Why Tarporley is a popular location for business and leisure
PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:44 08 May 2017
Tarporley residents can live in a rural idyll yet still mean business, writes Janet Reeder.
The ladies who lunch love Tarporley but so do the men. With enough boutiques and shops to make it a desirable destination for a girlie afternoon of champagne and shopping, it is also a brilliant place to mix business with pleasure.
David O’Brien employs around 70 staff and has recently expanded his successful service company, Quinplex, into new premises on Birch Heath Road, in the village.
‘We have five aspects to the business. We provide security guards, a contract cleaning business, facilities landscaping, reactive and planned maintenance, commercial cleaning and our fifth arm is construction,’ he explains.
‘It’s very central for business here in Tarporley. There’s very good Broadband and mobile phone reception, which is one of the reasons we moved to new premises and have the service station next door Tarporley Service Centre, owned and run by a local man John White who has worked here all his life. He services our 20 cars and vans and has a massive reputation and customer base in the village. A brilliant guy, very skilled, honest, trustworthy and a pillar of the community.
‘Also on our business park is Peter Jones Livestock. Peter also lives in the village and employs several people, trading in cattle all over the country. Another stalwart of the community.’
It isn’t only business which has kept David in the village for around 25 years, but the countryside and the access it gives him to equestrian pursuits.
Having played polo for 25 years he took up point-to-point when he was 40 and for the last 12 years has been competing against riders who are often half his age.
‘Last year I was Champion Veteran Novice Rider in the North West. It keeps me fit,’ he says.
‘My training grounds are Bickerton Hills and Peckforton Hills where I take my field spaniel Bertie for walks at 6am every morning.’
He agrees that Tarporley is a great place for wining and dining clients although having a business in the village he laments the disappearance of the banks on the high street. But there are some things that never change.
‘From a man’s point of view, I use the local barber, we call him Swaffy (his real name is Ian Swaffield) and he’s been here for about 40 years. All the farmers and lads go there and he still charges about a fiver for a haircut, even though I keep telling him to put his prices up. He has a chair which is about 40 years old and if you want to know what is going on in Tarporley, Swaffy is your man.’
Gill Rutherford, husband of Sibel Rutherford whose upmarket boutique Si Belle has been a magnet for stylish women from all over the county and beyond for more than a decade, explains the attractions of the village.
‘Physically and aesthetically, it is attractive. Modernisation and new buildings have been done so sympathetically that it is completely integrated into, and enhances, the town. It has a reputation as a commercial and retail centre which belies the small resident population.’
Businesswise, he says the location has been ideal for Si Belle.
‘The location is attractive in itself, but as we draw our customers from a circle based on a large radius, it is also easily accessible,’ he says.
‘Tarporley also has many other shops and eateries that our customers can visit during their visits to us. However, I would imagine that for businesses that rely on the directly local population, and require higher footfall, and which may be in competition with other suppliers of whatever they supply, then the going could be difficult,’ he said.
With a thriving business in the village the couple rarely take time out to enjoy its other pleasures, says Gill.
‘When we eat in Tarporley it is usually late in the evening when we finish work and we are just too tired to prepare anything at home. In this case, we usually pop next door to The Swan: we like the staff and we like the food and it is convenient.’
Myles Carr, director of Little Tap on High Street and business partner James Ivill, brought their passion for craft beer to the village last July and have discovered that both sexes have a taste for artisan brews.
‘We wanted to focus on beer and small plate dining,’ he says. ‘It’s not generally thought that beer and food go together but we are proving to people that they go really well.’
To prove this even further Little Tap recently hosted a ‘take-over’ by the Wild Beer Company from Bristol. Chef Elliot Doyle and sous chef Liam Kearns set about creating a 10 course menu to compliment each ale tasted. There are plans to host regular events of this kind throughout the year. In 2018 they will develop the upper floors of their premises creating a 40 cover restaurant.
‘We have ambitions to open a collection of places, each one different from the other,’ explains Myles.
‘So the restaurant floor here will have a completely different feel to it, when it opens next year.’
This isn’t the only new business to open in Tarporley recently. Tiffany Thomas opened Hoity Toity Shoes on High Street with design help from her husband, Steve, whose sculpture adorns the smart interior and is displayed in one of the shop windows.
The pair returned after living in France for 10 years and now Steve, who has taken up pottery once again is looking for studio.
He explains: ‘I originally came from Chester where I was a photographer then moved to London and did fashion there for 20 years. But I think a creative place is in the mind rather than in the location.’
‘I studied under a fantastic ceramic artist called Barry Guppy. Princess Di bought a few of his pieces and he studied under Lucy Rie at Camberwell school of art. I took over his studio eventually in Pimlico.’
What strikes me is how well his pieces sit within the interior, partly because they are ‘loosely’ based on female forms and most of the footwear here is for women and partly because Steve helped create its overall look.
‘We came here in September so we’re the new kids on the block,’ says Tiffany. ‘I fell in love with the place. We drove past, I saw this lovely empty shop and I thought it’s such a pretty village and goodness me, there are eight or nine ladies’ boutiques and only one shoe shop! I need to do something here.’
The shop is the kind of place you might find in a refined London district with labels you would rarely see outside the capital.
‘There’s Emma Hope, the quintessentially British designer,’ says Tiffany. ‘I’ve always loved her cut of shoe. She’s worn by Keira Knightley and Cate Blanchett. We’ve Rupert Sanderson, the Duchess of Cambridge’s preferred brand, and then Nicholas Kirkwood. He’s into architectural shapes. He hides pearls underneath shoes, nice wacky things and again, beautifully cut.’