Dearden Tea Rooms in Haslingden
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 August 2015 | UPDATED: 21:13 03 October 2015
Visit the traditional tea room that has made Andrea Britland’s dreams come true. Emma Mayoh reports
Andrea Britland has spent most of her working life looking after people. The 41-year-old, who was a social worker for 15 years, spent her days working in fostering and adoption making sure young people were cared for. But now she is providing comfort and spreading happiness in a different way - through baking.
The mum of one, who has a seven-year-old daughter Evie, decided to follow her life-long passion of creating delicious treats and decadent desserts by setting up Dearden Tea Rooms in Haslingden.
She had originally run a vintage afternoon tea business with a friend, in people’s homes as well as at care homes and homes for the elderly. But when she saw the unused building in Deardengate, she knew she wanted to open her own tea room. She sought advice from family friend Chris Hood, who then left his job as head chef at the Fisherman’s Retreat in Ramsbottom to run the business with her.
‘I saw it was up for sale and I had to have a look,’ Andrea explained. ‘It had been empty for a while because it had closed down as a tea room back in 2011. But once I had been in, there was no way that I could step away from it. I knew I had to do it.
‘I called Chris for advice and direction and he said he would do it with me. That was brilliant news. It really was a dream come true.’
Andrea spends every spare minute she has baking cakes and sweet treats for the many customers who visit the tea room in their droves each week. She and Chris have refurbished the building and have created a traditional English tea room. Bringing the building back into use was also important to the pair as they wanted to add to the regeneration of Haslingden.
Cakes and sweet treats are a big part of the business, of course, but Chris’ excellent food has also been a big attraction. The 30-year-old gave up his job at the well-reputed Fisherman’s Retreat to spend more time with his young family.
The move may have raised a few eyebrows from his former colleagues but he has had the last laugh. Not only has it given him that precious family time but he is enjoying creating fabulous dishes that have delighted customers.
He said: ‘I was doing 70 to 80 hours a week before and I realised some things are more important. It has been a massive gamble for us both but what we have here is something really special.
‘The biggest reward we get is seeing that reaction from our customers who really enjoy their food and come back to see us time and again. I’m really pleased to be doing the business.’
Opening the tea room has also been a local history lesson for Andrea and Chris. Since opening the doors late last year, they have been inundated with stories from locals who know about the building, which was built in 1752.
Andrea said: ‘It’s been absolutely fascinating. The building was originally a coaching house and was very much a focal point of the original village. It has also been used by a plumber’s merchant.
‘This is a gorgeous building and for us it needed to be brought back into the community again for people to experience and visit. This building has been at the heart of the community for so many years and we are so pleased to be able to bring it back.
Andrea and Chris have big ambitions. They already believe they provide the best afternoon tea in the area but they want to cast their net wider and be known for providing the best in the North West. And they are confident they can do it.
Andrea said: ‘We are gradually working our way there. We have been doing a lot of new things to gradually build the business, like hosting cheese and wine nights, which are really popular. We know we’ll get there. It is hard work but I am living my dream.
‘This is absolutely amazing for me. I can’t believe that we’re actually running a tea room in this wonderful building. I’m so proud of what we have achieved so far. But there is definitely more to come.’