Family Cafe Opens - Tinker's Tea Rooms

Katrina Ingles and her mum Irene have opened Tinker’s Tea Rooms in Gosport High Street – breathing life back into an old casino that was empty for five years.

The pair applied for the cash from Gosport’s council and the Town Team, which aims to rejuvenate the area.

She said: ‘It’s going really, really well. This shop has been empty for five years. It needed a lot done to it.

‘We had to take down walls, build walls and scrape wallpaper.’

And Katrina said receiving the grant made the refurbishment a lot easier, letting them create a good atmosphere.

Katrina added: ‘We know there are a lot of cafes in the high street but we wanted something different.’

Katrina and Irene had run the Galley Box at Portsmouth Naval Base before deciding to set up shop in Gosport.

In total 14 people work part-time at the cafe, including Katrina’s 18-year-old son Perry who helped set up the cafe.

As reported, the empty unit support scheme was set up by Gosport Borough Council and the volunteer-led Town Team to give out five grants of £7,000.

The first shop to benefit, SIC Digital, a photo and digital accessory store, opened in December 2013. No Limitz Clothing opened in November in Mumby Road but got their grant in January.

Soleil Tanning and Beauty opened in High Street at the end of last month.

The cash can be spent on decoration and fitting the front and interior. The scheme also offers a 10 per cent discount on solicitors and accountancy advice.

It means the Gosport town centre vacancy rate has gone down from 13 per cent before the scheme to 3.6 per cent.

There is just one grant left to be handed out and a firm is working on its plans. Applications are closed.

Lin Wilson, who runs Solent Events and Leisure, is chairwoman of the team.

She said the group will be taking a back seat as most of its work is now finished with the shops opened.

Lin said: ‘The aim was to fill these empty shops and because we have done that now I’m very proud – I’m proud of the whole Town Team.

‘Although it’s been slow I think we have done a lot. Residents will see a great change in Gosport.’

Councillor Mark Hook is the Conservative leader of the borough council.

He said: I am delighted these businesses have shown confidence in choosing to locate in our High Street.’