20th Anniversary - a journey from cheese to weddings
A farm site that was no longer viable for the new world of dairy farming and an old barn that had never had much love and attention shown to it…couple that with suddenly having to create a rural business from scratch and the two things came together at the same time. This was the challenge and the opportunity I was faced with twenty years ago when I came back “home” with new wife and 2 little ones in tow, we made a home on the farm and then set to and converted the old farm buildings to Bashall Barn.
The first thought was to convert the milk from the farm to cheese, I quickly realised that this wasn’t the cleverest idea and so a quick trip to Low Sizergh Barn at Kendal gave me a great insight into a plan…build a kitchen and café that could also make food for a farm shop to sell. Now it took a few years to develop this plan and no sooner had we done it then we found it didn’t work…and couldn’t pay the bills never mind support the family. So we expanded, expanded and expanded to eventually build 2 entirely new buildings and slowly realised that sadly, there was no money in a small rural farm shop nor was there in selling cups of tea and scones. We had to find something that we could make money on if the business was to survive.
We had our first wedding ten years ago and then another and soon the kernel of an idea came that we could take a struggling business and make a success, in what is a challenging location to sell food but a stunning location to get married. So around five years ago we started the alterations, building a dedicated ceremony room and wedding suite area, then we started improving the internals, altering it from the visitor centre that we first envisioned and transformed it into a wedding venue.
Covid has massively disrupted us along with the rest of the wedding industry but we have spent the time wisely improving all aspects of what we’ve got, so we’re ready to hit the ground running when we reopen on the 2nd June.
Our next step is bedrooms – sadly, after 20 years of the farm shop (the starting point of all this) it finally closed in December 2020. We realised that we need the space to bring guest accommodation on site, and with planning permission for 14 rooms granted last year, we made the decisions to start the first seven rooms this year, with the rest to follow as demand dictates.
It’s been a long and at times very hard road from cheese to weddings, but at last we’re on the right track and I see real potential in such a beautiful setting and how the business can continue to grow and expand in the years to come.
Congratulations on the 20th Anniversary of Bashall Barn from the team at Marketing Lancashire.