Friday, 3 February 2017

McEwans and Youngers

Keeping the relationships between McEwans and Youngers clear in my head is quite a struggle. Let’s see if this helps.

I found it rather strange that the managing director of William McEwan should bear the name of the company’s greatest rival, William Younger. It turns out he was from a Younger brewing family, but not that one. He was a member of the George Younger family, brewers in Alloa. Though it seems he was related to William McEwan.

The death has taken place, at Midhurst, in his 67th year, of Mr William Younger, chairman and managing director of Messrs. William McEwan & Co., brewers, Edinburgh. The deceased, who was a brother of Viscount Younger, was well known the Borders. Several years ago he bought the estate of Ravenswood, near Melrose, which embraces the property Old Melrose, where the original church of St. Aidan was set up. He was a keen follower the Buccleuch and Lauderdale packs foxhounds.

Third son of the late Mr James of Messrs George Younger Son, Alloa, he went to Edinburgh as a young man, and entered the brewing business of his uncle, the late Mr McEwan. who was formerly M.P. for one of the divisions of the city, and donor of the McEwan Hall. Mr Younger attended scientific classes in Edinburgh University, and was fortunate in receiving the practical part of his training under the direction of his uncle. Both uncle and nephew early recognised that one must be able to brew before one can become a successful brewer. In 1886 he was left in charge of the great business while Mr McEwan attended to Parliamentary duties. Three years later, when the business converted into a limited liability company, Mr Younger was appointed managing director, and under his management the brewery at Fountainbridge increased in importance. In the conduct of the business he displayed great tact, shrewdness and fertility of resource for meeting unexpected emergencies. Mr Younger was vice-chairman of the Caledonian Railway Company and on its amalgamation with the Midland Company retained a seat on the directorate. In his earlier years was a member of the Edinburgh Polo Club team which brought the cup to Edinburgh from Hurlingham against all-comers. is survived by his widow, two sons, and a daughter.
Southern Reporter - Thursday 27 August 1925, page 5.

William Younger was a relatively young man – just 38 – when he took control of the brewery. It was quite a large concern for such a young man to be running. Though, given the profits it generated during the early years of his reign, he must have been doing something right.

It sounds as if the young William Younger, like many sons of brewing families, went to another company to serve his brewing apprenticeship. And then never returned to Alloa. At this time it was still usual for members of the owning family to learn to brew. It was considered a prerequisite for running a brewing concern. That would change in the 20th century, when owners served as executives and the brewing was left to technicians.

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