The Railway Hotel in Southend to close after Covid blow
This was one of the main stories in today’s Southend Echo – and I confess to having an interest and a feeling of sadness this Southend icon is closing. The story can be found here along with the letter sent out by its manager, James Vessey-Miller. While an infrequent pub visitor and if I do visit a pub to eat, drink, socialise or a combination of all three, I generally prefer quiet and sedate rather than loud and musical of a genre I am not keen on and not veering toward leftie, liberal, luvvie in terms of clientele, and vegan when it comes to food, which is what characterizes the Railway. (The vegan food offered by the Railway btw is excellent – and I speak as a NON vegan!)
I became aware of the Railway Hotel when Street Spirit – a charity for helping the homeless, began some several years ago. Then and up to when we stopped operating at our close by Clarence Road car park site, the Railway Hotel and their staff have been supportive of what we do and generally when it comes to helping the homeless. Both for Street Spirit meetings and in a private, personal capacity, I have eaten, drank and socialised at the Railway Hotel, and have been happy to have done so. It is quite different, when it comes to ambience and a lot else besides, to another popular pub, attracting a different clientele, “The Last Post”, just down the road. While I would be surprised if there were to be a soon similar announcement regarding the Last Post, because it is owned and more importantly controlled and financially supported by a big chain, there are things the Railway has that are unique that I will miss – chiefly character, loyal customer base, degree of independence and for those who like it, and many do, an arty feel and commitment to supporting local artists and artistic endeavor. It is true, the premises has a somewhat run down, dilapidated feel, but then that is part of its charm.
James’ letter is an excellent one and sets out with a good deal of dignity the reasons for closing – principally to do with money, i.e. the business was not paying its way, with Covid-19 lockdown being a significant factor, which no doubt will affect other businesses. I am sorry to see the Railway pub (and some will say it is far more than just a pub) go and wonder what will replace it – fearing the worst. I wish things were different and I expect so would many others. Over the years, the Railway Hotel has been a much loved icon in the town and I have little doubt it will be missed by an important section of Southend’s diverse community. I would certainly want to pass on my gratitude for its response when it came to helping the homeless and vulnerable of the town and admiration for keeping going so long – providing something unique in tough economic times, and sorrow in seeing it go. I wish James and his staff all the best for the future.