25 Sep 2023
Sometimes the brightest moments are behind the darkest clouds, and that was certainly true for Barry Railway Station’s café owner.
Al Edge (pictured above) set up Coaltrain’s coffee shop & gallery after his Cardiff based vintage clothing business folded during lockdown.
Al heard about the chance to take up a lease on the vacant café on Transport for Wales’ Barry Station.
“I saw it as a chance to restart and do something new,” said Al, who is originally from the northeast of England.
“We’d moved to Barry just before lockdown anyway and it all just seemed to fall in to place. Everything’s better in Barry.”
Since opening last year, Al has developed the café into a vibrant art gallery displaying his and other artists paintings and ceramics, with regular exhibitions and pop-up events that give the space a unique feel. The name of the café “Coaltrain’s” is a pun acknowledging the railway link and also the name of legendary jazz musicians John and Alice Coltrane.
He hosts live music sessions, comic book sales and is organising a festival of creativity named ‘Catch the light’ that will feature poetry workshops, local history talks, storey telling, live jazz, blues and country, ADHD seminars and careers Wales and the Prince’s Trust will be there to help people into work or develop business ideas of their own.
“I want it to be a calm, creative space. We’ve all got stuff going on in our lives so it’s nice to come somewhere with a more relaxed feel where you can chat, write or draw or just contemplate in peace.
“I’ve got to know a lot of local people who have led fascinating lives and tell fascinating stories.”
“I want to make it a community space for people in the town and for people from out of town who’d like to visit and soak up the atmosphere. I get people commuting, people on their way to the airport or going about their daily business.
Coaltrain’s are hoping to expand their food provision in the coming months and Al says he is also planning to develop an ordering system so customers can order ahead so their coffee is ready and waiting for them when they get to the station. They have also recently had the old service hatch opened so they can serve directly onto the platform and as Al says:
“When it comes to coffee, I don’t do instant but I am quick!”
Coaltrain’s Coffee Shop Gallery is open 6.30am to 1pm Monday to Friday and 8am-1pm Saturdays.
For more info on the festival visit COALTRAINS COFFEE SHOP GALLERY BARRY TRAIN STATION on Facebook or instagram.