Sunderland’s seafront train carriages reopen as tea rooms

Seamus Whealan at, 'Carriages' at Seaburn, Sunderland.
Seamus Whealan at, 'Carriages' at Seaburn, Sunderland.
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A COASTAL landmark is on track to be a success after being given a new lease of life.

The much-loved British Pullman carriages, which have stood at Seaburn for nearly 30 years, have reopened as tea rooms.

The former carriages for the Orient Express, Padua, Rosalind and Sapphire – which date back as far as 1912 – are once more clinking with the sound of china cups for afternoon tea.

Leaseholders Rosalind Leisure Ltd travelled to the National Railway Museum in York and consulted The British Pullman Society for their research before renovating the historic carriages.

Seamus Whelan, managing director of Rosalind Leisure Ltd, said: “The carriages were very dilapidated. Not so much the inside, but the exterior had some decay on the woodwork.

“We went along to the Railway Museum, who also have a Pullman carriage. Theirs is slightly younger than ours, but there’s only about six people allowed in at a time and you can’t touch anything.

“But people can come in and use ours. We took paint samples from York for the woodwork and the livery and logo is the same. They’re a very special part of the seafront.

“Padua was even used on the Royal Train; she was the parlour for King George and Queen Mary.

“And Rosalind was used in the movie, Agatha, starring Dustin Hoffman.”

The carriages are the latest development at The Pullman site, which has seen Platform 5 bar and pub open at the rear and the reopening of the function room.

Rosalind Leisure has taken over the site from Sunderland City Council on a five-year lease in a bid to bring it back to life. Seamus added: “Out of everything to do with the site, people have asked about the carriages most; there’s been huge interest. They are a daytime venue at the minute for breakfast, light bites, brunch and afternoon teas, but we are looking at maybe hosting evening events, even a Murder On the Orient Express-style evening.”

The Carriages Tea Rooms are the second tea room to open along the seafront in as many months, with Let There Be Crumbs opening its doors at the Roker Hotel.

Seamus said: “I don’t think it will affect trade – it just gives people more reason to come to the seafront.”