Wednesday 19 March 2014

Charrington's Burton brewery

Like some of their London rivals, Charrington's desire to enter the Pale Ale market prompted them to acquire a brewery in Burton-on-Trent.

Their plan to buy an existing, but unused, brewery didn't quite work out:

"As stated in a previous Chapter, it was in the year 1871 that the London firm decided to build a brewery in Burton to supply their London houses with pale ale of their own brewing. In the first instance they commenced negotiations with the London and Burton Brewery Company, whose brewery in Burton was then closed and in the market. Subsequently terms were agreed upon, but on taking possession of the property it was found that the plant was in such a bad state, and the buildings not sufficiently substantial for the erection of new, that the firm resolved to pull them down and build a new brewery, from designs furnished by Messrs. Martin & Hardy, architects, Nottingham, under the immediate superintendence of Mr. Baxter, who, besides being a practical brewer, is thoroughly acquainted with the construction of breweries and maltings."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 327.

I hope they didn't pay too much for the brewery that turned out to be useless. Then again, they may have been better off with a brand new plant.

"Before the new brewery was completed, the London firm arranged to take into partnership Mr. F. Earle, who had been their brewer for nearly forty years, as managing partner of the Burton brewery. The first brewing commenced on November 7th, 1872, with but one mash tun, capable of mashing twenty quarters, and the output for the year was but ten thousand barrels. To show the continued success of this brewery, we may mention that in the year 1887 this output had increased to 80,000 barrels in the year."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 327.

80,000 barrels isn't an enormous amount. At the time the Bass and Allsopp breweries in Burton were each churning out more than a million barrels. Barnard says that on the late 1880's Charrington's Mile End brewery was getting through more than 100,000 quarters of malt a year*. At roughly four barrels of standard-strength beer from a quarter, that means they must have been brewing more than 400,000 barrels a year. Which makes the business look a bit lop-sided.

The Burton operation seems to have been run quite independently from London, though with the involvement of Charrington family members:
"About the year 1873, Mr. J. Evelyn Charrington, son of the late Mr. Edward Charrington, head of the London firm, joined the Burton Firm, and assisted in its management until his death, which event occurred in July, 1880, at the early age of 33. He was much regretted by all who knew him. Earlier in the same year, Mr. Francis, son of Spencer Charrington, Esq., M.P., joined the firm, and at the death of the above-mentioned Mr. Evelyn Charrington, Mr. Hugh S. Charrington, entered the partnership and took his brothers place. Mr. F. Earle died in March, 1888, at the age of 70, having been absent from the brewery but three days before his death, and was succeeded by his son, Edward Earle.

We may add that Mr. Francis Charrington is one of the senior captains of the 4th battalion South Staffordshire regiment, whilst Mr. Hugh S. Charrington is the lieutenant of the Anglesey or Burton troop of the Staffordshire yeomanry cavalry."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, pages 327 - 328.
Francis Charrington was around until almost the last days of the brewery. He also got promoted to Colonel and fought in the Boer War:

The death has taken place of Colonel Francis Charrington, chairman of Charrington and and Co., Ltd. He was the son of Mr. Spencer Charrington, for many years father of the House Commons. During the South African War he commanded the South Staffordshire Regiment, and was present at the battles of Warrenton, Lindley, Bethlehem and Wimburg, being mentioned in despatches and subsequently rude a C.M.G. In addition to the chairmanship the London board of the brewery company, he occupied a like position at the Burton establishment, and until returning to the Metropolis, lived at Netherseal Hall. He died at his Hertfordshire seat, Pishiobury Park, Sawbridgeworth, at the age of 62 years."
Lichfield Mercury - Friday 08 July 1921, page 5.
This is where the brewery was:

"Charrington's Burton Brewery is situated in Abbey Street, Lichfield Street, and Fleet Street, and is about a mile from the railway station. The premises cover upwards of four acres of ground at the brewery, and at the Wood Street maltings, where are situated the ale stores, nearly five acres."
"The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 328.

It's now a B&Q DIY Superstore:

* "The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland, vol. 1" by Alfred Barnard, 1889, page 303.

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