The amazing entrepreneurs of Scilly

A row of pots

John Bourdeaux creates a huge array of beautiful glazes utilising many local minerals. - Credit: John Bordeaux Pottery

We profile five special businesses on the Isles of Scilly.

John Bordeaux Pottery, St Mary’s 

John Bourdeaux is a potter of national and international repute who creates his work in a studio set in idyllic surroundings in the Isles of Scilly. Known by many of his colleagues as ‘the alchemist’ he creates a huge array of beautiful glazes utilising many local minerals.  

His mastery of using precious and semi-precious metals in multiple firings has resulted in a stunning range of hand thrown lustre ware that is extremely collectable, pieces of which are already housed in many private collections throughout the world. 

For the past 30 years John has specialised in ceramics and sculpture. However, in 2007 he returned to his roots and began producing paintings in very much his own style, utilising real oxides for his colours, clay and natural driftwood salvaged from many beautiful bays and inlets around the islands. 

A hotel lounge.

The lounge, bar and restaurant have been completely refurbished at Tregarthen’s Hotel. - Credit: Tregarthen’s Hotel

Tregarthen’s Hotel, St. Mary’s 

Over winter, Tregarthen’s Hotel, located right on the edge of St Mary’s Quay has undergone a major refurbishment. Three spacious ground floor rooms have been added, plus all 32 other rooms have received a major refurbishment, modernising and refreshing the décor, furniture and overall style of each. 

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In addition, the lounge, bar and restaurant have been completely refurbished, creating a new informal dining space, with stunning sea views and a delightful terrace and garden – perfect for enjoying the long summer Scilly sunsets.  

Further developments are underway in the form of the highly anticipated seafront lodges. Due to open later in the year, the four new glass-fronted lodges, on two stories incorporating a mezzanine, will look out over the harbour and offer a kitchen, lounge area, spacious walk-in showers and large glass doors leading onto private decking…adding yet another place to watch the infamous Scilly sunset. 

A RIB on the water.

Raptor’s speed enables the tour to cover many miles and different islands. - Credit: Raptor Boating

Raptor Boating, all islands 

Raptor is an 11-metre cabin RIB, licensed for 12 passengers, all of whom can fit outside on the deck – the perfect platform for enjoying the islands on the ocean! The boat, skippered by resident Dan May, is available for private charters, water taxis and their new popular Wildlife and Scenic Tours.  

The 90-minute tour includes a visit to one of the seal colonies where passengers get close up views of the resident Atlantic grey seals; a guaranteed spot given that over 40% of the entire UK’s population is found on Scilly!  Wildlife sightings can also include dolphins, porpoise and a variety of birdlife such as puffins (from April to July), gannets, guillemots, fulmars, cormorants and razorbills.  

Raptor’s speed enables the tour to cover many miles and different islands, greatly increasing the chances of wildlife encounters. Private charters are bespoke and tailored to the perfect Scilly itinerary, the convenience of having your own speedboat with expert skipper and island-guide is a ‘must-do’ box to be ticked.  

Should you wish to dine on an island different to your accommodation, Raptor can pick you up at any time, meaning an aperitif, suppers and evening plans needn’t be confined to one island.  

Wildlife tours are £35 adult and £25 for under 13s/water taxi service £60/private charter £35pp for six+ passengers,  

Aerial view of an Isles of Scilly Farm

Troytown Farm is a honeypot of entrepreneurial activity and microcosm of island living. - Credit: Troytown Farm

Troytown Farm, St Agnes 

A hidden gem located on the most south westerly Island in the UK, Troytown Farm is a honeypot of entrepreneurial activity and microcosm of island living. The working farm operates an incredibly popular campsite, offering the opportunity to pitch your tent mere metres from the shoreline, or turn up with slightly less luggage and stay in one of their bohemian bell-tents. Another option is to sleep under the stars in this idyllic setting.  

The dairy farm itself, thought to be the smallest in the UK, now supports three generations of the Hicks family and is the only dairy farm on the Isles of Scilly. With just nine milking cows, Troytown make farming on such a small-scale work by processing their own milk in their very own little dairy, selling milk, home-made clotted cream, yoghurt and ice-cream direct to customers from their farm shop.  

The farm has a tiny herd of Jersey and Ayrshire cows for milking and a Devonshire Red bull who sires all the calves, all of which are reared non-intensively on downland, producing tasty grass-fed beef. In addition to beef, Troytown Farm also rear small numbers of pigs for pork and bacon.  

As members of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, the farm leaves field margins uncultivated, encouraging a rich diversity of birdlife, butterflies and flowers across their 14 acres of land. 

People on a vineyard tour.

This summer, for the first time, the HolyVale Vineyard will be offering guided tours. - Credit: HolyVale Vineyard

Holyvale Vineyard, St. Mary’s 

The historic Star Castle Hotel on Scilly’s largest island, St Mary’s, is loved by guests who come back year after year and by visitors to the islands who head to the restaurant whenever they are looking for a special night out.   

What a lot of people might not know is that Robert Francis, who co-owns the Star Castle with son, James, is responsible for producing some absolutely delicious fine wines from his beautiful HolyVale vineyard, which can be found just a stone’s throw from the hotel.  

Over the past few years and with support from renowned Austrian wine producer, Willi Opitz, Robert has produced some delicious wines from the 7,000 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris vines he planted just over ten years ago.  

This summer, for the first time, the HolyVale Vineyard will be offering guided tours between Monday and Friday, providing visitors with an opportunity to discover this picturesque spot, once described by wine connoisseur, Michael Broadbent, as the loveliest vineyard in all of Europe.   

The tours will tell the story of the vineyard, introduce visitors to the process of winemaking and provide an opportunity to purchase some of Robert’s favourite tipples. In addition, each Thursday at 2pm, there will be a wine-tasting workshop, highlighting four carefully chosen wines of the world to sample and discuss. 

Daily guided tours take place at noon or 2pm (excluding Thursdays) costing £10, no booking is required. The wine-tasting workshop takes place on Thursdays at 2pm and costs £18, to book.