Startups are vital to UK communities - they help people come together, create jobs, regenerate industries and more. One such business is our StartUp of the Week, the Winchester Gate, a pub which is already a vital part of the Salisbury community. Let's find out more.

1. Explain your business in thirty seconds or less.

The Winchester Gate is a quirky pub, music venue and hub for the community which includes local residents, artists, music fans, musicians, retro-gamers and community groups. Above all it is a place where members of the community feel welcome, safe and free to be themselves.

2. Where are you based and why is it a good location for your business?

We are based in the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire. For us the location is perfect as Salisbury is rich in great people looking for great music and a pub they can rely on to deliver this, along with top quality real ales and an atmosphere that chain pubs struggle to match. The local authority continues to cut funding to our local arts organisations which has given us the opportunity to offer music and activities where the other venues are unable to, at affordable prices.

3. How did you come up with the idea?

Abi and I had both worked in venue and events management within the local community and beyond for many years, and having our own venue to deliver our goals in had been a dream of ours for some time. I had actually booked a huge proportion of the live music acts for many years for the previous owners of the Winchester Gate, so when the opportunity to take over the pub came along we were obviously extremely excited. Through our experience of the local area and scene Abi and I identified many gaps the city was crying out for, and decided to fill these. Many brainstorm and planning sessions later, here we are!


The Winchester Gate

4. What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?

When we first contacted Virgin Start-up we were struggling to find the final amount of investment we required to purchase the existing business. The team at VSU were instrumental in supporting us complete our business plan and cash flow spreadsheets offering us advice and support at every stage. Without the help of Mark Woodroof and Alyson Eyval at Business West, we would never be in the position we are in now.

5. How have you used it to grow your business?

Aside from us being able to make the initial purchase of the existing business, having a healthy starting budget has allowed us to renovate the music venue, expanding the capacity and replacing the sound equipment. This has enabled usto book larger national and international touring artists, which has in turn increased our footfall two fold. 

6. Biggest achievement so far?

Our biggest achievement so far has been the expansion of the popularity of the Winchester Gate generally, creating a consistently busy venue and supplying Salisbury with world-class touring musicians. We have introduced a rolling programme of innovative events, worked alongside local businesses to deliver themed nights and community arts workshops, introduced a popular monthly retro gaming evening, and hosted a three day beer festival, Salisbury’s first acoustic and cider festival, and a huge New Years Eve party. Another achievement is that we are now employing six people part-time, so we're creating jobs too.

7. What’s next for your business?

Abi and I have so many exciting plans in the pipeline which include a brand new interactive website, a complete facelift and refurbishment of the main bar, an overhaul of the outside area including a summer cocktail bar and new furniture, and the addition of a visual arts space that local artists can display and sell their work in.


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