23rd January 1803. The Beerage.


Worthington’s Off-Licence, Hull c 1920s.

‘Kent: hops, cherries and pretty women’:  Mr. Jingle in Dickens’ Pickwick Papers. Cherries were first introduced to Kent in 1540 about the same time as hops were used in beer.

Beer gradually killed ale and by 1577 an observer of national customs was referring to ale as the drink of his ancestors as ‘thick, fulsome sick man’s drink and popular no longer‘. Porter was brewed from dark malt and was heavily hopped which aided preservation.

Beer originally made on a small scale, conducted by ale-wives, developed so by the 18th century many of the great breweries were founded including the Dublin based brewer of stout Arthur Guinness who died Today in 1803.(1)

Many of these brewers set to become household names were based in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, producing the India Pale Ale from the hard water which percolates through the area’s gypsum layers. It was this trait which caused the migration to Burton of  London brewers such as Truman, Charrington and Mann and Paulin.

Burton beer-Bass and Worthington-became well established national brands in London, via the Midland Railway deliveries to St. Pancras with its cellars calculated to take barrels of beer.

William Bass had moved from carting beer to establish the famous brewery in Burton, whilst Henry Thomas Wilders from a family of tanners, built a brewery on his leatherworks in the town, becoming the third largest brewery with 300 workers.

However the company ran into difficulties in 1907 and was bought by Worthington’s in 1915, who themselves were acquired by Bass in 1927.

The period saw many amalgamations locally as Salt’s were bought by Bass, whilst Allsopp’s joined Ind-Coope to become Ind Coope’s and Allsopp.(2)

In the new millennium, Burton which once had dozens of breweries was reduced to two, excluding artisan brewers, which include Marston’s and the American Molson Coors which had taken over the Bass-Worthington sites.

A statue to the first Lord Burton (William Bass), stands in Burton-on-Trent, Town Hall Square. His sister Alice married Sir George Chetwode father of Field Marshall Chetwood, who was father-in-law of the poet Sir John Betjeman.(3)

Another brewing Peer was Samuel Allsopp who became Lord Hyndley, thus justifying the term Beerage 

(1) Guinness born in 1725 had signed up for a long term rent at the unused St James’s Gate Brewery Dublin on 31st December 1759.

(2) Kirsty Allsop and her sister, descendants of the brewers are now in TV.

(3) The grandson of the 2nd Baroness Burton, a Baillie died in 2013. The power of the ‘Beerage’ cascades down the ages.

Ref: paul-gibson.com/Pic Image.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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