Monday, 29 November 2010

The scale of Bass in the 1880's

By the 1880's, Bass had grown to be the largest brewery in the UK. Ginormous by the standards of the day.

"The firm of Bass & Co. alone contribute to the National Revenue upwards of £780 per day, and its breweries at Burton-upon-Trent are the largest of their kind in the world, the business premises extending, as we have said, over 145 acres of land. Locomotives have to a large extent superseded brewers' drays at Burton, and this firm has connection with the outer railway systems by twelve miles of rails on the premises, and use as many as 60,000 railway trucks in the course of six months. The casks required to carry on the business number 600,000, of which 46,901 are butts, and 159,608 are hogsheads. Some ingenious calculations have been made with regard to these casks. Piled one above another they would make 3,300 pillars, each reaching to the top of St. Paul's. The great Egyptian Pyramid is 763 ft. square at the base ; the butts, standing on end and placed bulge to bulge, would furnish bases for five such pyramids, and the other casks would be more than sufficient for the superstructure 460 ft. high.

Though labour-saving machinery is used as much as possible, Bass & Co. employ at Burton alone 2,250 men and boys. In 1821 only 867 men and 61 boys were engaged in all the Burton breweries. In thecourse of a season the firm now sends out over 800,000 barrels, and manufacture raw material weighing 85,000 tons. In the year ending June 30th, 1883, 250,000 quarters of malt were used and 31,000 cwt. of hops. The amount of business now done by the firm in one year cannot be less than £2,400,000, figures which will give some idea of the capital employed.

A detailed description of the three brewhouses would fill the whole of the space devoted to this chapter ; suffice it, therefore, to say that the racking rooms on the ground floor of the new brewery cover more than one and a half acre ; the tunning rooms of the same area contain 2,548 tunning casks of 160 gallons each ; and the copper house contains three water coppers that will boil 12,000 gallons each ; and eleven wort coppers that will each boil 2,200 gallons of wort.

On the cooperage great demands are made, for about 40,000 casks, which are made in part by machinery, are annually exported. The firm has thirty-two maltings at Burton, and others elsewhere, which, during the malting season, make 7,600 qrs. per week.

The annual issue of Bass and Co.'s labels amounts to over one hundred millions. Some idea of this quantity may be gathered from the fact that if they were put end to end in one long line they would reach to New York and back again, a distance of five thousand miles."
"The curiosities of ale & beer" by John Bickerdyke, 1886 , pages 345 - 346.

I hope that was enough numbers for you. I don't like to disappoint on that front.

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