Railway Tearooms owner selling beloved Belper tearoom as Covid debts bite

A popular cafe in Belper is for sale after its owner finally gave in to debts she’d incurred personally during the pandemic. The leasehold for the Railway Tearooms, in Midland View, is on the market for £35,000.

Described as a “well-established, popular and well-positioned tearoom” in the heart of the town centre, the cafe is split over two floors and has additional seating outdoors. The current rent is £686 per month.

Owner Claire Ransom, who was contacted by Labour leader Keir Starmer about her struggles during the cost of living crisis, said: “I’m heartbroken to have to sell it. I didn’t want it to have to come to this but I’ve been pushed into a position of no choice. It’s actually a viable business.

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“We’re a small, tiny cafe in Belper and have 2,000 followers on Facebook. Everyone comments about the homemade food and the friendliness of the staff. We’re more about community than getting money through the till.”

Single mum Ms Ransom was featured on Derbyshire Live in July last year after the cafe’s energy bills skyrocketed, and again in November when she told of how she was having to use food banks to sustain herself and her son in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis. Having taken over the cafe in 2016, juggling it with a part-time teaching job, she says that her personal debts incurred during the pandemic have left her with no option but to sell up in order to be able to continue paying her mortgage.

She said: “I’ve built it up to such a fantastic place in seven years and I feel like I’ve just had the rug pulled from under me through my own issues in Covid. To sell has been a really, really hard decision to make. But I’m going to just have to focus on my other job. I need a wage. I’m borrowing from Peter to pay Paul all the time.”

The business has been on the market for around two months but Ms Ransom is yet to find a seller. The business is still open and operating at the moment but Ms Ransom says she doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to continue and hopes for a buyer soon.

As well as two downstairs seating areas, the cafe also offers a “compact but well-equipped kitchen”, toilets and town centre parking nearby. Both new entrants to the sector and established business owners are welcomed, with the viewing of the premises recommended.

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