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All-Electric Mobile Café Shares Taste of Cathedral across Devon

Exeter Cathedral has launched a new initiative to connect with communities across Devon – using a custom-built mobile café.

Staff and clergy at the Cathedral plan to drive the custom-built electric vehicle to parishes throughout the county in an effort to establish closer links between the Cathedral and Devon’s town and village communities. As the Dean of Exeter, the Very Revd. Jonathan Greener explains:

“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.”

Exeter Cathedral’s initiative has been funded thanks to the £88m Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the £50m Heritage Stimulus Fund – managed by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both are part of the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund which is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.

The mobile café – which is to be branded ‘Ten Fifty’, a reference to the year of the foundation of Exeter Cathedral – will serve ethically sourced, locally produced hot and cold drinks and light snacks. As well as travelling around Devon, the Ten Fifty mobile café will temporarily stand in for the Cathedral Café, which is currently closed due to essential building conservation and improvement works. Profits from Ten Fifty will be used to help fund heritage conservation work and other projects designed to ensure the Cathedral can continue to serve the local community.

The vehicle – which is one of the first electric catering vehicles of its kind in this country – has been custom built by Classic French Vans, a custom vehicle conversion specialist which has also built vehicles for Liverpool Football Club, National Trust and Winchester Cathedral, among others. But as the company’s managing director Andrew Bennett explains, Exeter Cathedral’s mobile café represents a significant departure from their previous projects:

‘We specialise in very bespoke, custom builds, so when Exeter Cathedral explained their desire to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, a fully electric powered vehicle was the obvious choice. The challenge for us was to create a functional and practical rear work space and serving area, on a relatively small vehicle chassis. We’re very grateful to Exeter Cathedral for giving us the opportunity to showcase what we could do.’

The all-electric Ten Fifty mobile café is expected to be serving customers outside the Cathedral’s West Front from Monday 17 May ­– when the Cathedral also opens to visitors for the first time since lockdown.