Published: 12:00, 14 June 2015
Keep it small and keep it simple.
That is the concept behind the newest craze of socialising – the micropub.
The 10:50 From Victoria, Medway’s latest alehouse under the railway arches in Strood, is just that.
There’s no bar and beer and cider is served direct from the cask. And if you’re looking for a gastropub, keep walking, the most lavish thing on the menu is a packet of pork scratchings,
Austerity doesn’t end there. Mobile phones, juke boxes and fruit machines are barred, as are children (yes, even quiet ones).
Key to the micropub is good old fashioned conversation in a back-to-basics informal surrounding.
10.50 from Victoria, in North Street, is tucked away at the back of the Asda car park and opened in March this year.
It is the joint venture of Bob Jackson, Gary O’Hara and Werner Neumann, good mates and drinking buddies of at least 20 years.
They decided to open their own mini pub after their local in Strood got taken over and the new owners were intent on attracting younger customers.
Bob, a joiner whose carpentry workshop is next door, and his pals decided to visit the first ever micropub, The Butcher’s Arms in Herne, and they liked what they saw.
But just to be sure they were on to a winner they jumped on a train and visited another 27 micropubs across the county.
Bob, 70,said: “We thought we would attract an older type of customer and possibly the real ale brigade.
“Women love it and feel quite comfortable to come here on their own. We also get couples popping in for a drink before going out for a meal who don’t particularly want to have a drink with a load of lager louts.
“The art of conversation is dying. People would rather text and Facebook than talk to each other.”
Tipples – there are seven English beers and six ciders – are handwritten on a chalkboard. Food is not available, although Bob is trying to persuade his business partners to lay on a ploughman’s dish and snacks are restricted to crisps and peanuts.
He said: “They are against it, especially Werner, who was a master chef for 40 years and never wants to serve up another meal again. But I look at it as a way of persuading customers to stay on and drink rather than go home for a meal.”
The bar got its name because it is the 1,050th railway arch from Victoria, which is number one. Time is called by ringing the traditional bell at 10.50pm with 10 minutes to drink up.
Bob has put his carpentry skills to use and fitted out much of the furniture and fixtures.
He intends to continue the railway theme by installing slam-shut train doors and create a platform on the terrace. 10.50 from Victoria is open from 4pm to 9pm on Monday to Thursday and from noon to 11pm on Friday and Saturday. It is closed on Sundays.