Saturday, 23 March 2013

London Porter in Leeds in the 1770's

Yes, it's another spotting of London Porter out in the provinces in the 18th century. This time the other side of the Pennines, in Leeds.

Gentlemen and innkeepers may supplied with the best LONDON PORTER, from the noted House of FELIX, CALVERT, and Co. at £1. 18s. per Barrel, containing 36 Gallons, 19s. 6d. per Kilderkin, containing 18 Gallons. By JOHN PROCKTER, At the Top the Swan Yard, near the Cross, LEEDS.

He also begs Leave to acquaint his Friends and the Public, That he has begun sell RUM, BRANDY, GENEVA, &c. by Retail as well as Wholesale, on the very lowest Terms.
Leeds Intelligencer - Tuesday 10 June 1777, page 2.

How had the Porter got to Leeds, which is well inland? Probably by water. In the early 18th century a canal - the Aire and Calder Navigation - linked Leeds to the sea at Goole. My guess would be that the Porter came along that route. First by sea from London to Goole and from there to Leeds by river and canal.

Felix Calvert was, at the time, one of the largest London Porter breweries, hence one of the largest breweries in the world. As you can see in this table, they were in third place, behind only John Calvert and Whitbread:

Largest London Porter brewers in 1777
Brewer output (barrels)
Thrale 85,300
Whitbread 110,100
Truman 80,900
Felix Calvert 87,000
John Calvert 106,400
Meux, Reid 27,500
Gyfford 81,100
“The Brewing Industry in England 1700-1830”, Peter Mathias, 1959, p 551-552

Why did they bother mentioning that a barrel was 36 gallons and a kilderkin 18 gallons? Because this is from a time when Ale and Beer barrels were different sizes. An Ale barrel held just 32 gallons and an Ale Kilderkin 16 gallons.

Price stability. Something that's hard to imagine nowadays. In 1914, a barrel of Porter cost 36 shillings. Scarcely any more Less than the 38 shillings being charged in 1777. The extra two bob could well have been for the trouble of lugging it all the way to Leeds.


BryanB said...

Is that 1914 price - lower than the 1770 price - correct? Or is it for a 32gal cask?

Ron Pattinson said...

Slight mistake in the text there. The 1914 price really was lower than the 1770 one.