Wednesday 31 March 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1896 Eldridge Pope AK

You’ll be pleased to hear that I have a surprising number of AKs in my brewing record collection. Enough to keep this series going for a while.

This one is from AK’s traditional habitat, the South of England. The Southwest, to be precise, Eldridge Pope being located in the county of Dorset. Though, as you can see from the advertisement below, it wasn’t marketed under that name, but “Crystal” instead. No idea why that was, as the other two beers in the advert, Pale Ale and KK, were called the same in the brewhouse.

Light Dinner Ale it’s described as, a moniker quite often applied to AK. The “strongly recommended for table and family use” means that it was aimed at the off trade. In the 19th century it was still common for people to buy casks of beer to drink at home. The fact that it was available in bottles as well demonstrates the rise of beer in this form. One which would eventually see cask beer disappear from homes.

The recipe is about what you’d expect: base malt, adjunct and quite a lot of sugar. I’ve guessed No. 2 invert, which is the most likely candidate. No. 1 is another possibility. Or it could be something else entirely. The brewing record just says “sacc.”.

Three types of hops, all English, of unspecified vintage. I’ve guessed a combination of Fuggles and Goldings.

 Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser, Wednesday 4th February 1891, page 4.


1896 Eldridge Pope AK
pale malt 8.25 lb 78.57%
flaked maize 0.50 lb 4.76%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.75 lb 16.67%
Fuggles 150 mins 1.00 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1048.5
FG 1011.5
ABV 4.89
Apparent attenuation 76.29%
IBU 39
SRM 8.5
Mash at 151º F
Sparge at 160º F
Boil time 150 minutes
pitching temp 60º F
Yeast White Labs WLP099 Super High Gravity


Tuesday 30 March 2021

A bullying landowner? (part two)

Mr. Weld-Blundell is turning out to be a nuanced character. And not just a complete and utter bastard.

Just a few months after losing his bitter footpath dispute with the inhabitants of Formby, he invited them all to a big party to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII.

Thursday in last week was high festival at Ince-Blundell, when Mr. Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell threw open his grounds to the whole of his tenants, comprising the townships of Ince-Blundell, Formby, Birkdale, and Maghull. About three o'clock the gates were thrown open and the guests passed in to the music of the National Anthem, rendered by the Ellesmere Port Prize Brass Band. A blue and gold streamer stretched over the gateway bore the words, "Mrs. Weld-Blundell gives you all a hearty welcome." This was received in person as the guests passed into the grounds, where the hostess had for all a smile and a pleasant word of greeting. She was accompanied by Miss Alice Weld-Blundell and Masters Richard and Louis Weld-Blundell, her children. Mr. Weld-Blundell was away at the festivities at Birkdale, but was expected later in the afternoon. As each person passed alongside the hostess he was presented with a souvenir of the occasion, consisting of a gilt medal bearing on one side the profiles of the King and Queen, and on the other the Royal Coat of Arms. This was suspended from a blue ribbon, on which were written in gilt letters the initials "E. R." Refreshments were provided in marquees erected in an adjoining park. In the smaller one tea was served, and in the larger a supper was laid to be partaken of at a late hour, when Mr. Weld-Blundell was present, and at which the health of the King and Queen and the hero of the day was enthusiastically drunk. As twilght came on the grounds were beautifully illuminated with fairy lights and lanterns, and at midnight the proceedings terminated by a display of fireworks."
Tablet - Saturday 05 July 1902, page 37.

It would be interesting to know if there was any lingering bad feeling on the part of the tenants. Did they all show up? I probably would have, myself. Who in their right mids turns down a free feast?

The cynical might assume that Mr. Weld-Blundell was trying to win back the people of Formby. But, as the festivities were for a far larger group, that seems unlikely.

The other location, Birkdale which is now a suburb of Southport, it seems to have been a more formal affair. But what's this about the District Council? Didn't they just take him to court?

"AT BIRKDALE, On the same afternoon, at Birkdale, Mr. Weld-Blundell, in presence of the District Council, planted a fine scarlet chestnut in commemoration of the Coronation year of the King. The ceremony was prefaced by a short speech from Councillor Stephen, who congratulated him on his recovery from illness, welcomed him in their midst, and thanked him for his generosity towards their festivities. 

In reply Mr. Charles Weld-Blundell thanked Mr. Stephen for his kind words, and congratulated the people on their striking procession and the beauty of their trees. Every cloud had a lining, and even the finest days had their clouds. He could not help referring to the unfortunate event which had come to mar the proceedings at the last moment. He should be almost afraid to speak of the matter and to thus mar the happiness of their assembly, were it not (or the fact that be had received a telegram that morning from Buckingham Palace saying that the King was doing as well as could possibly be expected. (Hear, bear.) They could ill afford to lose so good a King. (Hear, bear.) He did not know of any King who had done more for his subjects, or a man who bad been more a slave to duty than our King ; and be didn't know that he bad ever reed of any King who, as he, during the whole reign of his late revered lamented mother, bad given himself up entirely to hard work. He bad ever been asked in vain to help any hospit a or benefit any institution, for he had given up all his time — time when he possibly could spare it from his multifarious employments to succour the unfortunate, to help the distressed, and to rear institutions, and to help them on, for the least favoured of his subjects. (Applause.) There was an old French King who was "Bien-aimé" (well-beloved). He thought that King Edward VII, might well be called Edward the Well-doer, Edward the Beneficent, because there had been no man who had ever done more for his people than King Edward VII. Therefore, they must all pray to God that He should preserve him, and that in His mercy He would seee fit to lengthen his days. Mr. Weld Blundell then read a telegram which had been sent by the King's private secretary, as follows: I am commanded to thank you and Mrs. Weid-Blundell very sincerely for your kind inquiries. The King is progressing as favourably as can be expected." (Applaue) So he thought there was no cause for any suspicion or fear. He was a strong man and had always been able to do as much as any five about him; and it seemed to him there was not the least cause for anxiety. God grant that he might recover and reign for many a year. (Applause.) 

