Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Cromwell Brewery

I still find it odd having a brewery with the name of Cromwell in Newark. Because his men spent most of the Civil War firing into the town. Newark was a Royalist stronghold and spent most of the war under siege.

But its inappropriate name isn't the only exceptional thing about the Cromwell Brewery. Through the newspaper archive I've managed to dig up quite a lot about the brewery, or rather the people who owned it. Surprising for a brewery that wasn't in operation for much more than 20 years.

According to Brenda M. Pask in "Newark: The Bounty of Beer" (1999, page 15) the brewery was founded in 1869 by James Hooton. It was on Baldertongate and attached to the Oliver Cromwell pub. By the early 1880's, the brewery had passed into the hands of the Smith family and was operated as Smith & Son (Pask page 16).

In 1883 the Cromwell Brewery Company, a partnership of William Moss and Joseph William Smith Sen., was dissolved after the death of the latter.(London Standard - Saturday 03 November 1883, page 6, Sheffield Independent - Saturday 03 November 1883, page 7.) I'm not quite sure what happened next, but by 1887 Moss was no longer associated with the brewery and it was operating as Howe and Alexander (Grantham Journal - Saturday 17 December 1887, page 4.). These are the people that interest me.

The first mention of them I found is this marriage notice:

"July 4, at Christchurch, Thomas William Alexander, to Almeida Howe;"
Stamford Mercury - Friday 14 July 1882, page 1.

It looks very much like Alexander had married a relative of his future partner, most likely his daughter. A few years later, in 1886, Alexander became a partner in the brewery, bringing with him £5,000 capital. (Nottingham Evening Post - Friday 25 July 1890, page 4.)

He seems to have been involved in the brewing trade before that, because a T. W. Alexander is mentioned in a report of Caparn, Hankey, and Co. annual fishing competition. (Grantham Journal - Saturday 18 August 1883, page 8.) Caparn, Hankey, and Co. would become Hole & Co. in 1885.

The business was more than just a brewpub, as there was also an off-licence:

"TO be LET, SHOP, with Off Beer License, situated at Fulbeck, doing a good trade in all branches. Apply to Howe & Alexander, Cromwell Brewery, Newark-on-Trent."
Grantham Journal - Saturday 17 December 1887, page 4.

As well as at least one more pub, the Royal Oak in Stodman Street. Which is where Alexander lived with his wife Almeida and her father. It wasn't the happiest of households.

This is the article that really got me interested in the Alexanders:

"At a special sitting of the Newark magistrates yesterday morning, Thomas William Alexander, Of the firm of Howe and Alexander, of the Oliver Cromwell Brewery, Newark, and the Royal Oak Hotel, Stodman street, was charged with having caused grievous bodily harm to his wife, Almina Alexander, with intent kill and murder her, on the night of Sunday, the 25th March, or early on the morning of Monday, the 26th.—- Mr. Wallis (deputy clerk to the magistrates) said the prisoner had been apprehended on a warrant, which was then read. — Mr. Norledge applied for an adjournment, and named Monday next as a suitable day for the preliminary examination. — The Mayor said remand would be granted till Monday, at 12 o'clock. — Defendant was then removed custody, and subsequently taken to Lincoln."
Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Thursday 29 March 1888, page 2.

Notice that they got the wife's name wrong.  This really piqued my interest. I've not come across a brewer being charged with attempted murder before. I wanted to know what exactly had happened and what became of Alexander and his wife.

At first I had no luck. But with a bit of fiddling of the search terms, I managed to find a pretty full account of what went on in the Royal Oak on the 25th and 26th March, 1889. You'll find out next time.

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