Monday, 11 January 2010

Tied Houses in 1848

I'm going to share with you an early reference to tied houses in London.

Though they were tied in a slightly different way: Rather than being owned by the brewery publicans had a loan tie. That's how most of the "free" houses in Britain are still tied to a specific supplier. Breweries only started buying large numbers of pubs at the end of the 19th century. Flush with cash from stock market flotations, larger brewers went on a buying spree. Prompted by a desire to secure outlets at a time when local authorities were doing their best to close as many pubs as possible.

"Consumption of liquors, &c.]—There is one fluid other than that above treated of, well entitled here to follow in its wake, since, notwithstanding the prevalence of total abstinence principles, it almost supplies the place of water itself in London, as the common and hourly means of slaking thirst. In naming it we will, no doubt, be anticipated : it is 'London porter.' "None so poor," says a recent writer, "none so miserable, in London, but contemns the thin colourless product of the spring, and will have his deep-brown 'stout,' in pot or can, at home or abroad. With the labouring classes the beverage has become a necessary of life, and, indeed, even the most temperate and orderly among them would perhaps as soon want their solid food, as the 'entire' to wash it down. In part, the origin, at least, of this habit may be owing to the rather impure sources of much of the water about the metropolis, and we have heard sensible men trace it to such a cause ; but the cheapness, abundance, and quality of the liquor, not to speak of other circumstances, seem in a great measure sufficient to account for the prevalence of tbe custom at the present day." The London porter is not generally, as often supposed, made with Thames water : that of the Lea river, and of private wells, is chiefly used. Barclay, Perkins, and Co., have the most extensive porter brewhouse in London. Other six companies, Hanbury's, Reid's, Whitbread's, Meux's, Combe and Delatield's, and Calvert's, produce also very large quantities, the issue of none being less than 100,000 barrels a-year, while it is double that quantity in several of the cases. Barclay, Perkins, and Co., last year manufactured 351,474 barrels of 36 gallons each.

Аn idea of the immense extent to which the brewing of porter is carried on in London, may be formed from a brief description of this company's brewery. —If any private concern in England, or in the world, is entitled to the epithet of 'vastness,' this is one. It covers about 8 acres of ground. The buildings which contain the vats themselves are enormous. Some of the largest of the latter contain each 4,000 barrels: they resemble houses more than any thing else.* The average number of vats is nearly 100. A steam-engine of 22 horse-power is employed in driving the machinery, and about 200 men are engaged in the various works of the establishment. It is supposed that the number of persons dependent upon it without doors, in the sale and transportation of the 'beer,' is three or four thousand. ** The three coppers in which it is boiled, hold each 150 barrels. Twenty-five gentlemen once dined in one of these coppers, after which 50 of tbe workmen got in and regaled themselves. The tuns in which the liquor ferments, hold 1,400 barrels each. One hundred and sixty horses of great size and strength, and in the most splendid condition, are kept on the premises, for the purpose chiefly of transporting the materials to and from different parts of the city. The London dray-horses are universally celebrated. The stock of hops on hand in this, as in other establishments, is usually about £200,000 in value. The quantity of malt consumed in one year, in eleven of the principal breweries in London, exceeds 500,000 quarters. In 1827, it was found that the malt used in brewing in London, amounted to 3,964,649 bushels : in 1837. to 5,692,360 bushels. The quantity of porter annually brewed in twelve of the principal houses, is about 1,400,000 barrels. Ale is also brewed, though not to so great an extent : the quantity brewed by six of the principal ale brewers, is above 80,000 barrels. There are numerous smaller breweries both of ale and porter, and it is impossible to calculate accurately the amount of the produce ; but the quantity annually consumed in London, has been estimated at 2,000,000 barrels, or 72,000,000 gallons. — each barrel containing 36 gallons. Wines are annually consumed, in London, to the amount of 65,000 pipes. The quantity of foreign spirits sent out of stock, for consumption in London, during the year 1827, was 1,512,268 gallons ; during the year 1837, 1,270,931 gallons. The quantity of British spirits during the former year, was 4,602,367 gallons : during the latter, 5,354,388 gallons. A certain portion of these supplies, however, would, doubtless, be consumed by families in the country.

* A vessel of this nature once burst in a large London brewhouse, and did no small damage, the liberated lake of liquor flouting a whole family in the next house clean out of doors, with other similar feats.

** The most of the licensed public houses in the city are connected with one brewing company or another, and, hence, are called 'tied houses.' The brewers advance loans to the publican on security of his lease, and on condition that he sell the lender's liquor alone. The sign of the company is then placed above the door, and, in this way, a single brewhouse has the value of £15,000 in sign-boards stuck up over London. This explains what a stranger in the metropolis is at first sight very much struck with — the number of large boards marked with 'Whitbread's Entire' Meux'a Dublin Refined,' or ' Combe and Delafield's Brown Stout house,' that meet the eye in every part of London."
"The parliamentary gazetteer of England and Wales, volume III", 1848, page 241.


Matt said...

The section about "six companies...produce also very large quantities, the issue of none being less than 100,000 barrels a-year, while it is double that quantity in several of the cases. Barclay, Perkins, and Co., last year manufactured 351,474 barrels of 36 gallons each" made me think about how that compares to today. Since Guinness closed the Park Royal brewery in 2005, I can only think of Fullers and Meantime as London porter brewers. I suspect it would take their combined output to float "a whole family in the next house clean out of doors" now.

Graham Wheeler said...

It was the Henry Meux brewery where one of their porter vats burst in 1814. It seems that the size of that vat was 7600 barrels. That would be 210,000 gallons of beer. The tidal wave demolished three terraced houses and killed eight people. It was, apparently, one of their smaller vats.

I guess that there was a fair bit of binge drinking that day.

Graham Wheeler said...

I will modify my earlier comment, inasmuch as, courtesy of the Interweb and according to the writings of Ian Spencer-Hornsey, the flood of beer filled the cellars of the terraced houses, undermined the foundations, and had to be demolished later. It seem that the tidal wave did not directly demolish the houses. Whoops!

Anonymous said...

"Meux's Dublin Refined"

Eh? Meux's was at the bottom of Totenham Court Road - some way from Dublin …

Barm said...

Can't shed any light on Meux's Dublin Refined, but while googling the name I hit upon a Singapore newspaper from 1912 where the statement appears (OCR sic): "London Stouts are sw*eter than Dublin Stoats and so den p-el rred".
A can of worms re-opened?

Oblivious said...

Barm sweet does not always mean sweet in taste.

I can also mean "not bitter, sour," Guinness is well know to have some lactic acid issues especially when bottle stouts where storing in heat for long periods

Barm said...

Good point – that would also confirm another quote Ron posted somewhere on here about Guinness's acidity and "briskness" compared to the "balmy" London stout.