Friday, 12 March 2021

The Formby Brewery

I could spend hours trawling through the British Newspaper Archives. Come to think of it, I do.

Not a total waste of time as it provides me with a stack of information. Information that, only a decade or so ago, would have taken months to accumulate. Even then, you'd miss a lot.

I was intrigued by the small brewery in Formby, claimed to have been founded in the 16th century. Time for a quick search of the archives. The results were far from disappointing. After 15 minutes, I already had the names of three previous owners. And threw up more question which need digging into.

The investigation will take a while. In the meantime, I've found someone who really did lament the passing of the brewery.

After all these years of mellow memories, we've less than a month in which to drown our sorrows and mourn the passing of the home-made pint o' wallop. 

My noggin of Formby brew is to be snatched from my (steady) hand. I can't recover from the shock. I doubt I ever shall.

But what a chance to Formby beer a real send off! Here's hoping I'm still alive and kicking for the party.

All the same it's grim news. There's many an old Formby man like your old uncle who was weaned on this native ale.

They say when you take away a man's chief form of sustenance, he doesn't last long. Ah me.

But I hope "they're" wrong. I don't want to leave Formby yet awhile, in spite of the Council, the foreshore, Deansgate Lane ditches, darkened Long Lane, Mr. Criddle and all. 

Mind you, I've got nothing against the chaps who've bought up the old brewery. But to close even one, and this one! 

There should be a law against it. I'll talk to Shawcross about it. 

Is it possible to have a few gallons bottled or barrelled to keep for the future? Just to help out a special celebration, like the first trip to Mars or the time when Wicks Lane Crossing is eliminated by a proper by-pass road and bridges.

I suggest the Council do stow away the last precious drops as a memento of an old industry. 

Mind you, while we mourn, others rejoice that the brewery is being knocked out. 

There will he joy among folk living up Freshfield Road, especially those who live to windward of it, because they say they get an awful lot of smoke from the low-built chimney stack. 

There's only one thing to do when the smoke screen is up. Close all windows, batten down the hatches and standby to scrub down. 

That's what these locals tell me. Fancy living in the shadow of a brewery and regretting it! 

However, it takes all sorts to make a world, in which, after all, Formby is included even if some people say it's the last place they'd stay in.
Formby Times - Saturday 08 October 1949, page 3.

"Wallop" was slang for Mild. The other article only mentioned Mild, too. I wonder if that was the only beer they brewed?


Funnily enough, there was a letter to the Formby Times disputing some of that article.

"THE "Formby Times" is evidently labouring under a misapprehension regarding the location of the Old Formby Brewery, which I feel I must correct. 

On three occasions in recent issues your reports have placed it in Freshfleld Road. 

It is actually in Brewery Lane, more than half a mile distant from the nearest point In Freshfield Road, and therefore the "smoke from its chimney" could hardly cause discomfort to the dwellers In Freshileld Road.
—W.M., Formby.
Formby Times - Saturday 12 November 1949, page 2.

What a basic mistake to make. The address of the brewery is mostly given as Liverpool Road. I assume Brewery Lane is the driveway running along the side of the Royal Hotel. It's not much of a street today. Not even marked on the 1890s map above.


Anonymous said...

In the USA something that gives a "wallop" means it hits you with a lot of power. Does it have the same meaning in the UK? That seems hard to square with Mild circa 1949, which I assume had all the hitting power of a feather.

Érc an Rua said...

Hard to imagine how we currently view a "Mild" that it might ever have been referred to as a "Wallop"! Maybe an Imperial something-or-other...

John Lester said...

You've probably come across the article in the Formby Civic Society Newsletter for spring 2016, but, if not, it's worth a look:

Mike in NSW said...

As a kid in the UK I used to follow the cartoon strips in the Daily Mirror - Garth, the Perishers - Andy Capp and so on.

One of them in the 50s and 60s was "The Flutters" about a presumably London family with Dad and Son running a dodgy builders. Their misadventures often ended up with them in the pub drowning their sorrows with a few pints of "Wallop".