Tearoom revival at Scotland’s train stations

The Dumbarton Station Cafe. Picture: Elaine Graham

The Dumbarton Station Cafe. Picture: Elaine Graham

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IT’S no longer such a brief encounter. A tearoom renaissance is brewing on Scotland’s railways, with nearly 50 now providing a welcome sight for thirsty passengers.

Funding has just been announced for two of the latest additions, at Dumbarton Central and Inverurie stations, while another cafe is planned on the platform at Tain.

The resurgence has been fuelled by booming rail travel and grant schemes to encourage businesses to breathe new life into disused station buildings.

The Railway Heritage Trust (RHT) has announced grants totalling about £18,000 for the Coffee Station at Dumbarton Central, which opened in February, and CoCo Works in Inverurie.

Twelve years ago, the RHT contributed to the restoration of Carnforth station in Lancashire, home to the tearoom where Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard met in the 1945 David Lean film Brief Encounter.

Grants have also been awarded under a £1 million Stations Community Regeneration Fund launched by ScotRail and the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency in 2009.

ScotRail revealed this week its annual passengers had increased by one third to more than 83 million over the past nine years.

The 46 Scottish stations, other than major city stops, that now have cafes include recent additions at Paisley Gilmour Street, Greenock West, Kilmarnock and Largs.

Jennie Lawson, who opened CoCo Works with her husband George last May, said it had been a “calculated risk” because the Aberdeenshire station had not previously had a cafe.

It is housed in the 111-year-old building’s private waiting room, where the original woodwork, fireplace and tiles were restored.

Mrs Lawson said: “We noticed passenger numbers at the station had increased vastly, and the cafe has done fantastically well, far beyond our expectations.”

Allan McLean, an Edinburgh-based transport commentator, said: “The opening of station tearooms and cafes is reviving a tradition that harks back to a time when stations were at the heart of their communities.”

RHT executive director Andy Savage said: “We were delighted to support the opening of these ventures, each of which brings a disused area of a listed station building back into use.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We are keen to encourage more people on to our rail network and we know extras such as enhanced station facilities make a difference.”

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