The site then sat empty for several years, with two fires in 2011 and 2013 leaving many of the buildings in a derelict state.
But funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Cornwall Council, including £1.7m from the European Regional Development Fund, is helping to bring the old brewery back to life – and local specialist contractor Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding is playing a major role in helping it happen.
Cornwall Council purchased part of the site in 2013 (the remainder is in private hands with planning permission granted for a residential development), and set about clearing modern industrial buildings away, leaving the heritage buildings to be brought back to life.
The team is refurbishing some of the historic brewery structures, including the striking chimney, and is building a two-storey extension behind the old brewhouse that will house state-of-the-art strongrooms to keep vital artefacts safe and sound.
Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding is undertaking all of the scaffolding works on the project – a significant element of the job due to the historic nature of the buildings and the access requirements.
The firm took over the job from another scaffolding contractor, which had already installed some scaffolding before Chris Sedgeman was appointed.
“We took over the scaffolds and then had to adapt them, so we essentially took a lot of them down and put them back up again,” explains Chris Sedgeman, managing director of the company.
“It was a totally free-standing scaffold,” Mr Sedgeman explains. “We had four containers, one in each corner weighing 12 tonnes a-piece, with cables coming down to each one that were tensioned to provide support.
“You’d think it was holding up the Titanic.”
This scaffold has now been taken down, with another local contractor carrying out all the re-pointing of the brickwork on the chimney, as well as repairs to some steelwork, after the integrity of the structure was assessed. “They were all radial bricks, so not a single one was the same as another,” Mr Sedgeman says.
Plans are in place to build a new structure at the foot of the chimney, with part of it cut out to allow people to walk inside, forming a striking new feature.
The historic brewhouse – the biggest building on the site – will be home to a café, exhibition spaces and research facilities once complete. Inside, Mr Sedgeman shows us scaffolding which is braced between two internal walls, supporting them both.
In another large room, a steel frame has already been erected by Midas, which will support the roof of the refurbished building, currently open to the elements.
Now that the chimney scaffold is complete, Chris Sedgeman will shortly be moving further inside to construct a “massive birdcage” scaffold. “We’ll put that up to help with the installation of the roof, then it will be edge protection and a crash deck for the roof,” Mr Sedgeman says.
The firm will also be installing scaffolding to help support arches, and has inherited some supporting scaffolds with beams bridging over a least (an artificial watercourse used to help work tin mines in Cornwall), which flows right past the brewery.
The project is currently progressing to plan, which Mr Sedgeman puts down to a close working relationship with main contractor Midas. “If you sit down early, plan it out and incorporate your specialist, you’ll always get a good plan,” he says.
That being said, there is still much more scaffolding work to come, with the project not set for completion until May 2018. Mr Sedgeman estimates that his team is only “60 per cent” of the way there. “There’s a lot more still to do yet,” he says.
The wait will be worth it for the residents of Redruth, with the combined public and private developments set to create 300 jobs and provide a large number of new homes.
The site has stood derelict for so long, with its previous incarnation beloved by so many, that giving a new lease of life to these historic buildings should give Redruth – and the wider region – a long-overdue boost.