NW business briefs: Blackstock Market; Nell’s; Harrison Family Vets; Knights; Cumberland Building Society; Aquaspira

Whisky and Water bar

A specialist whisky bar is opening this week in Liverpool’s £7m Blackstock Market, which opened its doors in April.

Now, the second phase of the development is due to be launched, including its bespoke Whisky & Water bar which will serve its first drinks on Friday, June 28. The stylish and intimate bar will boast the widest selection of whiskies outside London, with 320 different Scotch and world whiskies and bourbons including rare finds and all available by the dram.

Whisky tasting sessions will be held on site, and the venue is also offering special ‘whisky lockers’ for those who want to buy whole bottles. Whisky & Water’s striking long wooden bar has been created using the original reception desk from the historic White Star Line ‘streaky bacon’ building on the Liverpool waterfront. The atmospheric venue will also host live blues and jazz music.

Blackstock Market is the brainchild of Hot Water’s founders Paul and Binty Blair. It houses four theatre spaces of varying sizes from a purpose built, and first to open, state of the art 590-seat auditorium – the largest regular comedy club space in Europe – to a 50-seat studio space, along with podcast studios, with the venue the new home for Hot Water and the city’s legion of comedy fans.

A mezzanine space seating more than 200 people and overlooking the venue’s busy food market is also being launched, while a giant rooftop terrace, the largest in Liverpool, will be accessible later this summer as part of phase 3 of the spectacular new development which will also include the opening of the remainer of the performance spaces which will host fan favourites and live touring comedy shows. Then, in August, Blackstock Market will open a new function room space which can accommodate up to 150 people across three distinct areas and includes a main bar area, separate room with a stage, and a seating area on a bridge overlooking the main venue.

Meanwhile a self-service beer wall opposite Blackstock Market’s main bar and operated by contactless payment offers a selection of the best craft beers from Liverpool breweries. Paul Blair said: “We’re very excited to reveal phase two of our plans with the launch of Whisky & Water which we know will be an amazing addition not just to Blackstock Market but to Liverpool’s hospitality sector, too.”


Nell’s pizza is set to bring its giant 22 inch New York-style pizza to the Stamford Quarter in Altrincham this September. Famous for its Big ‘Za, great cocktails, and ice cream sandwiches, Nell’s Altrincham will feature a huge bar and outside area in the new space at the Stamford Quarter’s Foundation building.

Founder, Jonny Heyes, said: “We’ve been hoping to open a Nell’s in Altrincham for years. We love the town, it’s so vibrant, it almost feels like coming on holiday when you head over here. We can’t wait to be part of it.”

Nell’s Pizza, inspired by the thin, crisp crusts and high quality toppings of New York’s iconic pizza culture, launched in lockdown as a low-waste, sustainable food offering for the owner’s bars, NQ creative hub, Common and Chorlton family fave, The Beagle. The pizzas, available as 14in, giant 22in pies or individual slices caught the imagination of the city instantly, with a dedicated Nell’s joint opening shortly after at Kampus, close to Piccadilly rail station.

Foundation is a new workspace and leisure destination in the heart of Altrincham town centre. It is part of a wider transformational plan to revitalise the high street through a joint venture between Bruntwood and Trafford Council. James Tootle, Head of Retail and Leisure at Bruntwood, said: “It’s an important step forward in our vision for revitalising the high street with the workspace now complete at Foundation and it’s exciting to announce the arrival of the exciting operators that will complete the offering.”

A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “Trafford is bucking the UK-wide trend of declining high streets, as we continue to invest in our towns to create thriving hub destinations for local people. Theaddition of Manchester favourite Nell’s demonstrates the popularity of Stamford Quarter and Altrincham as a leisure and hospitality destination, and will be a fantastic addition to the offering at the Foundation building.”



Tyldeley cat kennels

Harrison Family Vets has invested £350,000 creating a state-of-the-art practice in a newly built unit at Retail Parade on Mosley Common Road, Tyldesley, and has initially created six jobs. Clinic director, Andrea, said: “Since announcing that we were opening in Tyldesley, we have been contacted by hundreds of local pet owners wanting to register with us and we are looking forward to looking after those pets for many years to come.”

Independent and family-owned, Harrison Family Vets launched in the UK in 2021 with a practice near Reading, and then opened in Kingswinford in the West Midlands, Didsbury near Manchester, Stockton near Middlesbrough and Armthorpe in Doncaster.

Operations director, Kristie Faulkner, said: “The cost of veterinary treatments is often a concern for pet owners, but as an independently-owned business, our clients can be confident that we will do the right thing by them and price as affordably as possible.”

