Thursday, 8 December 2011

A Warm Partnership Dispute

They've just but a couple of hundred years worth of British newspapers on the web. That's where I found this gem about the Shore Brewery in Alloa:

"A Warm Partnership Dispute. At the Alloa Police Court on Saturday. Mr. James Calder of the firm of McNellan and Co.,  brewers, was charged with assaulting Mr. J. T. McNellan, the other partner in the firm. It appeared that a private letter of Mr. McNellan had been opened by Mr. Calder, whom, on learning the fact, Mr. McNellan designated "a low sweep." Mr. Calder retorted that the other was "a drunken beast," and after the interchange of a few other civilities, he overturned Mr. McNellan's stool and Mr. McNellan with it. The partners struggled and fought for some minutes, and in the course of the conflict Mr. McNellan slapped Mr. Calder on the face with the open hand, and Mr. Calder struck Mr. McNellan, likewise on the face, with a fire shovel, "or some other lethal weapon." The witnesses in the matter were four of the divided firm's clerks. The case was remitted to the sheriff."
Nottinghamshire Guardian - Friday 11 November 1870, page 8.

There will be lots more of this type of stuff. Why? I've paid my 80 quid for a year's access and I'm not going to waste it.

Though this little article has, in addition to amusing the hell out of me, also confused the hell out of me. I'll explain why.

According to "Alloa Ale", James Calder bought the Shore Brewery from McNellan in 1862. So how come McNellan was still a partner in 1870 when this fight occurred? See what the book says:

"The Shore Brewery, Alloa, was built in 1816 by John McNellan, whose family were brewers and maltsters at nearby Cambusbarron. He was attracted to the site because of the good water available from a number of wells, and the close proximity to Alloa Harbour, which greatly facilitated the import of grain and despatch of beer. Furthermore, the site was connected to local coal pits by a tramroad or waggonway, coal being essential for heating and boiling purposes.

The firm of McNellan, Sons & Co. quickly built up a reputation for the quality of their sweet and mild ales but by the 1850's had switched with considerable success to the brewing of 54/- and 60/- Pale Ales, for which purpose the local water was eminently suitable. By 1860 McNellan's had established agencies in Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool and Newcastle,18 but the following year they ran into severe financial difficulties, and in 1862 the firm's assets including the Shore Brewery were poinded, that is, seized and offered for sale to recover the company's debts.

The Shore Brewery was acquired in late 1862 by James Calder who had timber importing interests in the neighbourhood."
"Alloa Ale", by Charles McMaster, 1985, page 29.
The text says that McNellan went broke and the brewery was auctioned off in 1862. Surely under such circumstances he couldn't have remained a partner?

I can't imagine McNellan and Calder remained partners long after their fight. He clearly didn't mess about, Calder. Replying to a slap on the face with the whack of a shovel. It must have been a fascinating day at work for the clerks who witnessed it. I wonder if Calder really was prosecuted? And if so, what was his penalty. I need to search the newspaper archives some more.


The Beer Nut said...

It's the sort of conflict I can only imagine being acted out by Vic & Bob.

Bailey said...

We saw that this archive had gone live last week and got a bit excited. Look forward to anything else you might find.

Ron Pattinson said...

Beer Nut, wait until you hear some more of the details in a later post. You're not far wrong with Vic & Bob.

Ron Pattinson said...

Bailey, less than three days after signing up I've a big pile of material. I could easily spend years looking through it.

reeksy said...

Why was the Nottinghamshire Guardian so interested in this? Did their court reporter get on the wrong train?

Anonymous said...

Did James calder have a son named James barclay calder? Born about 1910 in England? I have 4 fostered calder boys in America who only know their dad was James Barclay Calder and he would have been born around 1910 in England.

Ron Pattinson said...


I doubt James Calder would have had a son born as late as 1910. His eldest son, John Calder was born in the 1860's and was already working in the business in the early 1890's (not retiring until the early 1960's when he was over 90). More likely, James Barclay Calder would have been the son of John Calder, based on the dates.

Unfortunately, as I discovered when I was hunting through the newspaper archive for stuff on the brewers, Calder is a pretty common surname in Scotland. More likely there's no connection between the families. The brewing Calders were wealthy, successful businessmen.