CAMRA condemns Jennings closure
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CAMRA has attacked Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) plans to close the historic Jennings brewery, Cockermouth, in October and make staff redundant.
National chairman Nik Antona said: “This is a devastating blow for the area’s brewing heritage. It is vital that CMBC does everything it can to keep the site as a working brewery rather than having part of our history lost to conversion to housing or another use.
“Instead of shifting production of Jennings Cumberland to Burton, we’d also encourage CMBC to look at ways of continuing to produce the beer somewhere in Cumbria.
“Sadly, this is now an expected consequence of global brewers entering and consolidating the UK beer market – shutting distinctive regional brands and eroding the nation’s brewing history.
“In these situations, it’s consumers and independent producers that suffer, as small brewers struggle further to access the pub market and choice at the bar is restricted.
“That’s why I am calling on CMBC to think again and commit to selling Jennings as a going concern so we can save this historic site as a brewery and prevent redevelopment.”
The confirmation of the brewery's closure comes as no surprise to local CAMRA members, who forecast its demise in January, when post-lockdown the brewery announced the permanent end of its popular tours and the shutting of its shop.
West Cumbria branch chairman Stephen Walker was resigned to and disappointed by the closure.
Stephen said: “Jennings closing is no surprise given that it has undertaken very little brewing in recent times, only brewing one of its beers. It is sad to see nearly 150 years of brewing heritage come to such an abrupt end. Jennings has been a major part of the community, supporting local events and groups. The core range of beers, supported by the many seasonal beers they produced each year, will be sorely missed.
“[It’s] another example of a major brewing concern taking over the small brewery and then quickly closing them down."
CMBC CEO Paul Davies attempted to justify his company's decision.
“Jennings has operated below capacity for a number of years and has seen a significant decline in volumes, the impact of which has been made more significant by the pandemic.
“Over the course of the past year, we have carefully considered all options for the brewery and have reached the extremely difficult decision to close the brewery.”
And he said production of the Cumberland beers would move to Marston’s brewery in Burton.
“We are pleased to continue brewing Cumberland Cask by moving production to the historic Marston’s brewery in Burton, which has a fantastic track record producing traditional cask beers,” said Davies.
The company’s logistics operation will continue from the site the brewery has had since 1874, although no announcement has been made of what will become of it, much of which will now be unused.
Davies said: “We understand this news will be very difficult for our team at Jennings and disappointing to many other colleagues, consumers and customers.
“But with the economic headwinds impacting our industry we must continue to make the difficult choices we believe are needed to ensure CMBC is well placed to navigate the unprecedented external challenges we are facing, and ensure we are able to grow and sustain our position as a leading business in the brewing industry.”