Historic Beer Birthday: William Lassell

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Today is the birthday of William Lassell (June 18, 1799–October 5, 1880). He made great contributions to astronomy throughout his life, but that “hobby” was funded by the fortune he made at his Liverpool brewery. He was initially trained as a merchant, and in 1825 started an apparently successful brewery, and one account states that he “married a widow of a wealthy Liverpool brewer gaining at the same time financial independence.” That may have given him the idea. Perhaps because his life was overshadowed by his astronomical pursuits, there’s very little about his brewery I could find.

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Here’s his basic biography from his Wikipedia page:

William Lassell was born in Bolton, Lancashire, a town west of Manchester. He was educated first in Bolton then at Rochdale Academy. After the death of his father, he was apprenticed from 1814 to 1821 to a merchant in Liverpool. He then made his fortune as a beer brewer, which enabled him to indulge his interest in astronomy. He built an observatory at his house “Starfield” in West Derby, a suburb of Liverpool. There he had a 24-inch (610 mm) reflector telescope, for which he pioneered the use of an equatorial mount for easy tracking of objects as the Earth rotates. He ground and polished the mirror himself, using equipment he constructed. The observatory was later (1854) moved further out of Liverpool, to Bradstone.

In 1846 Lassell discovered Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, just 17 days after the discovery of Neptune itself by German astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle. In 1848 he independently co-discovered Hyperion, a moon of Saturn. In 1851 he discovered Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of Uranus.

When Queen Victoria visited Liverpool in 1851, Lassell was the only local she specifically requested to meet.

In 1855, he built a 48-inch (1,200 mm) telescope, which he installed in Malta because of the observing conditions that were better than in often-overcast England. On his return to the UK after several years in Malta he moved to Maidenhead and operated his 24-inch (610 mm) telescope in an observatory there. The 48-inch telescope was dismantled and was eventually scrapped.

Lassell was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS) from 1839, won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1849, and served as its president for two years starting in 1870. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1849 and won their Royal Medal in 1858. Lassel was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL). He was furthermore elected an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (HonFRSE) and of the Society of Sciences of Upsala, and received an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Cambridge in 1874.

Lassell died in Maidenhead in 1880. Upon his death, he left a fortune of £80,000 (roughly equivalent to £7,200,000 in 2015). His telescope was presented to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich.

The crater Lassell on the Moon, a crater on Mars, the asteroid 2636 Lassell and a ring of Neptune are named in his honour.

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This account of Lassell is from A Popular History of Astronomy During the Nineteen Century, by Agnes M. Clerke, published in 1885:

Within seventeen days of its identification with the Berlin achromatic, Neptune was found to be attended by a satellite. This discovery was the first notable performance of the celebrated two-foot reflector[224] erected by Mr. Lassell at his suggestively named residence of Starfield, near Liverpool. William Lassell was a brewer by profession, but by inclination an astronomer. Born at Bolton in Lancashire, June 18, 1799, he closed a life of eminent usefulness to science, October 5, 1818, thus spanning with his well-spent years four-fifths of the momentous period which we have undertaken to traverse. At the age of twenty-one, being without the means to purchase, he undertook to construct telescopes, and naturally turned his attention to the reflecting sort, as favouring amateur efforts by the comparative simplicity of its structure. His native ingenuity was remarkable, and was developed by the hourly exigencies of his successive enterprises. Their uniform success encouraged him to enlarge his aims, and in 1844 he visited Birr Castle for the purpose of inspecting the machine used in polishing the giant speculum of Parsonstown. In the construction of his new instrument, however, he eventually discarded the model there obtained, and worked on a method of his own, assisted by the supreme mechanical skill of James Nasmyth. The result was a Newtonian of exquisite definition, with an aperture of two, and a focal length of twenty feet, provided by a novel artifice with the equatoreal mounting, previously regarded as available only for refractors.

This beautiful instrument afforded to its maker, October 10, 1846, a cursory view of a Neptunian attendant. But the planet was then approaching the sun, and it was not until the following July that the observation could be verified, which it was completely, first by Lassell himself, and somewhat later by Otto Stuve and Bond of Cambridge (U.S.). When it is considered that this remote object shines by reflecting sunlight reduced by distance to 1/900th of the intensity with which it illuminates our moon, the fact of its visibility, even in the most perfect telescopes, is a somewhat surprising one. It can only, indeed, be accounted for by attributing to it dimensions very considerable for a body of the secondary order. It shares with the moons of Uranus the peculiarity of retrograde motion; that is to say, its revolutions, running counter to the grand current of movement in the solar system, are performed from east to west, in a plane inclined at an angle of 35 deg. to that of the ecliptic. Their swiftness serves to measure the mass of the globe round which they are performed. For while our moon takes twenty-seven days and nearly eight hours to complete its circuit of the earth, the satellite of Neptune, at a distance not greatly inferior, sweeps round its primary in five days and twenty-one hours, showing (according to a very simple principle of computation) that it is urged by a force seventeen times greater than the terrestrial pull upon the lunar orb. Combining this result with those of Professor Barnard’s and Dr. See’s recent measurements of the small telescopic disc of this farthest known planet, it is found that while in _mass_ Neptune equals seventeen, in _bulk_ it is equivalent to forty-nine earths. This is as much as to say that it is composed of relatively very light materials, or more probably of materials distended by internal heat, as yet unwasted by radiation into space, to about five times the volume they would occupy in the interior of our globe. The fact, at any rate, is fairly well ascertained, that the average density of Neptune is about twice that of water.

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Historical Beer Birthday: John Lofting

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Today is as good a day as any to celebrate the birthday of John Lofting (1659–June 15, 1742). Like many people born centuries ago who weren’t royal or otherwise well-born, we don’t know the exact day he was born, but we do know that he died today. Lofting was a Dutchman who lived in London as an adult, and patented several devices, the most famous of which was the fire engine, but he may also have been responsible for the beer engine.

