What the locals really think of Hoole
PUBLISHED: 00:00 10 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:46 19 May 2016
There's a real buzz about one neighbourhood just outside Chester, writes Janet Reeder
There is something rather special about Hoole. It’s something that inspires people to stay here and make a life for themselves, and it makes the place welcoming for visitors and perhaps has them wishing their own neighbourhood was a little bit like this.
And that’s the best way to describe Hoole. A neighbourhood. It’s just a few minutes walk from the centre of Chester and yet the mood is totally different from that of the city. Locals who are driving it forward with a mix of funky bars, shops and restaurants along with the traditional inhabitants and businesses have given everything a reality check and created a truly charming location. Any other place with an award-winning restaurant (Sticky Walnut is Cheshire Life’s Restaurant of the Year), a cocktail bar, designer clothing shops and men’s grooming establishments might come off as a bit poncey elsewhere but in Hoole all is cool.
The place is full of ‘characters’ too. G at men’s grooming establishment GHQ was in the army and a bodyguard in Iraq before he swapped his AK47 for a cut-throat razor, while The Suburbs and At The Hollows boss Kingdom Thenga is a very stylish guy who sometimes sports a kilt.
Some businesses hung on through the recession and others have joined in the last few years. They are doing something right because Hoole’s Faulkner Street won Best British Newcomer in last year’s Great British High Street Awards. But who better to ask about Hoole than the people who live, work and play there. Here are just a few of them..
Mary Jane Greenhalgh is a regular visitor to Hoole
‘When we first moved back to Chester from London I missed the feel of having independent shops like Northcote Road and the King’s Road which have lots of independent shops such as delis, butchers, coffee shops, gift shops etc. I first fully discovered Hoole when my children were at kindergarten/pre-school at The Firs School, which is a fabulous inspiring specialist primary school nearby I would often wander into Hoole in search of a decent coffee and to find a place to work. I would recommend The Little Yellow Pig cafe. I spent many a morning there and would often take the children along too. Hoole also has a lovely selection of independent shops which are a bit out of the ordinary and a great source of gifts, such as the G Rooms Men’s shop which has a wonderful selection of shirts and my husband loves the socks.
If I ever need to get a good selection of food for a dinner party, Hoole offers a great fishmonger and butchers - Hoptons. I often visit the Sticky Walnut which is amazing. It is unpretentious and cosy with excellent award winning food. The Caesar salad is a particular favourite of mine and for yoga there is the We Love Yoga Centre on Hoole road which is great.
If you haven’t discovered Hoole yet for yourself then do - there is a reason it is lovingly referred to as ‘Notting’ Hoole!!
Jake Windsor, lives in Hoole and works at Art at 41 Gallery
It’s the diversity in Hoole which makes it such a great place. We have the Boho arty types mixing with the traditional Hoole person so there’s a great mix. It’s a proper community. You can choose to visit the local pub, or go for a cocktail at the Suburbs. It’s got proper shopping with a butchers, bakers and fishmongers and has a really nice feel about it.
There are times too when the whole community comes together, for example the May festival and community BBQ day and at bonfire night they close off Faulkner street and you get live music.
Here at the gallery we also hold events with our artists and are looking at holding an urban art festival with the artist Dirty Hans as the focus.
Kingdom Thenga, Owner of the Suburbs and The Hollows
We opened the Suburbs three years ago now. I’ve lived here several years and felt the place was missing something. We have all the shops and a vibrant community but it needed an uplift really.
We called it the suburbs because we had a catchphrase which was ‘Step out of the city and step into the Suburbs’. People said it would never work but we have proved them wrong. We are offering people pretty much what they’d get in the city but it’s more calm, more relaxed with a mixed clientele and a mixed age group. And we don’t just get people from Hoole here. They come from Manchester, Hale, Alderley Edge, and even Wales for a night out. We are very humbled and grateful that does happen.
We also host events throughout the year - Suburbs at the Races which involves us taking you to the racecourse, for the ladies fizz and frocks which is all about raising money for the Baby Grow Appeal and something else that’s a bit cheeky and different is called Thank Hoole it’s Sunday, which is a quiz, modern style, involving loads of tasting different foods with a prize at the end of a £100 bar tab. Then we have a gentleman’s day and have teamed up with the swanky barbers GHQ which is next door, you go there for a wet shave and get groomed then it’s back to the Hollows for a session.
Jessica `Gore works with mum and dad Eva and Rob Welsh at their ladieswear boutique Erj (it takes its name from their initials).
We have been nine years in Hoole and it is getting better and better. We love the fact that it mixed the old and the new and has things like a fishmonger, baker and fruit and vegetable store alongside a deli and a gastro pub.
When we opened here there was just the deli but now there is quite a buzz. Other reasons to be here are there’s free parking and you get great service from all the smaller shops plus you can enjoy events throughout the year. And we will be holding a special customer event on April 28th from 10am-8pm when you’ll be able to drop in have a drink and browse the new collections.
G Geddes is the man behind men’s grooming business GHQ
My business partner was from around Hoole and when we did our research we saw how Hoole was progressing and realised it would make the perfect location.
I’ve done a few things over the last 25 years. I was in the army and was a bodyguard in Iraq for five years then hung up my AK47 and picked up a cutthroat razor when we opened on November 2015.
We are cutting edge in style and have retained some traditional barbers skills with old school shaves with a new school edge. The interior is a lot fresher with some nice contemporary art on the walls keeping it stylish. Like a traditional barber we don’t do appointments, we’ve got movies and a DJ at the weekends and our customers can grab a beer or a whiskey while they wait. It’s quite the man cave.
Our future plans include getting out own clothing line, T shirts, hoodies that sort of thing and we do a GHQ Presents I Love House Music club night at the Red Door, Chester on the first Friday every month, we have two sunset parties at the 1539 restaurant at Chester racecourse this summer. We are planning our own grooming range and hopefully within the next 12 months will be looking for our second venture as well.