Sunday, 14 March 2021

Formby Old Brewery

That one article mentioning the closure of an ancient brewery started a quest. A very fun one. The British Newspaper Archives really are a gold mine.

I've still on the first leg of my trek. Already I've made a few discoveries. But not quite as much of the history of this brewery as I first thought.

I started off with "A Century of Btish Brewers plus plus". Sure enough, there was a brewery listed in Formby: T & WR Dickinson, Old Brewery, Liverpool Road. And it was taken over by Tetley in 1949 with 3 pubs. That fits the details in the article perfectly.

Next step was to look at an 1892 OS map of Formby. The brewery was certain to be marked as such. Sure enough, I found a collection of buildings just off Liverpool Road marked "Reciprocity Brewery". That had to be it.

A couple of things struck me as odd. The original article mentioned that the brewery was in Freshfield. At the northern edge of town, while Liverpool Road is to its south. Also, the Reciprocity Brewery was located right next to a pub, The Royal Hotel. But that wasn't one of the three pubs mention in the first article. It was like a brewery, so why was it owned by someone else?

Searching the newspaper archives for "Reciprocity Brewery", I came across this obituary:

Mr. Thomas Rimmer, proprietor and licensee of the Royal Hotel and the Reciprocity Brewery, Formby, died suddenly on Monday morning from an apoplectic stroke. He was 63 years of age, and had led a busy life. For 30 years he had worked for and represented the public of Formby in varyingly successive local governing bodies. 

. . .

For 25 years and more he had been an absolute teetotaller. He was a man of eccentricities, but was always upright. He never, within the last quarter of a century, took himself a halfpenny for any drink served in the ordinary way of business. He never drew a beer lever for money. If a hungry tramp called at his place he would draw a pint of beer, cut a "chunk" of bread and cheese, and give it to the poor beggar. But if anyone ventured on supplementing his hospitality, the tramp had "had enough," and would have to clear off. Mr. Rimmer was one of the old school who said no man, woman, or child must want without that want being met. He was generosity of heart itself, and strove to make no publicity of it. Many a poor cottager has been relieved from distress by means of monetary and other help extended by him. Twenty-eight years ago he occupied his usual pew at St. Peter's Church, Formby, when the preacher made pointed applications to him and his trade. Since then, till three Sundays ago, he never entered a place of worship except on the occasion of a funeral. The occasion was the funeral of an old Formbyite, Mrs. Mary Neale, and the vicar, the Rev. T. Bishop, took the opportunity to make some remarks on the non-attendance at church of many except on the occasion of an interment. Mr. Rimmer must have taken, the moral to heart, for two Sundays ago he attended the church, and was accommodated in the same seat which was his so many years ago. In politics he was a Conservative. His funeral took place on Wednesday afternoon.
Liverpool Weekly Courier - Saturday 21 November 1903, page 3.

The brewery had been under the same ownership in 1903. There's that sorted out. Except Mr. Rimmer was both landlord of the pub and owner of the brewery. That sounds awfully like a pub brewery to me. Things were getting confusing.

"Reciprocity Brewery" only threw up a handful of hits, so I gave "Formby Brewery". Much more luck with that. Lots of hits. Including these:

Formby Brewery, January 1st, 1865. ALL persons having any Claims against the firm of the late Tryer and Co., are requested to send the same to John Rimmer, of Formby, one of the trustees. And all persona indebted to the same firm are requested to pay the same to the said John Rimmer, on or before the 1st February next, 1865.
Southport Visiter - Friday 20 January 1865, page 1.

On the 22nd instant, at the Brewery, Formby, in his 76th year, Mr. Tyrer, much respected and regretted.
Gore's Liverpool General Advertiser - Thursday 29 December 1864, page 1.

Mr Tyrer had died and it looks like John Rimmer took over the brewery. (That's a familiar surname. Was he the father of Thomas Rimmer?) Not that he enjoyed it long, as he died two years later and the brewery was auctioned off.

The place of Sale is a short from the Freshfield station the Liverpool and Southport Railway. Trains for Freshfleld leave Southport 8-0, 10-5, 12-20, 2-0; leave Liverpool, 8-0, 9-0, 11-15, 12-33. 

JOHN JEFFRYES, Senior Auctioneer and Vakuer of the Didtrict,
Respectfully announces that he has been favoured with the appointment from the Representatives of the late Mr. John Rimmer, deceased, to SELL by AUCTION, Tuesday and Wednesday, and 10th and 11th days of July, 1866, at Twelve for One o’clock at Noon each day, on the premises, "FORMBY BREWERY," FORMBY, the whole of the 

Four hourse Upright STEAM ENGINE, with boiler and shafting complete; large Malt Mill,about 300 BARRELS, HALVES, & QUARTERS, 25-barrel copper BOILER, Working ROUNDS, Stillages, COOLER &c; Brewer's Spring CART, Iron and Wood FARM IMPLEMENTS, sets of GEARS, two superior draught HORSES, three valuable Newly-calved COWS, STURK, Roaring CALF, breeding SOW, 11 Young PIGS, and 9 Store PIGS, GROWING CROPS and HAY, WHEAT, OATS, RYE, POTATOES, CARROTS, &c., DAIRY VESSELS, HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE. Home-cured HAMS and BACON, and all the other the Effects, the property Mr. John Rimmer, deceased.

ORDER OF SALE. - The Brewery Plant, Implements, Live Stock, Growing Crops,and Out-door effects will be sold the first day; the Furniture the second day.

The Brewery Plant (Engine, Boiler, Shafting, Brewing-copper, Malt Mill, &c.) as will be arranged, will, in the first instance, be offered by Auction at the opening of the sale, IN ONE LOT; but if not disposed of in one lot, then the same will be sold piece-meal. 

The whole will be sold without the least reserve. An early attendance of friends in general will be esteemed. 

Further particulars may be obtained from Joan Jeffryes, Senior Auctioneer and Valuer of the District, at his Offices, Aughten-street, Omskirk; in Wigan; or 29, Todd-street, Manchester.
Wigan Observer and District Advertiser - Saturday 07 July 1866, page 1.

That's strange. If John Rimmer had inherited the brewery from his father, there would have been no need for an auction.

It doesn't sound like a very big brewery, owning just 300 casks of all sizes and a 25-barrel copper. Interesting selling crops which were still growing. And a sturk, too. I've always wanted one of those, whatever it is.

I was really confused at this point. Taking a slightly different tack, all became clear. I explain how next time.


Jeremy Drew said...

A sturk, or stirk, is a yearling heifer or bullock, possibly a Scottish term.

I hope you get one, one day!

David said...

Could a sturk be the same as a stirk, so a heifer, would make sense given the context?


Mike in NSW said...

You can keep the sturk, I'd like that "roaring calf"...

Craig said...

Hi, really interesting read. I'm sure you know this, but the Royal Pub and the brewery auctioned off are 2 different sites. The Royal pub has just closed sadly. It's still standing but I suspect it'll be knocked down for housing development.
The brewery mentioned above as being sold, was knocked down decades ago. It's on Brewery Lane. It's part of a field now. I live at the back of it. I've often wondered if there are any bottles in the undergrowth.