Today is the 54th birthday of Alastair Hook, founder and brewmaster of Meantime Brewing, which was one of the first breweries in the UK to make good Non-CAMRA beer. I’m not sure when I first met Alastair, either at GABF or World Beer Cup, or over on his turf, but sometime last decade, and he’s great fun to judge with as the topics he’s interested in are wide-ranging and always interesting. Join me in wishing Alastair a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of George Saintsbury (October 23, 1845–January 28, 1933). He “was an English writer, literary historian, scholar, critic and wine connoisseur.
Although Saintsbury was best known during his lifetime as a scholar, he is also remembered today for his Notes on a Cellar-Book (1920), one of the great testimonials to drink and drinking in wine literature. When he was close to death, André Simon arranged a dinner in his honour. Although Saintsbury did not attend, this was the start of the Saintsbury Club, men of letters and members of the wine trade who continue to have dinners to this day.
Part of his work, Notes on a Cellar Book, was a chapter entitled “Beer and Cider.”
This is the introduction to this chapter, from a later volume of various works called “Modern Essays,” and edited by Christopher Morley. It was originally published in 1921, one year after Saintsbury’s death.
How pleasant it is to find the famous Professor Saintsbury — known to students as the author of histories of the English and French literatures, the History of Criticism and History of English Prosody — spending the evening so hospitably in his cellar. I print this — from his downright delightful Notes on a Cellar Book — as a kind of tantalizing penance. It is a charming example of how pleasantly a great scholar can unbend on occasion.
George Saintsbury, born in 1845, studied at Merton College, Oxford, taught school 1868-76, was a journalist in London 1876-95, and held the chair of English Literature at Edinburgh University, 1895-1915. If you read Notes on a Cellar Book, as you should, you will agree that it is a charmingly light-hearted causerie for a gentleman to publish at the age of seventy-five. More than ever one feels that sound liquor, in moderation, is a preservative of both body and wit.
BEER AND CIDER
By George Saintsbury
THERE is no beverage which I have liked “to live with” more than Beer; but I have never had a cellar large enough to accommodate much of it, or an establishment numerous enough to justify the accommodation. In the good days when servants expected beer, but did not expect to be treated otherwise than as servants, a cask or two was necessary; and persons who were “quite” generally took care that the small beer they drank should be the same as that which they gave to their domestics, though they might have other sorts as well. For these better sorts at least the good old rule was, when you began on one cask always to have in another. Even Cobbett, whose belief in beer was the noblest feature in his character, allowed that it required some keeping. The curious “white ale,” or lober agol—which, within the memory of man, used to exist in Devonshire and Cornwall, but which, even half a century ago, I have vainly sought there—was, I believe, drunk quite new; but then it was not pure malt and not hopped at all, but had eggs (“pullet-sperm in the brewage”) and other foreign bodies in it.
I did once drink, at St David’s, ale so new that it frothed from the cask as creamily as if it had been bottled: and I wondered whether the famous beer of Bala, which Borrow found so good at his first visit and so bad at his second, had been like it.
On the other hand, the very best Bass I ever drank had had an exactly contrary experience. In the year 1875, when I was resident at Elgin, I and a friend now dead, the Procurator-Fiscal of the district, devoted the May “Sacrament holidays,” which were then still kept in those remote parts, to a walking tour up the Findhorn and across to Loch Ness and Glen Urquhart. At the Freeburn Inn on the first-named river we found some beer of singular excellence: and, asking the damsel who waited on us about it, were informed that a cask of Bass had been put in during the previous October, but, owing to a sudden break in the weather and the departure of all visitors, had never been tapped till our arrival.
Beer of ordinary strength left too long in the cask gets “hard” of course; but no one who deserves to drink it would drink it from anything but the cask if he could help it. Jars are makeshifts, though useful makeshifts: and small beer will not keep in them for much more than a week. Nor are the very small barrels, known by various affectionate diminutives (“pin,” etc.) in the country districts, much to be recommended. “We’ll drink it in the firkin, my boy!” is the lowest admission in point of volume that should be allowed. Of one such firkin I have a pleasant memory and memorial, though it never reposed in my home cellar. It was just before the present century opened, and some years before we Professors in Scotland had, of our own motion and against considerable opposition, given up half of the old six months’ holiday without asking for or receiving a penny more salary. (I have since chuckled at the horror and wrath with which Mr. Smillie and Mr. Thomas would hear of such profligate conduct.) One could therefore move about with fairly long halts: and I had taken from a friend a house at Abingdon for some time. So, though I could not even then drink quite as much beer as I could thirty years earlier a little higher up the Thames, it became necessary to procure a cask. It came—one of Bass’s minor mildnesses—affectionately labeled “Mr. George Saintsbury. Full to the bung.” I detached the card, and I believe I have it to this day as my choicest (because quite unsolicited) testimonial.
