It was highly appropriate that Albert Minshall should lay the first brick of the new 80-bedroom hotel complex at Hill Valley in Whitchurch, Shropshire, which is now a joint venture with Macdonald Hotels, for the joint owner of Hill Valley is himself an ex-bricklayer.
After serving his apprenticeship Albert was called up for two years national service in 1951. On ‘demob‘ he started on his own as a builder, specialising in plastering, brickwork and joinery.
The opportunity at Hill Valley came along in 1972 during a period when he was on the board of neighbouring Hawkstone Park and he thought it would be an opportunity to apply for planning.
He did so successfully and on his acquisition of 240 acres of land there now stands a golf course that was designed by the partnership of Peter Alliss and David Thomas.
After two and a half years of construction the clubhouse and the ‘Emerald‘ course were opened by Henry Longhurst in 1975
Albert recalls, “I hit the first ball and said to my golfing partner, Leslie Welch, ‘we‘re here on our own – I hope we attract a few more golfers than this!‘
“We have, of course, and in addition to our membership of 500 have a great relationship with golfing societies who flock to Hill Valley season after season for two days of golf and an overnight stay.”
Albert has welcomed the partnership with Macdonald Hotels. “When Macdonald Hotels approached me,” he says, “I thought a joint venture would be good for all concerned and this has led us to a new phase of development.”
That not only includes the new 80 bedroom hotel complex, but refurbishment of Hill Valley, including the provision of banqueting facilities for 300 guests, scheduled to be completed by the end of November, 2005
Hill Valley’s operations manager, Brett Ingle, has been at the club for just one year during which time he has created 25% more jobs, driven up turnover by over 30%. Now he is overseeing the multi-million pound development and is exited about the future.
“We are building an extraordinary development not only for the catchment area of Shropshire and Cheshire, but even further afield both north and south,” he says “When I was appointed operations manager 12 months ago it was always my aim to increase awareness of the hotel and golf complex, build up the quality and standard of food and service and attract more golfing clients as well as leisure guests.
“I am also building up a team of staff ready for the new complex to open later this year. This is already including staff training and development and when all the facilities are open there will be even more jobs available”.
Hill Valley Golf Club www.hillvalleygolfclub.co.uk