A Food History of Hoults Yard

Posted on the 30 March 2020

A Food History of Hoults Yard

Hoults Yard is a vibrant and dynamic business village on the edge of Ouseburn set on the former site of Malings Pottery, at its peak the world’s biggest pottery manufacturer. More than 2,000 workers produced one million pieces of pottery a month and the site – stretching over 10 acres – had its own railway depot, stables, blacksmith and school.

Malings Pottery occupied the site from 1878 until 1947 when it was bought by the Hoult family. The site continued to run as a pottery until 1963 when it was closed to become a new base for the family logistics/delivery business Hoults Removals.

Fred Hoult sold Hoults Removals to Pickfords in 1983 but retained Hoults Yard which he began to develop business premises, with renovation across 250,000 sq ft of building space.

The site is now home to more than 150 businesses and 600 workers. Initially, media, creative and digital companies were drawn to its unique atmosphere and outstanding facilities, but it’s now home to a vast array of companies, from barbers to accountants, from picture framers to fitness studios and from architects and lawyers to surveyors and travel companies.

Over the past two years a new trend has emerged. The Clocktower Café has long been at the heart of the Yard, but it has been joined by a growing number of specialist food outlets.

Charlie Hoult, MD at Hoults Yard’s parent company HyHubs, explained: “The number of businesses attracted to life on the Yard continues to grow, but over the last two years we’ve become a lifestyle destination too, thanks to the growing number of artisan food providers and thanks to the arrival of Ghetto Golf and Full Circle Brewery.”

One of the first food outlets to base itself on the Yard was Proven Goods, whose fresh, handmade doughnuts quickly established a cult following when couple Joe Millar and Amber Lowe opened their Hoults Yard kitchen in the summer of 2018.

Newcastle-born Joe’s family have a history in catering – his parents ran the popular Millar Sandwich Shops in the city – and he was creating a new range of ‘local’ cafés in Waterstone’s stores when he met Amber.

“We both loved doughnuts and our dream was to open a bakery in London, but the expense was prohibitive and there is so much competition down there. We shelved the idea until one visit back up north when we were looking for a good doughnut and couldn’t find one.

“We realised there was a gap in the market for top-quality fresh, handmade doughnuts, made of the best ingredients, so we thought why not open something here on Tyneside,” explained Joe.

They took an industrial unit at Hoults Yard last April, created a kitchen and small eating area, and started to produce and test a range of doughnuts.

“The initial idea was Hoults Yard would be our kitchen and base, with a small café, and most of our sales would be done through stalls at festivals, markets or down on Newcastle Quayside, However, it just took off. We had queues of customers from the yard and then word quickly spread and we now have lots of customers who come from outside of the yard,” said Joe.

The doughnuts are hand-rolled and baked in small batches. The dough is proven three times over 17 hours to develop the flavour and then doughnuts are baked in small batches, handrolled and fried fresh five mornings a week. Seasonal fruits are used as fillings – Christmas delights included Chocolate Orange, Mince Pie and Clementine Ginger Syllabub. However, the favourite Proven Goods doughnut is rhubarb and custard, while The Homer is also very popular.

The café is open from Wednesday to Sunday (10am to 3pm) although the hard work starts at 3am for Joe and Amber so they can get their doughnuts ready for the day ahead.

Proven Goods remain open for takeaways, although the spread of coronavirus has led to the closure of their seating area.

For more information, see Proven Goods Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter at @provengoodsco.

Later in 2018, Greek street food specialists Acropolis moved on to the Yard.

The company was established by brothers Filip and Viktor Tachan, and their friend Yusuf Yenil three years ago. Acropolis now employs 11 people and last year opened a new outlet within the Grainger Market – it also takes space at the popular Hwkr Food Market under the Tyne Bridge. Late last year it was announced Acropolis would also be part of the £2.5m Stack Seaburn development in Sunderland.

To date, Acropolis have delivered their authentic Greek street food through regular stalls at local markets and festivals, although they’re also been asked to cater for an increasing number of private events too.

Filip, a trained chef who ran a restaurant on his native island of Salamis, came to the UK in 2013 to work in a Newcastle restaurant, a venture which didn’t work out. Filip stayed, finding work at a Newcastle newsagent and then as a sous chef at a restaurant.

It was at the newsagent that Filip met Yusuf, who is originally from London. Yusuf moved to the north east with his partner, who is from the region.

“Filip and I got chatting and realised we both had a real love for food and talked about starting a Greek street food company,” explained Yusuf.

They both worked at a restaurant for several months while setting up the company, and were then joined by Filip’s older brother Viktor in the fledgling venture.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Acropolis is continuing to operate as normal at the moment.

For more information go to http://acropolisstreetfood.co.uk

Last year the number of Yard outlets providing food accelerated.

In May 2019, a patisserie serving artisan chocolate and pastries brought a taste of luxury to the Yard.

Chocolatier and chef Naomi Longfield had been running a wholesale business for several months, and was looking for the right venue for Patisserie 28 until she visited the Yard.

“I’d looked at so many different places and had almost given up, concentrating on the wholesale business supplying Pink Lane Coffee, the Backyard Bike Shop and Papa Ganoush in Jesmond, with chocolate and cakes, but then I looked at this space on the Yard and it was perfect,” said Naomi.

“There’s a real feeling of community here and I wanted to be part of that,” she added.

Since moving in, her wholesale business has taken off, adding the prestigious Grey Street Hotel in Newcastle and the luxurious Pennyhill Park Hotel in Surrey to her growing book of clients.

The café side of the business, serving top-notch coffee and cake, is building, with Yard tenants being among her regulars.

