12 March 1999

£48,000 grant

A HORTICULTURAL buildings manufacturer has been awarded a £48,000 farm diversification grant 10 years after it was set up.

National Polytunnels, based at South Side Farm, Boldron, near Barnard Castle, County Durham, received the award from the Teesdale Enterprise Agency to help it develop its newly-patented invention, the Max-Air sliding roof, which has a flexible membrane allowing it to open up to 85%.

The firm, which claims to be the UKs number one supplier of horticultural buildings and number two supplier of garden centre propagation units, gets through 1000 tonnes of tubular steel a year.

It has recently sent polytunnels to the North Sea to protect oil rig workers, to Bordeaux for the cultivation of shitake mushrooms and to Moscow for Russias only all-year lettuce growing unit.

Owner and managing director Alf Duxbury said the grant would also help fund a 3600ft expansion at South Side, a working farm run by the family of production director Stuart Metcalf. &#42