Very strong beer permits itself, of course, to be bottled and kept in bottles: but I rather doubt whether it also is not best from the wood; though it is equally of course, much easier to cellar it and keep it bottled. Its kinds are various and curious. “Scotch ale” is famous, and at its best (I never drank better than Younger’s) excellent: but its tendency, I think, is to be too sweet. I once invested in some—not Younger’s—which I kept for nearly sixteen years, and which was still treacle at the end. Bass’s No. 1 requires no praises. Once when living in the Cambridgeshire village mentioned earlier I had some, bottled in Cambridge itself, of great age and excellence. Indeed, two guests, though both of them were Cambridge men, and should have had what Mr. Lang once called the “robust” habits of that University, fell into one ditch after partaking of it. (I own that the lanes thereabouts are very dark.) In former days, though probably not at present, you could often find rather choice specimens of strong beer produced at small breweries in the country. I remember such even in the Channel Islands. And I suspect the Universities themselves have been subject to “declensions and fallings off.” I know that in my undergraduate days at Merton we always had proper beer-glasses, like the old “flute” champagnes, served regularly at cheese-time with a most noble beer called “Archdeacon,” which was then actually brewed in the sacristy of the College chapel. I have since—a slight sorrow to season the joy of reinstatement there—been told that it is now obtained from outside. And All Souls is the only other college in which, from actual recent experience, I can imagine the possibility of the exorcism,
if lay-brother Peter were so silly as to abuse, or play tricks with, the good gift.
I have never had many experiences of real “home-brewed,” but two which I had were pleasing. There was much home-brewing in East Anglia at the time I lived there, and I once got the village carpenter to give me some of his own manufacture. It was as good light ale as I ever wish to drink (many times better than the wretched stuff that Dora has foisted on us), and he told me that, counting in every expense for material, cost and wear of plant, etc., it came to about a penny a quart. The other was very different. The late Lord de Tabley—better or at least longer known as Mr. Leicester Warren—once gave a dinner at the Athenæum at which I was present, and had up from his Cheshire cellars some of the old ale for which that county is said to be famous, to make flip after dinner. It was shunned by most of the pusillanimous guests, but not by me, and it was excellent. But I should like to have tried it unflipped.
I never drank mum, which all know from The Antiquary, some from “The Ryme of Sir Lancelot Bogle,” and some again from the notice which Mr. Gladstone’s love of Scott (may it plead for him!) gave it once in some Budget debate, I think. It is said to be brewed of wheat, which is not in its favor (wheat was meant to be eaten, not drunk) and very bitter, which is. Nearly all bitter drinks are good. The only time I ever drank “spruce” beer I did not like it. The comeliest of black malts is, of course, that noble liquor called of Guinness. Here at least I think England cannot match Ireland, for our stouts are, as a rule, too sweet and “clammy.” But there used to be in the country districts a sort of light porter which was one of the most refreshing liquids conceivable for hot weather. I have drunk it in Yorkshire at the foot of Roseberry Topping, out of big stone bottles like champagne magnums. But that was nearly sixty years ago. Genuine lager beer is no more to be boycotted than genuine hock, though, by the way, the best that I ever drank (it was at the good town of King’s Lynn) was Low not High Dutch in origin. It was so good that I wrote to the shippers at Rotterdam to see if I could get some sent to Leith, but the usual difficulties in establishing connection between wholesale dealers and individual buyers prevented this. It was, however, something of a consolation to read the delightful name, “our top-and-bottom-fermentation beer,” in which the manufacturer’s letter, in very sound English for the most part, spoke of it. English lager I must say I have never liked; perhaps I have been unlucky in my specimens. And good as Scotch strong beer is, I cannot say that the lighter and medium kinds are very good in Scotland. In fact, in Edinburgh I used to import beer of this kind from Lincolnshire, where there is no mistake about it. My own private opinion is that John Barleycorn, north of Tweed, says: “I am for whisky, and not for ale.”
“Cider and perry,” says Burton, “are windy drinks”; yet he observes that the inhabitants of certain shires in England (he does not, I am sorry to say, mention Devon) of Normandy in France, and of Guipuzcoa in Spain, “are no whit offended by them.” I have never liked perry on the few occasions on which I have tasted it; perhaps because its taste has always reminded me of the smell of some stuff that my nurse used to put on my hair when I was small. But I certainly have been no whit offended by cider, either in divers English shires, including very specially those which Burton does not include, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset, or in Normandy. The Guipuzcoan variety I have, unfortunately, had no opportunity of tasting. Besides, perry seems to me to be an abuse of that excellent creature the pear, whereas cider-apples furnish one of the most cogent arguments to prove that Providence had the production of alcoholic liquors directly in its eye. They are good for nothing else whatever, and they are excellent good for that. I think I like the weak ciders, such as those of the west and the Normandy, better than the stronger ones, and draught cider much better than bottled. That of Norfolk, which has been much commended of late, I have never tasted; but I have had both Western and West-Midland cider in my cellar, often in bottle and once or twice in cask. It is a pity that the liquor—extremely agreeable to the taste, one of the most thirst-quenching to be anywhere found, of no overpowering alcoholic strength as a rule, and almost sovereign for gout—is not to be drunk without caution, and sometimes has to be given up altogether from other medical aspects. Qualified with brandy—a mixture which was first imparted to me at a roadside inn by a very amiable Dorsetshire farmer whom I met while walking from Sherborne to Blandford in my first Oxford “long”—it is capital: and cider-cup who knoweth not? If there be any such, let him not wait longer than to-morrow before establishing knowledge. As for the pure juice of the apple, four gallons a day per man used to be the harvest allowance in Somerset when I was a boy. It is refreshing only to think of it now.
