25 years ago Richard Scragg and Helen Teasdale bought the current Springhead Brewery site on Main Street in Laneham from long-term resident, Robin Minnitt. Historically the buildings had been used as the Minnitts family home, a mill, a bakery and a grocery shop. Richard went on to use the main buildings as a mill for his organic animal feed firm, Optivite, but after selling the business in 2009 new life was breathed into the site when Richard and Helen moved their thriving microbrewery from Sutton on Trent to Laneham in 2011.
A large brewery and tap bar were established, with some offices in the old Victorian house, but it was in need of renovation. Robin had been very disheartened to see it in such a sorry state and since the Butcher’s Arms public house had closed felt there was no meeting place for the locals. This has now changed however and the old house is fully open as a cosy and atmospheric craft pub, The Bees Knees. The emphasis is very much on quality homemade food using the best locally sourced ingredients, craft beers, ciders and lager, plus a commendable wine list. The rooms of the pub each feel a bit different in terms of decor and provide a welcoming place to visit either on your own or with friends. Manager David Anderson guarantees a warm welcome and encourages visitors to partake in the traditional pub games on offer or have a tinkle on the piano. This pub is very much about providing a heart for the community.
Recently Robin Minnitt and six members of his family visited Springhead Brewery, Meg’s bar- the brewery tap, and The Bees Knees, to have a nostalgic look around. Richard Scragg states’’ It was an absolute pleasure to show the Minnitts how we have developed the site and share our thoughts for the future. We enjoyed hearing from each family member how each room in The Bees Knees had been used and comparing it to its current use’’.
Several old pictures of Laneham are used to decorate the walls of The Bees Knees and one shows the frontage of the pub when it was a grocery store belonging to Bernard A Minnitt, the father of Robin and his three brothers and one sister (all of whom are still alive!).
One interesting fact that came out of the visit was that William Minnitt (now known as Diz) had been a key member of the popular band Marillion and used the original mill building which is the now the brewery itself to rehearse with Fish (who at that time was known as Derek Dick).
The two met when Fish replied to an advert in Musicians Only for a vocalist in the embarrassingly named Stone Dome Band. Diz and Fish communicated via phone calls and Fish sent a tape of Blewitt (the covers band he had been in with Frank Usher – who is still his guitarist with the solo material). He came down for an audition in mid 1980 and having passed with flying colours he returned to Scotland to collect his belongings and moved in to live with Diz at his parents’ house, Brough House in Church Laneham. The original version of The Web plus another song that has never been profesiionally recorded, called Eyes in The Sand, and were first recorded with a stereo tape deck in the mill building.
The joining of Marillion by Fish and Diz came about when Diz phoned up Mick Pointer (the original drummer in Marillion) in response to an advert in Musicians Only for a Bass Player / Vocalist, and convinced him that really he wanted one of each rather than a combined role.
After exchanging telephone calls and tapes they moved down to Aylesbury on 2nd January 1981 and following a brief audition joined the band.