SOUTHBOURNE Ales Brewery has finally opened at Bournemouth's Poole Hill - a year after work started on site.

Problems with getting SSE to install vital electrical equipment delayed the project, which was initially set for a summer opening.

Owner Jennifer Tingay told the Echo: "We opened secretly on the Friday, there was so much last minute work to be done but we made it.

"There's still a lot of work to be done, just this morning we've written a list about what is left to get sorted but we are now open to the public.

"This building had been left empty for 20 years and we did everything ourselves, with so many volunteers giving up their time. The frontage was a huge project to undertake, but we are finally there."

The 20 barrel brewery will eventually be capable of producing up to 15,000 pints a week.

The frontage to the Poole Hill building has been attracting significant attention from residents and visitors to the town.

"Everyone has been saying, 'wow, isn't that amazing, I never knew it was there all along', but we tell them 'it wasn't there all along, we've made it'. But it's a real compliment really," said Jennifer.

Southbourne Ales will become the first purpose-built brewery in Bournemouth itself - the Bournemouth Brewing Company, which has been running for several years, is actually based in Poole.

However, an in-house microbrewery is currently operating at the nearby Brewhouse and Kitchen pub.

Jennifer, who worked as the quality manager at Ringwood Brewery for seven-and-a-half years, launched Southbourne Ales in 2013 and started brewing at Town Mill Brewery in Lyme Regis.

Southbourne Ales’ new Poole Hill premises, which was once occupied by a Rolls-Royce showroom and an ironmongers, had been empty for 16 years before Jennifer and her team started work.

The company plans to run tours of the brewery during working hours and hopes to include a public bar, opening from 11am-11pm. They also hope to produce 5,760 pints a week.