New spoke in bike business set to be unveiled

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The renovation of one of Stornoway’s most iconic buildings into a cycling hub that will include a bike workshop, retail outlet, bike wash station, and café will be complete in early 2017. 

The idea to totally renovate Glen House, which is owned by community landlord, the Stornoway Trust, arose after Alistair Glover, of BeSpoke Bicycles, dreamt his business would expand into the dilapidated building. 

Using advice from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides, Alistair secured a loan for £22k to part fund the 12-month upgrade of the house, which is ideally situated within the grounds of Lews Castle, where an extensive network of mountain bike and recreational cycle trails has been created.

With the help of his joiner friend, Graham Pilson, who will run the Nice n Chilled Café at The Hub, the 41-year-old, from Stornoway, gutted the building, replacing the whole of the ground floor, the extension roof, doors, windows, electrics and plumbing. He’s also created a car park and will have a picnic area outside. 

He said: “I approached the Stornoway Trust with my vision and I was granted the lease, but only if I took on the repairs. I’d been told it would cost a significant sum of money if I took on a contractor so decided to do the work myself, and went to Business Gateway for advice. My adviser, Richard, helped me with my business plan, marketing, and the application to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Revolving Loan Fund. That money has paid for a significant amount of the renovation work undertaken by myself and Graham, whose help has been invaluable. Even when we realised the extent of the damage we have never once wanted to give up because we both believe in the project.”

Richard Tarves, Business Gateway, said: “When Alistair took over the lease of the house he quickly discovered wood worm, rot, vandalism, blocked drains, and trees growing out of chimneys. Through hard work and dedication he has created a warm, friendly, and welcoming destination that will be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Alistair and I looked at all the funding options available, with the loan the best route for what he wanted to do. That money has been essential and helped create The Hub he dreamed of.”

Having left Stornoway to study in Glasgow at the age of 18, Alistair returned to the island 12 years ago as an Architectural Technician, with his young family. Due to his passion for cycling, he decided to launch what was to become BeSpoke Bicycles, a bike repair business, part-time in 2013. 

After six months, there was enough work to go full-time and Alistair initially used the family kitchen and his wife’s car to complete repairs, latterly a shed and shortly he’ll move into The Hub.

He said: “I’ve been bowled over by the support the local community has given to the restoration project, and am thankful to the Trust who has helped pay for some of the works. Over its lifetime Glen House has been a school, an admiralty house, a laboratory for a chemical works, a lodge, and family home. Now, it is set to become a community focused centre for all things cycling on the Western Isles.”

Find out how Business Gateway Outer Hebrides can help your business by visiting their local pages or call 01851 808 240.

Outwith the area? Find your local Business Gateway office or call 0300 013 4753.

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