Monday, 25 November 2013

The Metropolis of Malt

I hadn't realised until reading a couple of articles from the 1890's, that Newark was famous for malt before it gained renown as a brewing centre.

I'm not sure which is sadder: that there's currently no brewery or that there's no maltsters. Weird. When I was a child both were going strong. It was dead handy when me and my brother started whole grain brewing, because we could buy sacks of malt directly from the maltster.

Back in the early 1980's, there were as many breweries as there had ever been in the 20th century. The Castle Brewery (formerly Holes, by then Courage), Westcrown and the Maple Leaf. Admittedly the latter two were pretty small, but the Courage plant was a decent size. Sadly, though, it produced no cask beer, and never had while I was drinking.

The brewery in the article we're looking at today was the town's other substantial brewery, Warwicks & Richardsons. It ended up in the hands of John Smith, who were then taken over by Courage, leaving both the town's breweries in the same hands. It was inevitable that one would close. Warwicks was the unlucky one.

This was all before I was of age to drink. So I never did try beer from Warwicks brewery. I had plenty from the Castle Brewery, much of it free when I had a summer job there filling kegs.

If you know Newark, it's really weird that they should be going on about how much the town had changed in recent years and how many impressive new buildings has been erected. It's a very pretty, old-fashioned type of market town, with lots of Georgian and even earlier houses. It's never struck me as a modern metropolis.


The Newark Advertiser, of Wednesday, says:—To anyone re-visiting Newark after an absence a few years, nothing would seem more remarkable than the new and stately buildings that have sprung in the town, as result both of well-directed business enterprise and private munificence. I do not know any borough of similar size to our own — there is certainly none in the Midlands — that can point to so many striking additions to its architectural features within an equal space of time. Happy in the possession of liberal benefactors who have given nobly of their wealth to enrich the town, we are also fortunate in the possession of thriving firms, who are making the fame of local products in all parts of the world. Notices in our columns have from time to time indicated the wide area over which the commercial enterprise of Newark extends, and special reference has frequently been made to that vigorous and flourishing department of local trade which comprises the great industry of brewing. Newark ales, long known for their wholesome and exhilarating qualities, are making their way into popular favour with greater rapidity than at any previous period, and the constantly growing demand is rendering it necessary that increased appliances should be provided for their production. The signs of the times point to the fact that there is a great future tor the brewing trade in what may fairly termed the Metropolis of Malt, and as the business extends, making Newark (as we believe it will in time) a second Burton, new edifices will arise to adorn the town, and add to its most imposing features.

The new buildings we have the pleasure to describe to-day are the handsome new offices which are about to be erected for the eminent brewery firm of Warwicks and Richardsons, Limited, and which, when completed, will constitute a striking improvement to Northgate, one of the leading thoroughfares the town. As our readers will be aware, the extensive brewery premises stand some distance from the street, and the space hitherto left vacant will now be occupied by a range of offices which will run parallel with the public road, and in a line with the picturesque houses belonging to the Trustees of St. Leonard Hospital. For comfort and convenience they will deservedly rank among the very best in the trade in any part the country, and when the contemplated addition has been made, Messrs. Warwicks and Richardsons will possess a range of premises that are simply magnificent, and that are fitted with every possible appliance for the transaction of their extensive and increasing trade. For so great a business to have been developed in the last half-century speaks volumes, not only for the excellent qualities of Warwick's ales, but for the business energy and enterprise of the members of the firm. The old brewery, near the Town Wharf, where the industry had its rise, was established the year 1766, but it was not until October, 1866, that it came into the occupation of the late Mr. Richard Warwick, who became Mayor of Newark in 1868. Those who remember Mr. Warwick will know that he was a most able and painstaking man of business, and that under his efficient direction, the brewery flourished with remarkable rapidity. So extensive did the demand become for Warwick's ales, that in 1871 it was to enter upon the task of erecting the splendid brewery buildings which the firm has since occupied, having sidings in connection with both the Midland and the Great Northern Railway systems, and constituting one the finest structures devoted to the production of Britain's national beverage.

