The station built in 1874 in the tiny town of less than 3,000 people was an important stop along the journey between East and West Germany during the Cold War. An American train that ran daily between Munich and West Berlin passed through Camburg, and had to stop for up to 20 minutes to change locomotives from electric to steam engine, which was used more so in the East.After reunification and electrification all the way to Berlin, there's a big, empty, redundant station. The Bonds (ah, the temptation: My name is Bond. Olly Bond) bought it. They'll repurpose it as a cafe, or perhaps a bed and breakfast. With working model trains. And support from the local railroaders.
“The trains from Munich to West Berlin were a daily reminder to the people living in East Germany that these were trains they weren’t allowed to get on,” Olly Bond told The Local.
“One lady came and handed me her uniform and said ‘please have this’,” Olly recounted.If DB Railfreight UK can run steam locomotives on Her Majesty's metals, why not have a British operated bed and breakfast trackside in Germany?
“There’s something about trains that appeals to big kids and little kids. The mayor herself was sitting at a table, glueing together a model train for her children.”
The short-term goal is to have a cafe set up this year, as well as holiday apartments for the summer and autumn.
Olly says that so far the small town community has been supportive of their efforts to revive a historic, local site, and the fact that they are outsiders - and the only Brits in the village - hasn’t been such an issue.
“I think they’re delighted that something is happening, and they might be surprised that it’s us that is doing it, but they’re happy that it’s coming alive,” says Olly.Yes, and there's a German tradition involving coffee and sweetrolls midafternoon, where watching the trains pass is a great extra benefit. But with the Berlin - Munich Neubaustrecke now a possibility, will there be as many trains passing Camburg?
“We are English and so we do love trains. It’s such a thrill to look out the window and see trains passing by.”
The couple is hopeful that their project could bring more tourism to the town, which could have a positive impact on the picturesque village that might otherwise be overlooked.
“I don’t think we’re going to radically change their way of life. We’re just going to make sure there’s a place to get a decent cappuccino.”