Wold Top Brewery founder Tom Mellor on Beryl Burton, Michael Parkinson and The Grand Hotel in Scarborough

Tom Mellor is an entrepreneurial third-generation farmer on the Yorkshire Wolds as well as the founder of Driffield-based Wold Top Brewery and co-founder of the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery 20 miles away in Filey.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Growing up on a farm on the Wolds. Wide open spaces and the sea nearby. I am lucky enough to be a third generation farmer on a beautiful Wolds farm which my grandfather bought in 1945 when he he moved the whole family over from Triangle, near Halifax, where the family business was a coaching inn.

What’s your favourite part of the county – and why?

Tom Mellor, who founded Wold Top Brewery. (Pic by Chris Manson Visuals)Tom Mellor, who founded Wold Top Brewery. (Pic by Chris Manson Visuals)
Tom Mellor, who founded Wold Top Brewery. (Pic by Chris Manson Visuals)

The Wolds. It's the area I know best and has a great combination of food production and fantastic environmental features all wrapped up in a spectacular landscape. Dry valleys and chalk grasslands together with Bronze, Roman and Viking influence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, out in Yorkshire?

Discovering something or somewhere new in the county, followed by an evening with friends sampling some of the best food and drink Yorkshire has to offer.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

Scarborough's South Bay and the Grand Hotel.  Picture Tony JohnsonScarborough's South Bay and the Grand Hotel.  Picture Tony Johnson
Scarborough's South Bay and the Grand Hotel. Picture Tony Johnson

Walk – there are a couple. From the farm, via the centenary and Wolds way, through the dry valleys around Fordon or walking to Filey and then the beach. View – from the top of the Wolds escarpment near Warter overlooking the Vale of York, over to the Dales in one direction and all the way to Ferrybridge in another.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Beryl Burton. I’m an occasional cyclist but I enjoy following the various tours (from an armchair of course.) as she was a confirmed amateur I’d love to hear what she thought of today’s approach to road racing.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

I would have loved to take Michael Parkinson to dinner. I can’t imagine ever getting bored listening to his stories of the people he’s interviewed.

If you had to name your Yorkshire ‘hidden gem’, what would it be?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hunmanby Gap/ Filey Bay. Stunning on a clear bright day and bracing when the wind is blowing. Clears the head every time.

If you could choose somewhere, or some object, from or in Yorkshire to own for a day, what would it be?

The Grand Hotel in Scarborough. Magnificent structure and I’d organise (assuming complete renovation costs were not an issue) tours around the place highlighting its former grandeur.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

It’s varied topography. (Coast, moors, dales, rivers, wolds), Industrial landscapes and straight talking grity and resilient people.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I’ve played rugby on many of the varied grounds in the county and I still keep a wether eye on how the local teams are doing though am not involved any more apart from hospitality afternoons.

Do you have a favourite restaurant, or pub?

Not politic to answer that because we supply so many of them and I would inevitably miss someone out. There are so many excellent places to eat or drink there’s no excuse for a bad experience. I’m going to suggest a place we don’t supply which is Cafe 30 in Filey, which has lovely food, great coffee, very attentive staff and perfect after a long blast on the beach. If up on the moors I’d head for the Yorkshire Cycle Hub in Fryupdale

Do you have a favourite food shop?

As above, very difficult to pick one when there are so many great farm and family shops around. When we started the brewery 20 years ago there were very few and we relied heavily on farmers markets and shows to sell locally but now that’s all changed. Having said all that I do have a tendency to call in at Farmer Copley’s when travelling South.

How do you think that Yorkshire has changed, for better or for worse, in the time that you’ve known it?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The industrial, urban and rural landscapes have changed beyond recognition but the values remain largely the same.

If you had to change one thing in, or about Yorkshire, what would that be?

References to God's Own County. It’s a very fine line between being proud of something and being arrogant about it. I love Yorkshire to bits but when building a brand we have to be mindful of not falling into and playing up to perceived stereotypes.

Who is the Yorkshire person that you most admire?

Joseph Rowntree. Ahead of his time philanthropically and with a legacy that’s still visible today. If we could add inventor I’d have to say Percy Shaw from Halifax, inventor of the cat’s eyes. Visible (no pun intended) all over the world. If we could also add a local category I’d like to suggest Mike Gordon for his tireless efforts to bring live jazz to Scarborough for nearly 40 years and in setting up the now World famous Scarborough Jazz festival, about to celebrate its 20th year.

Has Yorkshire influenced your work?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Yes, definitely, mainly in the mindset of not just what we produce but how we produce it. Focussed, not being put off easily, without superficiality and by supporting local businesses whenever possible.

Name your favourite Yorkshire book/author/artist/CD/performer.

Difficult to choose but let’s go for David Hockney for his images of the Wolds. Novelist would be J B Priestly for The Good Companions. Yorkshire CD would be Carry on up the Charts by The Beautiful South. Live performance would be either New York Brass Band or the Mike Gordon trio with Kate Peters and Ian Chalk.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, where should it be?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It has to be York. Beautiful and full of history with so much to see although perhaps not so much of the grit of some of the Industrial towns of West Yorkshire. I’d recommend a walk round the city walls to start with and then explore the streets taking in a beer or two along the way.