visit every corner of East Anglia by train and drink at the first pub seen when leaving the railway station
Once upon a time, two men met through charitable work in the mid 1980s. To the current day, their work for the same charity has continued and along the way they have become the best of friends, sharing many of the ups and downs of life.
Their comradeship was apparently sealed when they realised they shared a dormant love for travel and beer. More specifically railway travel in East Anglia, from where they both hail, exploring the varied railway routes across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and into London. It seems they had both enjoyed a separate love for railways and rail travel but that this passion had somewhat waned for various reasons (starting a business, professions, women, young families etc.).
That was not good enough!
The two gentlemen embarked on an inaugural “train day” and casually stopped off for a pint or two. Another day followed. And another. Very quickly the pursuit of travelling around East Anglia, stopping for a pint at a pub near to the station was extremely appealing. Two hobbies readily combined into one.
But their competitive and purposeful nature did not allow the hobby to just unfold willy nilly. Over time and with the helpful encouragement of many conversations fuelled by excess alcohol, it was agreed that there ought to be some purpose to this roaming of the countryside, towns and cities.
Firstly, drinking in any old pub was not necessarily appealing. Both gentlemen enjoyed proper ale, brewed and served in the traditional manner. Not all pubs served such beer, particularly some of the less salubrious places near railway stations. Therefore, overtime a set of principles evolved about where they should drink when arriving at a station. These evolved into “rules”.
Secondly, with a framework of rules established it was then decided that over time this hobby would, in fact, turn into a Mission. To visit the nearest pub to every railway railway station in East Anglia and drink proper beer.
Many decades later the mission is still not fully complete. However the guiding principle remains. The area has expanded overtime to enable new territory to be explored but many stations remain to be visited albeit somewhat distant from the original nucleus of the Norfolk and Suffolk branch lines. In that time some places have been visited many, many times. Pubs come and go and train services change. Places further afield can also be visited using the same rules but as they enter their twilight years, much work remains to be done on the original basic objective: to say that, where possible, they have alighted together from a train and drank a pint of real ale in the first pub seen leaving the station in greater East Anglia.
Along the way we have taken thousands of photographs, mainly of railway related things. You may wish to enjoy the photography, railway interest or nostalgia they provide. Feel free to try and identify the locations shown.
This web site is a light hearted attempted to share this with the world and where possible encourage similar real ale loving gricers to do the same.
You can read and smile at the ridiculous rules, admittedly laced with a few personal memories. You can marvel at the destinations reached and click on the map for hints of where to go should you embark on such an enjoyable pursuit. You can also enjoy some of the photographs that have been taken over the years.