Monday, 25 April 2016

Mr. Offiler’s special friends

We’re back at Offilers. Looking at F H Offiler's unusual relationship with some of his tenants.

Running Offilers, it seems,  did have some perks:

“I soon realised, by direct observation and received hints and nudges, that the development of the chain of small hotels coincided with F H Offiler's acquisition of lady friends, past and present, who were installed to run them; it occurred to me that it was a neat way of combining business with pleasure. I must say such a situation was not uncommon in the brewery trade, but I had never before found it so extensive and open. It was common knowledge in the trade and was accepted as a means of promotion within the brewery. With some degree of regret, it might be said, we had to bring this novel way of running a brewery estate to a speedy end. On the positive side, the acquisition by H C Ofiller of large houses standing in their own grounds, and their conversion into licensed premises, around the fringes of Derby, was fortuitously good forward planning, as relentless urban expansion made them prosper.”
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 80.

Who would have thought it? Brewery owners buying hotels for their mistresses. Though it sounds like it worked out well for the brewery as well as Mr. Offiler.

If this sort of thing wasn’t uncommon, it makes me wonder when it died out. Or if it still continues today amongst smaller breweries that retain a tied estate.

I think I’ve found an example of a hotel built for one of Mr. Offiler’s special friends.

New Inn To Be Built at Wirksworth
An application for the removal of the licence of the William IV Inn, The Dale, Wirksworth, to premises to be erected off Derby Road, near the Recreation Ground, was heard by Wirksworth Justices at the Annual Licensing Sessions on Tuesday. The application was made by the licensee, Mrs. Mabel Mary Brewell.

Mr. F. W. Barnett, who appeared for Mrs Brewell and the owners. Messrs Offilers Brewery Co., said that the new premises would be known as King's Field Hotel, and would be erected at the corner of Derby Road and Millers Lane. The house in The Dale was an old-established one, and Mrs. Brewell had been there for twelve years. The local Council intended to use Derby Road as a residential area, and in due course most of The Dale, where there had been serious complaints regarding nuisances from various quarries, would be moved to the Derby Road area. Considerable development had already taken place in the neighbourhood, and around the cricket ground the Town Planning Authority had scheduled a further area for residential purposes to accommodate up to 300 houses in the next ten years.

William John Farmer, architect, gave details of the plans, and stated that specially built large picture windows were incorporated in the public rooms to allow customers to see the very pleasant views. The nearest licensed premises were the Wheatsheaf Hotel, which was over 800 yards away, and there were 630 houses within half-a-mile radius.

In reply to the Chairman (Mr. K D. Wheatcroft), Mr. Farmer said that if the plans went through automatically, the building would be completed within twelve months. Mr. Walter Haynes opposed the application on behalf of the Wirksworth and District Free Church Federal Council. He handed in a signed statement from the Council to the effect that the Free Churches wished to register a vigorous protest against the proposed transfer of the licence of a redundant public house to a site adjoining the new housing estate. There were nine public houses — apart from the William IV — within 200 or 300 yards of the Town Hall, and the Wheatsheaf Inn was within several hundred yards of the new housing site, so that there were ample facilities to meet all requirements. Such a transfer would tend to impair rather than enhance the dignity of the Derby Road housing estate.

There was no other opposition, and the Bench granted the transfer, the Chairman intimating that they hoped the new house would be built as quickly as possible.”
Belper News - Friday 11 February 1955, page 16.

Trading in an existing licence was often the only way a brewery could get a new licence. Sometimes they had to surrender more than one. It made sense for a brewery, especially if they had a large concentration of small pubs in one location. This case  was slightly different. They were moving the licence from another part of the same town. Presumably because there were a lot of pubs nearby and the population was about to be moved.

Typical that some religious nutters objected. They’re always at the front of the queue when it comes to stopping people having fun.

I’ll leave you with some of Offilers’ beers:

Offilers beers 1950 - 1961
Year Beer Style Price size package OG FG ABV App. Atten-uation colour
1950 Mild Ale Mild 1/1d pint draught 1031.2 1004.7 3.45 84.94% 40 + 8
1953 Nourishing Stout Stout 1/3d half bottled 1037.7 1017.3 2.63 54.11% 1 + 14
1955 Nut Brown Brown Ale 9.5d half bottled 1034.6 1010.1 3.17 70.81% 75
1959 Nourishing Stout Stout 14d half bottled 1035.9 1015 2.69 58.22% 275
1961 Derby Strong Strong Ale 17d half bottled 1045.4 1013.6 3.98 70.04% 75
Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/002.

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