Businesses prosper in artisan Langport
PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 14:40 05 December 2014
Clare Kingsbury-Bell looks at some businesses making Langport great.
Artisan bakeshop Kitchen was the first of the flurry of businesses to open last summer.
It is run by the dynamic duo of Peter Roberts, from the business group, and Peter Ridley, who has a prestigious background as a butler at Buckingham Palace.
He has traded in waiting on royalty and looking after Prince William and Harry as small children, for serving locals artisan, freshly baked goods. Using traditional methods and seasonal ingredients, the bakeshop has been a roaring success.
Everything is made fresh on site every day, from sour doughs and scones to macarons and muffins.
Peter says: “When we first opened we were selling out by 10.30am and had to quickly get more staff to meet the demand. There were literally queues out of the door in the first week. We’re like a French boulangerie and called Kitchen because you can see the entire bakery kitchen from one of our large windows and the shop through the other one.”
Kitchen has also started doing authentic pizzas on Friday nights and is about to launch a pop up restaurant.
Levels Basket Centre
For a glimpse at one of the largest range of wicker products in the country, from chairs to picnic hampers, head to Levels Basket Centre.
Joint owner Ruth Loveridge’s family has been in the wicker industry for 150 years.
For the past 70 of those years, Levels has been based at Burrowbridge, in the lowest point of the moors, but the business moved to Langport after suffering severe flooding.
Ruth says: “We were badly flooded in 2012 so made the move, which was a good decision as the 2013 floods left our building under eight foot of water. It is still standing in total disrepair as we were unable to get insurance a second time.”
During wartime, Levels Basket Centre made large quantities of the airborne panniers baskets, which were dropped from aeroplanes with provisions for the troops.
These days, many of the products are made by home-based basket makers from around the Somerset area.
“Langport is a lovely place and many of our old customers like the new show room as it’s a lighter, more modern building,” Ruth said.
The Potting Shed at Kelways Garden Centre Kelways Garden Centre has been an important business in Langport since 1851.
Famous for its peonies and irises, Kelways has an annual exhibition at RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
In April, the centre became home to The Potting Shed café, which has recently won an award for Best Start Up Business in the South West.
Owner Rebecca Croot says: “It was destiny that we would end up at Kelways. We named ourselves The Potting Shed because we started out on the old
Kelways site, then we were approached about moving into the garden centre.”
Patrons can relax among an olive grove while enjoying breakfast, lunch or a coffee and cake, all made with local produce, some even grown at the centre.
“We have also started selling local crafts and are trying to get other businesses involved in joint events,” says Rebecca.
The Potting Shed is hosting a Christmas craft and produce fair at the centre on 29 and 30 November.
Shakespeare Glass recently expanded into Langport, where its headquarters are now based.
The contemporary art gallery now comes with a factory shop, coffee shop and glass blowing workshop at the HQ, in addition to the original gallery in the heart of Taunton.
All the glass is made at the Langport workshop and customers can see the glass being blown three to four days of the week and even have a go at doing it themselves during taster sessions.
Owner Kate Shakespeare says: “We needed more space and chose to open here as we live in this direction. We have been able to expand the workshop, take on extra staff and open the second gallery.
“Langport is a lovely, thriving little town and people travel from a long distance to see us. Everyoneis extremely friendly and great fun, there’s always someone to help out and lend a hand. Everyone gets together and makes ideas happen in this town.”
The shop has a range of contemporary glassware incl uding goblets, baubles, vases, bowls and jewellery made in house and by other artists around the country.