Blackpool cafe customers all steamed up after sci-fi revamp

A Blackpool cafe has got itself all geared up for the future after a steampunk style revamp.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:30 pm

Cogs Cafe Bar in Lytham Road has embraced the popular comic book style which mixes futuristic gadgets with Victorian and Industrial Revolution machinery.

With chains and cogs, antique-looking wood, brass and boiler-plate, owner Jaqui Heqimaj and her team have transformed the cafe into a science fiction watering hole in the heart of a town which was built on the power of 1800s industry.

Steampunk originated in the 1980s and has grown into a type of gothic subculture with books, films and video games set in the futuristic yet retro genre, such as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Baron Munchausen and Wild Wild West. It has its roots in works such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne and HG Wells' Time Machine.

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Elise Ashton in her steampunk goggles and top hat, at Cogs Cafe Bar in Lytham Road

Jaqui said: "I really wanted to have something different from everywhere else. Not just a standard vanilla cafe.

"I love everything about steampunk and the Industrial Revolution. Without the Industrial Revolution we not have all the things we do today. And from it came things like the Blackpool Tower, the Winter Gardens and the Pleasure Beach so there is a local connection to Blackpool itself."

Jaqui ran an off licence in Foxhall Village for 14 years, but needed to change lifestyle for family reasons due to the long hours involved. So she bought the cafe which she has had for two years. When lockdown came into force last year, she decided to use the enforced layoff as an opportunity to completely redecorate the building.

She added: "I do a lot of art myself and exhibit my work, so we decided to do it all ourselves. It is decorated with sheet music, maps, steampunk and industrial revolution books that we have taken to pieces, antique objects and mirrors featuring Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and a lot of artwork done to reflect the genre.

The cafe has had a revamp during lockdown in the style of the steampunk genre which mixes science fiction with Victorian style gadgetry

"Instead of having shutters, which don't look the prettiest, I had railings made for the front window, from chain welded together with cogs and gears in.

"The same man built the bar with chains on too and the old tables have been repurposed with reclaimed wood, burned to give it character and then waxed so you get the nice smell as well.

"Everyone that has come in has loved it. We had people talking to us as we were doing it during the lockdown and they have come in after we opened to have something to eat and take lots of pictures."

She said all the cakes and burgers are all home made, the bread comes from a local bakery and she tries to source as much produce locally to support other businesses.

Left to right, owner Jaqui Heqimaj, with her team Elise Ashton and Zowie Hughes

She added: "The two girls who have been working for me gave up their own time to help get this ready. I would not have been able to do it if not for Elise Ashton and Zowie Hughes. We have just applied for more staff under the Government Kickstart scheme."

The cafe is full of antique-style items and Victoriana
Jaqui said there is a strong link between the Industrial Revolution, which inspired steampunk and Blackpool
The team have used old maps and pages from steampunk books to decorate the walls. There are also mirrors inspired by Jules Verne's influential novel 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea