Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Formby Old Brewery (part three)

With the help of a couple of readers, I've manged to find out some information about the beer brewed by the Old Brewery. Something known locally as "Jacky water". 

Old Brewery in 1960

Local John S. Roberts talked about the beer in the ‘Formby Times’ in 1966

“It was a very dark, ‘unfined’ (i.e. ‘cloudy’ drink). Visitors used to hold it up to the light doubtfully, taste it, then hold it up again. But eventually they grew to like it and Formby beer became very popular. Many of the older men would drink nothing else. There are stories that some of them made friends with the brewery workers and spent a good deal of time on the premises, drinking out of a bucket to save glasses. They seem to have found Formby Ale fairly potent because they were often fighting amongst themselves. Apparently pigeons used to roost on the rafters above the vats and this is supposed to have added ‘something’ to the drink.”

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to track down the relevant article in the Formby Times. I only have it second hand, via Formby Civic News, Spring 2016 issue.

It sounds like pretty rough stuff and I suppose a sort of unfined Dark Mild.

Another local, Albert Aindow, desctibed Old Brewery Beer in 1980, I'm assuming inm the Formby times again.

“The ale they served then was brewed locally and was known as Jacky Water be-cause it was meant to come from a local ditch that had ‘Jackies – little fish – in it. The thicker the ale was, the better it was. The doctors wouldn’t prescribe Guinness, they would prescribe this Jacky Water. It was certainly better than ale anywhere today. You could drink it all night and never get drunk or have a bad the following day.”

They really aren't selling this beer well. Not so sure I'd want to drink a beer all night and not get drunk.

I'm still trying to work out when the brewery was demolished. This is obviously wrong:

"The name is all that is left in Brewery Lane
If you think that Brewery Lane got its name front a brewery, you get full marks for perception. The brewery belonged to Mr. Dickenson and was demolished in 1947. "
Formby Times - Wednesday 11 December 1968, page 13.

They've got the name of the owner wrong and the brewery was still operating in 1949, as we saw earlier in this series. Plus there are drawings of the buildings from 1960.

 Old Brewery yard in 1960

 Remember that the brewery was called T & WR Dickinson in its final incarnation? Seeing the full name of WR Dickinson has brought a load of new questions:

"The Formby Brewery in Brewery Lane was run by the Dickenson family. They are shown as Thomas and William Rimmer Dickinson in the late 19th century and they provided the beer for the Railway  Hotel in Duke Street, the Grapes in Thornton and the Liver at the top of South Road, Waterloo.  They both appear in the 1885 Voters List.  An Edward Dickenson can also be found as a publican at the Grapes." 
Formby Civic News, Spring 2016, page 6.

That R stands for Rimmer. That's a pretty weird middle name. Rimmer isn't a usual given name but is reasonably common as a surname. Using it in that way imp0lies its either the mother's or the grandmother's surname. Did the brewery pass to a female member of the Rimmer family at one point?

And can they make their minds up about how the surname is spelt. Is it Dickinson or Dickenson?


Flying Goose said...

It was quite common in Victorian/Edwardian times and maybe a bit later, for families to add the mothers surname to their childrens names. I have a number of these in my own family.

Anonymous said...

I love that it is both described as "fairly potent because they were often fighting amongst themselves" and yet "You could drink it all night and never get drunk or have a bad the following day."

I'm sure there are reasonable explanations how both things could be true, but it is a good reminder why anecdotes by themselves don't always lead to good history.

John Lester said...

I’ve had a look at Kelly’s Directory of the Wine and Spirit Trades, Brewers and Maltsters for 1887, which lists Thomas and William Rimmer Dickinson as brewers and maltsters at the Old Brewery, Liverpool Road (if this, or another year’s edition, was the source for Century Plus Plus, it may explain the reference there to Liverpool Road rather than Brewery Lane). Thomas Rimmer is shown as a brewer and maltster in Liverpool Road, and yet another Dickinson – John – as a brewer at the Bay Horse brewery (Century Plus Plus lists this brewery as being run by John Greig in 1910). Both Thomas Rimmer and John Dickinson are described as “Small Brewers who brew the beer they sell” – in other words, presumably home-brew houses. The Bay Horse still exists in Church Road as a Toby Carvery. This directory also lists under hotels the Railway in Duke Street, run by Edward Dickinson; and the Royal in Liverpool Road, run by Thomas Rimmer.

The 1926 edition of the same publication lists William Rimmer Dickinson as a brewer and maltster in Freshfield. The hotels listed include the Formby Royal in Liverpool Road, run by John Dickinson; and the Railway in Duke Street, run by William Rimmer Dickinson.