We knew we wanted to make bread and beer and sell it in the local area. We had run businesses before and they had worked out well but they were focussed in software and design. What we wanted to achieve needed more than just a laptop and wifi.
We had made sourdough and beer at home for quite a while and people liked the products, but in order to start producing commercially we needed a space to do that, we needed customers and we needed equipment.
In 2015 the Harbour Arm had popped out of nowhere to great acclaim in the community. Although funded by the Harbour Development, it had been given to the artist collective Folkestone Fringe to curate it. This was a highly successful move as aesthetics and retailer offerings were very carefully selected. This created an instant hit in the town. We knew immediately that we had to be part of this scene.
We approached Diane Dever after that first season and she said that she had a vision for a shipping container area and after showing her our bread and beer one windy and cold winter day, we were lucky enough to be selected to be part of that new area – to be called East Yard.
East Yard did not exist in real life, it was a vision that we could conjure up in our heads of a Berlin/Hackney style development where food producers and restaurants would spring up on East side of the beautiful harbour station. The reality was more of a building site and dumping ground because the Grade 2 listed station was just starting to be developed. We felt we could grow this into something great and never wavered from that vision. But our transition to where we are today took 2 years of hard work and making connections.
Di supplied us with an old shipping container and we set to work making it food safe, spraying it with wipeable paint, installing basic plumbing and electrics. We then set to work on ebay trying to find equipment and got hold of a chiller room from Hackney, a sink from West London and an oven from Yorkshire.
The oven looked good and was surprisingly cheap as it came with racks, trays, bannetons and pretty much everything we needed to get started. The listing did not however explain that the oven was down a very narrow, winding road in a unit that was down a steep drive. We hired a 7.5 tonne truck for a lot of money because it was the only thing we could find that had a tail-lift that could lift a tonne.
We put the tunes on the stereo and set off at 56mph to the north part of the Peak District to meet Eric, the vendor. We were very concerned about this mission and when we arrived we realised the seriousness of our plight. We could not move this oven by hand and we could not get the truck to the oven! 450+ quid for truck hire and fuel was a complete waste! We set off home with only a few racks, trays and baskets in the back of the huge truck.
After much thinking and wrangling, Wes rang a good friend Denis, who ran a fantastic company moving classic cars about for collectors. Denis could move anything and was not put off by the challenge. Wes and Denis set off in his Land Rover with a car trailer at 3am one morning to get the mission completed. With much invention and skill Denis man-handled the oven onto the trailer and drove it to its new home. A few of us met up and got it into the container and we got it plugged in.
Finally we were in action and ready to bake bread and make beer. Now we just needed people to sell it to…