The Fourpence Cafe, Ulverston

It was a case of third time lucky when it came to the Fourpence cafe. I'd arranged to meet friends for a winter lunch in Ulverston which on the face of it you'd think would be fairly straightforward. Table for three on a January Monday? No problem. Except it was. Deciding on the outskirts, we had arranged to meet at the Coach House cafe in Ford Park which, its website had assured me, was open on Mondays in winter. It isn't. Irritating in this internet age when businesses don't keep the info on their websites up to date.

Next stop the Orangery cafe at the hospice. Forget it - packed out, with not a free table to be seen.

So we high-tailed it into the town centre, pitching up at the Fourpence Cafe in King Street. It was bitterly cold outside - and not much warmer indoors, a member of staff apologising for the fact the heating had been off over the weekend. We kept our coats on the for food and drink ordering but she was right, it was soon warm in this quirkiest of cafes.

The Fourpence is part antique/curio shop and part cafe, with a high clock factor. We were parked near a cuckoo clock, which did its thing as 1pm arrived. Thankfully, the chimes on the scores of other clocks adorning the shelves and walls remained silent; I wasn't in the mood for a cacophony.

I was in the mood for a cappuccino, however, which soon warmed me up further as I addressed the task in hand: deciding what to eat.

My friend Heather is a regular at the Fourpence and recommended the chowder, a house speciality. Ordinarily I would have gone for that but the previous fortnight's chest infection had resulted in a diet on which soup featured very heavily, so I eschewed the fish chowder in favour of the Fourpence Club sandwich for £8.25.

Heather chose the aforementioned chowder, while our mutual pal Sheila chose the Fourpence Carolina Gold sandwich, like the club sandwich toasted but not a triple layer. This sarnie (also £8.25) was filled with bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado and salad.

Both sandwiches came with salad garnish and a bowl of coleslaw - and everything is of course home made by, I presume, the Fourpence proprietors, Sam and Jane.

By now, the cafe was full, and there was a cheery atmosphere on this dreariest of winter days. If you like poking around in Aladdin's cave-style junk shops, the Fourpence will appeal. Clocks, glassware, nick-nacks galore and lots of old hats, including toppers, along with all manner of old domestic gadgets. It's a fascinating little place.

The food is good, unfussy cafe fare. The chowder came in a deep bowl and was served with hunks of fresh bread; while the two huge sandwiches were certainly value for money. I wasn't overkeen on the purple slaw accompaniment (it was just slightly perfumy for my taste) but couldn't complain about the club sandwich, which was a triple layer treat of gargantuan proportions.

Sheila loved her Carolina sandwich, which was packed with fresh avocado and bacon. Yummy.

Two cups of coffee apiece on top of all that hearty grub unfortunately meant that none of us could be tempted to partake in any of the Fourpence puds.

Sandwiches (not the speciality ones) are around the £5.25 mark, with baked potatoes ranging from £6.50 to £7.25 depending on choice of filling. The cafe prides itself on its homemade Jane's fresh limeade; and food intolerances and allergies are of course given due care.

By the time we had finished our lunch, the Fourpence was warm as toast and with a roar of conversation from the filled tables.

It's cosy and it's quirky. It's quintessentially Ulverston, in a way.

Food 4

Service 4

Atmosphere 4

Value 4


Quirk factor is high

Jolly atmosphere

Fresh ingredients


Tables are a bit on the snug side

It's crammed with antiquey bits so best avoided if you're clumsy