Family brews up plan to restore duke’s garden

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AS a family their aristocratic connections go back centuries with interests in all sorts of industries and ventures. But now they are bringing something new to their table – booze.

Relatives of the late 15th Duke of Hamilton, who died in 2010, have been given the go-ahead to build a microbrewery as part of a project to restore the historic Archerfield Estate’s walled garden in Dirleton, East Lothian.

Under plans headed by the late duke’s eldest daughter, Eleanor, the B-listed garden’s wall will be repaired and developed to create new openings and access routes.

As well as the microbrewery, developers want to build a farm delicatessen, event facilities, a production kitchen for local food products and a cafe.

Bosses at Archerfield Estates today said they planned to open the development by March 2013, and added that it would employ around 25 full-time staff. The plans were given the green light by East Lothian Council earlier this month and work will begin once Historic Scotland has approved the proposed changes.

Fraser Niven, chief executive of Archerfield Estates, said: “Rather than having a piece of ground that’s not being used, we are bringing it back to life and investing in it.

“We had discussions with a respected master brewer who was looking to set up a brewery and from that discussion we came to the idea that we would like to incorporate a brewery into the project.”

Plans for the microbrewery would see beer produced sold commercially.

Mr Niven said: “The master brewer has a range of beers which he will continue to develop but will also be developing beers which will be marketed under the Archerfield Fine Ales brand. His are craft beers and ales that feature in local restaurants and golf clubs.

“Local food produce will also be a big part of the project. We rear Lennoxlove White Park cattle on the estate and we’ll be looking to sell the meat from this breed.”

He added: “I’m hoping that it will be a very successful venture – a visitor attraction that will add to the golf and tourism offering and encourage others to come to the area.”

Eleanor Mitchell, chairwoman of Archerfield Estates, said: “This project is all about the restoration of the walled garden and developing it in as many different ways as possible. It’s a project we’re really excited about.”

Community leaders have also backed the family’s plans.

Alastair McIntosh, chair of Gullane, Aberlady, Dirleton and Drem area community council, said: “It was felt that it would create much-needed extra jobs in the local area which we all welcome in these difficult economic times.

“There’s clearly a growing interest in microbrewing these days and in the production of highly distinctive beers.”