IN the heart of Carlisle’s historic quarter chocolatier Keith Tattersall is busy.

The smell of melted chocolate oozes from every corner of his new Castle Chocolates shop on Fisher Street.

But Keith is no Willy Wonka - his chocolate making is an art that requires patience and attention to detail.

Trays lined with delicious delights line the counters in his new shop - which already has its regular customers and fans.

Eton mess, lemon crunch, violet cream, and tiramisu are just some of the chocolates Keith makes on a daily basis.

He carefully melts the chocolate - it has to be the right temperature to pour and create the right shine and pours it into a mould, then wipes away the excess on a marble slab, and puts it in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill.

Keith then pipes in the filling and puts the chocolates back in the fridge to chill.

“It is an art,” said Keith, who used to work in the catering and licensed trade.

Keith, who worked at the former Wallfoot Hotel, near Carlisle, is a keen cook and enjoys trying out new recipes at home. After visiting a chocolate shop on his honeymoon with his wife, Emma, he tried his hand at making chocolates at home.

These were an instant hit and the idea for a business based around chocolate was born.

Keith, 32, who attended William Howard School in Brampton, said: “We began looking for premises in the city centre in July.

“I was initially going to open a pub restaurant or hotel but having worked in that industry I realised how many hours you work, it’s non-stop, seven-days-a-week.

“I liked the idea of a chocolate shop.

“We wanted somewhere central and somewhere that had a sink.

“Our aim is to create delicious, hand-crafted chocolates at an affordable price.

“Customers can see the chocolates being made in the shop, while browsing the selection available.”

Keith has always wanted to work for himself and was quick to take the opportunity to develop his business idea into a shop.

He has also previously worked as a delivery driver for parcel delivery firm Yodel and supermarket Asda.

He said: “Our range includes both topped and soft centred chocolate bars and chocolates, which can be bought individually or in presentation boxes.

Keith said: “We make bars and chocolates in a variety of flavours. We also make lollipops shaped liked teddy bears. My current favourite is a soft centred bar filled with a salted caramel ganache.

“We are keen to develop the business into other areas, such as wedding favours, corporate gifts and personalised chocolates.”

Lemon crunch is the shop’s current best selling chocolate.

“We can’t make enough of them,” said Keith, who currently makes about 120 chocolates a day.

“Emma helps when she can. She’s a supply teacher so she’s often away working and my mum comes in regularly to help. It’s a real family affair.”

Keith would like to make real fruit chocolates in the near future.

“They’ve a limited shelf life but it’s something I’d like to try,” he said.

Keith’s business is one of a number of independent retailers that have opened in Carlisle in recent weeks - providing a boom to the struggling high street.

Best Dressed Kidz - a childrenswear shop - opened on English Street, underneath the Crown & Mitre hotel, and a new ladies fashion retailer recently opened in The Lanes shopping centre.

Sweet Inspirations - a cake decorating and supplies shop - has plans to move into a unit on St Cuthbert’s Lane. This is currently being fitted out.

Meanwhile, clothing chain River Island will open its new store in The Lanes tomorrow.

It is moving from its current location on English Street to the former New Look unit in The Lanes.

The unit has been split into three and will be home to River Island and Deichmann Shoes. The third unit has not yet been filled. Deichmann is hoping to open next month, selling footwear for men, women and children.

Also in The Lanes, Katie Loxton and Joma Jewellery are taking over the unit formerly occupied by clothing retailer Blue Inc.

They hope to open in their new premises next month in time for the Christmas rush.