Nearly time to raise a cuppa at Oldway's tea rooms

Volunteers in revamped tea rooms at Oldway Mansion

Kathy Hughes - Credit: Ed Oldfield

Ready for the off! Tea rooms staffed by volunteers are almost ready to open at Paignton’s Oldway Mansion once Covid restrictions allow. 

The Friends of Oldway volunteer group have been working since September. 

Volunteers, supported by local businesses, have decorated the rooms, installed a new kitchen, sourced equipment and collected donated items, and a team of volunteer staff is now waiting for training. 

Kathy Hughes, acting chair of the Friends and who has been managing the tea rooms, said the pandemic had slowed progress and delayed the delivery of items such as the ice cream freezer and coffee machine. But she said the lockdowns had meant people who had been furloughed had come forward to help. 

The rooms have been decorated by a small team of regular volunteers led by Louise Mean, of The Finishing Touch, a painting, decorating and gardening service based in Paignton, who was a member of the Friends group. She had time free due to the pandemic and ended up spending around eight weeks on the project.  Paint was sourced from local businesses, much of it free, including from the Dulux Decorator Centre in Paignton, BandQ and Brewers in Torquay.  

Plastering work, including a window arch, was carried out by volunteer Ryan Scott, who offered to help after his daughter told him about the project, and the electrical works were done for the cost of materials by Roberts & co Electrical of Exmouth. The Co-op at Paignton has offered to fund health and hygiene courses for volunteer staff, and most of the crockery and equipment has been donated.  

Picture of tea pots in revamped tea rooms

Tea pots are ready - Credit: Ed Oldfield

At the same time as the tea rooms opening, the group is expecting to be able to offer guided tours around part of the inside of the main mansion, including the ballroom and first floor balcony. 

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The first guests to take a look inside the listed mansion will be people who pledged £50 during last summer’s online fundraiser for the tea rooms reopening, which raised more than £12,000 to fund the project. 

Ms Hughes said supporters of the mansion and estate had seen a turning point in 2019, when the new administration of Independents and Liberal Democrats took control and had since been instrumental in driving forward changes including the formation of the charitable trust, and working closely with the community groups.