Until the end of World War
II England's 4000 miles of canals and inland waterways served as the arteries and blood vessels of the nation’s Economic
life. The Introduction of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s wide carriage rail
bed and later the nation’s Motorway network rendered the canals redundant.
Changing little over the
years, the canal networks wander through some of the nation’s most beautiful and unspoilt countryside settings.
With a base of 10 million
annual visitations, The Inland Waterways Association asked the Doultons to explore the possibilities of animating the canals
in some economically viable way that would further increase the use of the canals for recreational purposes.
The Doultons recommended
creating Brookfield Farms, a series of canal-side restaurants to be located at selected bridgeheads that cross the canals
in every section of the country.
The cuisine of England is
more diverse and tasty than most imagine. To drive that point home, each location
was scheduled to provide regional specialties along with Brookfield Farms’ standard bill of fair.
The Women's Institute (WI)
the most powerful female group in the UK with 240,000 members, who also serve, as the protectors of rural life and values
and home made recipes, were part of the plan. Every village fair or local bazaar
has a prominently positioned WI stand selling their delicious jams, jellies, savouries and homemade crafts. The then chairman of WI agreed in principle to allow Brookfield Farms to create a WI food and craft product
line to be sold within each of the restaurants shops. Much of the goods on offer
would be homemade by WI members.