Real ale chief calls for Government lifeline to stop more Wigan brewers from going bust
Wigan’s real ale chief has urged Government support for independent brewers to avert further business failures during the cost of living crisis.
The years before the pandemic appeared to be a new golden era for micro-breweries as drinkers’ tastes became more sophisticated.
But Covid-19 lockdowns and subsequent economic quakes have destabilised this renaissance and claimed, sadly, some famous Wigan names in the process.
In the summer the award-winning Prospect Brewery went bust.
Founded by Patsy and John Slevin from their Standish garage in 2007, it enjoyed a boom, with its ales, including Silver Tally and Nutty Slack, garnering many prizes.
They sold on the business to Gillian and John Stephenson of Nelson-based Young’s Beers, Wines and Spirits and its success continued.
But in June last year, the landlord of their Great George Street brewery tried to triple the rent.
This made the business unviable and they were forced to lay off all the staff.
Attempts were made to get another brewery to keep making the products while they looked for alternative premises, but the plans came to nought and so the company was liquidated with all of its equipment sold of at auction.
Young’s is still a business in Nelson, but the loss of Prospect in Wigan was a harsh reminder that this new golden era was in danger of being snuffed out. Another was the demise of another business – Martland Mill Brewery during the summer of 2021.
Sandy Motteram, chairman of the Wigan branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “The loss of these businesses is a terrible shame.
"It’s also a sad reflection of the state of the country as far as businesses in the pub and brewery sector are concerned.
"Without the right support from this government, they are going to continue closing in their droves.
"It would be the biggest tragedy for the industry in my lifetime.
"Prospect was a terrific brewery. Nutty Slack and Silver Tally were always winning awards. But now it has gone, just like Martland Mill Brewery.
"Something major and urgent needs to be done, and done quickly, to stop further tragedies.”