Published: 12:00, 04 September 2020
| Updated: 14:46, 04 September 2020
Part of the historic and beloved Leas Lift in Folkestone is going to be transformed into a new cafe.
The Grade II-listed lower station of the landmark on the seafront has been renovated for the opening of The Lift Cafe next weekend.
It will be run by couple Jamie Evans and Emily Fahey, who previously ran a cafe in London before moving to the town a few years ago.
Jamie said: "It may be a mad time to open a new cafe, what with being in the midst of a global pandemic and not to mention that Emily is heavily pregnant.
"However, when the chance to open something in the unique Leas Lift arose it was an opportunity too good to miss."
Emily added: "The idea of giving life to such an iconic building which would otherwise sit empty and neglected is exciting for us and we can’t wait to be a part of the journey to restoring the lift to its former glory."
The eatery will provide refreshments to beachgoers, visitors and dog walkers with a menu focusing on "comforting food" for breakfast and lunch as well as homemade sweet treats and locally sourced ice cream.
It will also serve drinks, including a range of speciality grade, single-origin coffee beans.
The Leas Lift, which connects Folkestone town with the beach, was built in 1885 and is a very rare cliff funicular railway.
It is one of only three remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK but closed three years ago due to safety issues with the braking system.
The Folkestone Leas Lift Company CIC was set up as a trust campaigning for the future operation of the site.
More than 2,500 people who took part mentioned the idea of setting up a cafe.
After this, vendors were invited to bid to set one up in the station.
James Walker-Osborn, from the trust, said: "We were overwhelmed with the support and large number taking part in the public consultation.
"A cafe had been intended for some time, but was delayed due to the pandemic; this response gave us the confidence to push ahead.
"We also had a fantastic response to the tender competition and were overwhelmed with the high quality of the applicants.
"We were particularly impressed by Jamie and Emily who have previously run a cafe and subsequently coffee stalls in London but were eager to start something closer to home."
The trust is still planning to bring the Leas Lift back into use and hopes to secure a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to pay for the maintenance.
James added: "We are so excited with the transformation of the run down lower station and the plans that Jamie and Emily have for the cafe.
"This cafe will be helping to raise funds that we hope will help us to secure a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in the future to pay for the restoration.
"In the meantime, we can’t wait for everybody to come down, visit and try something delicious from the menu."
The Lift Cafe will open for the first time on Saturday, September 12 at 11am.