Of mead or metheglin, the third indigenous liquor of Southern Britain, I know little. Indeed, I should have known nothing at all of it had it not been that the parish-clerk and sexton of the Cambridgeshire village where I lived, and the caretaker of a vinery which I rented, was a bee-keeper and mead-maker. He gave me some once. I did not care much for it. It was like a sweet weak beer, with, of course, the special honey flavor. But I should imagine that it was susceptible of a great many different modes of preparation, and it is obvious, considering what it is made of, that it could be brewed of almost any strength. Old literary notices generally speak of it as strong.
Today is the birthday of William Penn (October 14, 1644-July 30, 1718). He “was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.
In 1681, King Charles II handed over a large piece of his American land holdings to Penn to appease the debts the king owed to Penn’s father. This land included present-day Pennsylvania and Delaware. Penn immediately set sail and took his first step on American soil in New Castle in 1682 after his trans-Atlantic journey. On this occasion, the colonists pledged allegiance to Penn as their new proprietor, and the first general assembly was held in the colony. Afterwards, Penn journeyed up the Delaware River and founded Philadelphia. However, Penn’s Quaker government was not viewed favourably by the Dutch, Swedish, and English settlers in what is now Delaware. They had no “historical” allegiance to Pennsylvania, so they almost immediately began petitioning for their own assembly. In 1704 they achieved their goal when the three southernmost counties of Pennsylvania were permitted to split off and become the new semi-autonomous colony of Lower Delaware. As the most prominent, prosperous and influential “city” in the new colony, New Castle became the capital.
As one of the earlier supporters of colonial unification, Penn wrote and urged for a union of all the English colonies in what was to become the United States of America. The democratic principles that he set forth in the Pennsylvania Frame of Government served as an inspiration for the United States Constitution. As a pacifist Quaker, Penn considered the problems of war and peace deeply. He developed a forward-looking project for a United States of Europe through the creation of a European Assembly made of deputies that could discuss and adjudicate controversies peacefully. He is therefore considered the very first thinker to suggest the creation of a European Parliament.
A man of extreme religious convictions, Penn wrote numerous works in which he exhorted believers to adhere to the spirit of Primitive Christianity. He was imprisoned several times in the Tower of London due to his faith, and his book No Cross, No Crown (1669), which he wrote while in prison, has become a Christian classic.”
Of course, that’s his mainstream history, he also made contributions to America’s nascent brewing history. For example, here’s an account, “William Penn And Beermaking in Colonial Pennsylvania,” excerpted from Stanley Baron’s “Brewed in America,” published in 1962:
Pennsylvania and New Jersey were latecomers among the American colonies. True enough, there had been in their development a Swedish period and a Dutch period, but the real establishment of the two colonies had to wait for the time of the English “proprietors.” It was in 1680 that William Penn received his famous grant of land from Charles II, as payment of a debt owed to Penn’s father, the celebrated admiral. By this means Penn became sole proprietor of a colony which he foresaw as a place of refuge for his fellow Quakers — the nonconformist sect whose faith earned them nothing but contempt and persecution in England (as well as in most of the established American colonies). Before he set out in 1682 he sent ahead a government plan of his own devising, and also a number of representatives to map out a city to be called Philadelphia. Penn’s concept of government was extraordinarily liberal, in many respects tantamount to a genuinely democratic scheme; moreover, he guaranteed complete freedom of worship, and delegated much more administrative authority than any other of the colonial governors saw fit to allow.
Penn understood the wisdom of securing friendly relations with the Indians from the start. In 1683, he established a “Great Treaty” with them. In exchange for property rights which they were willing to grant him, he made a practice of giving them a variety of goods — in at least one instance, a barrel of beer.
Shortly after Penn’s arrival, an Assembly was held in Chester, the former Swedish settlement of Upland. At this meeting his Frame of Government was adopted; and there were also laid down certain laws regulating the licensing of taverns, taxing of beer, sale of alcoholic beverages to Indians, etc. Such laws were sooner or later passed in every one of the American colonies and differ only in the merest details.
