Cafe operator set to take over running of railway station buffet

Huntingdon railway station.

Huntingdon railway station. - Credit: Archant

Popular St Neots cafe and restaurant Bohemia is set to take over the buffet at Huntingdon railway station.

The firm has promised to carry out a sensitive restoration of historic features at the buffet which is part of the Grade II-listed building.

It said it wanted to use all of the ground floor for the cafe which would be improved to meet its requirements.

The upper part of the building is used as a flat which will be refurbished separately.

Bohemia has applied to Huntingdonshire District Council for listed building consent to refurbish the buffet and newsagents, which closed in August 2017 on the retirement of its operators.

A statement submitted with the planning application said: "We were approached by Govia Thameslink Railway to undertake the improvement works in the former station master's accommodation, which is now comprised of a residential and commercial unit, in anticipation of both units getting new tenants.

"Since the building is listed, every precaution will be taken to preserve any remaining historic features.

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"This will be done in co-ordination with the Huntingdonshire District Council. In addition, we have been liaising with representatives of the Railway Heritage Trust."

The statement added: "They have assigned a grant for the works being done to restore historical features, such as the original windows."

The scheme involves enlarging the buffet by using some of the residential unit, unblocking an original window in the ticket hall which overlooks the garden, unblocking a stained glass window in the cafe which overlooks the platform, removing a shed on the drive and creating a new kitchen for the residential unit.

The planning application said: "The proposed cafe will offer patrons a range of hot beverages, grab and go confectionery, soft drinks and bakery goods. Access to the cafe will be from the railway platform and only available to railway ticket holders.

"The layout of the cafe will be improved with a new, smaller, servery counter creating a large customer spill area and improved seating options. The reduced counter footprint will also provide improved visual symmetry of the restored rear cabinet.

"Bohemia are keen to retain the historic values and decorative interior aesthetics complemented by their brand."

The firm is also planning to strip out existing counters, partitioning and flooring, together with unused pipes, cables and services, with modern radiators being replaced by old-fashioned cast iron ones. Paintwork will be stripped, exposing the wood underneath.

There are plans to hang botanical plants from a reclaimed railway in the window bay area, originally thought to have been used as a conservatory in the station master's house, in order to soften the area and benefit from natural daylight.

Damaged flooring in the kitchen area will be replaced and new stainless steel fittings will be installed.

The station dates back to 1849 and has been little changed since, becoming listed in 1977. It is believed to have been designed by an engineer who was involved in the construction of King's Cross station in London.