“I’ve had a great response from people on the Yard who appreciate the cakes and the quality of the coffee. I regularly introduce new cakes and pastries, normally based on seasonal specials,” she explained.

Other new additions to her range of chocolates, cakes and pastries – all created in her Hoults Yard unit – are wedding cakes, wedding favours and Christmas decorations.

Against the threat of the coronavirus, Naomi said that Studio28 Patisserie would remain open until further notice, and she was considering a free delivery service to addresses within an eight-mile radius of NE1: “I think we all need a treat at the moment, so we thought this would be a good idea,” Naomi said.

Studio28 Patisserie can be found at Unit 2 and Naomi’s opening hours are Monday to Wednesday 10am – 4pm; Thursday closed; Friday and Saturday, 10am – 4pm. The patisserie is closed on Sunday.

For more information go to www.studio28patisserie.co.uk

Following Naomi, the Yard welcomed Sophie Wardrop, who opened her Homebird Bakery in December.

Sophie completed an English degree at the University of Sunderland before becoming a classroom assistant. But baking was always a hobby and she took the plunge to set up her bakery, that produces a variety of cakes, cookies, brownies and other luxury treats.

“I always wanted to be a teacher, but found myself spending more and more time baking and really enjoying it. I would spend most of the school holiday baking and demand for the cakes I was producing was growing,” she said.

“Eventually, I left my job and started baking commercially at home. It got to the point where I needed more space and Hoults Yard had been on the radar for a while. I’m a loyal customer of Proven Goods and liked the relaxed and friendly vibe,” Sophie added.

She spent several weeks installing a working kitchen.

“The kitchen is perfect – just the right size for me and now I’m raring to go. It gives me the potential to grow the business, and I’m also selling cakes and traybakes from my unit on the yard.

“The business is growing, word has spread via social media and I’m taking orders from all over Tyneside and beyond,” said Sophie.

Addressing the threat from coronavirus, Sophie said: “We’re looking at home delivery if it appears as though people would prefer not to travel.”

Her current open hours are Friday and Saturday 10am – 2pm and for more informationlog on to www.homebirdbakes.co.uk

Last year also saw the addition of two major venues to the Yard – Ghetto Golf, with Apocalypse Cow street food and Full Circle Brew Co, which serves popular Scream for Pizza and has its own bottle shop, The Pit Stop.

Ghetto Golf, a seriously twisted 18-hole mini golf experience, with an exceptional cocktail bar and a café serving Apocalypse Cow BBQ street food and burgers, arrived first.

The adults-only course has various themed holes including one based on an Amsterdam sex shop and another replicating the Crown Posada pub. Other holes include an apocalyptic playground; a skate park and a neon art show.

Food served includes sweet-smoked BBQ treats and hand-pressed burgers. Apocalypse Cow also smokes its own cheese, butter and fish, and serves a selection of tapas, sandwiches and salads.

Ghetto Golf is closed for a few days because of the spread of coronavirus, but its usual opening hours are Monday to Friday 5.30pm to 1am and Saturday and Sunday 11am to 1am. For more information, go to https://www.ghettogolf.co.uk/newcastle/ or follow @ghettogolf_ on Twitter or ghettogolfnewcastle on Instagram

Full Circle Brew Co’s craft brewery and taproom helped confirm the Yard’s standing as a ‘destination’ and not just as an award-winning business village.

Full Circle’s General Manager Ben Cleary and his team had spent 18 months searching for the right spot to establish Full Circle before finding the Yard.

“It’s perfect for us - it’s within easy reach of the city centre and is full of quirky, independent businesses and there’s a real buzz about the place. There are a growing number of great breweries in and around the Byker /Walker/Ouseburn area making it a bit of a beer lovers’ hub.”

The Full Circle development includes a brewing facility, a taproom, The Pip Stop liquor store, an event space – and a pizza restaurant. Ben is delighted that Scream for Pizza are providing their amazing, fresh pizzas within the taproom.

The taproom has capacity for 100 guests and will serve ten Full Circle beers and ten guest beers. “We’re serving our three core beers – a Session Pale Ale of between four and five per cent proof; an American Pale Ale of between five and six per cent proof and an Indian Pale Ale of between six and seven per cent proof.”

Full Circle and The Pip Store remain open and have two special promotions prompted by coronavirus. The taproom is offering take-away Growler fills from their 20 taps. The offer includes a free, fully recyclable one-litre plastic bottle and 20% off normal bar prices. 

“Meanwhile, The Pip Stop is offering home delivery services for the Newcastle area, and a collection service where we will bring out the order and organise payment over the phone prior to collection,” said Ben.

“People may be stuck in the house but doesn't mean they can't drink good beer and wine whilst they're there,” he added.

Full Circle Brew Co is open from 12 noon to 11pm Wednesday to Friday; 11am – 11pm on Saturdays and 11am to 9pm on Sundays. for more information about Full Circle Brew Co, go to www.fullcirclebrew.co.uk

Charlie Hoult said: “We’re thrilled to have so many must-do and must-eat destinations are here; they’re bringing folk from far and wide to the Yard and changing its nature. We’re becoming a destination and a hub for artisan food and produce.

“At first it was about catering for the scores of people working on the yard, but it’s much bigger and wider than that now.

“We’re a key part of the success of the exciting regeneration of Ouseburn, where companies such as Tyne Bank Brewery, Brinkburn Street Brewery, Northern Rye, Ouseburn Coffee Company and The Cook House are proving a magnet for more and more people.

“As well as these great companies setting up on the Yard, we also have Cake Stories, a remarkable success story, growing out of their new kitchen based at Hypoint in Gateshead, which is part of the HyHubs portfolio.”