Penn himself was enough of a beer-drinker to have a brewhouse constructed at the estate he built in Pennsbury, Bucks County, twenty miles upriver from Philadelphia. At a cost of about £7000 and over a period of many years, the manor-house was erected under Penn’s supervision, although he was most of that time back in England. He made a start on the project soon after his arrival in 1682, but he had to return to England in 1684. He commissioned his trusted friend James Harrison as “Steward of the Household at Pennsbury,” and from that date until his return, he wrote frequent letters, filled with details about the house’s specifications, the gardens, the servants, slaves, etc. “I would have a Kitchen,” he wrote from London after he returned there in 1684, “two larders, a wash house & room to iron in, a brew house & in it an oven for bakeing.” During the following two years he felt the need to repeat these instructions, which in time were fulfilled.
Penn was not able to see the results at Pennsbury until 1699. At that time, as things turned out, he remained only a year; thus he spent in all only three years in America. Nonetheless, he made good use of Pennsbury while he was there; “Indians almost every morning were waiting in the hall, seated on their haunches.” Penn also entertained in that house the governors of Maryland and Virginia, as well as what are usually referred to as “visiting dignitaries.” None of Penn’s descendants cared for the house as the proprietor himself had, and it was permitted by sheer neglect to go to ruin. It was finally torn down at the time of the Revolution, but somehow the brewhouse structure managed to survive until 1864. It is described as being 20 by 35 feet, “with solid brick chimney and foundations, 10-inch sills and posts, and weatherboarded with dressed cedar.”
That there was beer in the earliest stages of Philadelphia’s settlement is attested to by the immigrant Thomas Paschall in 1683: “Here is very good Rye . . . also Barly of 2 sorts, as Winter and Summer, . . . also Oats, and 3 sorts of Indian Corne, (two of which sorts they can Malt and make good beer as Barley).”
In a 1685 account of progress in his colony, Penn wrote:
“Our DRINK has been Beer and Punch, made of Rum and Water: Our Beer was mostly made of Molasses, which well boyld, with Sassafras or Pine infused into it, makes very tolerable drink; but now they make Mault, and Mault Drink begins to be common, especially at the Ordinaries and the Houses of the more substantial People. In our great Town there is an able Man, that has set up a large Brew House, in order to furnish the People with good Drink, both there and up and down the River.”
Farther along in the same document, he identified this “able man” as William Frampton, and to demonstrate the first Philadelphia brewer’s prosperity, he added that Frampton had recently built “a good Brick house, by his Brew House and Bake House, and let the other for an Ordinary.” Frampton — Quaker, merchant, provincial councillor and landowner — originally emigrated to New York and did not arrive in Philadelphia until 1683. If he was as prosperous as Penn makes out, he did not enjoy this state for long: he died in 1686.
In those early days of Philadelphia, many inhabitants are said to have owned their own malt-houses in order to make strong beer at home, and Gabriel Thomas stated in his account of the town (as of 1696) that there were three or four “spacious malt-houses, as many large brew-houses.” Thomas, a Welsh pioneer who lived in the colony for fifteen years, also described Philadelphia beer as “equal in strength to that in London,” selling for 15s. the barrel — cheaper than in England. In addition, he speaks of Philadelphia beer as having a “better Name, that is, is in more esteem than English Beer in Barbadoes and is sold for a higher Price there.” This would be an extremely early, if not the first, instance of American beer being exported outside of the mainland, though there is no indication of the regularity or volume of business thus entailed. In the course of the eighteenth century, Philadelphia beer began to make a resounding reputation for itself: the origins of that fame may lie right here, in this remark of Thomas’s comparing the beer favorably with the English product. On the other hand, Thomas’s unbridled enthusiasm must not be discounted — he may very well have been trying to paint the prettiest possible picture of conditions in America, and particularly Pennsylvania.
Another brewer of this earliest Philadelphia period was Joshua Carpenter, whose brother, Samuel, had come over from England several years before Penn’s arrival. Samuel Carpenter, a Quaker, was responsible for building Philadelphia’s first wharf, between Walnut Street and Dock Creek. Joshua, who had followed his brother to Philadelphia some years later and who was himself not a Quaker, did so well out of his brewing enterprise that he was rated as the second richest inhabitant of the town in 1693; his brother was first.
The brewery established by Anthony Morris in 1687, south of Walnut Street, on the riverbank side of Front, was a longer-lasting establishment. Morris (the second of his name) was another Quaker, provincial councillor and second mayor of Philadelphia. He had sailed for America in 1682, and settled first in Burlington, New Jersey. Three years later, however, he went to Philadelphia, and soon set up his brewery there. His son, Anthony, Jr., prepared himself for the business by becoming in 1696 an indentured apprentice to another brewer operating in Philadelphia at that time, Henry Babcock. It was stated in the indenture that he was to spend seven years learning “the art or trade of a Brewer.” He undertook to keep the brewing “secrets” of Babcock and his wife Mary, “& from their service he shall not absent himself, nor the art & mystery of brewing he shall not disclose or discover to any person or persons during ye sd term.” His father paid the Babcocks the sum of twenty pounds, and they undertook not only to teach him for seven years, but also to lodge and board him, and “mending of his linen & woolen cloaths.” They on their side promised not to put him to “slavish work,” such as grinding at the handmill and the like.
