Passengers are undoubtedly encouraged by all the improvements being made by Network Rail at Knaresborough’s Grade II listed railway station but spare a thought for the station’s unlucky family-run cafe.
Having endured a nightmare start when they first opened The Old Ticket Office on the station platform after signing the lease in April 2015, the days of workman in hard hats, scaffolding, water leaks, peeling plaster, warped door frames and, even, power cuts are still with mum and daughter Doreen and Amy Hodgson.
Not for a moment have the co-owner of this commuters’ favourite on the York-Harrogate-Leeds line given up the battle to serve customers.
But they say they have had to shut their doors for days on end for repairs and have often spent their own money on the work.
And all of this has taken place in an environment of ongoing improvements at the station involving scaffolding, repairs and restoration
In response, Network Rail says work was carried out recently on the cafe’s roof which it believes has solved the problem.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We have carried out repairs to the roof of the Old Ticket Office café in Knaresborough station.
“This work has included fixing the gutters and refurbishing section of the slate roof. We are continuing to work with all parties involved to discuss any concerns that may exist.”
But the Hodgsons say, water from the roof is still impacting on this independent cafe.
Doreen said: “It’s great the station is being improved but they haven’t done enough to make our roof water tight.
“The actual workmen on the site are very nice to us and try to be helpful. But we feel let down by Network Rail and by the agents who act on our behalf with our landlord.”
Doreen said she and Amy are grateful that their rent was waived for a large part of last year.
They also said they received part of the compensation given by Northern Rail.
But, despite the loyalty of customers and commuters, Doreen Amy Hodgson say the business is leaking cash - literally.
Doreen said: “We’ve estimated that we’ve lost £1,000 a month because of all the problems and the redecoration and plumbing and electrical work we’ve had to do.
“We were planning to open up as a bistro in the evening but there’s no point in even trying that at the moment.
“We keep on complaining; people probably think we are a nuisance now.”
Lambert Smith Hampton., the property agents handling the cafe’s lease, emailed the Hodgsons recently saying that Network Rail had told them the leaks had been addressed.
But a visit by the Knaresborough Post to the Old Ticket Office this week showed the following problems, sadly, alive and well:
Peeling plaster on ceilings and walls.
Warped door frames.
Doreen said: “They did do some of the lead work on out roof and they did a good job of it. Water no longer pours in like before but the cafe still keeps on getting damp at the front part of it.
“Amy is having to use a plastic stick whenever she presses a switch at electrical sockets.”
To make things worse, workmen are hard at work currently with repairs to the old lamplighters hut shed giving customers in one part of The Old Ticket Office cafe a nice view of scaffolding.