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Show will go on at iconic Telford's Warehouse venue in Chester

Business owner Jez Horrill has now bought the building from Canal and River Trust

Outside Telford's Warehouse are restaurant manager Francesca Pollard, with four-year-old Macy who is the daughter of one of the waitresses, owner Jez Horrill, assistant manager Guy Meek and general manager Nicky Wright.

The world is always changing so it’s comforting to know the Chester institution that is Telford’s Warehouse is looking to the future with the same winning formula.

Owner Jez Horrill took over Telford’s in 1993 with his brother Damon.

They transformed the venue from a place that had been previously boarded up and de-licensed by the police due to concerns about underage drinking and illegal raves.

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There were set-backs along the way like when the community had to campaign to stop landlords British Waterways converting it into a hotel and a serious fire in 2000 which closed the venue for about a year.

Telford's Warehouse at Tower Wharf.

But today it continues to enjoy an enviable reputation for live music, good ale and food in a listed building with a beautiful canal-side setting.

So there was some concern as to what it meant for Telford’s when a planning inspector controversially granted consent for a 350-bed student accommodation scheme on its doorstep against the wishes of owner Jez and the wider community.

And when building owners the Canal and River Trust, the successor to British Waterways, announced the freehold was up for sale, Jez had to think carefully about where his future lay.

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His decision to buy the place, lock, stock and barrel will delight fans of the venue which has hosted many young bands including none other than Coldplay and the legendary late singer-songwriter John Martyn who loved the place so much he ended up living underneath in a barge for five years.

Chris Martin lead singer of Coldplay who have performed at Telford's Warehouse in the early days. PICTURE BY SIMON HADLEY

“It’s my intention to be here for a good while and adapt to whatever circumstances throw at us,” explained Jez, who said putting the finances in place to buy the bricks and mortar took about a year. Buying the freehold ended the uncertainty that would have accompanied a change in ownership to a new landlord.

His mantra is ‘business as usual’ with no prospect of any cheap deals for the potential student customers that will be living next door. He expects some will like what they do and some won’t.

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“I think it’s an opportunity now to embrace potential new business,” he added.

To what does he attribute Telford’s continuing success?

“I think it’s a combination of the live music we have done over the years and the names that have come here and performed and it’s given this place certainly a national, and maybe an international status, as a live music venue. There are a lot of great acts that have gone on to do particularly well like Coldplay and Catfish and The Bottlemen most recently.

The canalside area outside Telford's Warehouse at Tower Wharf.

“And it’s a fabulous location, has the best sunsets in town and it’s waterside and the staff – some of the staff have been here as long as I have. The team have stuck around and there has been that consistency.”

Jez, who lives near Mold, is no longer a business partner with brother Damon, who is ‘doing really well’ and now runs six licensed premises. His other brother Spencer, an engineer, has nothing to with the licensed trade.

But mum and especially dad, Carol and John, are part of the Telford’s story. John was in bands during the 1960s and in the late 1970s promoted acts including Blondie, The Police, AC/DC, The Who, The Clash and Bob Marley at the Deeside Leisure Centre. He is the inspiration for Jez’s love of music.

And his parents still visit Telford’s for a bite to eat and occasionally ‘steal’ a parking space on shopping trips. Mum occasionally bakes cakes for the restaurant.

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