The Platform 3 Buffet has existed in various forms for the last 20 years. In the early days of preservation at Pitsford and Brampton station, a stall was set up to sell cans of drink and packets of crisps from the brake compartment of 9102 which was parked in the bay platform. The coach was then turned round and a counter was built complete with a hot water boiler for tea and coffee.
At some time in the mid-1990s the name Platform 3 Buffet was coined, and has been in use ever since. An ex-British Railways buffet car was purchased and soon pressed into service. Later investments allowed bacon rolls and eventually chips to be cooked, before a full menu for special events was put into operation.
1647, the Restaurant Car, was taken out of service in late 2007 for bodywork repairs which proved to be more extensive than first thought. A ‘temporary’ buffet was put up in one half of the Santa’s Grotto coach and is still in use to this day.
Further investments in catering equipment have been made, allowing the Buffet to serve a wide range of hot meals and snacks, with further improvements and enhancements in the planning stage.
All this comes at a price, however — in order to offer a hot food service to our visitors a minimum of two volunteers is needed on each running day; one person simply cannot make the tea, serve customers, operate the till, as well as taking orders, cooking the food, and waiting tables. We know because it has been tried!
Special Events are usually much busier and need three or more volunteers to run smoothly. On a typical Bank Holiday event over three days, a pool of five or six people could fill a roster leaving the Buffet fully staffed and giving everyone at least one day off.
The issue we have is that there aren’t six people to call on. That is where YOU can help. We understand that you may not be able to commit to doing a full day on every day that the Railway is open, but we need to get a list of people who can fill a roster and so make sure the Buffet is staffed for all the events and running days.
The main skills are common sense and customer service. If you like meeting new people you would have great fun behind the counter. There is tea and coffee to be made and a cash register to operate but none of this is rocket science and of course full training will be given as required.
If you are more of a ‘backroom boy’ then perhaps you could join us as a Chef. Don’t be put off by the title, it’s not a Gordon Ramsay style kitchen with lots of swearing, just a simple menu of bacon rolls and toasted sandwiches and the like. It can get a little busy at times but we have always managed to give service with a smile.
The income generated by the Platform 3 Buffet is an important source of revenue for the Railway’s operations. If we can only offer tea and coffee then the income is severely reduced and of course people are often disappointed when they can’t enjoy one of our famous bacon rolls.
If you have never volunteered before then the Buffet is a great place to start — heated in the winter, air-conditioned in the summer and with no heavy lifting involved. We provide full training, a free uniform and lunch is provided.
If you are an existing volunteer, why not have a couple of days in the Buffet? Even if your interests lie elsewhere, chances are that the money from the Buffet is contributing to whichever area of the Railway you normally work in.
If you want to learn more about what we do, pop down on any Sunday for a chat over a cup of tea — we can be found in the bay platform at the North end of Pitsford and Brampton station (turn left when you enter at the Booking Office).