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Here’s his Wikipedia entry:

Originally Jan Loftingh, John Lofting was an engineer and entrepreneur from the Netherlands. His parents were Herman and Johanna. He moved to London, England, before 1686. He patented two inventions being the “sucking worm engine” (a fire engine) and a horse-powered thimble knurling machine. His mill was set up in Islington, where Lofting Road is named after him. However, in or about 1700, he moved his main operation to Great Marlow in Buckinghamshire to take advantage of the River Thames’ ability to turn a water wheel which improved productivity, enabling the production of over 2 million thimbles per year.

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The Sucking Worm Engine, from the British Museum.

And while Joseph Bramah patented the first practical beer engine, Lofting’s design made it possible for Bramah to build on and create his. Although there’s little I could find specific about Lofting’s invention, it is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for the beer engine:

A beer engine is a device for pumping beer from a cask in a pub’s cellar.

The beer engine was invented by John Lofting, a Dutch inventor, merchant and manufacturer who moved from Amsterdam to London in about 1688 and patented a number of inventions including a fire hose and engine for extinguishing fires and a thimble knurling machine as well as a device for pumping beer. The London Gazette of 17 March 1691 stated “the patentee hath also projected a very useful engine for starting of beers and other liquors which will deliver from 20 to 30 barrels an hour which are completely fixed with brass joints and screws at reasonable rates.”

The locksmith and hydraulic engineer Joseph Bramah developed beer pumping further in 1797.

The beer engine is normally manually operated, although electrically powered and gas powered pumps are occasionally used; when manually powered, the term handpump is often used to refer to both the pump and the associated handle.

The beer engine is normally located below the bar with the visible handle being used to draw the beer through a flexible tube to the spout, below which the glass is placed. Modern hand pumps may clamp onto the edge of the bar or be mounted on the top of the bar.

A pump clip is usually attached to the handle by a spring clip giving the name and sometimes the brewery, beer type and alcoholic strength of the beer being served through that handpump.

The handle of a handpump is often used as a symbol of cask ale. Keg beer dispensers usually feature illuminated countertop fittings behind which a handle opens a valve that allows the gas pressure in the keg to force beer to the attached spout.

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A modern beer engine.

Beer Birthday: Charlie Bamforth

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Today is the 65th birthday of Charlie Bamforth, who is the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Brewing Science at U.C. Davis (and was my teacher when I took the brewing short course there). His two most recent books should be on your must read list: Beer Is Proof That God Loves Us and Grape vs. Grain. He’s a terrific advocate for beer and a great person. He was also kind enough to speak to beer appreciation class that I recently taught at Sonoma State University. Join me in wishing Charlie a very happy birthday.

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Charlie with John Dannerbeck from Anchor Brewing, at a reception held there for the launch of Charlie’s new book.

Speakers at the Symposium: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie Bamforth
Charlie with fellow speakers at the Herbst Museum Symposium a few years ago, from left: Bruce Paton, Christine Hastorf, Fritz Maytag and Charlie.

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Charlie speaking at the first North American Guild of Beer Writers Symposium in Philadelphia in May of 2016.

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Charlie being courted by both wine and beer on his publisher’s blog, Cambridge University Press.

Historic Beer Birthday: Thomas Carling

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Today is the birthday of Thomas Carling (June 1, 1797-February 17, 1880). He was born in Yorkshire, England but emigrated to Canada, settling in London, Ontario, in 1818, where he founded what would become the Carling Brewery in 1840.

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This biography is from Find-a-Grave:

Son of William and Margaret Carling of Etton. Wishing to find his fortune in a young country he sailed from Hull on May 17, 1818 for Canada. (Since there was not much opportunity for tenant farmers in England, many of the young farmer sons left to be successful elsewhere.)

The interesting journey was recorded by his son, Sir John Carling, and is included in the hard-bound book by George P. DeKay, available in the London Room at the London Public Library.
Thomas arrived at his new farm in London township in 1819 and began the long job of clearing the land of trees and building a log cabin. The location was lot 14, concession 8 however in 1824 he moved to a farm further south at lot 26, con. 6, nearer to his in-laws.

About 1839 he moved from the farm into the town of London (Pall Mall and Colborne streets location). It is said that he felt his three surviving sons would receive a better education there.
The origin of CARLING BREWERY is Thomas Carling and London, Ontario. Since he had move time after moving to a town setting, Thomas began brewing beer likely similar to the recipes of home-brewed English beer. The beer was a popular refreshment for the British soldiers who were stationed nearby at the British garrison. It was not long before sons William and John persuaded their father to turn the business over to their management and control. The company was named “W. & J. Carling Ltd.” In 1882 the “Carling Brewing and Malting Co. of London Ltd.” was formed with John as its president. Later the business expanded throughout Canada, the United States, Europe and beyond. The business remained in the family for about 100 years.

Thomas married Margaret Routledge on Oct. 6, 1820. The two had to be married by a Justice of the Peace because in 1820 there was no Church of England minister in the area. This marriage was the first in the newly formed township for a non-native couple. In order to legalize a marriage, it was necessary to post, in three locations, a document signed by the JP in question, the three places being a mill door, a distillery door and on a large tree at a public crossroads.

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And this short history of the Carling Brewery is from their Wikipedia page:

The history of Carling dates back to 1818, when Thomas Carling, a farmer from the English county of Yorkshire, and his family settled in Upper Canada, at what is now the city of London, Ontario. He brewed an ale which became popular, and eventually took up brewing full-time. The first Carling brewery had two kettles, a horse to turn the grinding mill and six men to work on the mash tubs, and Carling sold his beer on the streets of London, Ontario from a wheelbarrow.

In 1840 Carling began a small brewing operation in London, selling beer to soldiers at the local camp. In 1878 his sons, John and William, built a six-storey brewery in London, which was destroyed by fire a year after opening. Thomas Carling, shortly after helping to fight the fire, died of pneumonia.[citation needed]

William and John took over the company, naming it the W & J Carling Brewing Co. John Carling died in 1911 and the company changed hands numerous times since. It was acquired by Canadian Breweries Limited, which was eventually renamed Carling O’Keefe, which merged with Molson, which then merged with Coors to form Molson Coors Brewing Company.

