Organisation boosts local businesses in rural economy

A growing Shropshire brewery has said it would not have been able to expand without the help of an organisation which provides support to the rural economy.

The Three Tuns Brewery, based in Bishop’s Castle, is the oldest working brewery in Britain and received its first brewing licence in 1642.

But in order to expand from its Grade II listed building, the brewery has needed the help of Enterprise South West Shropshire, based in Enterprise House in the centre of Bishop’s Castle.

The organisation provides a huge range of facilities for the rural community as well as many services for local businesses.

Kieran Jones, operations director at  the Three Tuns Brewery, said without ESWS, the business would not be one tenth of the size it is today.
He said: “At Enterprise House, we have our offices from where we have five members of staff operating.

“We also have storage for our cask barrels that we deliver to pubs and our online packing area.”
The brewery was hugely affected by the Covid Pandemic but Mr Jones said ESWS stepped in to help.

“With Covid, our income went to nothing,” he said. “It all came to a dramatic halt but ESWS helped us with rent payments and were really helpful landlords.”
Previously, the Three Tuns Brewery sold its cask barrels direct to pubs but launched an online shop in December to tackle the problems caused by Covid.

“Our online shop has helped us get up and going again,” Mr Jones said.
The Three Tuns Brewery moved its offices to Enterprise House about four years ago and has gradually expanded as additional space has become available.
“We were previously using office space in a house but we needed somewhere more professional to scale up and Enterprise House was one of the only available spaces in the area,” Mr Jones said.
“ESWS has been fantastic with our needs as a business. We are growing and they have helped us scale up with extra space. We also use them for printing and we use their meetings rooms regularly.

“Without ESWS, we would be in a right mess. In the brewery, we have no storage space. We would not be a tenth of the size we are now without ESWS.”

Enterprise House rents out buildings to other local businesses in the area, which otherwise would struggle to stay in Bishop’s Castle, according to ESWS manager Rob McKay.

He said: “The Enterprise House site is critical to employment in the town, and we rent space to a number of small businesses.

 “There are more than 150 local businesses using ESWS on a regular basis from artists to farmers to the local garage to the brewery. We are used for administrative purposes such as publishing or printing and to those businesses, our services can be vital. Our services are also used by countless local interest groups and individuals.”

Matt Maddox, 34, of Hurdley, near Bishop’s Castle, also credits ESWS with helping his business expand.

He set up MM Fabrications, a welding fabrication business, at Enterprise House more than seven years ago after he decided to take the plunge and launch his own business - but he said he couldn’t have done it without Enterprise South West Shropshire.

He said he chose Enterprise House in which to base his business as the size of the unit was great for starting out and the rent wasn’t a big jump to begin paying straight away.

“ESWS really helped me when I first started. The rent for the first six months was reduced, which was brilliant,” he said.
“Now they still help me as I use their facilities to print off drawings as well as using their admin and IT services. They are really great for advice and very helpful.

“Without ESWS, I would not be as professional as I am now. For new businesses setting up, without Enterprise House, there really is nowhere to set up unless you go out of Bishops’ Castle. It’s very hard for start up businesses.”
In the past seven years, Matt’s business has gone from strength to strength. He started carrying out sculptural commissions and ornamental gates and railings but now manufactures, supplies and installs a wide range of items from balconies, staircases, automated gates and structural steelwork, from small repair jobs to larger scale batch manufacturing for numerous businesses in mild steel, stainless and aluminium, carried out by coded welders. 

He employs two full-time members of staff and another part-time and from September, he will be taking on a college apprenticeship.

He said: “It’s brilliant to be able to take on an apprentice as that is where it all began for me. It’s come full circle.”

Mr McKay said ESWS aims to help as many local businesses as possible, especially those that are looking to get started.

He said: “ESWS has provided 25 years of business advice and support in the local community.

“There are 13 Businesses and Community Organisations based at Enterprise House with more than 25 people working from the site at the Heart of Bishops Castle.

“We are also looking forward to helping businesses grow into the new Business Park which is such an exciting and important development for the region.”

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