Talks, but little progress, on future of Ipswich’s Tolly Cobbold brewery

PUBLISHED: 17:11 02 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 02 March 2020

The Tolly Brewery following last week's fire. Picture: JOHN NORMAN

The Tolly Brewery following last week's fire. Picture: JOHN NORMAN


Officials from Ipswich Council have met representatives of the owners of the former Tolly Cobbold brewery in the wake of last week’s devastating fire – but there is little sign of a quick decision on the fate of the iconic building.

The owners' representatives were advised to call in surveyors to look at the condition of the Grade II listed building and to do some work to make it secure. But a spokesman for the council said there was no discussion about its long-term future.

The building was sold by Bury St Edmunds-based developers Pigeon last summer after plans to turn it into an arts and business centre were not progressed.

The new registered owner is a London-based investment company associated with other businesses including a food wholesaler - but when we contacted them last week the person who answered the phone denied knowing anything about the brewery building.

Last Sunday's fire took nearly 24 hours to totally extinguish but it is understood that an early look at the building suggested the damage was not as serious as some had thought.

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However it will take a detailed survey by experts before the full extent of the damage is known.

The fire was tackled by up to 15 crews from across Suffolk and north Essex - and some had to stay on site until the following day to ensure no part of the building flared up again after the blaze appeared to have been fully put out.

The last beer was brewed at Cliff Quay in 2002, although the Brewery Tap pub remained open until a few years ago. The whole site is now abandoned - and the main brewery is difficult for most people to see because the area next to it is part of the Port of Ipswich to which there is no public access.

Councillors and other civic leaders have spoken of their hope that a use will be found for the building - but its listing has made it difficult to find a new use.

Its position near the working port has been a problem - it could not be considered for conversion to flats when brewing ceased because at the time the Vopak fuel plant was still operating nearby and that was considered too much of a potential hazard to allow residential development there.

Now councillors and officials are hoping that the owners can be persuaded to come up with a new development plan.

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