Cheers were given for the King and Queen, for Mr. and Mrs. Weld-Blundell and their family, and Mr. Weld-Blundell shortly afterwards left for Ince Blundell Hall. 

Mr. Weld-Blundell, who is chairman of the Urban District Council for the year, has promised to give the town a site for a Free Library and a contribution of £1,000 towards the cost of the building."
Tablet - Saturday 05 July 1902, page 37.

Ah, I see. It wasn't the West Lancashire Rural District Council who were attended, but the Urban District Council. Of which Mr. Weld-Blundell was chairman. Weird that one Council was dragging him through the courts when he was chairman of a neighbouring council. Where he was quite happy to play the philanthropist by planting trees and donating land for a library.

The first time I read "unfortunate event", I assumed it meant the court case. I now realise that it was the illness of the king. A few days before the planned coronation date of 26th June, he needed an operation and the event was delayed until 9th August.

I'm pretty sure no-one, since his death, has ever called Edward VII Edward the Well-doer or Edward the Beneficent. He's mostly remembered for being a debauched glutton, who ate, drank and smoked himself to an early grave.

Monday 29 March 2021

A bullying landowner?

Everything is far more complicated than it first appears (just wait until I get onto the Rimmers). As the case of Mr. Weld-Blundell proves.

Digging more deeply into Mr. Weld-Blundell, I discovered the footpath dispute wasn't his first run in with  West Lancashire Rural District Council. A few months before he blocked the footpath he'd lost another right of way case.

At the Southport County Court, on Tuesday, before Mr. A. G. Steele, K.C., deputy judge, and jury, Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell, of Ince Blundell, sought to recover from the West Lancashire Rural District Council £10 damages for trespass on a triangular plot of land near the Blundell Arms, Lydiate. Mr. Overend Evans appeared for the plaintiff and Mr. Leslie F. Scott for the defendants.—ln respect to this plot of land, 970 square yards in extent, an action had previously been heard before his Honour Judge Shand, the District Council having commenced using it as a depot for road-making material, claiming the site public property by right of usage. Judgment was then given against the Council, with 20s. damages, and subsequendy the Council laid down kerbstones. The plaintiff's servants put up a fence, which the defendants removed, alleging that it encroached on what was really highway, and the question now for decision was whether the plaintiff or his predecessor in title had not dedicated the roads on each side of the plot to the public use. 

This was a point which Mr. Evans and his witnesses denied. His Honour, summing up, said the jury were entitled to find whether there was a dedication prior to the date of the settlement by Charles Robert Blundell, who died in 1837. As to No. 2 road, from Maghull to Southport, the evidence seemed to point that there had never been a footpath on that side of the triangle. As to No. 3 road, from Altcar to Southport, the defendants’ case was tolerably conclusive, seeing that the brook was the boundary of the road 19 years ago, and probably very much longer. As to the other road, it was admitted that the road was paved with cobbles, and that it was regularly used for vehicular traffic, and therefore the plaintiff had no right to put the fence on the cobbles. The jury, after a retirement, found that there had been a dedication of each of the three roads prior to living memory, and presumably prior to 1837. 

Judgment was accordingly entered for the defendants with costs on the B scale, together with costs on the interlocutory proceedings.
Lancashire Evening Post - Wednesday 05 June 1901, page 4. 

I'm pretty sure this is the triangular plot that was the subject of the dispute:

Weld-Blundell Arms in 1892

To get to 970 square yards, it has to include the piece to the North of the road, labelled 328 1-200. But  that doesn't seem to have been squatted on by the council, just the obvious triangle. Which, as it is unlabelled was presumably part of plot 328 1-200.

Exciting stuff today, isn't it? Don't worry, it's going to get much duller when I get into the genealogy of the Dickinsons and Rimmers.

I can understand why Mr Weld-Blundell was pissed off. The council had effectively nicked a piece of his land. I'm not quite I understand why having a public road on all three sides of the plot affected its ownership status.

Was Mr Weld-Blundell afraid of losing more land? Or was he just taking revenge on the council on account of the earlier case?

The Weld-Blundell Arms is still around and still trading under the same name:

The Weld Bundell Arms today

More confusing material relating to this intriguing character to come.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Bullying landowner(part two)

The footpath dispute ended up in court. With, on the one hand, West Lancashire Rural District Council and, on the other, Mr. Weld-Blundell.

The council's legal representative kicked off proceedings:

"Mr Horridge, in opening, said that certainly before the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway had opened in 1847 the district of Formby was of an exceedingly rural character and the footpath in question was a footpath which led to St. Peter's Parish Church, and from Ainsdale to Formby through the fields. In many places there were stiles and swing gates to show that it was open for the people to go along. He would call old inhabitants who would state that the footpath was not only used by people going going to school at Formby, but also by people burying their dead - they carried their dead along the footpath to the church. The footpath seemed to have been continued in that way from as far back as living memory went, and witnesses would be called who could speak of it far back as 1830. It was enjoyed that way until last year, when Mr. Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell said, "Now this is my private property, and I will put a wire fence over one end and put men to turn everyone back who wants to walk along.” Previous to this time the footpath had been enclosed with railings at each side, with a stile each end. That action was taken by the West Lancashire Rural District Council on behalf the public to re-establish their right to use this footpath."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

Which seems clear enough. The main argument of Mr. Weld-Blundell's man was an obscure legal one of the status of the estate after the death of the last Blundell in 1837. It was held in trust until 1866 and as such, he argued, there was no owner to make it available for public use. That soon got shot down, when it was pointed out that the trustees had that power.

