Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Prince of Wales at Allsopp's Brewery (part one)

I've found a surprising number of royal visits to breweries. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) seems to have been particularly keen.

Most famous is his visit to Bass when King. That's when he flicked a switch or whatever to start the special brew that was to become King's Ale. A beer that's still knocking around today in surprising quantity. But it wasn't the first time he'd started a brew. Not even the first time in Burton.

First let's see who was there:

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, from Monday, Nov. 12, to Thursday, the 15th was the guest of Lord and Lady Hindlip, at Doveridge Hall, near Uttoxoter. Lord Hindlip, formerly Mr. S. C. Allsopp, M.P. for Taunton, is the head of the great firm of Messrs. Samuel Allsopp and Sons, brewers, of Burton-on-Trent. The Prince of Wales ended his visit to Doveridge Hall by going to Burton, with his host and hostess and several friends—the Duchess of Manchester, Earl Dudley, Lady Randolph Churchill, Lady Florence Duncombe, Count Kinsky, and Mr. Sassoon being of the party - to see the famous brewery. General Teesdale attended his Royal Highness. At the Uttoxeter railway station, from which they travelled to Burton by a special train, six hundred schoolchildren were assembled on the platform to sing "God bless the Prince of Wales ! " At Burton, where the train arrived at noon, the Mayor of that town. Councillor Harrison, with the Mayoress, met his Royal Highness; but no address from the Municipality was presented. The Chief Constable of Staffordshire, the Hon. Captain G. A. Anson, was also present. Several directors of the great brewing firm (which is a Limited Liability Company) - namely, the Hon. George Allsopp, M.P.,   Captain  H. Townshend, Mr, J. T. Poyser, and Mr. J. C. Grinling — received their visitors at the railway station, and they all walked to the brewery, a few hundred yards distant. Flags were displayed over the principal buildings in the town, and the church bells were set ringing ; the people in the street, and on the railway bridge, greeted his Royal Highness with cheers; but it was not a formal public visit to the borough of Burton-on-Trent."
The Illustrated London News, 1st December 1888, page 642.

Quite a turnout for the Prince and his posh mates. Lady Randolph Churchill was, of course, Winston Churchill's mum. Who at that time would have been widowed. Whose husband would die of syphilis a few years later. Interesting that Allsopp was already a limited company. 1880 is quite early for that.

Time for another list of names. This time of the people showing the Prince around the brewery. As you'd expect, it's the heads of the brewing staff and the directors.

"The privileged visitors and others in the brewery offices were made aware of the Prince's arrival by vigorous cheering from without, and the explosion of a hundred and one fog signals, given as a "brewery salute." in the adjoining yard. Almost immediately afterwards, his Royal Highness was received at the entrance to the offices by the officials of the company—Mr. J. Ogden, the secretary. and Councillor Auty, who were presented to the Prince by the Hon. George Allsopp. The tour of inspection was at once entered upon, those in attendance upon his Royal Highness including the directors and the officials of the company already referred to. Councillor Stirk (head-brewer), Mr. T. C. Martin. Mr. Wood (cashier), Mr. E. Grinling, Mr. Starey (malting department), Mr. Strachan (engineer), Mr. H. G. Anderson, and Captain the Hon. G. Anson. The Hon. Percy Allsopp, M.P., another of the directors, was prevented from joining the party through, we regret to say, ill-health, and it is feared that his illness is of such a nature that his absence from England for a month or two will be rendered necessary. "
The Illustrated London News, 1st December 1888, page 642.
Finally we get to hear a little about the brewery itself:

