Tees Business catches up with the people behind Acklam Hall as the venue looks back on a whirlwind first year…
It’s been described as Teesside’s answer to Downton Abbey but, as it celebrates its first 12 months in operation, it’s clear that everything about Acklam Hall is decidedly uptown.
It’s been an impressive first year for a venue of luxury and splendour that’s brought a touch of class to Middlesbrough, for foodies and businesses, party-goers and newlyweds alike.
Those first 12 months saw Acklam Hall enjoy a series of highs that its ambitious owners and talented staff aim to build on throughout 2017.
The Hall’s main function room hosted a series of weddings, parties, balls, comedy nights and conferences…
Ten newly married couples held their wedding receptions there, with triple that number planned during 2017…
For the first time in 100 years, a bride entered the Hall from the neighbouring St Mary’s chapel via the refurbished archway and gate between the two…
There was a series of sell-out Christmas parties…
Around 100 people attended the Grand Ball to see in the New Year, enjoying dinner among the impressive surroundings of the Brierley dining room, before heading upstairs to the drawing room to bring in the New Year with the help of a rousing band…
And then there was the incredibly popular afternoon teas – 13,000 of what managing director Michael Jones proudly hails “the best afternoon teas on Teesside” were served up within the relaxed ambience of historic surroundings that echo of times long gone.
“Our afternoon teas, all home-made, have proved even more popular than we imagined they would be,” smiles Jones, as he reviews the story so far. “And we seem to be a destination for baby showers. We’ve hosted a phenomenal amount – often three or four on the same day.”
As Jones says, there are so many elements to Acklam Hall’s offering and many that those who perhaps paid the venue an early visit are not aware are available.
Links with businesses have grown steadily. Of the Hall’s 17 first and second floor office facilities, 15 are now let out to local businesses. Macdonald Offshore, Probate Dispute Resolution are Carliv Accountancy are all relative newcomers to the historic building’s business accommodation, as is Claire Marron Hypnotherapy and Dr Rashpal Singh Cosmetics.
Another resident business, training company Enterprise Made Simple, is a prolific user of the Acklam Hall’s impressive boardroom and array of meeting rooms.
“We pride ourselves on the fact we have attracted such a variety of businesses that have chosen to base themselves here,” continues Jones.
“We’re starting to get a great deal of corporate interest for use of our boardroom and conference facilities too, having held well over 100 already. We’re building relationships with local businesses of all sizes.
“People are wowed to see, amid all our 18th Century splendour, that we have every modern, hi-tech facility a business could need, whether it be state-of-the-art projectors or facilities for Skype calls or conference calls.
“It’s been an amazing whirlwind of a year, but we’re very proud of everything we’ve achieved,” reflects Jones. “We’re proud of being Teesside, we embrace the fact, and are delighted to have brought a real buzz to the town.
“We’ve learned a lot, of course. We’ve learned what we’re very good at and highlighted what we needed to improve. We’ve pushed the business and stretched ourselves – and we’ll continue to do that.
“We also offer bespoke packages – we listen to customers and give them exactly what they want. That might mean more work for us, but we are committed to gaining the best reputation on Teesside for putting the customer first.
Looking forward to the future, Jones adds: “People aren’t just coming for building now – it’s a fantastic Grade 1 Listed building, of course, and when you’re sitting in the Brierley on a Friday night you could be anywhere.
“But now increasing numbers of people are realising that the quality of our food, products and outstanding service is very, very special. It’s fine dining that you won’t find anywhere else nearby.”