Next up, a council witness:

"Mr Sutton, architect, said knew the "Brewery footpath" before the obstruction was put up in October. He submitted plans in detail, showing the part the path closed by Mr. Blundell. Witness had known it for ten or twelve years, during which time it had been open to foot passengers from the Parish Church. In answer to Mr. Taylor, witness said that at the Brewery-lane end the path a notice “private” was stuck on a tree. He had noticed the board, and one at the other end of the path, for the eight or nine years. The second board said "Private road to the parsonage.” There was a third board with the words “Private road to the brewery" between the other two announcements. There were numerous footpaths on the estate to which the greater portion Ainsdale and about three-quarters of Formby belonged. In spite of the boards, witness added, no one was stopped from crossing the path till October."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

Mr Weld-Blundell was clearly loaded, as his properties weren't limited to Ainsdale and Formby. The grand house and country park were in Ince-Bludell. I realise now that only a small portion of the footpath was blocked. It extended way past the brewery all the way to Ainsdale, about three miles to the North.

To remind you, here's the map of the footpath:

Now we finally get a beer connection: 

"William Dickinson, of the Old Brewery, said his mother owned fields between the Blundell estate and Brewery-lane. No objection had been taken as to passengers using the path as far as concerned his mother. He, as a boy, went to St. Peter's School by the pathway, but had never been stopped until September 13th, 1901. He produced the notice boards alluded to by the proceeding witness."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

I've found out who William Dickinson's mother was. But that's for a later post.

Mr. Weld-Blundell was looking in trouble. And resorted to a desperately thin argument:

"Mr Taylor, addressing the jury on behalf Mr. Weld-Blundell, said the matter was important to that gentleman. The witnesses alluded to "the public” and “strangers;" these terms were simply used in relation to people of whom they had not had much knowledge. Not a single member of the "public" had been called except those who were living in the district. If the landlord chose to say to his tenants “You may walk to the parish church across my lands.” that, he submitted, was not a dedication to the public, it was only a permission to his tenants. That was a strong fact in favour of Mr. Weld-Blundell. He would call witnesses to show that the users of the path was "church user" and "user for convenience.”"
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

Right, because everyone using the path was a tenant of his, they weren't really "the public". The jury wasn't impressed:

"After several witnesses had given evidence, the foreman of the jury said it was quite useless hearing any more."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

Mr. Weld-Blundell was ordered to remove the obstructions.

Ironically, the only part of the footpath in use today is exactly the section between Brewery Lane and Massam's Lane. The rest of it has been erased by an RAF base and post-war housing. 

Here's the Massam's Lane end of the footpath today:

The building to the right of the path is the former parsonage.

I've found another incident earlier in 1901 which might explain Weld-Blundell's behaviour.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Let's Brew - 1896 Rose AK

You’ll have to get used to seeing AK recipes. There are loads more to come. If only to prove how common the name was.

Remember me mentioning that Boddington’s version was the most northerly I’d come across? Well, I was wrong. As Malton, where Rose were located, is a good bit north of Manchester.

Rose AK was at about the top of the gravity range for an AK, most being under 1050º. Another of their Pale Ales, B, filled the gravity slot usually occupied by AK, having a gravity of 1046º.

The impact of the 1880 Free Mash Tun Act can be seen in the presence of some flaked rice in the grist. In the early days of adjuncts flaked rice seems to have been preferred. Though that didn’t last long, being supplanted by flaked maize. An ingredient which was almost universally adapted in the 20th century.

As was common, multiple base malts were employed. 75% from English barley, the rest from “foreign” barley. Both, however, would have been malted in the UK. Foreign could signify a whole host of locations: California, the Middle East, Hungary, Chile, Australia. Pretty much anywhere in the world malting-grade barley could be grown.

The three types of hops were Sussex (1894 harvest), Hallertau (1895) and Worcester (1895). I’ve guessed Fuggles for the latter two. They could have been something more Goldings-like. The Hallertau were also used as dry hops.

1896 Rose AK
pale malt 9.50 lb 84.44%
flaked rice 0.75 lb 6.67%
No. 2 invert sugar 0.75 lb 6.67%
white sugar 0.25 lb 2.22%
Fuggles 130 mins 1.25 oz
Fuggles 60 mins 1.00 oz
Hallertau 30 mins 1.00 oz
Hallertau dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1051.5
FG 1014.5
ABV 4.89
Apparent attenuation 71.84%
IBU 41
Mash at 154º F
Sparge at 175º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 59º F
Yeast Wyeast 1469 West Yorkshire Ale Timothy Taylor

Friday 26 March 2021

Bullying landowner

My research on the Formby Brewery keeps leading me off on tangents. Like a dispute between a local landlord, well, pretty much everyone else in Formby.

I was going to kick off with a little background on the villain of the piece, Mr. Charles Joseph Weld-Blundell. I imagine him as a top-hatted villain from a silent film, complete with moustache twirling. Then I made the mistake of searching his name in the newspaper archive. It threw up so much interesting stuff and I've barely scratched the surface.

  Inch Blundell Hall in 1892 

What I will say, is that he was a rich landowner, who had a big country house called Inch Bludell Hall and accompanying estate a little south of Formby. He also owned big chunks of Formby and its surroundings. His family came into the property after the Blundells died out.

