The Firebox Café at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes is going to be a source of great temptation for the DCM staff and volunteers!
Not only is there seriously good coffee but the “Queen of Tarts” – Emily Pickard – is providing the cakes. She is known locally as the “cupcake queen” but for the Firebox Café she is baking more of a variety and her lemon cake proved to be especially popular.
Mike Allenby and Helen Pollard, have created a delightful, cheerful ambience with colourful chairs and serving area. Mike said that he was inspired by the firebox on which the driver and crew of a steam train used to fry their bacon and eggs. As he said, he did get a bit carried away with some of his own ideas.
The bright ambience of the cafe is enhanced by Sue Dewhurst’s paintings of Dales’ scenes. Six-years-old Daisy Allenby, Mike and Helen’s daughter, selected that of sheep at “Tea Time” as her favourite.
When I was on duty in the research room at the museum during the Easter holidays Daisy (above), was doing a great job of making the café’s customers feel even more welcome. Sue Brohie (left)and Eileen Steven from Bolton in Lancashire were so impressed by the flowers that she was making out of tissue paper that they wanted to buy some.
The Firebox Café is also a feeding station and bike repair centre for cyclists. Bicycles can be hired there and Mike and Helen can provide advice for visitors and organise tours. They, along with Kirsten Civil, are working closely with the local community to help children to learn how to ride well and safely on roads. This has grown out of their Stage 1 Cycles business which they began in Askrigg in 2014.
The café will certainly enhance the visitor experience at the museum – and I was pleased to hear that some visitors had gone into Hawes to buy lunch. There are some excellent restaurants and cafes in the centre of Hawes, plus those at the Wensleydale Creamery. So visitors have plenty of choice.
Below: Mike working on creating the cafe in January 2016 – and, at Easter, serving cake and coffee. For more photos of the cafe click on the bottom photo.