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East Anglia Future 50

Famous building that was a much-loved hardware store will now be home to a brewery

PUBLISHED: 14:27 08 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:40 08 January 2019

Jack Snell, Cllr Tim Young, Aidan Kerins and Cllr Mark Cory Photo: Colchester Borough Council

Jack Snell, Cllr Tim Young, Aidan Kerins and Cllr Mark Cory Photo: Colchester Borough Council

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When Jacks shut its doors in the heart of Colchester town in 2013 after 68 years of trading, it felt very much like the end of an era for Colchester.

Cllr Tim Young, Jack Snell, Aidan Kerins and Cllr Mark Cory Photo: Colchester Borough CouncilCllr Tim Young, Jack Snell, Aidan Kerins and Cllr Mark Cory Photo: Colchester Borough Council

For 35 of those years, the unique store was owned by Dave Williams and was known for providing products such as camping and winter gear that was not available in chain stores.

Now, Colchester Borough Council has appointed a contractor to carry out repair works to the dilapidated building in St Nicholas Street that will enable local business Three Wise Monkeys to move in and operate their pint-sized micro-brewery in the town centre.

Three Wise Monkeys currently operates a pub on four floors in the high street, with a tap house specialising in a range of craft beers, and a gin bar in the basement.

Last November, after a successful four years in Colchester, the Three Wise Monkeys opened its doors in Ipswich with a four-floor live music tap house in Lloyds Avenue.

MORE: WATCH: 22 beers and more than 100 gins on offer at Three Wise Monkeys

ARC Group has been contracted to transform the interior of the Colchester building to accommodate additional space and expand the production capacity of beer for other pubs and restaurants, as well as providing a new retail experience from within the brewery itself.

The council has agreed to grant a long lease on the building in a bid to support the area’s economic growth and create new jobs, and has appointed Amphora Trading to oversee the project.

The up-and-coming area of the town is already benefiting from the new Curzon cinema, the investment in Saint Nicholas House and regeneration of The George Hotel by Surya Hotels, as well as the innovative creative workshop development at 37 Queen Street – which a spokesperson for the council claims demonstrates that this part of Colchester is “a hotbed for investment and forward-thinking development”.

Commenting on the plans, Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of the Council, said: “The former Jacks store is a significant part of the history of Colchester’s town centre.

“Working with Three Wise Monkeys to bring this important building back into economic use will help stimulate further inward investment, as well as delivering more jobs in the town. Personally, I enjoy going to Three Wise Monkeys for a drink and feel that this new venture will add so much to the attraction of the place.

“It really adds to the atmosphere to see the brewery right there in front of you. I am happy to raise a glass to support this local business go from strength to strength.”

Paul Tonkinson of Pasini Leisure, which runs the Three Wise Monkeys, described it as a “major refurbishment” of the site - “so it retains its charm of old, but is able to function as a modern craft brewery,” he said. “Beer is currently being brewed in the basement of Three Wise Monkeys under the “Other Monkey Brewing” brand.

An expansion of our current facilities is required to keep pace with an ever-increasing demand for our products. In 2018 we were privileged to receive top honours in the real ale competition at the Colchester and North East Essex CAMRA annual festival. We hope to build on that momentum in the coming year.”

Peter Winder, Construction Director for the appointed contractor, ARC Group, said “The ARC Group are delighted to be working with Colchester Borough Council and Three Wise Monkeys to deliver the re-development of the former Jacks store. The ARC Group are well aware of the history of the building, its importance to the town and local residents, and are looking forward to restoring the building to its former glory and standing for the local community.”

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