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Fire crews battle to save former Tolly Cobbold Brewery in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 17:13 23 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:50 23 February 2020

An aerial view of firefighters tackling the blaze at the old Tolly Cobbold Brewery at Cliff Quay in Ipswich  
Picture: Sky Cam East

An aerial view of firefighters tackling the blaze at the old Tolly Cobbold Brewery at Cliff Quay in Ipswich Picture: Sky Cam East

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Firefighters say the operation to tackle a blaze at the former Tolly Cobbold Brewery in Ipswich is likely to last through the night.

The roof of the former brewery is alight Picture: KARL O'BRIENThe roof of the former brewery is alight Picture: KARL O'BRIEN

Up to 15 fire crews went to the blaze from Ipswich East, Woodbridge, Princes Street, Felixstowe, Hadleigh and Haverhill. Crews from Essex were also called in to the site at Cliff Quay.

Station Commander Sally Hammond was the senior firefighter on the scene of the blaze and said that crews were likely to be on the scene all night.

She said: "When we got here there was fire on the two floors at the bottom of the building and it was clear it had already taken a grip on the building - and got into the roof.

"We have now brought it under control at the bottom of the building and are fighting it from the top by using the large turntable ladder. That is where our focus is now because we are trying to bring everything under control.

Flames spotted coming from the roof of the building Picture: PAUL GEATERFlames spotted coming from the roof of the building Picture: PAUL GEATER

"This is an empty building with substantial voids inside. Because it is empty we are not putting any firefighters inside to fight it - we are not risking anyone's safety by doing that - but it does mean we are going to be here for many hours putting out the flames and ensuring it is all put out."

Station Cdr Hammond said that as someone who lived locally, she knew how important the former brewery was to the town.

"It is very sad to see such an historic and important building like this, but we shall be doing all we can to save it."

Suffolk police said on Twitter: "Police urge residents in the Cliff Road/Cliff Quay area of Ipswich to keep windows shut due to a large fire at the former Tolly Cobbold brewery Suffolk Fire on scene - no-one believed to be hurt."

The former Tolly Cobbold brewery on Cliff Quay is one of the best known buildings in Ipswich.

It has not been used to produce beer since 2002.

Several years ago, it was due to be redeveloped and converted into a business and educational centre as part of a major new project on the Cliff Quay site.

However despite planning permission for the work on the historic listed building being granted in 2016, nothing happened - and in summer 2019 its Bury St Edmunds-based owner Pigeon Developments sold the site.

The old Tolly Cobbold brewery on fire Picture: MAX HARITONOVThe old Tolly Cobbold brewery on fire Picture: MAX HARITONOV

The identity of the new owner was not revealed at the time.

The brewery was completed in 1896. It has been Grade II listed since 1989.

In 2015 it was named one of the most endangered buildings in the country by the Victorian Society. The listing includes the fixtures and fittings inside the brewery as well as building itself.

Terry Hunt, Ipswich Vision chair, said: "it is desperately sad to see the old Tolly Cobbold brewery being ravaged by flames.

Smoke has been seen pouring from the former Tolly Cobbold brewery Picture: JOCK DAVIESSmoke has been seen pouring from the former Tolly Cobbold brewery Picture: JOCK DAVIES

"The building has been a real Ipswich landmark for so long, strongly associated with two Suffolk families - the Tollemaches, and the Cobbolds - famous not only for their beer, but also their ownership of Ipswich Town Football Club.

"When brewing ceased, it was hoped that the former brewery could be converted for a new, exciting use, to represent a natural conclusion of the Waterfront at the Cliff Quay end.

"Sadly, none of the schemes have got off the ground and, as it has fallen into disrepair, many people have voiced fears about a major fire breaking out.

"Unfortunately, those fears have come true. I just hope this historic building can be salvaged and be brought back into some kind of use in future."

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