Inch Blundell Park in 1892

"The last of the Blundells owned this land, and could have dedicated this to the public the year 1837 or 1838, and if (counsel) proved user before that time the jury would have no difficulty in proving it to be a public highway. The Welds were brought in to take the property on their taking the name of Blundell; and it might or might not be that the property had been in settlement since that time. The real question would therefore be; Did they believe the evidence that from the time of human memory this path had been used?

Mr. Taylor said that Mr. Charles Robert Blundell died on the 30th October, 1837, having a will dated the 28th November, 1834, which was disputed at the Assises in Liverpool in 1840, and established by decision of the House of Lords in 1847."
Preston Herald - Wednesday 07 May 1902, page 4.

In 1901 he got pissed off with people crossing his land and closed off a footpath with barbed wire. 

Mr. Carlyle drew attention to a barbhed wire obstruction on the footpath leading from the Old Parsonage to the Old Brewery. The wire had been put up there, he understood, by instruction of Mr. McNaught, acting for Mr Weld-Blundell. The public had a right of way there, and there were people who said they had used it for over 50 years. 

Mr T Rimmer said he had used it for that period. 

It was resolved to refer the matter, with power to act, to the. Footpaths Sub-Committee."
Formby Times - Saturday 07 September 1901 , page 7.

That would be Thomas Rimmer, owner of the Reciprocity Brewery. And also involved in local politics.

It wasn't even just barbed wire obstructing the path:


A requisition was received from Mr. Kent, chairman of the Formby Parish Council, asking the Rural Council to take such steps as might be deemed prudent to preserve and restore to the inhabitants of Formby the Brewery footpath, leading from the Brewery to the Parsonage in Formby. It had recently been obstructed and the right of way stopped, it was stated, by Mr. Weld Blundell or his servants, who had barricaded it with barbed wire, and who had employed two men to stop any person from proceeding along the path. This had been used by the public 60 or 70 years, and had never before been obstructed. 

The Law Clerk added that he had a private letter from Mr. Bent in which be said that the footpath warn a very useful one, and that the feeling of Formby throughout was very strong on the question. He said that the evidence in connection with the dedication of the path and the public use of the same was very strong. It was the duty of the council to take this matter up provided that they were satisfied there was a case. 

Mr. H. Alty moved, and Mr. John Rimmer seconded, that the evidence be obtained, and if considered satisfactory that the necessary precedings be taken to recover the footpath for the use of the public. 

Mr. J. Rimmer said he had walked the path for 50 years. 

The motion was carried."
Formby Times - Saturday 05 October 1901, page 7.

Pretty sure J. Rimmer is John Rimmer, whom I suspect of being related to Thomas Rimmer, possibly his son.

I assume there was one man at either end of the path. Total overkill for a path that's only a few hundred metres long. You can see it here, running from the Old Brewery top centre and the parsonage at the bottom. It's the dotted line with the lying down S across it.

Brewery footpath in 1892

Everyone in the town seemed to be annoyed. But the council was going to act. The Lancashire Rural District Council, Formby Parish Council, which had no jurisdiction over such matters.

On the face of it, Weld-Blundell was just acting like a twat. There does seem to be an explanation of his aggressive behaviour.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Beer Aerating Machine

While on my quest for information on Formby brewers, I came across this lovely advert for fizzing up your beer.


Also for Aerating Still Wines and making them into Sparkling Champagnes.
NOTE !! We shall be happy to Aerate any Beer sent us, free of charge, except for expenses out of pocket. Bottles, Corks, &c.

This Machine is specially designed for Brewers and Beer Bottlers, to enable them to introduce, in a more perfect form than hitherto, Bottled Beers, making them equal or superior to the best brands, as light beer aerated and bottled by this process becomes a high-class Bottled Beer.

Bass's, Allsopp's, Ind, Coope's, Guinness's, or in fact any of the best brands of beers, can be aerated by this machine, and rendered fit for immediate use. The beer being run into either cylinder, the pump in the first place exhausts the atmospheric air out of it, and afterwards, by an arrangement of cocks, the same pump forces carbonic acid gas into the beer, it being agitated by rotating fans at the same time. When pressure has arrived at 30 lbs, bottling may be commenced. The filling machines used being either for the screw-necked bottles or cork.

See Testimonial in reference to this Machine.

THE “SPECIAL" BEER AERATING MACHINE, complete as above, with two 40-gallon
cylinders (Silvering extra, £40)    ...    ...    ...    ...    ...    ...    ... £135 0 0
GASOMETER AND GENERATOR, Figs. 21 and 22 in our Catalogue ...    ...    ...    20 0 0
                                                                                                                                 £155 0 0
“NIAGARA” WORKS, Eagle Wharf Road, LONDON, N".
Kelly's Directory of the Wine and Spirit Trades, 1884.

 By "rendered fit for immediate use" he means you wouldn't have to let it condition after bottling. Not sure what Bass and Guinness would have thought about that. Both were still bottle-conditioning well past WW II.

It wasn't exactly a cheap device, at 155 quid. Possibly worth the money is you turn cheap white wine into champagne.

The 1880s is when you first see artificially-carbonated bottled beers. Brewers started adopting American bottling techniques. Which produced a sediment-free, sparkling beer. Though, as is often stated in technical publications, brewers themselves considered bottle-conditioned beers as far superior in terms of flavour.