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This plaque for Carling is in Yorkshire, England, dedicated in 2000:

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This short brewery history is from the Carling website:

Carling’s British roots trace all the way back to the Yorkshire village of Etton, little known, but forever in the hearts of Carling as the birthplace of our namesakes, William Carling and his son Thomas. Inheriting his father’s passion and skill for brewing, a 21-year-old Thomas emigrated to Canada taking his father’s Yorkshire beer recipe, which on arrival in Canada he used to brew privately for admiring family and friends. The township Thomas settled in soon became an Imperial Army post where the thirsty soldiers became fans of the Carling family’s Yorkshire brew. In 1843 he built his first commercial brewery, only for his sons William and John to take up the baton soon after, and begin producing lager for the first time in 1869, sewing the first seeds of Carling’s refreshingly perfect pint.

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And this is a portion of a history written by Cecil Munsey in 2003, entitled “Carling Black Label Beer in the White Bottle:”

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Historic Beer Birthday: John Hinchliffe

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Today is the birthday of John Hinchliffe (May 19, 1850-March 18, 1915). His father, also named John Hinchliffe, was born in Yorkshire, England but moved to New Jersey and founded the Hinchliffe Brewing & Malting Company in 1863. The brewery eventually employed his three sons, including John Hinchliffe Jr., who was later president. In 1890, it joined a consolidation of five local breweries in Paterson which became known as the Paterson Brewing & Malting Co. The brewery was closed by prohibition and never reopened.

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This obituary comes from the American Brewers Review in 1915:

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This brewery history is from the Paterson Historic Preservation Society:

The Hinchliffe Brewing & Malting Company was one of at least a dozen of breweries to operate out of Paterson in the pre-Prohibition Era. Owned and operated by John Hinchliffe & sons, who had previously founded the Eagle Brewery in Paterson in 1861 (on the Eve of the Civil War), Hinchliffe Brewing built the impressive brick structure that still stands on Governor Street in 1899. Designed by Charles Stoll & Son, notable “brewer’s architects” from Brooklyn, New York, building lasted eight months and once completed she was the largest in the city. Advertising broadsides from the era feature products such as their “East India Ale,” Porters, and Brown Stouts. The Brewery had a three-story ice factory located behind it, and at full capacity could produce 75,000 barrels per year. In 1917, the Brewery was converted to cold storage for supplies headed to the battlefields of World War I.

Glassware and advertising from Hinchliffe Brewery are considered collectibles due to their pre-Prohibition origins. Unfortunately, the Brewery would not survive the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, as the Hinchliffe family closed operations to conform with the law of the land.

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And this history is by Peter Blum:

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And this is from the City of Paterson, New Jersey’s website:

The Hinchliffe Brewing and Malting Company was formed in 1890 by the well-known Hinchliffe brothers, the three sons of the English founder of the Eagle Brewery in 1861. The Eagle was likely the earliest medium-scale brewery in Paterson. John Hinchliffe began under the name Hinchliffe & Co., and was later changed to Shaw, Hinchliffe & Penrose in 1867 following association with those gentlemen. While business did well, in 1878 Penrose withdrew from the firm to which then the name changed to Shaw & Hinchliffe. Soon afterward in 1881, Shaw went abroad due to illness and died there, leaving the firm under its founder, John Hinchliffe, who again was alone in the endeavor until his death in 1886. His sons John, William and James inherited the property and the business, to which they put their minds and in 1890 set out together. They hired the well-known firm of Charles Stoll & Son of Brooklyn to draw up plans for the city’s largest and most modern brewing facility. The brew house stood five stories tall, built of brick and iron and trimmed with granite, and behind was a modern ice making facility three stories tall. A four-story cold storage facility was also constructed at the time fronting Governor Street.

The 1890s was the high time for the brewing industry in Paterson. The four main breweries in Paterson consolidated as the Paterson Consolidated Brewing Co. and in 1899 the Hinchliffe brothers also joined and became board leaders of the organization. John Hinchliffe died in 1915, the same year that more than 30 of Paterson’s saloons were closed due to the lack business. The brewing industry in Paterson was soon thereafter crippled and dissolved by the Temperance movement and prohibition era of the 1920-30s.

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On January 15, 1904, a fire broke out at the Hinchcliffe Brewery Malt House. One firefighter died when he fell from a ladder during efforts to put out the blaze, and at least three others were injured. The website Paterson Fire History has photographs and newspaper clippings from the fire.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Gilbert Greenall, 1st Baronet

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Today is the birthday of Gilbert Greenall (May 11, 1806-July 10, 1894). He was the grandson of Thomas Greenall, who founded Greenall’s Brewery in 1762. While mostly involved in politics, Gilbert did assume control of the brewery after his father died, and also had numerous other business interests.

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This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:

Sir Gilbert Greenall, 1st Baronet DL, was a British businessman and Conservative politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1847 and 1892.

Greenall was the sixth and youngest son of Edward Greenall of Walton Hall, Cheshire. His grandfather was Thomas Greenall, who had established a brewery in St Helen’s in 1762, on which the family wealth was based. Greenall assumed control of the family brewery business and also had interests in the St Helens Canal and Railway Company and in Parr, Lyons and Greenall Bank, based in Warrington. He was and a J.P. for Lancashire and Cheshire.

In 1847 Greenall was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Warrington, a seat he held until 1868, when he was unseated through an error of the Mayor’s poll-clerk. In 1873 he was appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire and in 1874, he was reelected MP for Warrington. In 1876 he was created a Baronet, of Walton Hall in the County of Chester. He lost his seat at Warrington in 1880, but was re-elected in 1885 and remained until he retired at the 1892 general election.

