Saturday, 31 March 2012

How the Scottish brewing industry disappeared

The title says it all. In an easy to digest table form I'll be showing how the Scottish brewing industry all but disappeared in the space of a few years at the end of the 1950's and beginning of the 1960's.

There were two main motors of rationalisation: Scottish Brewers (later Scottish & Newcastle) and Eddie Taylor's United Breweries (one of the foundation stones of Bass Charrington).  Though eventually all of Britain's Big Six brewers, with the exception of Courage, got a piece of the pie. Whitbread and Watney came late to the table and scraped up the few remaining scraps. And, of course, regional brewer Vaux, who already had considerable trade in Scotland, picked up a surprisingly large share.

As you can see in the table below, most breweries didn't stay open long after purchase. Most closed within a few months.  For those that did continue to brew, it was mostly only a stay of execution. Only three of the breweries in the table remain open: Belhaven, Caledonian and Tennent. Odd that Scottish & Newcastle, with its roots north of the border, should have closed every one of its Scottish breweries.

Given John Calder's long association with both Arrol's and Allsopp (later Ind Coope and Allsopp then Allied Breweries), it's slightly odd that his firm should have ended up in the Bass Charrington camp. Allied themselves missedout on the takeover frenzy, contenting themselves with the Arrol's brewery that they had owned since 1930.

By 1970, only two breweries remained independent: Maclay and Belhaven. The former abandonned brewing in 1999, turning itself into a pub company. The latter eventually fell prey to an English firm, Greene King, in 2005.

How the Scottish brewing industry disappeared
Company Brewery Town Total Capital £ Takeover Company Date of Takeover closed Brewery group
Aitchison Canongate Edinburgh 400,000 Hammonds UBs. 1959 1961 Bass Charrington
Aitken Falkirk Falkirk 927,000 United Bs. 1960 1966 Bass Charrington
Arrol Alloa Alloa Allsopp 1930 1998 Allied
Ballingall Park, Pleasance Dundee 75,000 1964
Bernard New Edinburgh Edinburgh 1,075,000 Scottish Bs. 1960 1960 Scottish & Newcastle
Blair Townhead Alloa 200,000 G. Younger 1959 1959 Bass Charrington
Calder Shore Alloa 525,000 United Bs. 1960 1961 (1921) Bass Charrington
Campbell, Hope & King Argyle Edinburgh 250,000 Whitbread 1967 1970 Whitbread
James Deuchar Lochside Montrose Newcastle Bs. 1956 1956 Scottish & Newcastle
Robert Deuchar Duddingston Edinburgh Newcastle Bs. 1954 1961 Scottish & Newcastle
Drybrough Edinburgh Edinburgh 300,000 Watney Mann 1965 1987 Watney
Dudgeon Belhaven Dunbar -
Fowler Prestonpans Prestonpans 300,000 United Bs. 1960 1962 Bass Charrington
Gordon & Blair Craigwell Edinburgh Mackay 1954 1953 Watney
Jeffrey Heriot Edinburgh 280,000 United Bs. 1960 1992 Bass Charrington
Lorimer & Clark Caledonian Edinburgh 100,000 Vaux 1947 Vaux
Mackay St.Leonard's Edinburgh - Watney Mann 1963 1963 Watney
Maclay Thistle Alloa 150,000 1999
Maclachlan Castle Edinburgh 600,000 Tennent 1960 1966 Bass Charrington
MacLennan & Urquhart Dalkeith Dalkeith - Aitchison 1955 1958 Bass Charrington
McEwan Fountain Edinburgh 1,000,000 Scottish Bs. 1931 2005 Scottish & Newcastle
Morison Edinburgh Edinburgh - Scottish Bs. 1960 1960 Scottish & Newcastle
Murray Craigmillar Edinburgh 375,000 United Bs. 1960 1963 Bass Charrington
Steel, Coulson Croft-an-Righ Edinburgh 140,000 Vaux 1959 1960 Vaux
Tennent Wellpark Glasgow 2,250,000 Charrington 1963 Bass Charrington
Wright Perth Perth - Vaux 1961 1961 Vaux
Young Ladywell Musselburgh 30,000 Whitbread 1968 1969 Whitbread
G. Younger Candleriggs Alloa 750,000 United Bs. 1960 1963 Bass Charrington
R. Younger St. Ann's Edinburgh 580,000 Scottish Bs. 1960 1961 Scottish & Newcastle
W. Younger Abbey, Holyrood Edinburgh 1,000,000 Scottish Bs. 1931 1986 Scottish & Newcastle
Usher Park Edinburgh 403,000 Vaux 1960 1981 Vaux
Brewery Manual 1955, 1960, 1965 (via "A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland" by Ian Donnachie, 1998, page 240.)
"A Century of British Brewers", Barber, 2005.
Scottish Brewing Archive website

There's one firm in the table that wasn't taken over: Ballingall. They just gave up brewing in 1964, though continued to supply their 7 pubs with beer from Drybrough until finally closing the business in 1968.

The process of rationalisation and closure in Scotland was an extreme, more concentrated form of what happened in England during the 1950's and 1960's. Except in England many independent companies not only survived but later thrived. Who has disappeared? The large brewing groups that were the result of the takeover frenzy. There's a lesson to be learned there.

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