Brewery: tower brewery, 1873, for William Butler. Interior noted as
having cast iron frame and late C19 fermenting rounds and mash tuns.
Entrance canopy, lodges and Gates. 1880s.
Comment: Goodness knows why this building is listed in two parts -
it only adds to the confusion as to exactly what is listed and what is not.
Mitchells and Butlers took over the brewery from William Butler many years
ago and ran it as a brewery for some time. When they stopped brewing
on the site they used it as a distribution centre. The building and
its area were ripe for redevelopment and these historic buildings would have
to be incorporated into any scheme. (Some rather similar gates have been
successfully preserved and used as an entrance to a residential development
in the East Markets, Adelaide). The whole site was acquired by the
Wolverhampton property developers, Simon Developments.
||At the end of May 2001 it was reported that an application for
outline planning permission was submitted by Simon Developments for the
development of what was basically a boutique retail centre, with
associated cafes and the like. The proposal met with the approval
of the council's officers and of English Heritage but was refused
planning permission because of the councillors' opinion that it would be
a threat to the viability of the city's shopping centre. Simon
Developments did not appeal and had to go away and think of some other
way of saving this important building.
Since then the buildings and the surrounding area have been included
in a conservation area and the buildings have featured in council
reports as being at risk - which, thanks to the council, they probably
are. In the draft City Centre Strategy and Action Plan they come
up with the bright idea of using it for "a new cultural conference
centre" and a venue for large weddings, incorporating an "exhibition
centre to act as a showcase for Wolverhampton's diverse communities, and
for local artists, potentially supported by some specialist retail
[sic])." The idea of holding large non-conformist and Hindu
weddings in a brewery is certainly a remarkable one.
In 2004 the predicted risk duly occurred and the buildings caught on
fire. Extensive damage was done to the tower and the buildings at the
back and all the brewing equipment left inside was lost. So Simon
Development had to have yet another think. They have now (late 2004)
produced a plan for offices in the old offices, restoration of much of the
rest and its conversion into flats, shops, restaurants; and housing on the
back land. Presumably the council will abandon its ideas about Hindu
weddings and give its blessing to a sensible and practical scheme. And
then Simon Developments will, as like as not, carry out the scheme, unlike
many other developers in this quarter of the town.