Family’s devastation as brewery ravaged by flames after lightning strike

Chris Drummond, founder of The Good Things brewery, said he felt “helpless” as he watched the “absolutely devastating” damage caused to the 17th Century barn that housed his family business.

A family has been been left devastated after seeing their business turn into a “red ball of fire” when it was struck by a lightning.

The Good Things brewery based in Eridge, near Tunbridge Wells, suffered “absolutely devastating” damage when its 17th century barn was engulfed by flames on Sunday.

The old building was ravaged by the fire after a lightning struck at about 12:50pm.

Firefighters attended the scene to tackle the blaze, as well as the additional challenge of a number of pressurised tanks and chemicals inside the brew house.

Charlie Young, 27 and who had worked at the brewery for just over a year, had been alerted to the fire by a friend.

“A friend gave me a call and told me the brewery had just been struck by lightning and is on fire,” he said.

“My first response was to tell him he was joking.

“I got in my car and came over straight away to see what had happened.

“As I drove down the lane towards the barn I could just see a red ball of fire through the hedge and thought ‘wow’.”

The blaze was an electrical fire which went into the power room and left foam all over the top of the building.

Staff members and family stood back in horror as they watched the home to so many “amazing times” crumble before their eyes.

Chris Drummond, founder and CEO of the brewery, was married at the barn just under a decade ago, and his wife grew up near the barn and had many happy memories of the venue.

“The family had parties here when they were younger, Chris, the founder, even got married here,” Mr Young said.

“There are some amazing times that we’ve had and the damage is just absolutely devastating.

“We felt helpless standing and watching on, it was very emotional.”

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A number of local breweries have also been in touch to give a helping hand to the business.

“The support has just been incredible,” Mr Young added.

“We have had loads of messages from people in the industry and other breweries contacting us via social media.

“They’re telling us we’re all in it together and they can help us out, we are so lucky to be in an industry where everyone does look out for each other.

“We don’t feel alone at all in this, we’re really lucky with the big family that we have.”

The brewery staff have set up a GoFundMe campaign page where people can donate funds to assist with the future plans.

The page was set up on Monday and has already received over £10,000 in just 24 hours.

“We’re taken aback by the support but we definitely knew we had a strong extended family with our customers,” he added.

“All our electrics have gone so we’re currently using extensions, we don’t yet know what we’ll do with the funds raised.

“We would probably have to take everything offsite and go from there.”