The Stockyard food and drink hub launched at Melton livestock market

It’s long been used for many more things than just a meeting place for farmers to sell and show off their animals and now part of Melton’s historic livestock market has been rebranded to highlight the activities of the food and drink producers based there.

By Nick Rennie
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 5:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 6:09 pm
Pictured at the launch of The Stockyard, from left, Hugh Brown (CEO of Gillstream Markets), Stephen Hallam (chair of the Melton and Belvoir Agricultural Society), Councillor Rob Bindloss (portfolio holder for growth and prosperity at Melton Borough Council), Melton MP Alicia Kearns and Edd de Coverly (chief executive of Melton Borough Council)

The Stockyard is the new name for this southern part of the Scalford Road site, which has hosted a market since 1869 when it relocated from the town centre.

It recognises the importance of award-winning local producers like Round Corner Brewing and Brentingby Gin to the market’s future prosperity with several others set to join them soon.

The aim is for The Stockyard to be part of the Food Enterprise Centre project to reinforce Melton’s identity as a destination of choice for food experience, enterprise, and innovation and it’s status as the ‘rural capital of food’.

The Stockyard food and drink hub at Melton Livestock Market

Two-thirds of manufacturing employment in Melton Mowbray is in the food sector, including the Masterfoods pet food company, Melton Foods, Kettleby Foods and Arla Foods. Beyond the town, Long Clawson Dairy and Belvoir Fruit Farms are also significant employers in the borough.

The Stockyard concept will build on this competitive advantage and offer technical support and training for new food and drink producers.

At a launch event at the site’s banqueting suite, Hugh Brown, CEO of market operators, Gillstream, told an invited audience: “This is the largest town centre market in the country, where farmers come to sell their animals and produce.

"But it is now appropriate to give the south part of the market it’s own identity to reflect what happens there.”

He added: “The Stockyard encompasses many of the existing values and heritage of the site, retaining close links to our local farmers and our weekly livestock sales.

"There really is nowhere more ‘farm to fork’, helping provide a unique market atmosphere, while establishing the Stockyard in its own right.”

Alicia Kearns, who revealed that Brentingby Gin is now to be sold in the bars at the Houses of Parliament, said the rebranded site was the perfect vehicle for build on Melton’s food and drink heritage.

She said: “Every week we are discovering new producers in the borough and I am absolutely privileged and proud to shout about Melton’s reputation when I am in Parliament.”

Councillor Rob Bindloss, portfolio holder for growth and prosperity at Melton Borough Council, commented: “The Stockyard will create a unique hub of activity for food and drink production, consumption, retail and experiences. A place where people get together to understand, share, make and experience food and drink products in an innovative and sustainable way.”

The south side of the site hosts market traders, onsite production units and an indoor event space in the banqueting suite for weddings and conferences. In addition, there is also a growing number of artisan food and drink manufacturers and retailers, including Samosa Wallah, Simply Chocolate, butchers, bakers and pork pie makers.

The Stockyard is set to welcome new businesses this year with smoked food producer Feast and the Furious due to relocate there permanently soon.

Owner, Jon Oakes, commented: “We are really excited to be locating our new smokehouse down at the Stockyard, amongst some really passionate award-winning food and drink businesses, and we are looking forward to enhancing the great food and drink experience on offer at this site.”

Bruce Midgley, who has relocated his Brentingby Gin to the market and launched a cocktail bar in a former poultry shed there, is excited about the prospects for The Stockyard.

He said: “If we can shine a light on Melton Mowbray through this venture it may well attract more people to visit and new businesses to come here.”

Popular food events will continue to be held in this part of the market, including PieFest, the East Midlands Food Festival and the Artisan Cheese Fair, which will take place at the end of this month.

Matthew O’Callaghan, who organises the town’s foodie events, said he was ‘delighted’ with the extra support being given to producers at the livestock market but he said it was important more work was done to also help town centre traders in the sector.

It is hoped The Stockyard venture will also benefit town traders and rural arears of the borough by bringing more people into the area.

Melton BID chair, Lee Freer, said: “I think it will strengthen the town as well as the market.

"It’s important to get that balance so that what is offered here complements what our traders are offering in the town centre.”

Borough councillor, Tim Webster, a former manager of the livestock market, said: “I worked here for 33 years and there were always plans for it to be expanded.

"It is so important to Melton – I can remember when foot and mouth closed the market and it had a big effect on the town as well.

"It is a massive site and it has to be used.”

One of the projects planned there is the Food Enterprise Centre (FEC) Technologist Service, which will enable food and drink manufacturing SME businesses within the borough to develop their technical know how, to innovate or solve technical challenges, aiding them in the development of their business.

Initially producers can receive up to two days support through direct discussion with the FEC local food technologist, Alice Jones.

Go to www.stkyard.co.uk to see further details of what is offered and planned at The Stockyard.