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Numbers double at brewery centre

Added: Friday, February 3rd 2012

The future of the National Brewery Centre in Burton-on-Trent "looks bright" according to the local newspaper, the Burton Mail. Reporter Rob Smyth says visitor numbers doubled in 2011.

The centre -- formerly the Bass Brewery Museum -- re-opened with a blaze of publicity in 2010, with Princess Anne in attendance, after being shut for two years. Owners Molson Coors, who had inherited the site from Bass, closed it in 2008, citing annual losses of £1 million. A task group led by local MP Janet Dean led a campaign to re-open the museum. The campaign was supported by the district council, Staffordshire County Council, the Burton Chamber of Commerce, the Campaign for Real Ale and the British Guild of Beer Writers. CAMRA organised a protest march through the town.

The centre is now run by Planning Solutions and, despite a new holographic display, the initial visitor numbers were disappointing. But after 18 months, the centre has made an impact and is beginning to establish itself as the Number One place as the home of brewing. There has been a jump in the number of guided visitor tours for the whole of 2011, with groups coming from Britain, Canada, Germany, France and China. The Los Angeles Times said the centre was one of Europe's "Must See" museums.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has moved its head office to the centre while CAMRA staged its annual awards lunch there in 2011. The Firkin Comedy Club meets there on a monthly basis while a new marquee stages weddings and social functions. The number of weddings increased dramatically in 2011. Future plans include a monthly music club, an Easter beer and food event and a vintage festival in July.

*Pictured: a Victorian steam engine at the centre that was used to move beer to the main line to London.