It must have been this younger Anthony Morris who signed his name, “Morris junr,” at the bottom of a receipt that read: “Reed of Hannah Ring Eighteen Shillings for barrel Ale delivered for funeral of her husband 7mo 4th 1731.”
The Morris brewery was conducted as a family business, handed down from generation to generation, until 1836, when ownership of the concern was taken over by outsiders. Through marriage with the Perot family of French Huguenot background, however, the Morrises have maintained an unbroken connection with the brewing industry. In 1823 Francis Perot married the daughter of Thomas Morris, in whose brewery he had spent six years as apprentice. With brothers, sons and then grandsons in charge, the Perot family have been malting in Philadelphia ever since.
Pennsylvania had made an encouraging, even a spectacular, beginning. It had grown like a balloon; within twenty years, by the end of the century, its main city had a population equal to that of New York (4000). And yet, after about twenty-five years, it began to bog down. Penn died in 1718, but a good many years before that he had relinquished personal control of the province, while remaining proprietor. Relations with the Indians deteriorated; boundary conflicts, like sores, kept irritating the relations between Pennsylvania and her neighbors; and the fine promise of commercial prosperity had been disappointed. The bold Philadelphia printer, Andrew Bradford, was hauled before the Council in 1721 for publishing a pamphlet called “Some Remedies proposed for the restoring of the Sunk Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania.” He was reprimanded for so-called libelous statements.
Yet at the same time, the Council, under Governor Sir William Keith, passed laws designed to improve just those conditions which it had called untrue in Bradford’s case. Among those was an act “for laying a Duty on Wine, Rum, Brandy and Spirits, Molassoes, Cyder, Hops and Flax, imported, landed or brought into this Province.” The self-evident purpose of an act like this was to give aid to home manufactures and, by placing a duty on imported hops, of course, the Council encouraged Pennsylvania farmers to cultivate them locally. Another reason for this act was undoubtedly the wish to cut down supplies of beverages with high alcoholic content, in favor of beer (which did not appear among the list of dutiable items) — but the barn door may have been closed too late, for by the eighteenth century rum was universally available in America, and increasingly popular. Acts of the same kind were passed at intervals by the Provincial Council — in 1738, 1744, etc. — but they appear to have been less than wholly effectual.
And this short history is from the online Museum of Beer and Brewing:
The William Penn Brewery — the staid Quaker build one of the earliest breweries in America near what is now Philadelphia. Part of his lands were colonized by immigrants from the German Palatinate who found Penn’s Product, prepared under the supervision of a Master Brewer from Europe, highly palatable. The first brewery in America was built in New Amsterdam (now New York) in the 17th century about 30 years before Penn’s.
And this is the labels from a beer created to honor William Penn by the now-defunct (I believe) William Penn Brewing Co., which appears to have been a contract beer.
Today is the birthday of George Blackall Simonds (October 6, 1843-December 16, 1919). He “was an English sculptor and director of H & G Simonds Brewery in Reading in the English county of Berkshire. George was the second son of George Simonds Senior of Reading, director of H & G Simonds, and Mary Anne, the daughter of William Boulger of Bradfield. His grandfather was Reading brewing and banking entrepreneur, William Blackall Simonds. He added Blackall to his name after the death of his brother, Blackall Simonds II, in 1905. He was brother-in-law of the portrait painter, John Collingham Moore, and cousin of the botanist, George Simonds Boulger. He served as the inaugural Master of the Art Workers’ Guild in 1884-85.
Here’s a biography of George Blackall Simonds, from Royal Berkshire History:
George Simonds was the second son and fourth child of George Simonds Senior of Reading in Berkshire, director of the H & G Simonds Brewery in the same town, by his wife, Mary Anne Boulger. His grandfather was the great brewing and banking magnate, William Blackall Simonds. George became an early student at St Andrew’s College (later Bradfield College) in 1852. In 1858, aged just 15, he went to study sculpture under Professor Johannes Schilling in Dresden, moving on to study under Louis Jehotte at The Academy of Brussels, before living and working for 12 years in Rome from 1864. He returned to London in 1875 and set up his studio at 152 Buckingham Palace Road, moving on to Priory Studios, 21 North Bank in St John’s Wood in 1888. In 1877, he married Gertrude Prescott, an American whom he had met in Rome. They had a son George Prescott Simonds in 1881, who was killed in France at the beginning of World War I. George Simonds last exhibited in 1903 and his artistic life ended on the death of his elder brother Blackall in 1905, who in his Will, stipulated that George, as his heir, should take the Blackall name. He then became a Director of the prosperous family brewery in Reading, serving as Chairman from 1910 until his death in 1929. During this period he lived at ‘Rushall Grange’ in Bradfield, and ‘Holly Copse’ in Goring, all close to his mother’s ancestral home, Bradfield House, where he finally settled.
