SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: Maria and Andrew Henshaw with the refurbished horse cart from the 1800s that forms a display in the expanded Mainsgill farm shop
SHOPPING EXPERIENCE: Maria and Andrew Henshaw with the refurbished horse cart from the 1800s that forms a display in the expanded Mainsgill farm shop

TOUCH free toilet facilities, more space around displays and an expanded till area are just some of the ways that a major extension at Mainsgill Farm Shop has evolved to adapt to Covid-19 rules.
With an additional 17,000sq ft of space, a new extension has almost doubled the size of the store. Owners Andrew and Maria Henshaw say this offers not only a safe shopping environment, but also a far more pleasant and comfortable one. The result is a modern yet traditional design that has a mix of an industrial and agricultural feel, they say. It opened earlier this month.
The couple began their expansion shortly before the initial lockdown in March.
Mr Henshaw said: “We were very fortunate working with the likes of Barnard Castle’s S&A which allowed us to get building materials during lockdown.
We would have liked to have opened in August but we lost a lot of time in the beginning and it did slow the job down.
“It has evolved as we have built it because of changes in legislation and rules.”
An example are the toilets, which have been designed in a way that there are no doors to enter through, while still retaining privacy, and all taps and hand driers are activated by motion sensors. The original access to the shop was changed to be a single entrance, and a new exit was installed to allow for a one-way flow of customers.
Mr Henshaw explained that the new build incorporated a number of historic features, such as a large railway water tank that takes up much of the length of a rear wall, and a large table, originally from a train factory in Darlington, that has been painstaking
restored into a display counter.
Similarly, large cheese vats from the early 20th century now showcase products on sale.
A horse cart from the 1800s, refurbished by Carrosserie, in Barnard Castle, and traditionally sign-painted with the Mainsgill logo, is a significant feature in the upstairs area.
Feeding troughs from Phillip Holden Rural, also used as product display cases, add to the agricultural feel of the building.
The extension has allowed the display cases to be set further apart allowing customers to ensure they are socially distanced throughout the shop.
Mrs Henshaw said: “It is all very airy and spacious – people feel comfortable with the surroundings and the feedback has been really good.
“We want customers to feel comfortable and the staff to feel safe.”
Mrs Henshaw added: “A huge thank you to our team who worked through lockdown making deliveries and to get this finished and stock it. And to our customers who have supported us as well.”
The product range was extended over the period so that people could do their full shopping at the store.
Mrs Henshaw said: “You name it we have it – there is something for everyone.”
Much of the new space is taken up by Mainsgill’s Christmas range, which includes own brand Christmas cakes and a bounty of decorations and seasonal gifts.
Added to this, Mainsgill is offering a click and collect selection of Christmas lunches and teas during the latest lockdown period.
After the festive season the new space will allow for more local produce to be sold.
Mrs Henshaw said: “We can have more local producers come on board in the future – we can be their shop front.”
For more information ring Mainsgill on 01325 718860.