Greenall married, firstly, Mary, daughter of David Claughton, in 1836. After her death in 1861 he married, secondly, Susannah, daughter of John Lovis Rapp. He died in July 1894, aged 88, and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his only son from his first marriage, Gilbert, who was created Baron Daresbury in 1927. Susannah, Lady Greenall, died in 1896.

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Here’s a history of the brewery, from Wikipedia:

Greenall’s Brewery was founded by Thomas Greenall in 1762. Initially based in St Helens, the company relocated to Warrington in 1787.

It bought the Groves & Whitnall Brewery in Salford in 1961, Shipstone’s Brewery in Nottingham in 1978 and Davenport’s Brewery in Birmingham in 1986. For much of the 20th century, the company traded as Greenall Whitley & Co Limited. The St Helens brewery was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a new shopping centre. The Warrington brewery on the edge of Stockton Heath was bought by Bruntwood, renamed Wilderspool Business Park and is now let to office occupiers.

The company ceased brewing in 1991 to concentrate on running pubs and hotels.

In 1999, the tenanted wing of the Greenall’s operation was sold to the Japanese bank, Nomura for £370 million and the main Greenall’s operation, involving 770 pubs and 69 budget lodges, was sold to Scottish and Newcastle for £1.1billion. Greenalls started to focus its resources on its De Vere and Village Leisure hotel branding at that time.

In February 2005, Greenalls sold The Belfry to The Quinn Group for £186 million.

The Greenall family connection remained as Lord Daresbury, the descendant of the original founder, remained the non-executive chairman. This tie was severed in 2006 when Daresbury stepped down from the post and much of the family’s interest was sold.

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The Greenall, Whitley & Co. Ltd. Brewery, in St. Helens, in 1902.

And this is from Funding Universe:

Patriarch Thomas Greenall learned the brewing trade from his wife’s family in the 1750s and founded his own brewery in northwestern England at St. Helens in 1762. Brewing was a highly competitive business, with rivals ranging from the lone homebrewer to inns and pubs that brewed their own ales to wholesale brew masters like Greenall. Though the founder dabbled in nail making, coal mining, and yarn spinning throughout the late 18th century, brewing remained the family’s core interest. By the turn of the century, Thomas had brought sons Edward, William, and Peter into the business. The Greenalls began to purchase their own pubs and inns as early as 1800, helping to accelerate a gradual elimination of their competition. In Britain, it was customary for bars owned by breweries to carry only the beers brewed by the parent company. For nearly two centuries, these “tied houses” were a profitable segment of Greenall’s business.

In 1788, Greenall formed a separate partnership with William Orrett and Thomas Lyon to purchase the Saracen’s Head Brewery in nearby Wilderspool. Business was so good that within just three years the three partners undertook a £4,400 expansion of the operation.

The family business interests endured a rapid succession of generations in the first two decades of the 19th century. In 1805, both Thomas Greenall and William Orrett died. By 1817, the passing of William and Peter Greenall left only Edward to operate the growing St. Helens brewery. Just a year later, Thomas Lyon died. His nephew and heir, also Thomas, was interested in the Wilderspool brewery only as an investment. In 1818, 60-year-old Edward assigned eldest son Thomas to manage the family’s half interest in Wilderspool and charged younger son Peter with management of the family brewery at St. Helens.

While Peter pursued politics, eventually winning election to Parliament, Thomas proved to be the brewer of his generation. By this time, the family businesses had grown to the point that the Greenalls served as chairmen, guiding the overall direction of the company but leaving daily management concerns to other top executives. Throughout this period, ownership of the pubs and inns through which Greenall’s porters, sparkling ales, and bitters were dispensed was a key to maintaining a strong competitive position.

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And this is Greenall Whitley & Co’s., Wilderspool Brewery, in Warrington in 1887.

And continuing Funding Universe’s history, this portion, entitled “Consolidation of Family Holdings in Mid-19th Century” is where Gilbert comes in and runs the company:

When both Peter and Thomas died in the late 1840s, their younger brother, Parliamentarian Gilbert Greenall, inherited the family’s St. Helens and Wilderspool holdings. Gilbert appointed his nephew, John Whitley, to manage the Wilderspool brewery in 1853 and set out himself to rebuild, retool, and enlarge the St. Helens operation mid-decade.

Longtime silent partner Thomas Lyon died in 1859 and his estate sold his stake in the Wilderspool brewery to Gilbert Greenall, making the Greenall family the sole owners of both the St. Helens and the Wilderspool operations. Gilbert marked the occasion by changing the unified firm’s name to Greenall & Company. Not long thereafter, Greenalls eliminated its last major local competitor by acquiring the Dentons Green Brewery in St. Helens. In 1880, Gilbert (who was made a baronet in 1876 by Queen Victoria) merged the St. Helens and Wilderspool breweries as Greenall Whitley & Company Limited and installed himself as the corporation’s first chairman. Though operating under the same corporate umbrella, the two houses retained their separate identities and brands. By 1882, Greenall’s annual sales volume totaled nearly 90,000 barrels of beer and the company owned about 200 pubs.

Sir Gilbert guided the expansion and modernization of the Wilderspool brewery as well as a flurry of acquisitions in the waning years of the 19th century. His four-year, £6,750 modernization program brought in state-of-the-art brewing and bottling equipment, upgraded the company’s railway access, and expanded the operation’s office space. Acquisitions included the Halewood, Richardson’s, and Spring breweries, bringing with them more than two dozen pubs. A rapid series of untimely deaths accelerated the family’s succession plans when in the space of just two years both Sir Gilbert and his second-in-command, Peter Whitley, died, propelling the chairman’s son, also Gilbert, into the leadership of two growing breweries at the young age of 27.

The new chairman suffered a trial by fire in the first two decades of the 20th century. He began the transition from horse-drawn transportation to gasoline-driven vehicles as early as 1908, adopting some of the first vehicles of their type. World War I brought extreme deprivation to the United Kingdom. Rationing of all foods–including brewing ingredients–and manpower shortages made this period a difficult one for Greenall Whitley, but the company emerged from the conflict unscathed.

