Bassenthwaite Lake Station, which has turned the train from the film 'Murder on the Orient Express' into a restaurant, has won the New Business Award at the Cumbria Tourism Awards.The station was lovingly restored over two years and it has now had a very successful first year of trading.The award is now displayed in the 'ticket office' cafe in pride of place.
Owner Diana Parums told ITV Border, "we never even dreamt of that. We're absolutely astonished and ellated. We put an awful lot of work into this site and I think it's a credit to absolutely everybody. This isn't just Simon and me, we had volunteers who painted all of the picket fencing and the train and we have the most amazing team."Bassenthwaite Lake Station has become a destination attraction, providing 32 jobs. Front of House Manager Lisa Carr says it's been so busy it's exceeded all their expectations. She says, "normally in hospitality January and February can be a quiet time but we've been really busy and you know we didn't have to furlough any of our staff, which was great."
The project started with converting the old station master's house to a holiday let but quickly became restoring the train station that Beeching cut in the 60s.
They spent two years restoring the station but the real draw for tourists to this quieter part of the Lake District is the train.A stroke of luck came in securing the train from the film set of 'Murder on the Orient Express'. Diana Parums says, "we have Agatha Christie fans, as you can imagine; just normal movie fans, people who want to be somewhere that's been a film set."
The team then built a wildlife sanctuary and a wildflower meadow. It now attracts those who love trains, wildlife and films, bringing new visitors to the Lake District.
Diana explains, "we've dug a wildlife pond, which has now got newts; frogs; tench; fish. We've seen the heron arrive now so we're quite thrilled about that, and we think we're about to get some ducklings so that's rather lovely. The red squirrel is back, which is marvellous for us and it's absolutely teeming with birdlife: plenty of robins nesting under the train and jackdaws nesting in the funnel, all very entertaining and noisy."
However, Diana says the main attraction is still the train: "everybody loves a train and that does still continue to be the big pull."It's been a labour of love for two years that's paid off, restoring a piece of Cumbria's history and bringing trade to other businesses, securing the area's future as well.