The future of a neglected North Lakes railway station looks secure due to the vision of an ambitious couple who are steaming ahead with plans to make it a striking tourist attraction.
Simon and Diana Parums are the driving force behind a new venture which they believe could attract thousands of visitors to the old Bassenthwaite Lake station.
The couple have been granted planning permission from the Lake District National Park Authority to create a cafe and woodland walk area at the site.
But the centrepiece is going to be a full-scale replica steam locomotive complete with tender, buffet car, baggage carriage and salon which featured in the 2017 film Murder on the Orient Express, directed by Kenneth Branagh.
The French SNCF Class 241 engine was bought by the couple from a haulier in Stoke.
They also have approval to restore the two signalmen’s cottages on the site although not as dwellings.
They also plan to create an information room where station artefacts can be seen, meetings held and it will also be capable of hosting local interest groups. The couple may seek permission for a dark sky viewing facility to take advantage of the lack of light pollution in the area and they would also like to be able to showcase local produce and artists.
The Keswick Reminder recently reported that the couple would be looking to create up to 30 new full and part-time posts ahead of the attraction opening around July or August of this year.
Mrs Parums is confident the cafe will prove to be popular and said it was already proving to be a draw, with people turning up in large numbers during lockdown to take photographs.
“I suspect that we will be very busy because we will have a lot of early morning commuters and walkers who use the A66,” said Mrs Parums. “We are also likely to get some early morning cyclists and birdwatchers, as we are right next door to the Dubwaith Silver Meadows Nature Reserve.”
The station also featured on Channel 5’s Lost Railways of Britain series and this attracted much interest and further visitors.
Mrs Parums said she had also been moved by the “remarkable” welcome they had received from neighbours in the valley who had been very supportive of their new enterprise.
A group of volunteers had lent a helping hand by painting the benches and train and putting in pathways.
But the couple, who have refurbished and restored more than 10 heritage or historic properties over a period of 30-plus years, have also rolled up their sleeves to help with the station’s transformation.
They have helped to clear masses of vegetation from the trackbed and station platform which were barely visible because of the overgrown state of the area. The old platform hedge had grown to more than 50 feet high, and the trackbed had disappeared altogether.
Much damage had also taken place over the years, with almost all original fittings and features removed, vandalised or stolen.
The couple have retained most of the original trees but removed seedlings and saplings, as well as rejuvenating the original hedges which had become unstable due to shallow root structures along the platform.
The original trackbed has also been excavated and new track and ballast laid.
When the attraction is opened Mr Parums will take on the role of general manager.