A GARDEN centre owner whose business was almost decimated by 19 weeks of road closures last year has found some solace in the pandemic lockdown.

Bill James, of Bank Mill Nurseries in Mawbray, near Silloth, said he had done about 85 per cent of usual annual business in the first five months of this year.

He said: “We advertised that we would do deliveries and it just went crazy.”

Like everyone else, however, Covid-19 has had an impact.

The Dunes restaurant, relaunched last year as the Dino Diner, closed since February and the previous tenants have left.

Mr James said: “The last arrangement did not work out as we had hoped.

“We are now looking at someone who will buy the fixtures and fittings and run the restaurant.

“I would like to retire and our daughter Melanie would take over. But the restaurant would be better as a stand-alone operation.”

Earlier this year the nursery announced that the cafe had come back into family ownership and had been brought up to date, making it even more child friendly.

Mel said at the time: “With the place being a family owned business we can now build the reputation back up.”

The cafe used to have a dinosaur exhibition, which is where the idea for the dino diner came from.

“The coffee shop was looking outdated so we decided to do it up and got the idea from there”, said Mr James.

“It’s done up all jungle style.”

Bringing it back into family hands gave them the chance to spruce it up, Mel James said earlier this year.

They made it even more child friendly by taking the models from a dinosaur exhibition they used to have.

Children are now likely to encounter a dinosaur around every corner.

Initially the family had ended to run the cafe but decided against it because they felt added too much to their already heavy workloads.

Mr James said he hoped the cafe would now go to someone with enthusiasm for the job and an interest in the fact that it is part of the Solway Area of Outstanding Beauty.

“With the cycle path being completed and people choosing to holiday at home, I think the cafe could have a bright future,” he said.

Despite an ongoing battle with Cumbria County Council over flooding and erosion works carried out on the Allonby to Silloth road, he has carried on and survived.

He said: “Because I have been doing deliveries, I have been on the road a lot this spring and it has been great. No problems at all. I would love to think that would last.”

Bank Mill is also the home of Mel James’ AniMel Haven where she keeps rescued animals and birds which prove an added draw and is just another reason to leave the cafe work to someone else.