Forty years later, the majority of UK beers were artificially-carbonated.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1901 Boddington AK

A reader, Russell Gibbons, after I published the Adnams AK recipe recently, made a suggestion. What about publishing a series of Light Bitter/Dinner Ale recipes? Not a bad idea. Hence this Boddington AK.

AK was an incredibly popular designation for Light Bitters, but mostly limited in use to the southern half of England. It pops up a little bit in the northern Midlands, including my home town of Newark. Holes AK was the town’s most popular beer when I was a kid. Boddington’s is the most northerly example I’ve come across.

It has a dead typical OG, most examples being around 1045º. Pre-WW I, this counts as a light beer in the UK. A “standard” Pale Ale at the time was at least 1055º. To put AK into context in Boddington’s range of beers, it was the same strength as X, their weakest Mild Ale.

Little can be said about the recipe, it being simply base pale malt and an unspecified type of invert sugar. I’ve guessed No. 2 for the latter, though it could also have been No. 1. Just under half of the malt was made from Californian barley. Which wasn't unusual. Most British brewers liked to use some, partly because of its higher diastatic power, but also for its nitrogen content.

Four types of hops were employed, one Californian and the rest English. No harvest year specified, unfortunately.

1901 Boddington AK
pale malt 9.25 lb 90.24%
No. 2 invert sugar 1.00 lb 9.76%
Cluster 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 135 mins 0.50 oz
Fuggles 90 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 1.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1046
FG 1013
ABV 4.37
Apparent attenuation 71.74%
IBU 43
Mash at 156º F
Sparge at 165º F
Boil time 135 minutes
pitching temp 59.5º F
Yeast Wyeast 1318 London ale III (Boddingtons)

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Formby Old Brewery (part five)

I'm starting to get a weird insight into life in Victorian and Edwardian Formby. And there are a few surnames which keep popping up.

Let's recap the story so far, complete with some bits I've guessed. Formby Old Brewery was owned, until his death in December 1864, by Richard Tyrer. Who dropped dead in the brewery, aged 79. The brewery was then briefly owned by John Rimmer. On his death in 1866, the brewery was auctioned off and came into the hands of the Dickinson family, with whom in remained until 1949. When it was again auctioned - this time with three pubs - bought by Tetley and promptly closed. The final owner was William Rimmer Dickinson. Thomas Rimmer, who died in 1903 aged 63, ran the Royal Hotel and attached Reciprocity Brewery

The first of the family to own the Old Brewery seems to have been Edward Dickinson, father of William Rimmer Dickinson. The middle name of Rimmer implies that Edward Dickinson was married to one of the Rimmer family.

Looking at the dates, I guessed that John Rimmer was the father of Thomas Rimmer and also had a daughter who had married Edward Dickinson. Which would make William Rimmer Dickinson and Thomas Rimmer cousins. So why was the brewery auctioned and not inherited by John Rimmer's children? Was his estate split up because of an argument between his heirs? Did Thomas Rimmer use his share of the proceeds from the sale to buy the Royal Hotel and set up a brewery behind it? As an act of revenge against his brother-in-law buying his father's brewery? As a commenter on an earlier post mentioned, in a situation similar to what happened at Theakstons with Black Sheep?

After digging a little more, I'm doubting this imagined scenario. Especially after coming across this:

On Tuesday afternoon great excitement prevailed amongst members of the farming community of Freshfield and the surrounding district when it became known that two large stacks of rye and hay, along with a threshing machine, had caught fire on the land adjoining the Old Formby Brewery in the occupation of Ed. Dickinson. It appears that an engine and machine, owned by Thomas Rimmer of Ainsdale, arrived the evening previous for the purpose of threshing a stack of oats and was immediately placed between the last named rick and that of the hay and rye. Operations were commenced shortly after seven in the morning, and by one o'clock the rick was finished. The men then went to Dickinson's home for dinner, but before they had been there a quarter of an hour, word was received that the stacks were on fire. A scene of great excitement then prevailed and it was found on arriving at the burning curn that the threshing machine had also become ignited, and that it was impossible to save either the ricks or the apparatus. The ditches adjoining were dry, and there being no other chance of getting a supply of water the crowd had to stand and look on. In a short time the machine was burned to pieces whilst most of the sacks of oats threshed in the morning also got amongst the inflammable corn. The engine used to work the threshing apparatus had a narrow escape of getting seriously damaged, and it was with the utmost difficulty that it was removed. The hay, rye, and oats were valued at about £l4O, while the loss of the machine is estimated to be about £120. Neither wen insured. It is not known how the fire originated."
Liverpool Weekly Courier - Saturday 25 March 1893, page 4.

Thomas Rimmer owned fields adjacent to the brewery and his workmen ate in Edward Dickinson's house. That doesn't sound like family members who had fallen out.

The reciprocity Brewery seems to have closed pretty much immediately after Thomas Rimmer's death. A 1906 OS map marks the brewery as disused. The pub - and presumably the brewery - were bought by the Thorougood Brewery of Waterloo, Merseyside. Though in 1911 John Rimmer, presumably the son of Thomas, was the landlord.*

I keep coming across the surnames Dickinson, Rimmer and also Tyrer in Formby. Not just in connection with pubs and brewing, but also local politics.

This is so much fun, unearthing all this stuff. Not that it's of any real use. Maybe that's what makes it so enjoyable. The pointlessness itself.

I haven't even got to local arsehole landowner Charles J. Wild-Blundell. Who just happened to own a couple of beerhouses himself.

* Formby Times - Saturday 04 February 1911, page 7.

Monday 22 March 2021

Victorian fun and horror

Even more newspaper enjoyment. Apologies for my laziness. I've had other stuff I've needed to get on with this week.

