Sunday, 25 March 2012

T & J Bernard's New Edinburgh Brewery

Now we've done with their old brewery in the centre of town, it's time to move the outskirts and Bernard's new brewery.

A general description of the site seems as good a place as any to start.

"The journey was accomplished in a few minutes, and we soon found ourselves at the brewery in Slateford Road, which adjoins the railway station. The establishment, which is built on a plot of ground extending to seven acres, is within the municipal boundary, and is one of the handsomest of its kind in Scotland. The offices and brewers house forming a pile of lofty buildings, are surmounted by a circular tower visible for many miles round. They are constructed of dressed freestone from the celebrated Polmaise Quarry, and, as will be seen from our illustration, both these and the brewery buildings are unique in style and of stately appearance. The works have a frontage of 500 feet, with a depth of 600 feet, and are well arranged for the various stages of brewing and the manufacture of malt. At one side there is a gateway, giving admittance to the brewery and maltings, which latter, although built upon the slope of a hill, have all their basements on a level with the roadway, the ground having been partly excavated and partly filled up for that purpose."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 115.
In the final decades of the 19th century several breweries decided to move away from the crowded streets of Edinburgh's old town. Though significantly the largest, William Younger, did not. Robert Deuchar, Drybrough, G. & J. Maclachlan, Wm. Murray and T. Y. Paterson all built breweries in Duddingston in the Southeast. Lorimer & Clark and Bernard built ones on the Slateford Road in the Southwest. Both right next to a railway line, which was undoubtedly a major factor in choosing those locations.

You can see in the next passage that the railway was an integral part of the brewery.
"The maltings, brewhouse and store cellars are built round an oblong quadrangle, enclosing a large space of ground, and there is a siding from the railway running into the works, off which are various crossings and branches leading to the most important departments of the brewery. As we proceeded to the mailings we inspected the mess rooms for the workmen, the spent hop stores, stables, and smithy, which form a portion of the left-hand block. From our illustration the maltings appear to be only four storeys high, but they are really six, being built on sloping ground, two of them from the yard side are below the surface, whilst at the back they are level with the ground. The maltings form a handsome block of substantial buildings 166 feet by 60 feet, and are constructed of freestone. At the north end there is a projecting cage from the top floor, over the railway, for unloading the barley from the trucks by a steam hoist; and in the six-foot way we noticed a steelyard for weighing the loaded wagons as they arrive or depart from the brewery."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 116.

All very grand, isn't it? But, as we'll learn later, the choice of stone walls and slate roofs wasn't exactly voluntary. In the photograph, you can see the maltings at the back left. The cage and hoist sticking out over the railway line are clearly visible. The brewery yard is very expansive - totally unlike the narrow courtyard in the old brewery, "from the upper floors and galleries of which the inmates in olden times could almost shake hands with each other". No way you could do that across the new yard.

Here's a map of the site. Unfortunately with not quite all of the brewery on it. Just above where it says "Edinburgh Brewery" is the brewhouse. And at the top left you can see about half of the maltings.

"We next passed through one of the kilns to a spacious floor measuring 124 feet by 90 feet, underneath which are the malt bins, eighteen in number, holding together 6,000 quarters of malt. Descending a wide staircase we went through one of the various passages which divide the bins, and were shown the trap-doors which let out the malt when required to be conveyed to the malt hopper over the mill, which is in close proximity. To reach the mill, which is placed at the back of the engine-house, we were conducted through the hop store-room, an apartment measuring 124 feet by 90 feet, in direct communication with the railway, and under it there are two similar rooms of same dimensions. The mill-room contains a pair of steel malt rollers 26 inches long and 20 inches in diameter, capable of crushing forty quarters of malt per hour. From the receptacle below the mill the grist is raised by an elevator enclosed in an iron case, to the grist hopper at the very top of the brewhouse, whither we followed it. This building, which is the tallest of the group, rises from the ground to a height of upwards of 60 feet, and is surmounted by a ventilating cupola. It is acknowledged in Scotland to be one of the handsomest and best arranged breweries known, and having been so recently erected, of course, contains all the latest improvements in vessels and appliances."
"Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 3", Alfred Barnard, 1890, page 117.
6,000 quarters of malt is a lot to have stored. That's enough to brew about 24,000 barrels, which at this time was about 6 months production. The brewhouse is also visible in the photo. It's the taller building with a chimney attached. Now I come to look at it, it's not all that big. In my mind I'm comparing it to the two breweries in Newark. Their brewhouses were much more substantial. Then again, they were considerably larger breweries. And, as the photograph admirably demonstrates, the brewhouse is a relatively small part of any brewery complex. The tun rooms, racking rooms, stables, cooperage and other ancillary buildings took much more space. As did the maltings.

This seems a good spot to stop. Next we'll be peering inside the brewhouse to look at the shiny things. The ones that make me go all misty-eyed whenever I'm in a brewery.

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