A HISTORIC brewery ravaged by the impact of the Covid-19 crisis has voiced its determination to remain a part of the town.

World-famous Timothy Taylor brewery, founded in Keighley more than 160 years ago, was buoyant just four months ago.

Its multi-award-winning Landlord ale – whose celebrity fans include global superstar Madonna – was proving more popular than ever, and its other traditional beers were enjoying a resurgence.

But the company's revenue collapsed almost literally overnight when pubs were ordered by the Government to close to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Taylor's own 19-outlet estate was amongst the casualties.

The firm was forced to throw away hundreds of thousands of pounds' worth of cask beer which was no longer in date.

And 90 employees were put on furlough, leaving a skeleton crew of just 16 manning the Knowle Spring site.

Chief executive Tim Dewey said it had been a hugely difficult period for the family company.

And whilst he has expressed his delight that pubs have been given the green light to reopen from this Saturday, with strict measures in place, he warns that tough times still lie ahead.

"We have significantly increased brewing in readiness for the guideline date and to ensure we can meet customer demand," said Mr Dewey.

"However, the big unknown is to what extent demand will return – given the conditions on social distancing that pubs will be placed under, combined with an understandable reluctance on the part of some consumers who may feel they are at risk.

"We anticipate that the months ahead will continue to be challenging.

"But our brewery has stood firm in Keighley for over 160 years and we are determined that it will continue to supply quality cask ales for many more years to come."

He said a 'silver lining' during the crisis was bottle sales, which had enabled brewing to continue – helping to bring-in at least some cash.

Mr Dewey adds that despite the significant financial pressures the company is under, it is continuing to support its pub partners.

"We initially offered a four-week rent-free period ahead of lockdown and then a continued period of free rent post-lockdown," he said.

"And despite pubs reopening, we will not be charging rent at this time either, giving licensees a chance to invest in their outlets and judge the level of trade without the added pressure of payments."

In readiness for more employees returning to work, the brewery and offices have undergone a deep clean and new signage, hygiene measures and working practices have been put in place to ensure people's safety.

Taylor’s is one of the oldest family-owned breweries in the UK.

Bingley-born Timothy Taylor opened a brewery in Cook Lane, Keighley, in 1858, in partnership with James Shackleton and John Naylor.

A year later they bought their first pub, the Volunteers Arms.

In 1863, Mr Taylor bought out his partners and brewing began at the Knowle Spring site.

Over the years the brewery has won countless awards for its ales.

Its 'flagship' Landlord – introduced in 1952 – has won more awards than any other beer, scooping both the Campaign for Real Ale's Champion Beer of Britain title and the Brewing Industry Challenge Cup four times.

In 2014, the company completed a £12 million investment programme – the biggest in its history.

The venture included the installation of a new boiler, the provision of new offices and a transport depot, extensions and six new fermenting vessels – which enabled the company to produce an extra 15,000 barrels of beer a year.