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The St. Helens brewery in the 1930s.

Greenall Whitley resumed its acquisition strategy in the period between the World Wars, purchasing nine pubs in 1919 alone. Four years later, the brewery diversified into wine and liquors through the acquisition of Gilbert & John Greenall Limited, a distillery owned by another branch of the family. Though the business remained concentrated in the northwest region of Britain, acquisitions gave Greenall Whitley a growing share of the area’s breweries and pubs in the early 1930s. The purchase of three operations in as many years added nearly 90 ale houses and inns to the company roster.

After four decades as chairman, Lord Gilbert Greenall (who had been given the hereditary title First Baron Daresbury of Walton by King George V in 1927) died in 1938, passing leadership of Greenall Whitley to his son Edward. In his nine years of service to the company, Edward made a special effort to restore and preserve the company’s historic pubs, as well as maintain high standards of quality in the breweries.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Robert Cain

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Today is the birthday of Robert Cain (April 29, 1826-July 19, 1907). He “was the founder of the firm Robert Cain and Sons, a brewer in Liverpool, England,” which today is simply known as Cains.

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This is his biography from his Wikipedia page:

He was born on Spike Island, County Cork, Ireland on 29 April 1826, the son of James Cain (1797–1871), a private soldier in the 88th Foot, a regiment of the British Army. There is some dispute over the identity of Cain’s mother. Later family records and stories claim that his mother was Mary Deane, the daughter of Alexander Deane, an architect and mayor of Cork. However, in the entry for his brother William in the Liverpool register of births his mother’s maiden name is listed as Mary Kirk (died 1864).

The story of the life of Robert Cain and Cains Brewery is told in Christopher Routledge’s 2008 history of the brewery, Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint, which unpicks many of the mythologies that have developed around the Cain family. Many of these mythologies seem to date back to the 1920s and 1930s, when Cain’s sons William Cain and Charles Nall-Cain were given titles in the British honours system, and centre on the idea that the brewery’s founder had a background in the Irish gentry. Such a background would have made his sons more acceptable to the British establishment at the time. However, according to Routledge, Robert Cain was born in poverty in 1826, the son of a private soldier who would soon be forced to leave the army and travel to England to find work. Cain arrived in Liverpool with his parents in late 1827 or early 1828 and grew up in the slums of the Islington area of the city with his older sister Hannah and two younger siblings, Mary and William. When he was in his early teens Cain was indentured to a cooper on board a ship carrying palm oil from West Africa.

After working out his indenture Cain returned to Liverpool in 1844 where he set himself up first as a cooper and soon after, as a brewer. According to Routledge he met Ann Newall, the daughter of James Newall, a shoemaker, and they were married on 4 April 1847 in St. Philip’s Church, Hardman Street, Liverpool. He began brewing around 1848 on Limekiln Lane in the Scotland Road area, but soon expanded his operation to a nearby brewery on Wilton Street and finally moved to the existing Mersey Brewery (now known as the Robert Cain Brewery or Cains Brewery) on Stanhope Street, Liverpool in 1858. At the same time as he was developing his brewing business, Cain also made shrewd property deals and ran a hotel near to the brewery on Stanhope Street; as the company grew it expanded by buying out smaller brewers and taking control of their pubs.

Cain became one of Liverpool’s most successful businessmen with a passion for using the most modern techniques and equipment. He expanded the brewery several times, most notably in 1887 and in 1900–1902, when the landmark redbrick part of the brewery was constructed. By the time of his death on 19 July 1907 Cain was one of Britain’s richest men, leaving a personal estate of £400,000 (around £28 million at 2005 prices). He also had political influence, working behind the scenes to help the Conservative Party maintain control of Liverpool throughout the late nineteenth century. In fact he was so influential in the area of Toxteth Park, Liverpool where he lived that he became known as “King of the Toxteths”. Contemporary reports of his funeral and burial at St. James’s Cemetery suggest as many as 3,000 people attended.

The company, Robert Cain and Sons, owned over 200 pubs in Liverpool but is most notable for having built three of the most gloriously extravagant pubs in Britain: The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, The Vines and The Central. These highly ornate and elaborate pubs, built to celebrate Robert Cain’s own success and to demonstrate the skill of Liverpool craftsmen, remain landmark Liverpool buildings in the twenty-first century.

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And this partial history is from the brewery’s Wikipedia page:

The Cains brewery was founded by Irishman Robert Cain in 1858 when he bought an established brewery. Cain had begun his brewing career aged 24 when he purchased a pub and brewed his own ales.

Within 25 years of founding his brewery, Cain had established 200 pubs, including the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, the Vines and the Central Commercial Hotel, which are currently listed as being of architectural merit. His personal mansion had each window arch inscribed with his monogram. In 1887 construction began on a second brewery.

In 1921, 14 years after Cain’s death, the Cains brewery merged with Walkers of Warrington, becoming Walker Cains. Then in 1923 the original Stanhope Street Brewery was sold to Higsons, who continued to brew Cains ales.

In 1985, Higsons was bought by Boddingtons of Manchester. Five years later Boddingtons opted to concentrate on pub ownership and sold all its breweries to Whitbread, at which point the Stanhope Street site was closed.

The company merged with Peter Walker & Son in 1921 to form Walker Cains. Peter Walker & Son had a large brewery in Warrington so sold its Liverpool brewery to Higsons in 1923. Boddingtons of Manchester took over in 1985. In 1990 Whitbread acquired Boddington’s brewing operations and closed the then Higsons Brewery in 1990. It was reopened by GB Breweries, who became part of Bryggerigruppen in 1991, and in 2002 was sold to Gardener-Shaw for £3.4 million.

The brewery closed in June 2013 with debts totalling more than £8m.