"Leaving the offices by the rear, and passing through the racking-room, the party proceeded along the yard to No. 13 malting--room, where Mr. Poyser explained to his Royal Highness the details of the withering process which the grain was then undergoing, and after an examination of the room in which the barley is screened, a move was made, under the guidance of the head-brewer. Councillor Stirk—who from this part took over the duties of guide—to the mash-room, in which were located eight tuns, each containing something like 160 quarters. Here a brief but exceedingly interesting ceremony took place. His Royal Highness, approaching the mash-tun, commenced a brew of pale ale by turning on the water and the malt. After the mashing apparatus had been duly inspected, a move was made to the wort-coppers — the warm atmosphere of which department induced his Royal Highness to divest himself of his ulster. In this department there are ten receptacles, each of which is capable of containing a hundred barrels. Returning through the mash-room, the grinding mills, of which in the particular room visited there are two, each of which grinds 25 quarters per hour, next received attention, and his Royal Highness compared the ground malt with that which was about to undergo the grinding process. Retracing their steps, the party crossed the bridge, passed through the fermenting-room, and gained the "round" room (where, it was pointed out, the "rounds," about 200 in number, hold each 120 barrels), and then, taking a glance at the coolers and refrigerators, descended into union-room "A." His Royal Highness had meantime, with the assistance of the Hon. George Allsopp, made some additional investigations into the operation of brewing. The Prince, together with the other members of the party, having satisfied his curiosity over the barm-tub, traversed the bridge again, and arrived at union-room "B," which contains more than 1400 casks. Proceeding by way of the centre stairs, the hop-room was reached, and here some time was spent in an examination of something like 2000 bales and pockets of magnificent hops, his Royal Highness especially making a minute inspection of the valuable growth. At length the racking-room was regained. and by means of an iron staircase the company descended to the stores, with their contents of 30,000 barrels."
The Illustrated London News, 1st December 1888, page 642.

This time Edward only got to start a normal brew of Pale Ale. It doesn't sound as if it were anything special, or that the beer was identified when sold as having been "brewed" by the Prince. Looks like it just got mixed up with Allsopp's normal production. Having done something similar at Fullers a few times (a mouse click in my case), I can imagine the thrill the Prince felt.

Brewhouse maths time again. 8 mash tuns of 160 quarters could brew about 5,000 barrels of beer in a day. Or around 1.5 million barrels in a year. Not that Allsopp brewed that much in the 1880's. Probably about half that.

Now there's something odd. Two malt mills together capable of grinding 50 quarters of malt an hour. The eight mash tuns together required 1280 quarters of malt. At 50 quarters an hour that would require 25.6 hours to grind. Or more than a day. That doesn't seem to add up. That looks like way too little grinding capacity for the size of tuns.

The most exciting part is yet to come. When the Prince gets to try a glass of Bitter. That's coming up next time.


beersiveknown said...

Do we know why they chose the red hand as a logo?

Anonymous said...

"Lady Randolph Churchill was, of course, Winston Churchill's mum. Who at that time would have been widowed."

Actually, Lord Randolph Churchill didn't die (of syphilis) until 1895. Didn't keep Lady R from messing around with the Prince of Wales and others beforehand, though.

Jeff Renner said...

The anonymous post above was by me.

Ron Pattinson said...

Anonymous, for some reasoon I thought he'd died much earlier. I should have looked it up.

Lady Luck Brewing said...

I was always told that is the red hand of ulster. The hand is in my family crest, but the thumb is a bit open in my crest.

beersiveknown said...

@LAdy Luck: it is and its in my family crest too, but what is the link to Alsopps?

Martyn Cornell said...

The red hand that appears as an escutcheon in the corner of many armorial bearings is likely to mean that the holder is a baronet: when James I set up the Order of Baronets in 1611, to help pay for the pacification of Ireland, "baronets were allowed to add the Arms of Ulster as an inescutcheon to their armorial bearings. This last consisted of 'in a field Argent, a hand Geules, or a bloudy hand'" (Wikipedia). Henry Allsopp was made a baronet in 1880, six years before he was made Lord Hindlip, and so would have had the red hand on his arms, but only for the six years 1880-86 - anybody know when Allsopps started using the red hand as their trademark? The Allsopp family arms today are black arrowheads (or pheons) on a silver chevron and silver doves all on a black background ("Sable three Pheons in chevron Or between as many Doves rising Argent each holding in the beak a Wheat-ear Or") - no red hand. Now, the Whitbread tm (a hind's head) DOES come from the family's arms

Ron Pattinson said...

Steve, no idea, I'm afraid.