On Mr, Warwick's death, in 1877, the business devolved upon his three sons, who have carried it forward to its present position of prosperity and renown, making Warwick's ales and stouts familiar as a household word, not only in the Newark district, but in many populous parts of the country. Two years ago, following the example of Messrs. Bass, and Messrs. Guinness, the firm constituted themselves a Limited Company, and last year a spirited and judicious combination was made by the union of the two great breweries of Messrs. Warwick and the Trent Brewery Company, with all their wide connections and their many freehold properties. The Trent Brewery Company, who are the successors of the well-known firm Messrs. Richardson, Earp, and Slater, represent the side of the present Company under the name of Richardsons. The firm Richardson, Earp, and Slater commenced business on the extensive premises in Millgate, the lease of which is nearly expired, about thirty-five years ago. When they began operations, there were but three fermenting vessels employed, but so successful were they in their business, that when they left last year, in consequence of the amalgamation with Messrs. Warwick, there were no less than eighteen in use, and even these in the summer were barely sufficient to meet their requirements. Since the amalgamation, the increasing business has been such that if it continues to proceed at anything like the same rate, still further fermenting vessels will shortly be required. The combination of the two firms naturally necessitated the addition of further plant to the Northgate Brewery, and it has also made it imperative to erect the new offices to accommodate the large number of officials who have to be employed. It will give some idea of the extent of the concern if we mention that as many as 221 persons are employed in the business, viz.: 145 in Newark, and 76 at the Branches. The Company have branches and agencies in distant towns, amongst which we may mention Doncaster, Leicester, Lincoln, Sheffield, Nottingham, Peterborough, Derby, Sleaford, Newcastle, South Wingfield, London, Staveley, Clowne, Stamford, Mansfield, Heanor, Grantham, Northampton, Newstead, Gainsborough, Manchester, Tuxford, Carrington.

The brewing capacity is nearly 100,000 barrels a year. The plant recently added has increased it by 400 to 500 barrels per week, and more plant will be put down as the business continues to develop. The Company possess over five acres of their own freehold land, with frontages to both road and rail, which is still available for building purposes, and already additions to the stores and to the bottling department (which is a rapidly increasing branch the business), together with new stables, are in contemplation. The new circulating tanks which have been put in will hold 10,000 gallons of boiling water, and they can be filled from the well-known springs on Beacon-hill, whence the never-failing supply water is obtained — a supply which, for its purity and adaptability to the brewing of the finest ales and stouts, cannot be excelled.

The addition Messrs. Warwicks and Richardsons now propose to make is a group of new offices of capacious and important description, the frontage being about 126 ft., and the height 60ft. The offices will front the main road, and make the total length of the whole group of buildings 448 ft. by a width of 125 ft. The new offices will contain large and small offices for clerks, rooms for the directors of the Company, fireproof storing rooms, &c., &c. The walls will be built of red bricks, ornamented with moulded brick strings, and the roof covered with Broseley tiles. The heating will be done partly by hot water, and partly by open fireplaces, and the rooms will be ventilated by fresh air inlets, and special mechanical means of extracting the vitated air.

The contractor Mr. Baines, of Newark, and the architect of the new offices and the existing brewery is Mr. William Bliss Sanders, of 2, Cathcart-road, South Kensington, London, S.W."
Grantham Journal - Saturday 12 April 1890, page 4.
100,000 barrels a year was pretty big back then. In 1890, only 38 of the 12,000 breweries in Britain produced more than 100,000 barrels annually*. That extra 400-500 barrels a week is around 25,000 barrels annually.

I suspect that Warwicks & Richardsons was larger than Holes. Especially in the 1890's. The site on Northgate is much larger than Holes premises, which were hemmed in on all sides by houses.

Well-known springs on Beacon-hill? I've never heard of them. I'd always assumed one of the reasons the brewing industry developed in Newark in the second half of the 19th-century was gypsum-rich water from Trent valley wells. Perhaps I was wrong.

* 1928 Brewers' Almanack, page 118.

1 comment:

marquis said...

The gypsum rich water would have been a factor.Add the availability of a navigable river (I live about 15 miles upstream and well remember the Trent being used for cargoes) , the railways,the Great North Road and Fosse Way.Then there's the local arable farmland and plenty of local coal.