I have been reading reports of the National Brewery Centre closure being on the cards in the immediate future. I have contacted Molson Coors and East Staffordshire Borough Council for comment on the news. Although there are is no official news coverage available at the moment, a Facebook group has been set up to campaign against the closure. There a large number of people have reported being contacted by the Centre yesterday to cancel wedding bookings, so it appears that the rumour may well be true. One unconfirmed source says that the closure may be as soon as 30th October 2022.
I’m making a lot of calls to try and get this news officially confirmed and find out more detail. The National Brewery Centre is an important part of Burton-on-Trent’s brewery tourism offer. The archive is home to countless significant objects and documents of national significance, recording our brewing history. The oldest part of the building is listed, but of course that doesn’t protect the museum.
I will update this post with more news as I get it.
Update – 11.50am
The news is confirmed.There is a very useful article in Staffordshire Live by Helen Kreft summarising the details as currently understood. In brief, Molson Coors are moving the employees from their High Street HQ to the brewery centre building. This because it is the only building large enough to house them and close enough to the brewery. Their current offices will be demolished as part of a redevelopment of the area agreed by the Burton Town Deal Board.
The brewery centre staff were told in a letter yesterday that they will be made redundant. People with events booked were also notified yesterday that bookings will be honoured until October 30th, with the site closing the next day. Incredibly upsetting news for people with weddings booked in particular.
Part of the Town Deal Board’s plans includes a new visitor centre, which will apparently display some of the collections and house the archives.
Thoughts on the situation as it stands
As pointed out to me by Colston Crawford, the story does not give any information about what will happen to the brewery on site. From my own perspective, as a former Senior Curator, this is worrying news on several counts. Especially as someone with hands-on experience of museum closures, stealth closures and rushed movements of collections and archives. It is worrying because there is only two months’ notice on the closure. I’m not sure what the timescale is for moving the MC staff into the building. It doesn’t sound like there is going to be a lot of time for moving a collection of this scale (including heritage vehicles – expensive to move, and costly to house). It is perhaps important to note here that the bulk of the collection is owned by Molson Coors.
This action will undoubtedly put the archive out of action, and for how long? There is a lot of discussion here about part of the collection moving to the proposed heritage centre (note: proposed). But these are time-consuming and expensive jobs. I avidly await my call being returned by Molson Coors to get more details of the move.
Update – 15/09/22
The situation is still moving quickly. I am now writing a piece for a national newspaper about the situation, so you will be able to read my full account next week. There have been a large number of local press articles and statements issued, so I think that is the key pieces are the most useful reference for me to post now while I am researching my own piece.
Derby Telegraph – extremely helpful summation by Colston Crawford
National Brewery Heritage Trust Statement 13/09
East Staffordshire Borough Council Statement 13/09
East Staffordshire Borough Council FAQ 14/09