In 2012 it reopened, but some of the locals felt the station was still incomplete. It was missing the much-loved memorial stone to a cat that had kept the station rodent-free in the 1920s. While many people remembered the memorial, nobody knew what had happened to it, so the decision was made to commission a replica. This was arranged by North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum, who also went a step further and commissioned a cat sculpture to accompany the plaque. The sculpture, created by local artist Darren Yeardon, was finally unveiled in January 2017.
This was not the only welcome new addition at the station: four years ago, Tanya McVeigh opened a café in the station building, which had stood empty since it re-opened. An experienced local café owner, Tanya embraced the project wholeheartedly, knocking the two separate units within the station into one to make room for plenty of indoor seating. The result is a hugely popular café that majors in generous helpings of classic café fare – cooked breakfasts, jacket potatoes, burgers, baguettes, paninis and traditional puddings.
“I had been running cafes for years when this came up for rent,” says Tanya. “I’m glad we doubled its size by knocking the two rooms together; we now get lots of locals who come here regularly. The thing I most enjoy about running it is meeting and talking with people.”
The advent of coronavirus did not slow business. While the walk-in café closed for a time, Tanya kept busy providing food deliveries, including up to 90 Sunday lunches a week – up from the usual 60 or 70. She also delivered meals to local care homes.
Now the café has fully reopened and is back to being a popular stopping off points for rail users and locals alike. The station itself is now a vital service for the local community. Hatti Woakes, secretary of the North Pembrokeshire Transport Forum, says it attracts a range of users.
“After it reopened, people would come up and tell me they how they were using the trains – there were grannies going to babysit for kids who were working, trips to Carmarthen, people commuting. People were able to do far more of the things they wanted to do, and it meant so much to them,” she says.
Today the station continues to thrive, and as well as providing transport and refreshments for locals, it makes it easy for day trippers to reach Fishguard and Goodwick – maybe pausing at the station for a bite to eat and to say hello to the station cat.