Saturday, 6 September 2008

Late 19th century beers

It's the weekend. Last night, though very enjoyable, has taken its toll.

I led a lively group of enthusiastic drinkers from Detroit on a crawl of some of Mokum's best boozers. So excuse me if I'm a little slow today. I've said in the past "Outdrink me, and you get the tour half price." Thank Stalin I forgot to mention that yesterday.

My fragile state today is a result of their contagious enthusiasm. That's what I told Dolores. Don't grass me up.

This stuff is about the late 19th century. No, it isn't properly written I know. It's been a long day.

Organisation of the Industry
Surprisingly, even the largest breweries, such as Whitbread, Barclay Perkins and Truman, operated as partnerships up until almost the end of the 19th century. Starting around 1880, most were transformed into limited companies. The capital generated by share issues was used to buy public houses. Legislation to limit the number of on licences, or even reduce them, prompted breweries to start buying pubs to secure outlets.

As a result of breweries frantic buying, the price of pubs in London rocketed. A pub in Hackney that had cost £9,500 in 1892, was sold for £23,000 in 1897. Another that in 1895 cost £20,000 was resold in 1897 for £32,000. When you consider that a pint of beer cost 2d at the time, these are incredible sums.

Small wonder that some breweries, such as Allsopp, ended up in financial difficulties through overpaying for pubs. According to Mr Reeve, manager of the Truman Brewery, talking in 1897, a pub paid the brewery, on average, £50 for spirits and £100 for beer a month. That's £1,800 a year. At that rate it would take decades to earn back the £20,000 or £30,000 the pub cost to buy.

Pubs became so valuable that some people began to trade in buying and selling them. Not always in a very honest way. One trick was to deliberately order more beer than they could sell and to just pour most of it down the drain. The brewery would be impressed with the amount of beer shifted and when the trickster offered to sell it to them would snatch his hands off.

"During the last 35 years houses have gone up enormously in value. It began by the loan of one million made to the Cannon Brewery by Mr. McCalmont. With this money the brewery set to tie houses. The brewers looked on without minding until they found that their trade was being
touched and affected irrecoverably. Then they set to work to buy also. Prices went up with a run. Then came the Deat Duties act and increased difficulties about the subdivision of property held by partners jointly for the purposes of taxation. So that brewers found themselves at the
same time wanting more money and a simpler method of recognizing their own personal property.

They turned their businesses into Companies in consequence.

Mr. Bramham gave as an example a public house in the parish of St. John´s Hackney. In 1892 this house with a lease of 49 years at a rental of £105 per annum was bought for £9500.

In 1895 £8,700 was stated to Mr. Bramham as the price that had been paid for it.

This year 1897. It has been resold for £23,000.

Another house he mentioned as being sold in 1895 for £20,000 and resold this year for £32,000 in addition to which the buyer paid £4,000 in its redecoration and internal alteration. These are only two out of many instances Mr Bramham could give."
*Mr. Bramham, Surveyor and Valuer to the Assessment Committee of the Hackney Union*
5th October (1897)
/Mr. Bramham. Surveyor and Valuer to the Assessment Committee of the Hackney Union. 115 Bow Road on an introduction from Mr. Young a member of the above committee./

"The price of houses has gone up enormously. Only yesterday a man came to him - a speculator who had bought three "untied" Public Houses and had paid £300,000 for them. One of them being a good deal more valuable than either of the others. There is a great deal of speculation. Men buy houses without any intention of keeping them, do them up, then resell them. Th y have thought for many years that top prices had been reached but they still move upwards. (Noel Buxton said that at present prices they did just pay. The lowest price for a beerhouse in London would be £500 "but anything worth as little as that would not be worth it at all".)"
*Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's Brewery*
Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's
Brewery, Brick Lane, 22 October [1897] (Booth B348, pp62-69)

"The profit on spirit is more than on beer but beer is always the more important item. In not one per cent of their houses is a larger sum paid for spirit than for beer. In a fair house the payment to the brewer per month would be £50 for spirit and £100 for beer."
*Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's Brewery*
Interview with Mr Reeve, manager of Truman, Hanbury and Buxton's
Brewery, Brick Lane, 22 October [1897] (Booth B348, pp62-69)

"The price that are being paid for public houses now is astounding. Carter knows local men who have taken to dealing them to their own profit. They buy up small licensed places, they buy in a great stock of beer, much more than they can sell, a great deal of it they let drain away into the sewers. Then they come to the brewers and ask them to buy their houses pointing out the immense amount of beer they have disposed of. The brewers are only too glad, they have themselves just turned into limited liability companies, they have an immense capital behind them and they bid amongst themselves with the money of their shareholdersfor the possession of licensed houses. A new license is very difficult to get so that it is very important to get hold of houses that are already licensed."
*Interview with Inspector Carter*
B346 pp100-107

"The test of the worth of a house is the amount of beer and spirits sold. lately the prices of houses has been so high that men with local knowledge have made it their business to buy houses "work them up" and then sell them to the Brewers or anyone else who will buy them. There is one "Dyke" who is known for this in the district. He it was who first had the house mentioned above at the corner of Forest Road and Queen´s Road. Then he sold it to a local newsvendor. The newsvendor has just broken and the house has been resold for between £6,000 and £7,000. The bankrupt has returned to his newspapers. There was no reason for the
newsvendor failing, he was a local man and knew the neighbourhood. There is some knavery in working up a house, but Flanagan did not know in what it consisted. Carter in Poplar spoke once or twice of men pouring away beer into the drains in order toshew a large consumption. The greater the consumption the greater the capital value of the house."
*Talk with Inspector Flanagan*
Sep 21 1897
/General police questions with regard to the Dalston subdivsion of the J
Division. Talk with Ispector Flanagan at the Dalston police Station,
Dalston Lane./
Booth B347, pp163-185

"Charrington´s is about the best beer in the neighbourhood. But a great deal of filthy stuff is sold. The Brewers put in as managers men to whom they have advanced large sums. These men must make money. To make money they must adulterate. If they don´t, they lose and the brewers
foreclose. Some firms are very hard. Perhaps the worst are Brewers at the corner of the Bow Road just before you come to the Stratford Bridge; their name is Smith & Garrett and the beer they sell is bad. Taylor Walker in Limehouse used to be large brewers and do a great Indian trade as well as own the houses in Limehouse. But the India trade has failed them and trade has left Limehouse so they are in a bad way now compared to former years."
*Interview with Inspector Carter*
B346 pp100-107

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love it- pub speculation.

Timely, too, if you follow the financial news--or really, any news--yesterday and today.