New out-of-town home for Charles Wells on the edge of Bedford?

Charles Wells proposed new site
Charles Wells proposed new site

Bedford brewers Charles Wells could be on the brink of a £13million move to the outskirts of Bedford.

The family firm, whhich been based in Bedford since 1876, has submitted a planning application for a brand new brewery and visitor centre on land at Fairhill, off the A6.

Peter Wells, commercial director of Charles Wells

Peter Wells, commercial director of Charles Wells

And the site would include a new 30,000-hectolitre brewery, a visitor centre for brewery tours, and an on-site pub and a venue for music, events and functions.

Commercial director Peter Wells said: “As a business Bedford has been our home for over 140 years, and many members of the Wells family have lived and grown up here.

“Building this brewery in our home town maintains our heritage but gives us an opportunity to further develop our story and create exciting, new beers and experiences that will continue to support our loyal pub partners and their customers.”

The plans are part of a wider development and hybrid application alongside applications by Bedford Borough Council and David Lloyd Leisure, Councillors will make a decision on whether to give it the green light in April.

Charles Wells sold most of its brands, and its brewery on Havelock Street, to Marston’s in May 2017. However the firm retained its Charlie Wells and John Bull beer brands.

However Charles Wells also invested £3.4million into its pub estate in 2017, has earmarked £2.5 million for 2018, and continues to own and operate 186 leased and tenanted pubs plus 23 managed houses.

Mr Wells added that the plans illustrated the company’s new direction.

He said: “While we remain a brewing family, our entire business focus is about supporting our pubs, whether they are part of our leased and tenanted estate or our growing managed estates in the UK and France.

“The new Charles Wells brewery will be a shining example of how traditional brewers can turn the evolution of the brewing industry to their advantage, listening to their pub partners to create beers that attract customers from far and wide.

“Support for new operators doesn’t end there. We will also seek to attract and train the best licensees in the industry. The new brewery will be a centre for excellence for ongoing training and best practice guidance throughout their time as a pub partner or managing partner with Charles Wells.”