George Simonds’ masterpiece ‘The Falconer’ has been made famous by the version which stands in Central Park in the city of New York. It depicts a young boy in 14th Century doublet, stepping forward and in the act of slipping a huge peregrine falcon. Simonds stays true to his idealist principles and continues the ‘Romantic’ theme of many of his works. The Central Park work (Opus 63) is mounted on a cylindrical granite pedestal perched on a natural outcrop of Manhatten Schist on 72nd Street, east of the Park’s West Drive. The statue itself, standing over 11 feet tall, was cast in a single piece using the ‘cire perdue’ or ‘lost-wax’ process by the master founder Professor Clement Papi (1802-1875) in Florence, Italy in 1870. While in Italy, Simonds learned much about the craft and traditions of lost-wax bronze casting. He later published an article on this subject in the journal ‘American Architect and Builder’ (Vol 19 15th May 1886, pp235-258), in which he argued for the use of lost-wax casting in Great Britain.
The original life sized bronze sculpture of the Falconer (Opus 51) was shown at the Vienna International Exhibition of 1873. From here it was sent on for exhibition in Trieste, Italy, where it was bought by ‘The Society of Arts’ and is now in the ‘Galleria d’arte Moderne del Civico Museo Revoltella’ a city museum. A marble version with the falcon in ‘Electro Silver’ [Opus 88] was shown at the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1875 and depicted in the Illustrated London News of July 24th. George Kemp (1826-1893), a wealthy merchant born in Ireland and who lived in New York City, admired the plaster form for the original sculpture so much whilst on a visit to Rome in 1870 that he commissioned a colossal bronze replica for Central Park without even waiting to see the finished work. It was dedicated in New York on May 31st 1875. Following international critical acclaim, three further small bronze versions were later completed. Robert Evans, a Beverly native who had admired the sculpture while convalescing in a hospital overlooking Central Park, commissioned a bronze replica for Lynch Park, Beverly, Massachusetts. A mould was taken from the original by local sculptor George Brewster. It was then cast by Gorham Foundry, Newburyport using the lost-wax process in about 1912.
The Central Park ‘Falconer’ has suffered extensive damage, both from weathering and vandals. In danger of toppling in 1937, it was shored up and repatinated. In 1941 it was repositioned. In 1957 a new bronze falcon was fashioned and reattached. Later vandals cut off both the hand and falcon, which compelled the Parks Department to remove the sculpture to storage for safekeeping. In 1982 a replacement was cast and the statue then reset on its pedestal. In 1995 the Central Park Conservancy again repatinated and coated the statue, which today stands as an embodiment of the Park’s rich 19th Century sculptural inheritance, as well as its abundant bird species that includes the peregrine falcon.
Simonds himself was an avid falconer. He became Founder President of the British Falconers’ Club in 1927 and was later depicted with a falcon in his official portrait as chairman of the family brewery, by Sir Oswald Birley RP (1880-1952). In 1884, with a group of young architects and artists inspired by John Ruskin (1819-1900) and William Morris (1834-1896) he founded and became the first Master of the Art Workers Guild in London. Their objective was to create a unified forum for architects, artists and craftsmen. Simonds said of the guild: “…it differs from all Art Societies in that it is not formed for the propagation of any one branch, or style, of art…. I find some things of the spirit of the Studio Life of Rome”.
Other monumental works by Simonds include the ‘Maiwand Lion’ sculpture he created in cast iron for the Forbury Gardens in Reading, England in 1886. It was commissioned by the Berkshire Memorial Fund with the Berkshire Regiment as a ‘Memorial to the 66th Regiment’, who had been almost wiped out in the Battle of Maiwand in the Afghan War of 1880. In 1887, Simonds sculpted a monumental marble statue of Queen Victoria for her Golden Jubilee, which stands outside Reading Town Hall, and in 1891 a bronze portrait of industrialist, philanthropist and biscuit king George Palmer for Broad Street, Reading, which was moved to the local Palmer Park in 1930. Simonds created over 200 works in an extraordinary diversity of media and techniques, mastering; marble, bronze, plaster, terracotta, cameo, silver, brass, wood and cast iron, a remarkable achievement.
George was a leading proponent of the renaissance ‘Lost Wax Process’ used in casting large Bronze works, publishing variously on the subject in the UK and the USA. George was associated with William Morris (1834-1896) and the critic John Ruskin (1819-1900) much involved in the new ‘Arts & Crafts movement’. He served as the inaugural Master of the Art Workers Guild in 1884. The Guild was formed by a group of young architects who, inspired by the ideals of Pugin, Ruskin and Morris, wished to create a forum where architects could meet artists and craftsmen; it was a response to a widely felt crisis in the Arts. His best known works are The Falconer (1873) in Central Park, New York City (US) and the Maiwand Lion (1886) in the Forbury Gardens, Reading in Berkshire (UK).
The Falconer, in Central Park, NYC.
He was also a keen falconer.
And here’s more about his brewery.
“The Simonds brewery was founded in Broad Street in Reading by William Blackall Simonds in 1785 (although his father had a brewing arm of his malting business as early as 1760). The company moved to Bridge Street, where it remained until 1978. The site is now occupied by The Oracle shopping centre. Simonds became a very early limited company in 1885, taking the name of H & G Simonds from William’s two sons, Henry and George. The latter was the father of a later director, George Blackall Simonds, a sculptor.”
