Date issued: 19 March 2020
Work to renovate Jack’s, the former hardware shop on St Nicholas Street, has been completed and the iconic building handed over to neighbouring venue Three Wise Monkeys for ongoing conversion to a micro-brewery.
Although Government measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus are likely to impact the local hospitality sector significantly for the foreseeable future – with the public being advised not to frequent pubs, restaurants and other social venues – work on the interior fit-out is set to begin shortly and is due to be completed by Christmas 2020.
Parts of the locally listed structure, which once served as a dwelling house and barn, date back to the 16th century. Over time, the original fabric of the building had become heavily decayed, requiring an extensive programme of complex structural works to bring it back to a usable condition. These included constructing a new metal substructure, preserving almost all the historic timbers and other original features, as well as roof repairs and a full overhaul of the building's exterior.
Early in the project, which began in April 2017, ground works revealed the presence of Roman baths beneath the building. Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) led the deep excavations required to explore and document the discovery. Numerous recovered artefacts have since been displayed at CAT's headquarters near Abbey Field.
Colchester Amphora Trading, the council's commercial business, led the project management, working alongside primary contractor ARC Major Projects and the Colchester-based architects, Purcell.
Cllr Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “In these difficult times due to Coronavirus, we must follow social distancing guidelines and not visit public venues such as the Three Wise Monkeys. However, it is important that we still support local businesses. This regeneration work does just that.
“The former Jack’s store is a significant part of the history of Colchester’s town centre, cherished by many residents, and it will be rewarding both aesthetically and commercially to see it given new life and brought back into use again.
“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.
“When we get through the worst of the coronavirus, I will be very happy to raise a glass to support this local business go from strength to strength.”
Paul Tonkinson, co-owner of Three Wise Monkeys, added: “During this incredibly difficult time, our primary focus is on the health and wellbeing of all our much-loved staff and customers. We have taken the unprecedented step of closing all our venues until we feel people are safe to return to their accustomed way of living.
“When things are back to normal, we’ll be pouring our heart and soul into a major refurbishment of the Jack’s site.
“The building will retain its charm of old, whilst also being able to function as a modern craft brewery.
“Colchester is a wonderfully historic town centre, but to be successful in the modern era there must be innovation and imagination.
“We hope to play a key role alongside other local businesses in the evolution of a more diverse High Street, which will ultimately reward us all.
“We appreciate the continued support of Colchester Borough Council throughout this journey.”