Charles Wells given green light for new £13m brewery complex
Bedford-based brewer, Charles Wells is a step closer to realising its ambition of a new £13 million brewery complex with the news that its planning application has been approved by Bedford Borough Council’s planning committee.
Work will begin in August at the Fairhill site, just off the A6 in Bedford, on its new 30,000 hectolitre brewery which should be operational by summer 2019. “As well as producing our heritage beers, Charlie Wells and John Bull, this new brewery will allow us to meet the changing tastes of the nation’s beer drinkers, by developing a new range of beers in a smaller, more artisanal brewing environment than our previous facility” said Peter Wells, Commercial Director at Charles Wells.
“We’ve listened to our Pub Partners and loyal customers, and introduced initiatives such as The Wandering Brewer project, which sees our Head Brewer collaborating with some of the most innovative young brewers around the country. This new facility will enable us to be more agile, producing beers that customers in our 200+ pubs want to explore and drink.”
The Fairhill location is of strategic importance to Charles Wells and is part of its foundation for the future of the business as a brewing family and pub company. Not only does it provide excellent access to major roads in and out of Bedford to service its estate across England and France, it is also gives direct access to the Bedford Oolite aquifer, which was famously tapped by brewery founder Charles Wells. The company has been using the natural mineral water from that well in the production of its beers since 1902.
In addition to the brewery, the site will also house a new Charles Wells Visitor Centre for brewery tours, an on-site bar and a venue for conferences, events and functions. Peter Wells adds: “Charles Wells has been part of the community in Bedford for the last 140 years, and this new complex will not only provide our 60 employees with a new home, but also be a focal point for surrounding businesses and residents to enjoy.
“Its prominent position on the way into Bedford will serve as a great welcome to the town, helping to celebrate its rich brewing history. We are excited to start work later this summer in bringing our vision to life and in continuing to be an integral part of the community for generations to come.”
Charles Wells has been crafting ales in the heart of Bedfordshire as a family brewery since 1876, using its own certified natural mineral water well for all the beers it has produced since 1902. In May 2017, Charles Wells sold its brewery on Havelock Street and most of its brands to Marston’s. It retained its Charlie Wells and John Bull beer brands. The business has invested £3.4 million into its pub estate in 2017 and has earmarked £2.5 million for 2018.