“The company amalgamated with Courage & Barclay in 1960 and dropped the Simonds name after ten years. Eventually the firm became part of Scottish & Newcastle who sold the brands to Wells & Young’s Brewery in 2007 and closed the Reading brewery three years later.”
Today is the birthday of George Kenneth Hotson Younger (September 22, 1931-January 26, 2003). “Younger’s forebearer, George Younger (baptised 1722), was the founder of George Younger and Son of Alloa, [Scotland] the family’s brewing business (not to be confused with Younger’s of Edinburgh). He was the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of the brewery founder. “Younger’s great-grandfather, George Younger, was created Viscount Younger of Leckie in 1923. Younger was the eldest of the three sons of Edward Younger, 3rd Viscount Younger of Leckie.”
Here’s his biography, from Wikipedia:
He was born in Stirling in 1931 and educated at Cargilfield Preparatory School, Winchester College, and New College, Oxford, where he obtained a Master’s degree. Joining the British Army, he served in the Korean War with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. On 7 August 1954, he married Diana Tuck, daughter of a Royal Navy captain; they had 4 children.
He first stood for Parliament, unsuccessfully, in North Lanarkshire in the 1959 General Election. Subsequently, he was initially selected to stand for the Kinross and West Perthshire seat in a by-election in late 1963, but agreed to stand aside to allow the new Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home the chance to enter the House of Commons.
Following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather the 1st Viscount, Younger became Member of Parliament for Ayr in 1964 and served as Margaret Thatcher’s Secretary of State for Scotland for seven years. He subsequently succeeded Michael Heseltine as Secretary of State for Defence in 1986 when Heseltine resigned from the cabinet over a dispute about helicopters known as the Westland crisis.
Younger quit the cabinet in 1989, and joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, becoming its chairman in 1992. He was created a life peer as Baron Younger of Prestwick of Ayr in the District of Kyle and Carrick on 7 July 1992, five years before succeeding to the viscountcy. As such, he continued to sit in the House of Lords after the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999 which expelled most of the hereditary peers.
This is part of Younger’s obituary from the Independent, the small portion that’s about his time working for the family brewery business, must of the rest is about his political career, which appears to be the primary focus of his life, the beer was apparently just an afterthought, something he had to do.
George Kenneth Hotson Younger was born at Leckie in 1931. After Cargilfield, where he was head boy, he went to Winchester. None of the honours which were later to come his way gave him such pleasure as being Warden of Winchester. After National Service in Germany and Korea with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, he went up to New College, where he read Modern History. Joining the family firm of George Younger and Company, part of Bass, he rose to be a senior sales manager – following the tradition of his great-great-great-uncle William McEwan, who combined a career as a politician with that of successful brewer (best remembered for Mc- Ewan’s Export). As the Edinburgh University Public Orator put it at the degree ceremony for Younger’s doctorate honoris causa in 1992,
There was not for this son an immediate short cut to the boardroom. Instead he worked through the company in a range of roles from labourer to sales manager for Glasgow. He played a significant part not only in brightening up the design of its canned beers but also in the dramatic reorganisation of Scottish brewing which first brought together several of central Scotland’s brewers into United Caledonian Breweries and then merged them with Tennants to form Tennant Caledonian Breweries Ltd, of which George Younger was a director from 1977 to 1979.
Today is the birthday of Lord Chesterfield, whose full name was Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (September 22, 1694-March 24, 1773). He “was a British statesman, and a man of letters, and wit. He was born in London to Philip Stanhope, 3rd Earl of Chesterfield, and Lady Elizabeth Savile, and known as Lord Stanhope until the death of his father, in 1726. Educated at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, he subsequently embarked on the Grand Tour of the Continent, to complete his education as a nobleman, by exposure to the cultural legacies of Classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to become acquainted with his aristocratic counterparts and the polite society of Continental Europe.
In the course of his post-graduate tour of Europe, the death of Queen Anne (r. 1702–1714) and the accession of King George I (r. 1714–1727) opened a political career for Stanhope, and he returned to England. In the British political spectrum he was a Whig and entered government service, as a courtier to the King, through the mentorship of his relative, James Stanhope, 1st Earl Stanhope, the King’s favourite minister, who procured his appointment as Lord of the Bedchamber to the Prince of Wales.
Today he’s arguably best known for two things. The first is the numerous letters written to his illegitimate son Phillip Stanhope. They consisted of 400 private correspondences written over thirty years, first published a year after Lord Chesterfield’s death as “Letters to His Son on the Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman.” From that correspondence, many quotations have become well-known, such as “Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well,” “Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not pull it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked,” “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves,” and “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no delay, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Then there’s “Young men are apt to think themselves wise enough, as drunken men are apt to think themselves sober enough” and “Choose your pleasures for yourself, and do not let them be imposed upon you. Follow nature and not fashion: weigh the present enjoyment of your pleasures against the necessary consequences of them, and then let your own common sense determine your choice.”
