Saturday, 1 December 2012

Jubilee of Brewing at Craigmillar

What would I do without annual general meetings and the newspaper reports they generated? Do some proper research, that's what. The burrowing around in archives sort.

This report confirms what I've already said: Murray's was launched on a more sound financial footing than many other breweries. Even in the difficult times of the 1930's they were making a profit and declaring decent dividends. It just shows you that glamourous investments like Allsopp were often a far worse choice than more prosaic ones such as Murray.

Jubilee of Brewing at Craigmillar

The annual general meeting of Messrs William Murray & Company, Limited, was held yesterday at Craigmillar. Mr C. H. Marshall S.S.C., chairman, said - "As the directors' report and accounts have been in your hands tor some time, I presume 1 may take them as read. We have reached the year when it is appropriate to review the history of the business which is now carried on under the name of William Murray & Company Limited. It is the jubilee year of the company and of the introduction of brewing Craigmillar, Edinburgh. Jubilees have been celebrated from the earliest times as days for rejoicing, and this is no exception. William Murray, the founder, belonged to a family of brewers who had brewed for generations at Ednam, in Roxburghshire. The destruction by fire of this brewery proved ultimately to be the starting-point for the development elsewhere of a brewery business which, in the environment of Ednam, no matter how much ability had been brought to bear upon the business there, could never have attained the same importance as another brewery established in a locality more favourably situated. Mr Murray must have recognised this, for, in place of re-erecting a brewery at Ednam, he decided to look around for a site which would furnish an unlimited supply of the best spring water, and also for industrial advantages which would further the development of a successful brewery business. The site he chose for the erection of his new brewery possessed all these, and in addition combined something more with which industrial conditions are not, as a rule associated, namely, a situation picturesque and romantic; to the north, Arthur's Seat, beneath whose shadows lie Duddingston Church and Loch; to the west the Metropolis, with its ancient Castle and numerous spires rising in the distance; and, towering in the south, Craigmillar Castle, with all its historical interest of bygone gaieties, tragedies, and memories.

The Situation,

"Almost midway between the historic landmarks of Craigmillar Castle and Duddingston Kirk, land which had remained undeveloped for hundreds years, the first brewery was erected, and was appropriately named Craigmillar Brewery. The selection of such a situation with such natural and industrial advantages is, I venture say, a great tribute to the business sagacity of the founder. For seven or eight years Craigmillar Brewery stood alone, but other brewers became attracted to the excellent quality of the brewing water, and seven breweries were ultimately erected within a comparatively small area. The number of buildings both industrial and residential has increased yearly, and we who are the successors of Murray may take pride in the fact that the establishment and development of this important industrial suburb of the Capital of Scotland owes its beginning to the erection, fifty years ago, of Craigmillar Brewery.

"In 1897 Mr Murray converted his business into limited liability company, and since then two brewery businesses have been purchased, and bottling stores have established in Glasgow and in Fife.

Outstanding Business Ability.

"Following Mr Murray, who retired 1922. Mr W. D. Hay became chairman and managing director of the company. I had the pleasure of knowing both Mr Murray and Mr W. D Hay for a long number of years. Long before I became a director of this company I was associated with them frequently in business transactions. Both were men of outstanding business ability and capacity, and what is perhaps more important, both were men of honour and integrity. It is a great pleasure to to testify to the work which they did to establish this company on the solid foundations on which it now stands, and it is a matter of regret that neither Mr Murray nor Mr Hay lived to see the jubilee of the company which they served so eminently and so well.

Improved Premises.

"Of the controversies regarding the liquor trade during the past fifty years I do not intend to speak. I should like, however, to touch upon one subject very briefly: the movement to improve licensed premises. It is a matter of great regret that every effort by the licensed trade to further this object has far received no encouragement — only opposition — from the official temperance societies. Until the licensing laws, as they at present stand on the Statute Book, are amended, it cannot be expected that the licensed trade will embark upon the large expenditure necessary to reconstruct present buildings or to build new premises as improved public-houses. So far however, as present legislation permits, we are helping in the construction of such houses, and our policy in this direction will be continued.

Most Satisfactory Figures.

"I turn now to the balance-sheet and profit and loss account for the past year. The figures, you will be pleased to observe, are the most satisfactory in the history of the company. This is gratifying in view of the present being the jubilee year of the company. It is proposed to place this year to the genera] reserve fund the sum of £5000, raising the general Reserve fund to £24,000. While the consumption of beer in Scotland has not shown the same marked increase during the past year as in England, there has been improvement. In view of this and the fact that your directors are of the opinion that provision has already been made for any ordinary contingency, they have resolved to pay a dividend at the rate of 5 per cent, per annum, less income tax, on Preference shares, and a final dividend on Ordinary shares at the rate of 10 per cent., less income tax, making a total dividend for the year at the rate of 15 per cent, per annum, less income tax, and to carry forward £16,921, subject to directors' fees, to next year."

Councillor John Hay, D.L., J.P., in seconding the adoption of the accounts, referred to the chairman's services during the past years, in which the company had made substantial progress. The appointment of Sir James Fraser Cunninghame, O.B.E., J.P., who was elected to the board during the year, was unanimously confirmed."
Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 09 December 1936, page 7.

I hadn't realised until now that the brewery had relocated so far. Ednam is a tiny village just outside Kelso and just two or three miles from the English border. Uprooting the business and moving it 50 miles to Edinburgh was a bold move. But one which obviously paid off. I can't imagine that the company could ever have become very large if it had remained located in the thinly-populated border region.

Checking in my trusty "A Century of British Brewers Plus", I see that the firm hadn't been in Ednam long, only having been founded in 1880, six years before the move to Duddingston. Sadly, the book doesn't say who the two brewery businesses were who Murray took over.

Like so many Scottish breweries, Murray disappeared in the frenzy of takeovers at the end of the 1950's and beginning of the 1960's. It was purchased by Northern Breweries, one of the forerunners of Bass Charrington, in 1960 and closed in 1963.

Just noticed how many analyses I have of Murray beers. I guess that will be next.

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