Hampshire businesses finding success at Shamrock Quay

Sylvia and John have been working hard to renovate their corner of Shamrock Quay

Sylvia and John have been working hard to renovate their corner of Shamrock Quay - Credit: Archant

Our dockyards have witnessed choppy waters over the years, but in one small corner of Southampton there’s a booming hub of non-marine based businesses riding on the crest of a wave. Viv Micklefield heads to Shamrock Quay

Of the many marinas in Southampton, Shamrock Quay in Northam boasts quite a heritage. It takes its name from the famous J-Class yacht, Shamrock V, which was constructed on this site by Camper and Nicholsons for Sir Thomas Lipton’s fifth and last America’s Cup challenge in 1930. And while luck may not have been on the side of the British crew that year, today the 255 berth marina is a major centre for refit and boat building. However, taking-up permanent residence alongside the chandlers, sailmakers and marine engineers, are plenty of other small, specialist businesses, all of whom have helped to transform this area’s waterfront.

Rising tide of success

Step just a stone’s throw from the waterfront and in nearby Loverage Lane the Hoxton Bakehouse, the winner of the Best Bakery/Patisserie in Hampshire Life’s 2015 Food & Drink Awards no less, is getting up a head of steam.

“It’s a very busy area,” says co-owner Florence Hellier. “We moved down from London two years ago, and now have three bakers, a porter and a driver.”

24 hours of love and care go into each sourdough loaf produced with Winchester Mill’s organic wholegrain flour. Ancient grains mixed into the bakes include the aptly named dockers loaf, spelt and sprouted sunflower seeds. While for those with a sweet tooth there are banana muffins and salted caramel fondants.

With their ovens fired-up six days a week, Florence is delighted that customers can now sample the Hoxton Bakehouse (www.hoxtonbakehouse.co.uk) at some of Hampshire’s top dining establishments. “Our sourdough also goes down really well at Farmer’s Markets. And as we’re about to move into bigger premises, this will allow us to expand our range.”

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When the boat comes in

“We previously had a wholesale fish business in Chandlers Ford for 16 years,” says Sylvia Puckett, standing in her newly refurbished unit at Shamrock Quay (www.jsfresh.fish). “The industry has gone through some tough times but it’s dear to our hearts, and now we’ve decided to have a retail shop too because lots of people are looking to buy fish.”

Having scaled to the top of her trade the workforce at JS Fresh Fish has grown to eleven since last summer’s move, and joining her at the helm is Sylvia’s husband John. There’s currently a shoal of choice available, supplied wherever possible by small day boats. This means you can expect to find fresh and smoked fish, alongside seasonal shellfish - exotic looking snapper and marlin and, of course, prime fish such as Dover sole and halibut.

Keeping freshness and quality in her sights, Sylvia’s keen to share their passion by using a Solent Enterprise grant to train-up budding fishmongers. She also wants to inspire customers to be more adventurous.

“We’re trying to create an artisan feel within the shop that encourages you to not only try different fish but also introduces other ingredients that go well with it. The idea is to fill the shop with local produce.”

Steering a course

These days time is precious and if you’ve turned to pedal power for a healthier lifestyle, Toby Charlton aka Bike Guy takes the pressure off by offering both servicing and parts at his fully-equipped workshop.

Having previously operated out of Ocean Village, Toby, who’s now been at Shamrock Quay for three years says: “There are a lot of people locally who cycle – whether it’s the commuter or the sports enthusiast, and they are all catered for - I needed a central location that was close to the Itchen Bridge in order to reach my customers, and this is perfect as the units are so adaptable.”

And, for him, there are clearly benefits of being surrounded by other small businesses.

“The photography studio might take some shots for us and we might have a vintage bike that they can use for a prop, it works well.”

With free bike collection and delivery between 6am and 11pm it’s all designed to be hassle free and what’s more, everything is returned with a lick of polish. So, if your Christmas wheels still need to be professionally set-up, then cyclo-cross rider Toby (www.bikeguy.co.uk) could be your man.

Tickling the taste buds

When it comes to offering ‘fine dining without the fuss’ Quay Fifteen (www.quayfifteen.co.uk) seems to have all the right ingredients. According to restaurant manager Barrie Collingwood, who previously worked at Winchester’s Hotel du Vin: “We try to make it relaxed and un-stuffy to eat here. The young but very experienced team pride themselves in serving food that’s of a high standard and use as much local produce as possible.”

Glancing at the fixed price English/European flavoured dinner menu there’s Hampshire venison and fish from the quay, while Saturday night’s five-course taster plates are served-up at a very reasonable £49.95 and feature Isle of Wight soft and blue cheese from across the Solent.

“Shamrock Quay is an amazing place to be, especially during the summer months,” says Barrie. “We’re a little tucked away, but have guests from Winchester and London coming to dine.” This must be music to the ears of the restaurant’s owner of two years Rocky Moore (who trained at 36 On The Quay, Emsworth and Le Gavroche) because as well having plans to increase the number of covers - he wants Quay Fifteen to become Southampton’s first Michelin star eatery. It might not remain one of the city’s best kept secrets for long.

Cut of ones’s jib

One of the first non-boatyard businesses to see the potential of occupying a former sail house on the quayside, Sakks Menswear (www.sakks.co.uk) has now logged over 30 years at the cutting edge of fashion.

“You’ve got everything here from mortgage advisors to lovely restaurants, it’s a very vibrant place to be and there’s free parking so it completely works for us,” says Stewart Simkins, the son of Sakks’s co-founder Mick Simkins, who first brought the flotilla of top menswear brands to Southampton, and remains part of the four-man team here.

With Hugo Boss as popular as ever Stewart, who’s been on board for the past 15 years, believes the key to their success has been to constantly update the ranges.

“We’ve not sat still. Denim is a hot seller at the moment, particularly with people dressing more casually for work. But the tailoring side is also huge for us and made-to-measure suits are still in demand.”

This ability to move with the times has recently seen Sakks double its floor space, which only goes to reinforce its presence as a destination store, whether it’s the classic or hipster look you’re after.

Find out more

For a full list of businesses currently based at Shamrock Quay, and details of other visitor attractions including Classics on the Quay which attracts petrol heads of all ages on the third Sunday of every month, visit www.mdlmarinas.co.uk/mdl-shamrock-quay

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