Funding from the Birmingham Post Growth Fund, which provides grants to help businesses grow and create sustainable new jobs, has helped secure the long-term future of one of the region’s most historic country house hotels.
Nailcote Hall in Berkswell survived an assault by Oliver Cromwell’s troops during the English Civil War and in recent decades has enjoyed a new lease of life as a luxury hotel, entertainment venue and the location of the Farmfoods British Par 3 Championship golf tournament.
Its latest £1.3 million development project has seen a new clubhouse created to serve Nailcote’s golf course and the building of a brand new ten-bedroom block.
The hotel now has 49 bedrooms and the facilities at the clubhouse are set to enhance its golfing facilities.
Nailcote received £100,000 of funding towards the project via the Birmingham Post Growth Fund and it proved a vital component.
Owner Rick Cressman, who bought the hotel out of receivership in 1991, said: “The Birmingham Post Growth Fund contribution certainly was a trigger in terms of helping me get the rest of the funding together.
“It has been pretty important and this would never have got it done without it.
“It made the difference - just enough to make it all happen.”
The new £550,000 clubhouse features an office, men’s and women’s changing and toilet facilities, a golf shop, a dining area, bar and a balcony with views over the ninth hole of the golf course. The bedroom block represented an investment of £750,000.
The bar has been named ‘Charley’s Bar’ in honour of rising women’s golf star Charley Hull, whose participation in the Par 3 Championship has boosted her development as a player, according to Mr Cressman.
Mr Cressman said the clubhouse was a vital facility, not just for the British Par 3 Championship, which last year attracted a crowd of 10,000, but also for its day-to-day use.
“The clubhouse will be very much the centrepiece of the tented village during the Par 3 Championship,” said Mr Cressman.
“Over the years the golf course has developed to the point where it is recognised as possibly the best par 3 course in Europe and one of the top ten in the world.
“It is the best par 3 course in the country but there was nowhere to change. It doesn’t fit.
“People coming here were asking where do you go to get changed and we’d say it was a choice of the car park out of the boot of your car or the toilets.
“Demand has gone up and up and the incentive to build a quality clubhouse is something that has grown and grown.
“It’s the sort of thing that’s really needed if people want the sport to grow and be more inclusive to include families and players of all ages from five to 95.”
The latest development has seen the creation of three new jobs and Mr Cressman said he hopes it will lead to even more.
He said: “The more customers that come and enjoy it then the more likely it is we will be creating more jobs..
“After a number of years of difficulty during the recession we have got to the point where I can see and feel very positive things happening.”
The recession had effectively put any expansion plans on hold, but Mr Cressman said he also feels frustrated about the lack of support for small businesses.
He said: “As a small businessman, one of the things that cheeses me off is when I hear politicians saying they are supportive of small businesses.
“Like Digby Jones says, actually it’s businesses who employ people who pay taxes, who pay corporation tax, collect VAT and pay business rates.
“If you haven’t got successful businesses you haven’t got a situation where people can successfully govern.
“The last five or six years have been much more in favour of big business but the biggest employers in the country, the biggest money generators in the country are small and medium-sized businesses not big businesses.
“It is just ridiculous. We deserve a much more evenly balanced playing field.”
Now looking forward to Nailcote Hall’s continued success, Mr Cressman admitted such a historic building can require hefty investment to maintain it, though having survived an assault by Oliver Cromwell’s troops he is confident it can thrive for many more years.
He added: “This is all very important for the long-term financial security of a very beautiful and special property in the Solihull countryside.
“I think what we have done is something which gives us financial stability going forward.
“Oliver Cromwell had some of troops stationed here. I don’t know if they got a steak diane in the evening but they certainly did a bit of damage when they were destroying Kenilworth Castle.”