DEVIZES brewery Wadworth has announced in an exclusive interview with the Gazette that it is to build a new brewery away from the site which has been its home since 1885.

CEO Chris Welham and chairman Charles Bartholomew said the plan was for the brewery to stay in Devizes but a new state-of-the art brewery would be built on either a green or brown field site.

Two options are being considered. One would see the firm's offices and visitor centre stay in the listed red brick building on the corner on Northgate Street and New Park Street but the brewery itself move.

The second option would mean the whole business would relocate probably to somewhere on the outskirts of the town.

All, or part of the existing site, will be sold-off.

Mr Bartholomew is the great-grandson of John Smith Bartholomew, who was in partnership with brewery founder Henry Alfred Wadworth who created the firm in 1875 and ten years later moved it to its present home.

He said: "When the plan was first discussed I wasn't sure it was the right thing. But I quickly realised it was what was best for the business and that we need to move forward to survive in the 21st century."

Head office staff were told last week about the scheme and pub tenants and managers at the weekend.

Mr Welham, who took over from Mr Bartholomew as CEO in 2015 with the remit to take the business forward, said: "We are hugely proud of our Wiltshire roots and the great beers that we provide for our customers.

"In this modern world we need to be ever more flexible as a brewer to meet changing market demand and also ensure that we are geared up for the long term development of the company."

He said a review had been taking place for the past two years and it had been decided the brewing plant and equipment was becoming outdated.

He said: "The building itself poses a number of challenges and we need our plant to be set up to be much more agile to brew beer in a variety of sizes."

He said the building of a new brewery would safeguard its heritage.

Wadworth hope to identify a new site within the next few months and then gain planning permission for the multi-million pound scheme which the brewery is managing to finance without borrowing.

Mr Welham said: "We would like to have commissioned a new facility within three to four years from now."

He promised that the Wadworth shire horses would remain a firm fixture.

It is also thought that the change could have a positive effect on Wiltshire Council's Wharfside plans to open up the canal area and link with the scheme to turn the old Assize Court building into a new home for Wiltshire Museum.

Mr Bartholomew said: "We are very excited about the future."