‘Kewing up’ for a Copshaw barbecue

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A bespoke hanging barbecue, capable of feeding 150 people, has taken pride of place at the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.

The so-called swing grill, suspended over an open fire pit, is the latest prestigious commission undertaken by self-styled “fire-maker” James Clegg, who set up his unique business at Larriston Farm, near Newcastleton, five years ago.

And with a booming order book from clients in Australia, France, the USA and Spain, as well as across the UK, he is proving that operating in a remote location is no barrier to international business success.

After graduating with a degree in industrial design and technology from Loughborough University, James worked for seven years with a leading stove-making firm, honing his skills.

After being made redundant he found a niche designing a range of contemporary wood-burning stoves and barbecues and selling them online before moving from Preston and setting up his workshop in the Borders.

With word-of-mouth testimonials and a website, his order book grew steadily, although he admits the Kew commission would not have happened without major investment in new equipment.

With the help of a grant from Business Gateway Scottish Borders, James took delivery this summer of a £6,000 plasma cutter – and it has transformed his business.

“My swing grills, apart from looking spectacular, provide an easy way to cater for large numbers outside, even during winter weather,” he explained.

“When Kew Gardens called and told me the turnaround time they expected, I knew I’d be able to fulfil the order within three days. Without the new cutter, it would have taken me two weeks just to source the cut material and I’d have lost the order.”

James reckons the new machinery will double his output over the next year and increase turnover by 30%. He is in the process of trebling the size of his workshop and plans to open a showroom.