AN ELECTRIC mobile café will be driven by staff and clergy of Exeter Cathedral to parishes around the county in an effort to build closer links.
Funded by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and the Heritage Stimulus Fund, managed by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), the Ten Fifty café, named after the date of the cathedral’s foundation, will serve locally produced hot and cold drinks and light snacks. Profits will be used to help fund conservation works. Besides travelling around Devon, it will stand in for the cathedral’s café, which is currently closed for building works.
The Dean of Exeter, the Very Revd Jonathan Greener, said: “Exeter Cathedral has always been the mother church of Devon, and we continue to work hard to serve the county’s people today — particularly in this challenging year of coronavirus.
“In the past, we’ve encouraged the people of Devon to come and visit us here, in the centre of Exeter, but, with this marvellous new mobile café, we will now be coming out to them, too.”
The mobile café has been custom-built by Classic French Vans, which has also built vehicles for Liverpool Football Club, the National Trust, and Winchester Cathedral. The van is expected to start serving customers outside the cathedral’s west front from Monday, when the cathedral also opens to visitors for the first time since lockdown.
Last June, the cathedral announced that it had lost £800,000 in income due to the pandemic. In the October, it received a £740,000-grant from the Government’s £1.57-billion Culture Recovery Fund, designed to help organisations to weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It also received grants from the NLHF, which included cover for its running costs for the first three months of this year — more than £300,000.
The van has a large potential ambit: Exeter is the fourth largest diocese in England, covering 2570 square miles.