Tolly Cobbold brewery to close

IPSWICH'S long and illustrious brewing tradition will cease this Autumn after 256 years, The Evening Star can reveal today.The Tolly Cobbold brewery will shut as the company - which doggedly fought off closure 12 years ago - merges with Essex brewers, Ridley's.

IPSWICH'S long and illustrious brewing tradition will cease this Autumn after 256 years, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The Tolly Cobbold brewery will shut as the company - which doggedly fought off closure 12 years ago - merges with Essex brewers, Ridley's.

The handful of staff at The Cliff Quay brewery, where brews such as Tolly Original and Tolly IPA are produced, were told the news today at a special briefing session today.

It is hoped most of the Ipswich jobs will remain, with the company's highly-successful distribution centre transferring to the Ridley's banner but remaining at its base close to Cliff Quay, in Cliff Road.

Tolly Cobbold Managing Director, Bob Wales, will take up a directorship with the newly-merged company. He said today:" We are very sorry that the brewing of Tolly Cobbold products in Ipswich will come to an end but brewing had become a very small part of our operation. Merging with a respected family brewery such as Ridley's will mean a bright and successful future. It is very much business as usual."

He revealed that the brewing of Tolly Original will switch to the Ridley's brewing base at Hartford End, near Chelmsford.

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Tolly Cobbold has a six licensed premises in the region, the Buregate in Felixstowe, the Steamboat Tavern, next to Felaw Maltings, the Red Lion at East Bergholt, Rushmere Sports Club, the Brewery Tap, in the brewery complex at Cliff Quay and Hainault Sports Club in Essex. These will transfer to the Ridley's brand.

Today's news brings to an end a majestic tradition in Suffolk brewing, dating back to the early 1700's.

Breweries Tollemache and Cobbold and Co Ltd merged in 1957 making Tolly Cobbold one of the most powerful breweries in East Anglia.

But the decline began in 1989 when the company was swallowed by the Brent Walker leisure group and brewing moved to Hartlepool heralding the fight to save Cliff Brewery.

A year later, following a successful management buy-out, led by Bob Wales and the late Brian Cowie, the Cliff brewery reopened but the stay of execution was for 12 years only.

Bob Wales, added: "Whilst we are sad to see brewing here cease after 279 years, the writing has been on the wall for some time, with declining population in what has become an extremely competitive industry.

"However most jobs in Ipswich will remain, with the ever-expanding and highly successful distribution centre still based in Ipswich."

Evening Star editor, Nigel Pickover, said: "It is very sad's devastating news that the long and illustrious history of brewing in Ipswich is coming to an end. One comfort is that the merger is with an honourable and loyal family firm and that Ipswich staff will have the opportunity to transfer to the distribution department."

The future of the Tolly Bottlers' Room, currently housed at the Cliff Quay site, one of the largest collections of bottled beers in the country is still to be decided.

The quayside pub alongside the brewery, The Brewery tap will remain open for business as usual.

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