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This account is from the Brewery’s website:

Liverpool in the first half of the 19th Century was one of the world’s most thriving ports – awash with visitors from all over the globe, money and opportunity.

This was reflected in the stunning rise of Robert Cain, from an entrepreneurial 24-year-old brewing his own ale in one pub, to a rich and influential businessman with the title of Lord Brocket and an estate of 200 pubs.

Purchasing the brewery and establishing Cains in 1858, he commissioned the current premises around 30 years later, determined that the business would endure a lot longer than he could.

And so his legacy is still evident today, not only in the beers which still bear his name, but in the distinctive design of the brewery itself – The ‘Terracotta Palace’ – and the stunning interiors of famous Liverpool pubs such as The Vines, The Central Commercial Hotel and The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, all listed as having special architectural merit.

Born in County Cork, Robert Cain took the path of many poor Irish immigrants and arrived in Liverpool to seek his fortune.

As a wide-eyed teenager arriving in the bustling city he could never have imagined a life which would see him create an enduring Liverpool brand, become wealthy, accept the title of Lord Brocket and marry the daughter of a former Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

When he died in 1907, over 3,000 people are reputed to have attended his funeral.

So how did this man make his fortune, what drove him to continually thrive to make his brewery, pubs and beers the most tasteful and memorable they could be?

Determined to establish the brewery, Robert Cain started with one pub at the age of 24, brewing his beer on the premises and saving towards the brewery he desperately needed to achieve his dream.

As well as this determination, Robert Cain was a perfectionist and a man with a strong belief in himself. If something had his name associated with it, he wanted it to be stylish and impeccable.

Even his self-designed home had his own initials etched into the glass of every single window.

It was this characteristic which led to the detail he insisted on in his pubs. Detail which has seen celebrated venues such as The Philharmonic Dining Rooms as famous for their ornate marble lavatories and incredible ceilings as they are for their beers.

He certainly left everyone involved with the brewery over the next two centuries a lot to live up to.

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And this account is by Chris Routledge, from his book Cains: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint, and provided to St. James Cemetery in Liverpool:

Robert Cain was born on April 29, 1826 on Spike Island, which is in the entrance to Cork Harbour on the south coast of Ireland. His father James Cain was a soldier in the 88th Regiment of the British Army, known as the 88th Foot “Connaught Rangers.” After his father left the army because of ill health the family moved to Liverpool and Robert went to sea on the Palm oil ships working the West African coast. Palm oil had replaced slaves as Liverpool’s primary trade with that part of Africa and the conditions were hostile and unpleasant. Many sailors died in minor battles and skirmishes, or from Malaria; it was known as the “white man’s graveyard.”

Robert Cain survived his time at sea and arrived in Liverpool in the late 1840s to set himself up as a brewer. He married Ann Newall, the daughter of a shoemaker in 1847 and in 1850 the couple began brewing on Limekiln Lane in the Scotland Road/Vauxhall area of the city. Within a few years the quality of Cain’s brews was such that he expanded the operation, moving to a small brewery on nearby Wilton Street. By 1858 the brewery needed to expand again and supported by his growing collection of pubs Cain bought Hindley’s brewery on Stanhope Street, Toxteth, where the current Cain’s brewery now stands.

The Stanhope Street brewery, which Cain named the Mersey Brewery, was much larger than Cain’s previous breweries and included a great deal of brewing equipment. Over the following decades Cain updated and developed the site, pulling down nearby court-style slum housing to expand. By the 1880s, when Cain and his large family (he had 11 children) were living in a mansion on Aigburth Road, the brewery was one of the largest in the city. Cain himself was an important figure in the powerful Constitutional Association and had considerable influence on local politics. He recruited brewery workers to campaign on behalf of Conservative candidates for the Council and became known as “King of the Toxteths.” He was generally well-liked and respected by his workers and the Cain family were well known in the area of Aigburth and St. Michaels.

Like other Victorian gentlemen Cain enjoyed having his portrait painted and was a patron of the arts. He sat for the well-known Liverpool artist William Daniels for at least two portraits and was also painted by George Hall Neale, a Manx painter who lived and worked in Liverpool in the late nineteenth century. Cain was also a collector of rare plants and was especially fond of orchids.

By 1896, when the company became Robert Cain and Sons Ltd, Cain was one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the city. Cain’s “Superior Ales and Stouts” were available across Liverpool. After the death of his wife he moved to an even larger house near Hoylake and was followed by most of his children, who lived in their own flamboyant mansions nearby. As the twentieth century began Cain began to move control of the business to his sons Charles and William, who later became noted philanthopists, supporting medical charities, including the Women’s Hospital and the Bluecoat Hospital, as well as providing money for aircraft during World War I. William Cain donated his house at Hoylake, known as Wilton Grange, to the nation as a convalescent home for injured officers. Both sons became baronets and Charles Cain became Lord Brocket in 1933.

Robert Cain fell ill in late 1906 and after six months of declining health he died at home on July 19, 1907 during a heatwave. His lavish funeral on July 23 took place on a day of thunderstorms and torrential rain, but despite the bad weather a crowd of three thousand attended and had to be restrained by the police at the gates of St James’s. Official mourners included aldermen, city dignitaries and businessmen, including the brewer Daniel Higson, whose company would later buy Cain’s brewery and operate it for almost 70 years. Also in attendance was Cain’s friend George Hall Neale. Interestingly Cain’s father James, who died in poverty in 1871, and with whom Cain had very little contact after the 1840s, is also buried separately at St. James’s.

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Historic Beer Birthday: Joseph Bramah

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Today is the birthday of Joseph Bramah (April 13, 1748-December 9, 1814). Bramah was an English engineer, and inventor, whose most famous invention was the hydraulic press. But he also made improvements and created a practical beer engine, creating his beer pump and engine inventions between 1785 and 1797.

