THE Station Coffee house became an invaluable service to Riding Mill during lockdown, expanding from coffee house to village shop.

Owners Chris Trueman and Pamela Fry sell cakes, savoury pies, scones, sandwiches and salad boxes, the majority of which come from local suppliers.

Changing consumer habits during the lockdown provided the business with the opportunity to expand its customer base.

Chris explained: "We have been very fortunate in that we were already supplying some provisions such as eggs, milk and meat.

"When we realised there was going to be a lockdown we quickly expanded our supplies."

Produce available at the Station Coffee House includes Northumbrian Pantry, North Acomb Farm, Northumbrian Pedigree Milk, local artist Mary Anne Rogers' cards, Hadrian Border Brewery and ice cream.

The business hosts food traders from around the North-East every Wednesday night, providing a takeaway with a twist in the Tyne Valley village.

Chris said: "Some of the food traders have been coming for two years now and it's proved to be really popular with people coming from afar.

"It adds a different flavour to what we have in Riding Mill and sometimes people want something different.

"It's great to have that flexibility on a local level."

Positive business during the lockdown has created new opportunities for Chris and Pamela.

"We've got such a beautiful outside space," Chris added.

"We have found that mid-week households are pleased to have the service of an on the doorstep takeaway and they can have a beer or bottle of wine while waiting.

"We are installing three outdoor cabins for the autumn/ winter for the outside food, which are also being locally made.

The cafe participated in the half price Eat Out To Help Out scheme and praised the public for their support during August.

"It's pleasing to see so many of our pre-existing customers returning from outside of the village and also new visitors to the area. We've noticed a pretty dramatic increase in holidaymakers, cyclists and walkers.

"The scheme was good and really beneficial for us," Chris said. "The first week was a bit slow, but it proved to be very beneficial to be a part of that scheme.

"We were busy at the start of the week, but that continued through the week and it wasn't detrimental to our business later in the week."

Despite a decline in sales of its grocery items as more people visit the supermarkets, Chris and Pamela have vowed to continue supplying what people want.

"We were very fortunate to be able to grow the business," Chris said.

The Station Coffee House is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-4pm and is open until 8pm on Wednesday's at Riding Mill railway station.