Mark and Anne Vause made the brave decision to leave their jobs, sell their Blackburn home and purchase a B&B in the heart of Pooley Bridge village. With support from The Cumberland and a lot of hard graft, their relocation dream has become a runaway success.
It was a whirlwind start for Mark and Anne, who left successful careers to take a chance on their B&B vision. They fell in love with Elm House B&B on their first viewing and their offer on the business was accepted – but getting a mortgage for the property was much harder they imagined.
“I visited pretty much every bank I knew, but the finance options they offered were unworkable. We were running out of options – then a friend of ours recommended The Cumberland.”
After a successful meeting, The Cumberland were delighted to support Mark’s plans and vision for the project and offer them the financial support they needed. The couple leapt into their new life as B&B owners and it was a fantastic start – however the new venture saw them working seven days a week, 50 weeks a year, running the business on their own steam. They needed a new strategy.
In 2015, with a mix of private finance and an overdraft from The Cumberland, the couple kick-started a £300,000 refurbishment and relaunch of the business. At the same time Storm Desmond struck, causing devastation across Cumbria and destroying the bridge in Pooley Bridge.
“Looking back, it seems bonkers. We had five bedrooms and the restaurant open seven days a week and we were cooking breakfast, getting changed, labouring outside and then getting changed to run the bar at night. We were working 120 hour weeks, living off a sink, microwave and slow cooker.”
Mark joined the parish council and threw himself into almost daily meetings as they worked hard to secure a temporary replacement bridge and its permanent replacement.
Despite the destruction caused by Storm Desmond, 1863 opened on schedule – and never looked back.
The new restaurant, led by ambitious head chef and general manager Phil Corrie, quickly became renowned for its focus on beautifully presented, locally-sourced food served in a relaxed environment. It has received two AA awards just 18 months after opening and recently won the Taste of Cumbria category in the Cumbria Tourism Awards – a huge achievement.
Since reopening, 1863 has welcomed more than 15,000 visitors and turnover has increased 15% year on year. Mark and Anne’s success is a result of their sheer determination and can-do spirit when it came to pursuing their dream and making it a reality.
Cumberland Lending Manager, Mandy Pearson, helped to make the couple’s plan a success.
“Anne and Mark have shown real vision and entrepreneurial spirit and they’ve created a true Cumbrian success story. It has been a privilege for The Cumberland to play a part in that.”
Do you have the drive and determination to launch your own hospitality business? We could help you get started with financial support and expert guidance.