Station House Tea Room to close its doors after 23 years of service in Cloughton

A busy tea room tucked away in the village of Cloughton will close its doors tomorrow.

By Jade McElwee
Tuesday, 17th September 2019, 1:52 pm
Barbara, Jon and Steve Hargreaves
Barbara, Jon and Steve Hargreaves

Barbara and Steve Hargreaves, who own and run Station House Tea Room, have decided to hang up their aprons after 23 years and would like to thank all their customers, friends and neighbours for their loyalty.

The welcoming tea room is situated inside the main building in the old station master’s quarters which prides itself on providing delicious homemade food.

As the tea room is due to close on Wednesday September 18, the couple said: "We thank you for your custom over the past 23 years and will miss you all very much.

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"People who came to the tea room which opened in 1996 are still visiting today - it's just amazing."

The business including self catering, bed and breakfast and tea room is run by Barbara, Steve and their son Jon.

Speaking about their retirement, 68-year-old Steve said: "It's just lovely place to live and work and you get such lovely people come in and they come again and again.

"We always try and buy the best food and everything is homemade as we mare all our own cakes, cook all our own beef, ham and salmon it's all done fresh.

"It's hard work. Many nights its gone 10 o'clock when everything's done and that's part of the reason why we are finishing really. It's just getting too busy.

"It's got to be all three of us, or none of us. Barbara looks after the garden and ironing so if anything happened to her we couldn't manage. I look after the building, so if anything happened to me we couldn't really manage and Jon looks after the tea room and if anything happened to him we couldn't manage.

"Jon is 38 now so he's got 20 odd years until he retires and we won't last here another 20 years so he's got another job as an electrical technician with Unison in Eastfield.

"He's a clever lad - we pulled him in to help us in 2007 and he never got away!"

Barbara agreed with Steve saying that they are "constantly on a treadmill."

The 66-year-old said: "Weekend's are just so busy. You set off at 7am and still going at 9pm at night, then you eat go to bed and start again.

"Don't get me wrong we will miss it, oh dreadfully miss it."

Since the family broke to the news to their loyal customers they have been given a heart-warming response.

Steve, who previously worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: "We still have one couple who come five days a week to the tea room. She was in floods of tears when we told her, it was terrible.

"We've even had someone give the girls £20 tip today just to say we're going to miss you. I still get emotional about it all."

Barbara even described some of their customers as "friends".

She added: "People have been coming so long now they're like friends. People have been coming every day since we told them."

The Tea Room has consistently achieved the highest number five star rating in the Environmental Health Department’s Food Hygiene Rating scheme since its inception.

Despite Jon embarking on a new career path, the couple originally from Manchester will not be retiring from the business as they will still be running the self catering accommodation and bed and breakfast, where their journey first began.

The couple originally bought the property as a house in 1992 and after realising the potential in the area decided to open a bed and breakfast and accompanying tea room.

Steve revealed how Station House started: "It's the kind of place that when you live on a walk way you get people knocking on your door asking please can I use your toilet or can I have a glass of water. It was happening all the time so Barbara said lets see if we can make some money out of it and open a tea room.

"When you move inland and come to the seaside all your friends come and visit so again she thought she would try bed and breakfast as well."

So the first bed and breakfast room and tea room opened in 1996, quickly followed by a second bed and breakfast room in 1997.

The Station House has two double bed and breakfast rooms with en-suite bathrooms.

The first is the Garden Room which is set in what was once the old covered yard at the end of the platform, overlooking the garden. The second room is in what was the Ticket Office, with the porter’s room and gent’s wash-room having been completely refurbished providing a double en-suite room, with adjoining bedroom which sleeps a further two people.

The business expanded in 2004 with the arrival of ‘OSCAR’, a MK1 railway carriage built in Derby in 1962, the first self catering accommodation for Station House.

The arrival of the refurbished railway carriage was a day to remember for not only the Hargreaves' but for Cloughton.

Steve recalls the day saying: "It was a nightmare but everything fell into place".

He explained: "The railway carriage was staggering. It took them five hours from Carnforth near Morecambe, it weighs 34 tons and wagon 44 tons so did really well.

"I thought the top of the road would be a problem because it's a 90 degree bend but they got round fine, it was when they got further down.

"Someone's tree was overhanging in the road so we had to chop the branches off, then a concrete gate post was in the way so luckily a lad who we know he was here with his crane so he lifted it out.

"Then we got it in, down the track, bearing in mind it's 78 tonnes on what is comparatively soft ground, we got it in line after a few hours and realised it was the wrong way round. They had loaded it the wrong way at Carnforth.

"Luckily the farmer came down and had an extra 30ft of railway line so lifted it up and connected it up to the low loader.

"So we eventually got it the right way round, got the track. So one guy with a crow bar, baring in mind it was 34 tonnes got it off. It was unbelievable.

"Eight hours later from the top of the road - it was really incredible."

‘OSCAR’ is now situated alongside the old platform at the end of the garden and has one double en-suite bedroom, one twin-bedded room, one bunk room, and a separate shower room and toilet.

The second self catering accommodation, the Old Goods Shed, has three centrally heated bedrooms, one twin en-suite, one double and one bunk room with high level ‘loft beds’ and separate bath/shower room on the top floor.

Steve and Barbara want to carry on with the accommodation at The Station House as they want everything 100% correct.

Talking about carrying on the business, Steve said: "We're still going to do the accommodation. You can get people in to the cleaning but they might do it 90% right and we want it 100% right. People want to come and know what they're getting - that's why they come back."

"Barbara will have a lot more time in the garden and she is more of a holiday person than I am so we will be able to get away a bit more now as well."