Thursday, 14 March 2013

London Porter in Manchester in the 1780's

This small advert tells us a remarkable amount about Porter in the late 18th century.


HAS a considerable Quantity of LONDON PORTER just arrived at the Duke's Quay, in Barrels and Half Barrels, which is stout, fine, and well flavor'd. He will be obliged to his Friends for their immediate Orders, as laying in a Stock thus early, the Liquor will be far superior in the Spring.

He also sells Commission, LIVERPOOL ALE & BEER, 36 Gallons, and Half Barrels of 18 Gallons; white and Blue BOILING PEAS, of the best Quality. Newry and Belfast BUTTER, of first, second and third Sorts; Derby, and Mansfield MALT; superfine Worcester & North-Clay HOPS; OATS, BEANS, WHEAT and FLOUR, on the lowest Terms; also Barrel CYDER."
Manchester Mercury - Tuesday 19 March 1782, page 1.

First a pretty obvious one: London Porter was being shipped to and sold in Manchester. Since it arrived at Duke's Quay, I think it's fair to assume that it arrived by water.

Then there's ageing. In this case clearly not happening at the brewery in vats but at the customer. I'm trying to work out the timing. The advert appeared in the middle of March - surely that is just about the start of spring? This is confusing. Does it mean spring 1782 or spring 1783 when the Porter would be "far superior"?

Observe also the use of the word "stout" not to mean a specific style of beer but simply "strong". It wasn't until a few decades into the 19th century that "stout" came to be associated with a certain type of dark beer.


Martyn Cornell said...

You'll need to track the ad back to see when it was first published: if you got that via the British Newspaper Library site, the character recognition on that site, especially with older newspapers, is far from great, and with adverts, there are likely to be earlier instances of an ad that the OCR simply hasn't picked up. That's how I pre-dated the first mention of India Pale Ale as India Pale Ale: took the date of the edition of the paper Pete Brown had found India pale Ale mentioned in in 1835, and looked at earlier editions of the same paper. So it wouldn't surprise me at all if you found the ad first appeared the previous November or December, in which case the "Spring" reference would make sense.

Ron Pattinson said...


you're probably right. I've seen examples of identical ads that were run for ten years or more (one Lincoln brewery is a great example).

I was dead pleased to find this, London Porter in Manchester in the 18th century. What route would it have taken? Sea to Liverpool then by canal to Manchester?

After a quick search (should have done this before I wrote the post) I've found references to a Duke's Quay in Manchester in the 1840's. Must be a canal quay, I guess.

James Marsh said...

I would assume the Duke's Quay would be in Castlefield - the Duke presumably being Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater that commissioned the original Bridgewater canal, and which was extended to reach the Mersey at Runcorn in 1773.

Ron Pattinson said...


thanks for that. Sounds like a reasonable explanation.