This one could have been written yesterday, sadly. A beautiful piece of ecological wishful thinking.

"Our Sea Fisheries.—Some curious evidence was given on Monday before the select committee on the sea coast fisheries of Ireland, by Professor Huxley, with reference the habits of the fish on the coasts of the United Kingdom. The learned professor asserted that, with the exception of the spawn of herring and cod, naturalists were in absolute ignorance with reference to the manner in which deep sea fish deposited their spawn, and in what localities it was to be found. He stated that he had visited, in common with the other royal commissioners who held their inquiry two years ago, every station of importance in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and that the evidence with regard to the damage done to the spawn of fish by trawlers was most conflicting and unreliable. His own experience was that spawn was not taken up by dredging the bottom of the sea, as he had himself searched for it in vain. He was in favour of absolute free trade in fishing, and he believed that all the dexterity of men in capturing fish had no appreciable effect upon diminishing the quantity in the sea, and that millions of fish were devoured by other fish. The learned professor added that he did not believe that a bay or estuary could be trawled out, and instanced the case of a bay which had been trawled for 80 years, and in which fish of all sort were as abundant as ever."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

I love the argument that millions of fish ate each other so it was OK to trawl the seas as much as you liked.

Next, an horrific industrial accident.

"Man Decapitated—On Monday afternoon Wm. Brown, engine tenter, in the service of Messrs. Davy Brothers, Blast-lane, Sheffield, engineers had his head cut off whilst at work. The workmen were erecting a pair of shears, and the deceased was taking part in the operation They had placed a cylinder on the top of the shears, and whilst the remainder of the work was proceeding the cylinder fell. Brown was a stooping position at the moment, and the cylinder caught him on the back of the neck, cutting right through, and leaving his head hanging by mere shred. Death, of course, was instantaneous."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Effectively guillotined. At least it would have been quick.

Finally, an article with a beer connection. Though not a particularly happy one:

"Horrible Death.—An inquest was held at Minsteed, Hants, on Tuesday, on the body of Alfred Peckham, aged 34 years. It appeared that the deceased had been drinking at the Compton Arms, at Stoney Cross, and on leaving proceeded to an adjoining stable to sleep. He was smoking at the time, and it is supposed that the place took fire from the ashes his pipe, for it was in blaze by eleven o’clock, and about midnight some men who were engaged in extinguishing the flames discovered in the loft the body of Peckham, a charred and blackened mass. A verdict of Accidental death from burning was recorded."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Smoking in bed is a bad idea at the best of times. More so if your bed is made of straw. 

The Compton Arms is now a Travelodge.

Sunday 21 March 2021

Crime and Punishment (part two)

More Victorian newspaper fun.

Visiting Justices’ Report.— The visiting justices reported that during the post quarter the repairs required had been of the usual character. The buildings appear in good order, with the exception of part of the coping of the outer wall, which is being attended to. The general health of the prisoners has been very good; no epidemic hospital case had been reported by the surgeon. The prisoners had been fully employed at the various descriptions of labour, and their conduct had been generally satisfactory. There had been a considerable increase in the daily average number of prisoners this quarter compared with the corresponding quarter last year. This year the numbers were 79, and in the corresponding quarter of 1866, 58. The increase has principally been in the vagrant class. The conduct of the officers had been such as to merit the continued approbation of the visiting justices."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

From the way "no epidemic hospital case" is reported, it sounds like they often did have epidemics in the prison.

The Chief Constable mentioned a rather odd crime wave in his report:

"The Chief Constable's Report. —The Chief Constable reported the number of persons summoned, apprehended, or otherwise brought before the Justices of the Riding by the Constabulary during the past quarter. Number of persons summoned, apprehended, &c., males 666, females 43; committed for trial, 15 men, 1 woman; summarily convicted, 523 males, 29 females; discharged, males 128, females 3 ; total 709. On comparing the number of cases with those of the previous quarter, the Chief Constable found an increase of 141 cases; 31 which were informations under the cattle plague orders. With respect to the cases committed for trial there was an increase 4; but out of the total number of 16, no fewer than 6 were for prize fighting. In the corresponding quarter of last year he found there was increase of 26 cases, including three more committed, accounted for by the number of prize fights. Thirty persons had been summoned for breaches the Privy Council orders, seventeen of which were fined £4 19s., in addition to the expenses which were incurred of £8 1s. 11d., and thirteen cases were dismissed."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Who would have guessed prize fighting would account for so much of the crime? 

The next bit is particularly weird:

"The Chief Constable also reported that he had found parties from distance (not only for charitable purposes, but for their own direct benefit also) were attempting to use the police force of the Riding an agency for the sale of lottery tickets. On a former occasion he had reported the subject to the Quarter Sessions, and also to the Home Office, but no action was taken in the matter. He had made point of returning all those tickets the parties who had sent them, post not paid, as the most efficacious mode of checking the proceeding, which was in every respect objectionable. The police earnings amounted £151 13s 0.5d, and the extra expenses £87 19s. 5.5d. These included all sums paid to the treasurer by the clerks to the justices of the general petty sessional divisions, as shown the return received from his office, together with the amounts due from Middle and South Holderness divisions for the previous, but not for this quarter."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Why on earth were the police selling lottery tickets? Didn't they have anything better to do?

Saturday 20 March 2021

Let's Brew - 1878 Adnams XXXK

Not totally sure what this was marketed as. Strong Pale Ale? Stock Ale? Old Ale? Who knows?