The new cat and dog kennels at Harrison Family Vets have built in heat pads, an innovative lighting system enabling daylight or red light to aid recovery and cleaning mode to illuminate organic materials and ensure they can be kept spotless. A removeable partition allows cats to use their litter trays in one area and sleep in another, as well as enabling cats who live together to stay together when they are treated at the practice.

The separate cat and dog wards have also all been designed with mood lighting, pet-friendly aromas and pheromones plus music to create a calming atmosphere. In addition, the practice has five consulting rooms, a digital X-ray suite, dental suite which includes dental X-ray facilities, an operating theatre and ultrasonography.


Skof interior – Christian Barnett

Regional legal services business, Knights, has revealed its role supporting Manchester’s latest new restaurant, Skof, following its grand opening in the city centre.

The restaurant in the city’s Hanover building in NOMA, is the first solo venture of Simon Rogan protégé, Tom Barnes, delivering an ‘unpretentious yet ambitious’ dining experience. A specialist and wide-ranging team at Knights, with offices in St Peter’s Square, helped get the restaurant ready for opening. The team secured Skof’s lease, all licences for the venue and provided corporate, commercial, employment, financing, and intellectual property advice.

This was followed by advice on strategic partnership from venue management company ASM Global – building on the culinary partnership with Rogan and UMBEL Group launched earlier this year at Manchester’s AO Arena – plus commercial advice on how the collaboration between the two brands will work.

Sam Ward, managing director of UMBEL Restaurant Group, said: “Opening restaurants in cities like Manchester is a complex and multi-faceted process and we’ve been ably assisted by the various departments across Knights.”

Knights’ team comprised Partners David Roberts, Jonathan Edwards, Karen Procter, Rebecca Moore and Stephen Crook with support from others across the business. Stephen Crook, real estate partner at Knights, said: “It was a pleasure to be involved in this exciting project with Tom and the team at Umbel which sees the conversion of a beautiful historic building in Manchester to a high quality restaurant. I am sure that they will have great success and that their skill and talent will lead the way in establishing Manchester as a fine dining destination.”


FareShare Kendal People’s Cafe

The Cumberland Building Society is making its biggest ever charity donation, committing £500,000 over two years to help combat food poverty.

The regional mutual, based in Carlisle, has long championed charitable giving but made a decision last year to focus its efforts where it could have the greatest impact. It identified food poverty as a salient issue in its core operating area including Cumbria, Lancashire and south west Scotland and, in response, launched the ‘Kinder Kind of Kitchen’ initiative.

In the first year, in June 2023, it gave £250,000 – its largest charitable donation – to FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria, which supports community food projects. This year it will donate another £223,000 to FareShare Lancashire and Cumbria plus £27,000 to FareShare Glasgow and the West of Scotland to alleviate food poverty in Dumfries and Galloway.

Claire Deekes, chief customer officer at The Cumberland, has met many of the volunteers who run the funded projects, which has been a “humbling experience”. She said: “This year it is clear once again that many people are struggling to afford the basics, and demand remains high, so we took the decision to continue the Kinder Kind of Kitchen initiative and extend its reach.”

The Cumberland has just published The Kinder Cookbook to celebrate the partnership. The Cumberland’s initial donation supported 52 community food projects, serving the equivalent of 577,047 meals and diverting 242 tonnes of food, that would otherwise have gone to waste, to people in need. The initiative also distributed four tonnes of pet food and three tonnes of toiletries and baby food, while a pledge to donate £2 for each vote cast at the Cumberland’s AGM paid for 66 fridges.


Lancashire manufacturing firm, Aquaspira, has provided a low carbon solution for a Network Rail culvert alongside a rail embankment at Hook, in Hampshire, after being approached by main contractor, Balfour Beatty.

Sub-contractor DDL installed a dam at each end of the fast-flowing river below the rail line. This created a 40-metre-long channel to facilitate the delivery of a new 26-metre buried culvert. Needing to overcome the challenge of an incredibly confined space, Aquaspira provided the solution by manufacturing two lines of 1,650mm composite steel-reinforced (CSR) pipe at its Nelson base and delivering to site. These were laid once the water had been pumped out and a metre of silt removed from the riverbed.

With Aquaspira CSR pipe, the embodied factory gate and transport carbon was reduced by 48% (12.4T CO₂e¹) when compared with a traditional rigid pipe solution. The lightweight pipes also increased site safety and reduced site installation time. The steel reinforced pipes were designed to withstand the weight of trains, so Aquaspira said it was delighted to have been selected to deliver the ideal solution for this challenging job.

Gareth Green, Aquaspira’s project manager, said: “The existing open culvert was relatively narrow, so maximising the capacity of the new piped culvert within the available width was crucial.”

Josh Moore, DDL Works Manager, said: “The Aquaspira service and product was excellent. The 1650mm OD pipes were the largest I have installed, and it was made so simple through their design and self-explanatory installation guide.”