Snakes alive! Regulars at long-shut Galashiels pub planning reunion

Wilma Howe and Maria Gray at the site of the Railway Inn in Galashiels.
Wilma Howe and Maria Gray at the site of the Railway Inn in Galashiels.

The Railway Inn in Market Street might have been a bit rough round the edges, former regulars concede, but its earthy charm more than compensated for that and made it a popular haunt for townsfolk looking for a fun night out decades ago.

Regulars at the Railway Inn in Galashiels back in the day.

Regulars at the Railway Inn in Galashiels back in the day.

Much of its popularity was down to the warm welcome customers were guaranteed from landlord and landlady Jim and Helen Kilgour.

The watering hole was also able to bridge the generation gap, being popular with old and young alike.

Older folk could play bingo in its main bar and youngsters danced the night away in its disco area, dubbed the Snake Pit.

Now memories of those halcyon days are set to come flooding back at a reunion night for regulars and former staff being held at Galashiels Volunteer Hall, in St John Street, on Saturday, August 31.

Regulars at the Railway Inn in Galashiels back in the day.

Regulars at the Railway Inn in Galashiels back in the day.

Reunion organiser Maria Gray would have loved nothing better than to stage the event in the old pub, but it closed 15 years ago and is now home to the Shish Indian restaurant.

However, that’s not expected to detract from what she is confident will be a great night, with almost 300 people expected to attend.

They’re sure to recall the fun they had with the late Jim and Helen and popular staff members Malky Smith and John Cameron.

Maria, 52, said: “It was such a lively place. It was called the Railway Inn, but when you went downstairs it was called the Snake Pit. It was rough, but it was brilliant.

“I used to go there in the eighties and nineties and it was amazing, and I just thought it would be great to have a reunion.

“Everybody met there, and everybody knew everyone there.

“I have been planning this reunion for ages, but I wasn’t sure where to hold it because you can’t bring the pub back, so the volunteer hall was the biggest place available.

“It should be a great night, and we have one of the original DJs from the Railway coming, Grant Graham.”

Fellow Railway regular Wilma Howe, 51, said: “Everyone has such good memories, especially of Jim and Helen and the bouncers.

“It was like one big family. It was the in-place for everyone in the eighties and nineties – the best place ever, with a great atmosphere.

“It will be great to have everyone back together and remember those happy days.

“The Snake Pit, as it was called by the younger generation, was where the disco would be, and when the wee dancefloor was filled, it was the best night out in Galashiels.

“When Scotland-Wales rugby matches were on, Jim and Helen would always welcome Welsh supporters to our home-town.

“That pub was filled with happy thoughts and memories, with Anne Cameron and Mo Brown working alongside Jim and Helen, along with many others.

“When the late Jim and Helen passed away, their family sold it on.

“The reunion night is solely to bring those loving memories back to Gala.”

Tickets, priced £5, are available from Maria on 0789 9971580 or at the counter at Fountains News in Bank Street in Galashiels.

Money raised on the night will go to Borders Pet Rescue in Galashiels.