On the evening of Saturday 6th February, a chimney collapsed from a student flat over the Cradlewell shops on Jesmond Road, Newcastle. The bricks fell onto the road at the front and into the yard at the back. Thankfully no one was injured. The police were informed, and they immediately evacuated the premises around the flat and closed the road until they could be sure it was safe. The road has remained closed ever since as bad weather made it unsafe to repair the chimney and the damaged roof.
There have been a number of chimneys collapse in Jesmond all at the same time and apparently it’s to do with a combination of driving rain that soaked the mortar followed by high winds that then blew it out.
This has been yet another chapter in the baptism of fire for entrepreneur Moz Murphy in the ongoing saga, “starting a cheese business in Jesmond”. A pandemic, a stolen fridge, a medical emergency and now a chimney collapse. You’d be forgiven in thinking life was trying to tell her something, but Moz isn’t deterred, she’s getting used to it and getting on with it.
Moz planned on opening her cheese shop, called grate, in May 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic meant her plans had to be delayed until September. The timing of her business start-up meant she received no government support to get through the pandemic, but she persevered, working whenever possible to set up the shop, source the equipment she needed and the products she wanted.
The launch of her shop was a ‘grate’ success with locals flocking to sample her delicious selection of local and international cheeses. Her decision to focus on local produce alongside the more well-known international brands proved to be a winning combination. Each month she seeks different cheeses to wow her growing clientele. She was so successful she had to buy another fridge to display the growing selection. And here was her second catastrophe. The first fridge was delivered to the back of the shop ready to be brought inside but thieves broke in and stripped it before it could be installed. Not deterred by the theft, Moz quickly found another and had it up and running within days. No hurdle seems too great for Moz.
Business was good, Christmas was coming and Moz put in place plans to provide hampers and speciality cheeses for her customers so their Christmas could be perfectly cheezy. The orders were in and she had stocked up on everything she needed to cope with this busy time. Then, at what was the most important time of year for her business, Moz was suddenly rushed into hospital. To some this would have been a disaster, but the ever-positive Moz wouldn’t be beaten. From her hospital bed she organised her shop, deliveries and customer orders. Her friends and staff stepped in to help out. They worked extra-long hours to make sure people were not disappointed. The shop opened for the Christmas rush and the queues were long, but they managed. Customers were very understanding and left happy with their fabulous Christmas cheese selections.
A month on and Moz has been hit with yet another crisis. She was called on Saturday night by the police informing her that the chimney had come down and the shop would have to stay closed until it could be made safe. This should have been a simple task but then it snowed, and no scaffolding could be put up. So another week has been lost. But Moz is still unfazed by it all. She joked “I don’t know what I must have done in a previous life but it must have been pretty bad.” She went on “Life is full of ups and downs, there’s no point worrying, I just get on with what I can to make my business a success despite these challenges. I love cheese and I want people to experience the best local cheeses I can find. I can’t do that if I let a little hiccough get me down. I have great local suppliers, from chutney and crackers to bread and of course cheese. I want to champion local.”
Grate is open Wednesday to Sunday each week (when there isn’t a disaster) On Saturdays she has fresh bread from the Fab bakery in Fenham on every other day she sells bread from a local Jesmond micro baker who is baking Sourdough loaves to raise funds for Maggie’s Centre at the Freeman Hospital.