The fact that it was parti-gyled with AK leads me to believe that this was a Strong Pale Ale. But brewers pulled some weird shit and I could be completely wrong. It does have a typical gravity for Stock Pale Ale (or IPA), being around the same as Bass’s famous version.

Given that the much weaker AK came out at 70-odd (calculated) IBU, it’s no surprise that XXXK is pushing 100 IBU.

Unlike AK, which would have been consumed within a couple of weeks of racking, if this really was a Stock Pale Ale, it would have been aged for up to 12 months. During this time, the action of Brettanomyces would have considerably dropped the FG and dried out the beer considerably.

1878 Adnams XXXK
mild malt 8.00 lb 68.09%
No. 1 invert sugar 3.75 lb 31.91%
Goldings 105 mins 4.25 oz
Goldings 30 mins 4.25 oz
Goldings dry hops 1.00 oz
OG 1064
FG 1018
ABV 6.09
Apparent attenuation 71.88%
IBU 98
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 172º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 64º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold

Friday 19 March 2021

Crime and Punishment

I've already nicked the name of one classic novel ("War and Peace", still available on Lulu) so why not do it again. The topic really is crime and punishment, mind you. Titally appropriate.

On my quest to track down the Dickinson/Dickenson family, I chanced upon a court report.

"William Dickenson (41), labourer, was indicted for having stolen an iron bar, the property of Francis Watt, Esq., of Bishop Burton, and a bag, the property of Richard Nelson. Guilty; two months' imprisonment in the House of Correction, hard labour. Previous conviction proved."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

As this took place on the other side of the country, almost certainly not someone I'm interested in. But I couldn't help looking at the other court reports. They reveal a society a world away from the Victorian world of costume drama.

Most of the convictions were for fairly minor thefts, just like William Dickenson. Resulting in quite hefty jail sentences.

"Maria Rawson (18), described as a servant at Driffield, was indicted for having stolen pair of boots, the property of a young woman named Elizabeth Chatham. Mr. Preston prosecuted. The girl was bailed from prison on the 28th March last, and the recognizance was respited until the present sessions on account of illness. The accused was found guilty, and sentenced to three mouths’ imprisonment. 

Charles Thompson (22). engraver, was indicted for that he did, being the bailee of a gold watch and a gold pin, the property of Richard Oxley, at Beverley, on the 6th of April last, convert the same to his own use. Mr. Thompson prosecuted. Sentenced to twelve mouths’ imprisonment, previous conviction, Hull, haring been proved against him.

John Watson (40), a slater, was sentenced to six month’s imprisonment for having, on the 24th May last, uttered a counterfeit half-sovereign at Bridlinglon Mr. Thompson prosecuted. 

A married woman, named Martha Miles (38), was indicted for having stolen, on the 22nd June last, silver watch and appendages, the property of Robert Bewell, residing at Bridlington. Mr. Preston prosecuted. The accused was sent to prison for six weeks. 

William Dickenson (41), labourer, was indicted for having stolen an iron bar, the property of Francis Watt, Esq., of Bishop Burton, and a bag, the property of Richard Nelson. Guilty ; two months' imprisonment in the House of Correction, hard labour. Previous conviction proved. 

Elizabeth Moleson (21) was sentenced twelve months imprisonment for having stolen a cloth Jacket the property of Richard Hudson of Bridlington Quay, on the 24th of May."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Some unlucky bastards got pretty long sentences:

"William Robinson (28), groom, charged with stealing, on the 3rd April, 1865, a saddle belonging to William Kirkwood, Patrington, and also with stealing a saddle and bridle, the property of Thomas Hoskinson, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. Prisoner had been previously convicted. 

"At the Middlesex Sessions, on Tuesday, a notorious character met the just reward of his misdeeds. He was convicted of obtaining money by false pretences, and it was stated that in 1854 he was indicted for perjury, and in 1865 for stealing a bill of exchange. He had been five times bankrupt, three times insolvent, and compounded with his creditors as recently as last November. One of his favourite tricks was to undertake to get acceptances cashed, and having done so to hand over a sovereign, promising to pay the rest at early day, a device by which he escaped a criminal prosecution. The Judge, in passing sentence, said that the prisoner belonged to a numerous class who lived by swindling, and, as an example, sentenced him to five years’ penal sevitude."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Note how many had previous convictions and were presumably habitual criminals. Seven years, though, for stealing two saddles?

Some got off

"John Skelton (48), carrier, was indicted for having stolen, at Pauli, the 21st March last, two pounds of butter, the property of Edmund George Cautley. Mr. Thompson prosecuted, and Mr. Peel defended the prisoner. Not guilty.  

Jesse Page, schoolmaster, was charged with having indecently assaulted Charlotte Kisime, of Cherry Burton, on the 26th April last, and also Jane Ann Flowers and Mary Ann Sanderson.—Not guilty. 

Ann Eliza Gray and Hannah Jane Sanridge were indicted for having stolen 17s 6d the property of Henry Wombwell, musician.— Not guilty. "
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

I don't really want to think about what the schoolmaster might have been up to. Why did he get off?

Other  cases are more tragic:

"Case Bigamy. —At the Bow Street Police Court, on Tuesday, Edward Martindale. aged 29, cabinet maker, residing at 5, Marl-place, Dartford, Kent, was placed at the bar on the charge of unlawfully intermarrying with Maria Dorset, at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field, his wife being still alive. It appeared that the defendant, on the 9th of March last, was married to Maria Dorset, the daughter of Mr. William Dorset, coachman, Epsom, and they had been living together at Dartford. At the time of his marriage and now he has a wife and one child living in York or some other part of this country. He admitted these facts, and by way of excuse for his second marriage, said that he was very young when he first married, that his wife was six years older than himself and she had been keeping company with another man since their marriage. The defendant was remanded on bail."

