Oil to the Fort is a huge success
23 Apr 2021
by Katy Rink

Oil Night Long at Shrewsbury Castle brings good vibes!

Bar Oil on Castle Street is shipping over to the castle festival style at the weekends until May 16. They’re offering craft beers, cocktails, good tunes, tasty snacks and easy-going vibes in the castle grounds – it’s fiendishly popular, so you might have to hunt for a slot, although they reserve some tickets for walk-ins. Friday 5pm to 11pm, Sat 12pm (midday) to 11pm – to book visit  

It was a bold decision to take Bar Oil down the street to Shrewsbury Castle, requiring a major reorganisation, not to mention a few tents and hay bales, but co-director and founder of the 'Oil Empire' Vivek Bhatia, says it has absolutely been worth it. 

Viv and co-founder Aaron Brown first gave us a slice of urban dining with Dough & Oil in Castle Street, then added a sister bar across the street OIL - they are now shaking things up even more by taking the bar 'on the road' to the castle for the early summer season, for five consecutive weekends, until May 16. 

It's proving a massive hit with visitors and locals who are delighted to find such a fun, open air festival style night out within our castle walls! 

The first four weeks sold out in two days, but there are still spaces for walk-ins, with a capacity of over 200 (half the usual capacity at the castle - to allow for social distancing). To be sure of being under cover, beneath the stretch tent or in the pallet booths however, you'll need to book. 

It's table service once you're in - you can order the usual craft beers and cocktails from OIL and scan a QR code on the menu to order pizza from Dough & Oil. 

Viv says: "It's going really well, the set-up was a great team effort and everyone is glad to be out having a bit of fun again, Fri and Sat were brilliant. The atmosphere is really chill during the day and in the evening it's a bit more up tempo - we've got a few good playlists. Really, it's an extension of the bar and restaurant but in an amazing setting."

Revellers enjoy Oil to the Fort at Shrewsbury Castle

The boys had to get permission from Shropshire Council to use the space - "They were happy for us to try it as a pilot scheme," Viv explains. "Everyone has been really complimentary saying it’s just what we needed. It’s an amazing vibe. Everyone is really enjoying it. We’ve made a big effort with the setup. We've had great weather and the music is good. We were aiming for a festival atmosphere, that’s what we’ve had.

"It’s all table service, no-one goes to the bar. You book table, someone comes over and takes your order. You can order your pizza from a QR code on the menu and we run it over from the restaurant. It’s all designed to work in a way where people get really good service, and it's all joined up. Everyone keeps together in their own group."

The venture is helping to revive the fortunes of OIL after a difficult year: "It’s been a very tough year. With the restaurant, we’ve been doing takeaway and click and collect, it’s kept it ticking over, but the bar has been completely shut. We thought it was a good opportunity to try something different.

"The whole thing was a bit of a test to see how it would go. Based on the first weekend it’s gone really well."

With their sharp design and funky ideas, Viv and Aaron try to inject a bit of city-style urban edge to Shrewsbury life, but also wanted to do something creative and exciting to contribute to the Shrewsbury's Open campaign this summer.

"Shrewsbury is a great place to live there’s an audience for the kind of stuff we like to do," Viv added. "We thought us doing something at the castle could be a contribution for the greater good. It’s a big welcome back to everybody after lockdown!"

Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, said: "We are really pleased that Shropshire Council has enabled the castle grounds to be used in this way as part of the town’s recovery. The castle is a wonderful heritage asset for the town where people can enjoy spending time with family and friends safely, and we look forward to more local businesses making use of the space throughout the summer and beyond.”

Hayley Owen, Shropshire Council's growth programme manager, said: "Oil to the Fort has managed to bring outdoor hospitality to the most stunning setting, and if the first two weekends are anything to go by then this will be seriously popular.

“It is great to see a Shropshire business adapting and bringing a fabulous vibe to the town as we aim to bounce back as soon and as successfully as possible. This really is one not to miss.”

To see more pictures of this lovely evening, visit the gallery below - all images by Birgitta Zoutman Photography

* The space at the castle is available for the whole summer and can be used by a range of businesses or for other activities. Contact for more information.

Oil Night Long 1
OIl Night Long 2
Oil Night Long BID