Pride as Malt Kiln Farm Shop reopens year after fire

Malt Kiln Farm Shop joint-owner Chris Lea inside the new building.
Malt Kiln Farm Shop joint-owner Chris Lea inside the new building.

Family-run Malt Kiln Farm Shop is back up and running just over a year after an arson attack devastated the building.

The Stretton-under-Fosse farm shop is once again filled with fresh produce, tasty treats and customers in its new open-plan barn after the fire in June, 2016.

Chris Lea and his three brothers have brought the shop back to its former glory from next to nothing, and are proud to be back on their feet.

“It’s good to be back open and we’re very busy which is why we needed to get open as this is the best time of year for our produce,” Chris said.

“We aimed to get it open in time for the strawberries but we were beaten by the early season and hot weather at the end of May.

“But we have a good team of staff, a very loyal customer base and we’re fairly resilient, plus the new building has definitely got the wow factor.”

Burglars broke into the farm shop overnight on June 26, last year, and decided to set light to the building while they were there.

Chris arrived in the small hours of the morning to see his family’s business going up in flames and was understandably distraught.

“I was absolutely devastated, as it’s our family business. My other three brothers and I were watching it burn and we said what else can you do as we felt like giving up at that point. But we soon got over the initial shock and rolled our sleeves up to get on with it,” he said.

Before they could rebuild it, they had to reapply for planning permission – luckily Rugby Borough Council was supportive.

Building work began at the start of the year and it reopened on July 7, after 12 months of rebuilding and selling produce in a pop-up stall at the village recreation ground..

The marquee in the village allowed them to sell the fruit, vegetables and other goods from the harvest, keeping the business ticking over while the main building was restored.

Chris said it was a daunting task as they had a blank canvass to design the shop however they liked but believes they have done a good job.

The brothers have battled through more adversity to get the shop open again – the roof sheets were lost as they were delivered during Storm Doris.

There is still work to do but the shop is full of produce, the cafe is up and running under new management, with seating overlooking the lake.

Chris is planning to hold an official opening on the August Bank Holiday weekend with Rugby MP Mark Pawsey cutting the ribbon.