A Sad Case.—A few days ago, sea captain, who has spent most of his life ploughing the briny ocean, arrived in Selby, where his wife and family have resided for many years, with the idea that, having accumulated a nice little fortune, he could spend the rest of his life on shore with his partner and children, and enjoy the fruits of his dangerous avocation. Much to his surprise, however, on arriving at home, he found that his wife had left home a week previously, taking with her the youngest child, and upwards of £800, the savings of years at sea. The captain liad unfortunately left the money in the bank at the call of either his wife or himself, so that on anything happening to him at sea, his wife would have difficulty in obtaining the money. No clue has been obtained of the absent one. "
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

I wonder what Martindale did when he got out.? Did he go back to living with Maria Dorset? As for the captain's wife, what did she do with the other children? £800 was a large amount of money back then. The equivalent of many years of wages.

Finally, something altogether more sinister:

"Patrick Lyons and John Finn, who were charged with having been concerned in the Timble Bridge murder were again examined before the Leeds police magistrates on Thursday. Evidence was given to show that Finn was in his lodgings the time of the murder and was discharged. The other prisoner was remanded."
Bridlington Free Press - Saturday 06 July 1867, page 3.

Thursday 18 March 2021

Formby Old Brewery (part four)

I thought I was starting to get my head around all of this. Then along comes another complicated family.

That local magazine article provide a little detail on the Dickinson/Dickenson family:

"The Formby Brewery in Brewery Lane was run by the Dickenson family. They are shown as Thomas and William Rimmer Dickinson in the late 19th century and they provided the beer for the Railway Hotel in Duke Street, the Grapes in Thornton and the Liver at the top of South Road, Waterloo. They both appear in the 1885 Voters List. An Edward Dickenson can also be found as a publican at the Grapes. "
Formby Civic News, Spring 2016, page 6.

I assumed that I'd be able to easily find a death notice for William Rimmer Dickinson, given the unusual middle name. But a search of the newspaper archives retuned zero hits. Which meant I had to go with just "William Dickinson". Not an uncommon name.

I did manage to find some relevant stuff. Like this:

"Ball it the Railway Hotel, Formby.
A BALL will held Mr. THOMAS FORMBY’S, Railway Hotel, FORMBY, the 2nd February, 1869.

A Quadrille Band will be attendance. Gentlemen's Tickets, 3s. each; Ladies’ do., 2s. each; refreshments included. 

Tickets to be had from the following Stewards:

Or at the Railway Hotel, Formby."
Ormskirk Advertiser - Thursday 28 January 1869, page 1.

The Railway Hotel, you will recall, was one of the brewery's three tied houses. This is too early to be the same Dickinson, but he seems to have some involvement with the pub trade. Was he related to the later owners of the brewery? Note also the presence of someone called Tyrer. A Mr. Tyrer had been the owner of the brewery until his death in 1864. It's not exactly a common surname. I can't remember coming across it before.

I'm pretty sure this is William Rimmer Dickinson:

"Serious Trap Accident at Formby.—
Shortly after eight o’clock last evening a serious accident happened at Formby to a hourse and trap owned by Mr. E. Dickinson, of the Railway Station Hotel. It appears that Mr. William Dickinson, accompanied by two men named Mercer and Eccless, was driving home from the brewery at Freshfield along Liverpool-road to the station, and in turning a part of the road known as the Cross, to get into Duke-street, the trap came into collision with a large heap of frozen gravel lying on the side of the road. The vehicle was overturned, the horse fell, and the occupants were thrown out. Mercer and his companions were slightly injured about the knees, but Dickinson was more seriously cut about the head and face. He was conveyed to the residence of Mr. Sykes. and it was found that he had received a serious wound on the forehead. This was stitched up and he was taken home to his father's residence. The horse received several cuts about the legs, and the trap was very much damaged."
Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 25 February 1888, page 6.

E. Dickinson is surely Edward Dickinson. Though it looks like he had moved between the Grapes and the Railway Hotel. William definitely seems to have been involved with the brewery by this point. He must have been fairly young as he seems to have been living with his father.

When did the Dickinson's come into possession of the brewery. Did they buy it at the 1866 auction? More digging is required.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Let's Brew Wednesday - 1878 Adnams AK

Ooh, yes. An AK. One of my favourite obsessions, AK is. I can remember how excited when I found my first one in a Fullers brewing record.

AK was the classic name for the new-fangled type of running Pale Ale which was all the rage in the second half of the 19th century. A type of beer brewed by dozens, if not hundreds, of breweries across England. And definitely not a fucking Light Mild.

In typical 19th-century style, there’s very little to the recipe. One type of malt, one type of sugar and one of hops. Very simple stuff. Unlike some modern recipes, with half a dozen malts, five types of hops and all sorts of other shit, like vanilla, lactose and fruit juice.

While today this would count as a Best Bitter with its gravity of well over 1040º. At the time, it was considered as a Light Beer. AKs were often described as “Light Bitter Ale” or "Luncheon Ale".

1878 Adnams AK
mild malt 5.50 lb 66.67%
No. 1 invert sugar 2.75 lb 33.33%
Goldings 105 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings 30 mins 3.00 oz
Goldings dry hops 0.50 oz
OG 1044
FG 1010
ABV 4.50
Apparent attenuation 77.27%
IBU 79
Mash at 152º F
Sparge at 172º F
Boil time 105 minutes
pitching temp 65º F
Yeast WLP025 Southwold