Tapas bar and bakery set to open in former ironmonger's
- Credit: Daniel Hickey
A new lease of life is in store for a former ironmongers in the heart of Aylsham with plans to open three food businesses including a tapas bar and a bakery.
Work has been going on at the Grade II listed building, formerly known as Clarkes, on the town's Market Place since farmer Tim Briscoe bought the property back in 2018.
Since then, he has converted the two upper floors into eight guest rooms which opened last November.
And now the ground floor is set to trade again, having been divided up into three units.
One of those will be a tapas and cocktail bar, the other is bakery Bread Source, which is planning to relocate from its current premises on Red Lion Street, while Mr Briscoe said he hopes the third unit will be a pizza place.
“We’re trying to put a kind of food hub in the town,” he said.
Emma Payne, who will run the tapas bar, said she hopes to open by the third or fourth week of January.
There is no opening date yet for the relocated Bread Source.
Mr Briscoe, a local farmer who runs the Buxton Potato Company, said that when he first saw the building he thought it was “crying out to be loved”.
The property had stood empty for five years and had been for sale for £450,000-£500,000 at auction in 2017 after its owner, Alan Clarke, passed away but had stood empty.
Mr Briscoe said that since the rooms opened, they have had “some fantastic reviews”.
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“We’re just getting ready for a really good season now. We’re hoping it brings people to Aylsham. I say we’re the heart of Norfolk. I hope we can complement our local businesses,” he added.
Clarkes ironmongers had operated for decades with the late Mr Clarke being a real character who, customers said, could always find what people needed in his treasure trove of a business. Back in 1838, the ground floor apparently had two shops.
As for the building's history, it was believed it dated to around 1740 until work discovered a timber frame which Mr Briscoe believes is as old as 1640-1650.
The timber shell was hidden from view because the building had later additions, with a Georgian front facade added in the 18th century.