A couple who gave up their jobs to convert the steam train used for filming Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express film into a Lake District tearoom have spoken about their role as “custodians of a lovely little piece of heritage”.
Di and Si Parums were working in health and safety when the derelict Bassenthwaite Lake Station in Cumbria came up for sale in 2019.
The couple say they had reached a stage where they “wanted more from life” and “wanted to give back to the community”, which led to the decision to purchase the site, in the hope of opening it to the public as a heritage site and tearoom.
By chance, a visit to a specialist haulage yard in Stoke uncovered the prop train used in the Orient Express film, and the couple decided it would be the perfect addition to their project.
The prop French SNCF steam train, complete with engine, restaurant car, tender, baggage car and salon with bar, was purpose-built for the filming of the 2017 Hollywood film directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Alongside Branagh, who also starred, the glitzy cast also included Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and Olivia Colman.
The carriages were transported by a specialist hauler and backed onto the old station’s trackbed piece by piece.
“Six months later, we were asked if we wanted to buy the rest of the train because the other buyers had pulled out. We said yes. Only the sleeper car is missing - that went to another buyer,” Di told the Daily Mail.
“We decided to create a place where everyone could live and breathe the history,” she added.
The unique experience is now open to the public serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and cakes in both the restaurant carriage of the train itself, and the restored station building.
“I feel we are almost custodians of a lovely little piece of heritage,” said Di.
“Of course, we are the owners now, but actually this has got another 100 years of history to create for itself so it's that lovely feeling of making that bit of difference, passing on something special to the next generation who can use it again how they see fit.”
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