Monday, 3 October 2011

Brewing in Glasgow

I think I might have an explanation for the lack of much of a brewing industry in Glasgow in the late 19th century.

Glasgow was the second largest city in the United Kingdom but, unlike every other large centre of population, there was little brewing. It struck me as quite odd. I couldn't think of any reason why Glasgow should be different. I hate unsolved puzzles. Then just today a possible explanation dropped into my lap.

Trolling through Google Books, I happened upon a Port Office Directory for Glasgow from 1863. Old directories are great sources, being much like a modern Yellow Pages. When I looked under the heading "Brewers" I had a shock. At first glance, the list looked far too long. It had over 60 entries. My list from 1837 only included 20 entries. And I know from other sources that in 1849 there were only 7 breweries in Glasgow.

When I looked closer, I realised almost all the entries weren't for breweries but their Glasgow agents. Only 5 were for Glasgow-based breweries. The list of brewers with agents in Glasgow is like a roll-call of Britain's top breweries. With a few oddities thrown in. Burton, Dublin, Edinburgh and Alloa feature prominently, as you would expect.

Thorn Brothers and Furze & Co. (both of London) surprised me. I've not heard of either. Nor William Whitwell & Co. of Kendall. There are a few Edinburgh breweries, too, that are new to me.

What does this proliferation of brewers' agents tell us? That brewers from outside were selling lots of beer in Glasgow. I can imagine the attraction. A city with few brewers of its own, a large population and no tied house system. It must have been a happy hunting ground for ambitious brewers.

I could be wrong. I've no real evidence of the quantity of beer brought into the city. But it is a possibility that, without the protection of tied houses, the relatively small brewers of Glasgow were swamped by outside competition. Except for Tennent, the only really substantial brewery in Glasgow. And, ironically, one of the few breweries mentioned to still exist. All the Scottish breweries have gone. Only Guinness really remains in the same form.

Here's the full table of agents:

Agents in Glasgow for outside brewers in 1863
Brewery Town
Black & Co.  Aberdeen
Blair, Alex.  Alloa
Meiklejnohn. Robt. & Son Alloa
Younger, Geo. & Sons Alloa
Knox, B. & Son Cambus (Alloa)
Ind Coope & Co.  Burton-on Trent 
Ind, Coope, & Co.  Burton-on Trent 
Ind, Coope, & Co.  Burton-on Trent 
Allsopp, Samuel & Sons Burton-on-Trent
Bass, Radcliffe, & Gretton Burton-on-Trent
Burton Brewery Co.  Burton-on-Trent
Coope & Co.  Burton-on-Trent
Salt, Thomas, & Co.  Burton-on-Trent
Salt, Thomas, & Co.  Burton-on-Trent
Eadie, James Burton-on-Trent 
Worthington & Robinson Burton-on-Trent
Mitchell, J. & W. Springbank Campbelton
Arnott, Sir John, & Co. Cork
Dalkeith Brewery Co Dalkeith
Findlater & Co. Dublin
Guinness, A. Son, & Co.   Dublin
Guinness, A. Son, & Co.   Dublin
Guinness, A. Son, & Co.   Dublin
Manders, R. & Co.  Dublin
Manders, R. & Co.  Dublin
Manders, R. & Co.  Dublin
Manders, R. & Co.  Dublin
Simes & Co.  Dublin
Sweetman, P. & E.  Dublin
Watkins, J. & Co.  Dublin
Watkins, J. & Co.  Dublin
D'Arcy, John, & Son Dublin 
Aitchison & Co. Edinburgh
Beswick, Wm. & Co.  Edinburgh
Bernard, T. & J.  Edinburgh
Caltonhill Brewery Edinburgh
Campbell, A & Co. Edinburgh
McEwan, Wm. Fountain Brewery Edinburgh
Melvin, Alex. Borough Loch  Edinburgh
Taylor, Anderson, & Co.,  Edinburgh
Usher, J as. & Thomas Edinburgh
Younger, R.  Edinburgh
Younger, Wm. & Co. Edinburgh
Dick, Chas. & Son Edinburgh 
Edinburgh & Leith Co.  Edinburgh 
Fulton, John, & Co.  Edinburgh 
Jeffrey, John, & Co.  Edinburgh 
Aitken, James, & Co.  Falkirk
Laurie, Thos. Lidegate Haddington
Whitwell, Wm. & Co.  Kendal
Combe, Dalefield, & Co.  London
Hoare & Co.  London
Meux, Sir Henry, & Co.  London
Reid & Co.  London
Thorn Brothers London
Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, & Co.  London
Whitbread & Co.  London
Furze & Co.  London 
Fowler, John, & Co.  Prestonpans
Argyle Brewery St. Andrew's
Joul, John, & Sons Stone 
Steel, William  West Barns, Dunbar
"POST OFFICE GLASCOW DIRECTORY FOR 1863, 1864", pages 461 - 462.


Tandleman said...

William Whitwell? This helps a bit:

Gary Gillman said...

This looks very attractive, Ron:


Ron Pattinson said...

Tandleman, damn, I should have remembered that. I've seen that brewery, albeit many years ago, when I was in Kendall. It's why most of the town's pubs used to sell Lorimer's Scotch.

Martyn Cornell said...

Thorn Brothers should be Thorne Brothers, who were in Nine Elms, South London: they were taken over by Meux in 1921, who moved their own brewing operations to Nine Elms from Tottenham Court Road. The brewery site is now the New Covent Garden market. Furze & Co were at the St George's brewery, Whitechapel, East London: they were acquired by Taylor Walker in about 1900/01. Neither were particularly big operations, although both were close(ish) to the Thames, which may have made shipping their beers to Glasgow easier.

Barm said...

You could be on to something here, although it might not be the whole story. I've seen the same phenomenon of Glasgow agents for brewers from outside the city, including Barclay Perkins.

If you look at the Virtual Mitchell pubs gallery at , there are an amazing number of pubs with Bass adverts in the window.

Georgethebrewer said...

William Steel, West Barns was the inventor of the Steel's patented masher. Not as is sometimes reported James Steel of Steel and Coulson...

Ron Pattinson said...


thanks for that. Hadn't realised it was a Scot.