Dear Reader: Harrogate's awful ticket barriers + new Harrogate bar crawl!

New owners of Six Poor Folk Roger bar-restaurant in Knaresborough - Roger  and Erica Thorpe.(1703283AM1)
New owners of Six Poor Folk Roger bar-restaurant in Knaresborough - Roger and Erica Thorpe.(1703283AM1)

It’s always the small things that cause the trouble.

In the case of the French Revolution it was the price of bread.
In the case of frustrated daily commuters using the York-Harrogate-Leeds railway service it just may be the installation of automatic ticket barriers.
When Northern Rail introduced the new system on the Harrogate station’s swish 21st century concourse they boasted it would give customers a “more secure and seamless experience.”
That was the theory. Now we’re seeing what happens in practice.
Bigger queues. People missing trains. Panic at rush hour.
The cause seems obvious enough.
Harrogate station is only big enough for four entrance points for people getting on trains.
The same four entrance points which also act as exit points for people getting off trains.
It doesn’t help when some unlucky passengers find their tickets rejected arbitrarily by these smart new automatic barriers.
Perhaps the mistake lay in trying to apply a system which works reasonably well in a large city railway station to a much smaller town railway station?
But what is the point of “a multi-million pound investment to transform and modernise Northern Rail” if the passengers have a worse time?
And don’t get me started about what the change to a ‘closed station’ means for anyone who’s always used the bridge to get into town...

The new automatic ticket barriers at Harrogate rail station.

The new automatic ticket barriers at Harrogate rail station.

I was really impressed when I popped in to chat to the new owners of a cosy bar restaurant off the Market Place in Knaresborough last Friday.
Roger and Erica Thorpe seem all set to turn Six Poor Folk into a fabulous little spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, you name it.
It does close occasionally for rest. Honest.
What impressed me most about this friendly couple was what they said about other independent bars and restaurants in Knaresborough, rivals, in theory.
They’d got to know them quickly. They really liked them. They hoped they could all work together for the common good of the town.
Business is business but, if you look at the massive explosion of independent bars and restaurants in, for example, Leeds over the last decade, something towns in North Yorkshire are, to an extent riding on the coat tails of, you will see a common pattern emerge.
So-called rivals working together, sharing publicity, supporting each other, putting the city first.
In that spirit I’d like to call for the launch of the very first official Harrogate craft beer bar crawl, stretching to Knaresborough, too, and Ripon, perhaps. If there’s time.
It’s a tough job but I volunteer to be first to test it out.
Sometimes you have to take a hit for the team.