Joseph Bramah- portrait in oils

Another summary of his achievements is quite flattering:

English engineer and inventor whose lock manufacturing shop was the cradle of the British machine-tool industry. Central in early Victorian lockmaking and manufacturing, he influenced almost every mechanical trade of the time. Like Henry Ford, his influence was probably greater for the manufacturing processes he developed, than the product itself. He took out his first patent on a safety lock (1784) and in 1795 he patented his hydraulic press, known as the Bramah press, used for heavy forging. He devised a numerical printing machine for bank notes and was one of the first to suggest the practicability of screw propellers and of hydraulic transmission. He invented milling and planing machines and other machine tools, a beer-engine (1797), and a water-closet.

As for the actual patents, there were two of them. The first was in 1785 and was for what he called a “beer pump.” Then, in 1793 he was granted Patent No. 2196 for his improved version, now referred to as a “beer engine.” It was actually a Dutchman, John Lofting, who had first invented the beer pump in 1688, but Bramah’s were more refined and practical, and more importantly, patented. Curiously, Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History lists the patent dates as 1787 and 1797, so it’s unclear which are the correct dates.

In this engraving, entitled Men of Science Living in 1807-8, Bramah is on the left side, the tenth one in the back from the left. He’s the one with the wide sash across his chest and the star-shaped badge on his jacket. Others include Joseph Banks, Henry Cavendish and James Watt.

NPG 1075a; Engraving after 'Men of Science Living in 1807-8'

There’s even a J.D. Wetherspoon’s pub in his home town of Bramley called The Joseph Bramah

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Historic Beer Birthday: Ralph Thrale

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Today is the birthday of Ralph Thrale (1698-April 9, 1758). Thrale’s exact date of birth is not known, but he died today in 1758, so that’s why I’m celebrating his birthday today. He was born in Offley, Hertfordshire, England, the son of Ralph Thrale, a Cottager originally from Sandridge who moved to Offley. His uncle brought him to London around 1711 after his father died (when he was only 13) to work at his Anchor Brewery, in Southwark, in the central part of the city, and eventually he became the Master of The Brewers Company, having bought the brewery after his uncle’s death. He was also a Member of Parliament from 1741-1747 and also High Sheriff for Surrey from 1733-34.

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Portrait of Ralph Thrale by Thomas Hudson.

This is his short biography from the History of Parliament:

The son of ‘a hardworking man at Offley’, Thrale was brought to London by his uncle, Edmund Halsey, the owner of the Anchor brewery at Southwark, who ‘said he would make a man of him, and did so but … treated him very roughly’, making him work ‘at six shillings a week for twenty years’. He soon ‘made himself so useful … that the weight of the business fell entirely on him’, and he was expected to succeed to the brewery.1 But he fell out with his uncle by marrying ‘a wench that Halsey wanted to have for his own pleasure’, and was cut off.2On Halsey’s death in 1729, the Anchor brewery was put up for sale. According to Mrs. Piozzi, Thrale’s daughter-in-law,

to find a purchaser for so large a property was a difficult matter, and after some time, it was suggested that it would be advisable to treat with Thrale, a sensible, active, honest man, who had been long employed in the house, and to transfer the whole to him for £30,000, security being taken upon the property. This was accordingly settled. In eleven years Thrale paid the purchase money. He acquired a large fortune. But what was most remarkable was the liberality with which he used his riches.

Returned as an opposition Whig for Southwark, the brewers’ constituency, he voted against the Government on the chairman of the elections committee in 1741 and on the Hanoverians in 1744, was absent from other recorded divisions, did not stand again, and died 8 Apr. 1758.

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Thrale’s Anchor Brewery around 1785.

This mention of Ralph Thrale’s involvement in the Anchor Brewery is from “A History of Beer and Brewing,” by Ian Spencer Hornsey:

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This is the entry for Barclay, Perkins & Co. Ltd, which at one time had been Thrale’s Anchor Brewery, from “The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records,” edited by Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton, published in 1990:

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The Anchor Brewery around 1820.

And finally, the famous English writer Charles Dickens, during the period when he was writing many of his major works, “he was also the publisher, editor, and a major contributor to the journals Household Words (1850–1859) and All the Year Round (1858–1870). In “Volume V, from March 30, 1861 to September 21, 1861,” in a piece entitled “Queen of the Blue Stockings,” from April 20, 1861, Ralph Thrale is mentioned in a history of the Barclay Perkins brewery to give context to his tale:

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A marker where Thrale’s brewery once stood in central London.

Historic Beer Birthday: Thomas Fowell Buxton

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Today is the birthday of Thomas Fowell Buxton (April 1, 1786–February 19, 1845). He was “an English Member of Parliament, brewer, abolitionist and social reformer.” While he’s best remembered today for his role in abolishing slavery in England, he was also involved in the brewing business. “In 1808, Buxton’s Hanbury family connections led to an appointment to work at the brewery of Truman, Hanbury & Company, in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London. In 1811 he was made a partner in the business, renamed Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. Later he became sole owner.”

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Naturally, Martyn Cornell has written about Buxton and his brewery in a post entitled When Brick Lane was home to the biggest brewery in the world. Here’s the part that mentions Fowell Buxton:

In 1808 [Sampson] Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, son of Thomas Fowell Buxton of Earl’s Colne, Essex, and Anna Hanbury, joined the brewery, aged 21 or 22. Buxton (who was not a Quaker, though his wife was) became a partner in 1811, at the age of 25, with a 1/12th share, bringing the last element to what would eventually, by 1827, be called Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Company. By now the Black Eagle brewery was making 142,179 barrels of beer a year, some 20,000 barrels more than Whitbread, but a long way behind the number two London brewer, Meux Reid in Liquorpond Street, near Clerkenwell, on 220,000 barrels, and trailing Barclay Perkins in Southwark, on 264,405 barrels a year, by a large margin.

