The Railway Inn/The Dust Hole - the pub with two names
The present pub on Tollgate Road dates from 1847, when Salisbury’s first Railway station opened immediately across from it – where a block of new flats now stands. The title “Inn” suggests that the landlord hoped he was opening a Railway Hotel, but his options were limited. Firstly he couldn’t expand the premises laterally in any direction. Secondly, the railway station moved across town, to its present location, in less than ten years!
So The Railway Inn was left to serve as an ordinary pub for the railwaymen and others who worked the large Milford Goods Yard. This extended from close to Fowler’s Hill, where the snooker and bowls clubs are now, up to the modern Milford industrial estate and business park.
All along the north side of Blakey Road were coal bunkers where the Salisbury coal merchants used to store their coal, after unloading it from the railway wagons. And the cattle drovers – which so many of our interviewees recall, used to head along this road and raise a lot of dust, until it was finally tarmacced!
As Phyllis Maple says: “It was when the cows came up from the market….and they were going up to the station….(the) goods station was…the bottom of the field of St Martins School. There was a goods station there and all the cattle all went off and all the coal came in there and they tipped it down in the bunkers then, and that’s why they call that pub “the Dusthole”, cause it was always the dust from the coal”.
Add to that the dusty clothing of the patrons and the black smoke from the old steam locos and you can see why the nickname “The Dusthole” arose. After a few years it was never called anything else and its official name sank into obscurity.
Finally, in 1976, Gibbs Mew – the pubs brewers – had “The Dusthole” registered as a second official name and it became the first pub in England to enjoy this right.
One of our photos on the right shows Charles and Florence Baker around 1960, who were the pub’s licensees at the time. It is from the family collection of Graham Baker, Charles and Florence’s grandson, who says:
“My grandparents were Charlie and Florrie Baker. They took on the pub when Charlie retired as porter and later ticket collector at Fisherton Street station. My mum and dad helped run the pub when Charlie died c1962 until Florrie gave it up a few years later.”