Buxton’s wife was one of the Gurneys of the Norwich bank, and a cousin of Sampson’s wife Agatha. A few years after he became a partner, in 1815, the shares in the brewery were redivided into 41 slices, and Buxton, evidently after bringing in some extra capital to the firm, increased his share to 8/41ths. His greatest gift to the brewery was sorting out the management of a concern that, by 1815, owned 200 pubs outright and financed another 300 landlords. But he also successfully intervened to prevent a disaster that might have destroyed the business.

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And here’s the account from the Wikipedia page on the Black Eagle Brewery:

Sir Benjamin died in March 1780 and, without a son to take on the business, it passed to his grandsons. In 1789, the brewery was taken over by Sampson Hanbury (Hanbury had been a partner since 1780; the Truman family became ‘sleeping partners’). Hanbury’s nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton, joined the company in 1808, improved the brewing process, converted the works to steam power and, with the rapid expansion and improvement of Britain’s road and rail transport networks, the Black Eagle label soon became famous across Britain (by 1835, when Buxton took over the business upon Hanbury’s death, the brewery was producing some 200,000 barrels (32,000 m3) of porter a year).

The Brick Lane brewery – now known as Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co – took on new partners in 1816, the Pryor brothers (the company’s owners were renowned for their good treatment of their workers – providing free schooling – and for their support of abolitionism). By 1853 the brewery was the largest in the world, producing 400,000 barrels of beer each year, with a site covering six acres.

However, the company also faced competition from breweries based outside London – notably in Burton upon Trent, where the water was particularly suitable for brewing – and in 1873 the company acquired a brewery (Phillips) in Burton and began to build a major new brewery, named the Black Eagle after the original London site.

In 1888, Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co became a public company with shareholders, but the balance of production was now shifting to Burton.

The Brick Lane brewery site covered six acres by 1898.

The Brick Lane facility remained active through a take-over by the Grand Metropolitan Group in 1971 and a merger with Watney Mann in 1972, but it was in terminal decline. It eventually closed in 1989.

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Glenn Payne wrote the Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. entry for the Oxford Companion to Beer:

Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co. was a venerable British brewery that operated for more than 3 centuries before it closed its doors in 1988. The original brewery was built on Lolsworth Field, Spitalhope, London, by Thomas Bucknall in 1669. He was soon joined by Joseph Truman, who became brewery manager in 1694. Joseph Truman brought Joseph Truman Jr into the company in 1716 and his executor, Sir Benjamin Truman, who took ownership of the business in 1722. Two years later a new brewery, The Black Eagle, was built on nearby Brick Lane, which grew to become Britain’s second largest brewery, employing some 1,000 people. Sir Benjamin died in 1780 without a direct male heir and left the brewery to his grandsons. In the same year, Sampson Hanbury became a partner and took over control in 1789. His nephew, Thomas Fowler Buxton, joined in 1808. He improved the brewing process by adopting innovations in brewing technology brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Outside his activities in the brewery, Buxton was a renowned philanthropist, and he was elected a member of Parliament in 1818. He was associated with William Wilberforce, a leader in the fight to end the British slave trade. By the time of his death in 1845, the brewery produced about 305,000 hl of porter annually. The brewery is even mentioned in Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield (1850). Seizing upon the growing influence of Burton as a brewing center in the 19th century, the company acquired the Phillips brewery there in 1887 and 2 years later became a public company. But its fortunes declined with the shift in popular taste away from porter toward pale ale near the end of the 19th century. In 1971, the brewery was acquired by the Grand Metropolitan Group, which, in turn, was merged into Watney Mann 1 year later. Thomas, Hanbury, and Buxton ceased production in 1988 but its brewery still stands on its site in Brick Lane, London, where it has been redeveloped into a complex of residential housing, offices, restaurants, galleries, and shops.

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And here’s an account of his entire life, from the Encyclopedia Britannica:

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet, (born April 1, 1786, Castle Hedingham, Essex, England—died February 19, 1845, near Cromer, Norfolk), British philanthropist and politician who, in 1822, succeeded William Wilberforce as leader of the campaign in the House of Commons for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies and thus was partly responsible for the Abolition Act of August 28, 1833.

A brother-in-law of the prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, Buxton, in 1818, published his own Inquiry into Prison Discipline, based on his inspection of Newgate Prison, London. In 1823 he joined Wilberforce and others in founding the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The ideas he expressed in The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy (1839) inspired the British government to send an expedition to the Niger River Delta in 1841. Intended to make anti-slave-trade treaties with the peoples of the area, to engage in other kinds of trade, and to establish a missionary headquarters, the expedition suffered many deaths from fever and was soon recalled. Although Buxton did not accompany the group, his own health was permanently affected by the shock of the failure of the project. He was made a baronet in 1840.

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And this is from the Abolition Project:

Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was born in Essex in 1786. He was privately educated and went to Trinty College, Dublin. He became a close friend of Joseph Gurney after his mother (a Quaker) introduced him to the Norfolk based family.

He started to attend Quaker meetings with the Gurney family and married Joseph’s sister, Hannah, in 1807. He became a partner in a brewing company and became involved in several campaigns for social reform. Another of Joseph’s sisters was Elizabeth Fry and Buxton became involved in her campaign for prison reform.

In 1818, Buxton was elected MP for Weymouth, a position he held until 1837. He was a strong advocate for the abolition of slavery in the British Colonies. In 1823, he formed the Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade, the committee that co-ordinated the campaign for total abolition. In 1824, he succeeded William Wilberforce as head of the anti-slavery party in Parliament, continuing the struggle until the Slavery Abolition Act, in 1833, freed all enslaved people in the British Empire.

In 1838, Buxton published The African Slave Trade and Its Remedy. In this book, he told the British government to make treaties with rulers in Africa. An expedition was sent in 1841 to put the plan into action but it failed, mainly because of the large number of deaths among the expedition members from yellow fever and malaria.

You can read an account of this expedition in White Dreams, Black Africa: Antislavery Expedition to the Niger, 1841-42 by Howard Temperley, 1991.

Thomas Fowell Buxton was made a Baron in 1840 and is famous for

saying. “With Ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.”

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