Portrait by Jonathan Richardson from 1728.
Here’s the description from the Oxford edition of Chesterfield’s collected letters:
Not originally intended for publication, the celebrated and controversial correspondences between Lord Chesterfield and his son Philip, dating from 1737, were praised in their day as a complete manual of education, and despised by Samuel Johnson for teaching “the morals of a whore and the manners of a dancing-master.” Reflecting the political craft of a leading statesman and the urbane wit of a man who associated with Pope, Addison, and Swift, Lord Chesterfield’s Letters reveal the author’s political cynicism, his views on good breeding, and instruction to his son in etiquette and the worldly arts. The only annotated selection of this breadth available in paperback, these entertaining letters illuminate the fascinating aspects of eighteenth-century life and manners.
The Lord Chesterfield Ale label in 1934.
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.
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.
This account from The Groves & Whitnall’s Globe Works begins with Thomas:
Thomas Greenall became manager of his mother-in-law’s brewery in St Helens, Lancashire, in 1754, and went on to build his own in Hardshaw, St Helens, in 1762. In 1786 he bought the Saracen’s Head Brewery at Wilderspool, Warrington, in partnership with William Orrett and Thomas Lyon. In 1787, the partners acquired an interest in the brewery of Edward Greenall and Co in Cunliff Street, Liverpool, which ceased trading in 1814. In 1807, Orrett’s son sold his interest to Lyon and Greenall. On the death of Thomas Lyon, nephew of the original partner, in 1859, Greenall and Company was formed.
Today is the birthday of Thomas William Everard (September 8, 1851-January 1, 1925). Thomas William Everard was the son of William Everard, co-founder of what would become known as the Everards Brewery, which is still a going concern today, and is still run by an Everard, who is fifth generation from William, and fourth from Thomas William.
Thomas William Everard was born on the 8th of September 1851, the year the Great Exhibition was staged by Prince Albert in Crystal Palace in London. He was the youngest of three children and joined his father’s firm at an early age. Thomas became very involved in his work at the brewery. He was so fond of his work he did not like to take holidays.
In 1890 a new partnership was formed to run the company- Everards, Son and Welldo. The partners were Thomas, his 69 year old father William, and a local wine and spirits merchant. Charles Leeds William Welldon.
Thomas took over the running of the brewery after the death of his father William, in 1892. He married Florence Muriel Nickisson of London on the 28th of September 1888. They had two children-William Lindsay, born in 1891, and his sister Phyllis Muriel, born three years later. William Lindsay would later go onto run the brewery.
Thomas enjoyed both country and urban life and was an active member of the Leicestershire Agricultural Society, as was his father. He continued the Everards tradition of public service and, like his father; he became a J.P. before being made a deputy Lieutenant of the County, and, in 1905, High Sheriff.
And here’s the basic brewery history from Wikipedia:
The company began as Hull and Everard in 1849 when William Everard, a farmer from Narborough Wood House and brewer Thomas Hull leased the Southgate Street Brewery of Wilmot and Co from the retiring proprietors. Although Hull continued as a maltster, Everard was the driving force behind the business which he managed until his death in 1892.
The business expanded as the company progressively acquired outlets, with over 100 pubs by the late 1880s. In 1875 the company moved to a new state of the art tower brewery designed by William’s nephew architect John Breedon Everard. The brewery, on the corner of Southgate St and Castle St extracted very pure water from wells 300 feet deep beneath the premises and steam engines played a significant part in the mechanisation.
After the death of William, control passed to his son Thomas. The historic centre of the UK brewing industry remained some 40 miles away at Burton-upon-Trent, which by the 1890s produced one tenth of Britain’s beer. Everard’s leased the Bridge Brewery on Umplett Green island in 1895 but its 10,000 barrels per year capacity proved insufficient. It was replaced with the newer Trent brewery in Dale St which became available after going into liquidation in 1898. The Southgate brewery remained the distribution centre to the Leicestershire pubs with beer arriving by rail from Burton. The Trent brewery was purchased outright in 1901. It was renamed the Tiger Brewery around 1970.
At some point their Tiger Best Bitter became their flagship beer, and I remember really enjoying during my first CAMRA festival in the early 1990s. It was a regional festival in Peterborough, which happened to be going on in later summer at the end of my wife’s summer semester at the University of Durham. So we took the train up to Peterborough from London to attend the festival, and it was great fun. I had many fine beer that night, but for whatever reason I clearly recall liking this one.
Today is the birthday of Sir William McEwan Younger, 1st Baronet (September 6, 1905–April 15, 1992). He was a Scottish brewer and political activist.
According to Wikipedia, “His father, William Younger, was a brother of George Younger, 1st Viscount Younger, and of Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh; his great uncle was William McEwan, a Liberal MP for Edinburgh and the founder of McEwan’s Brewery.”
He was educated at Winchester College and at Balliol College, Oxford, before joining the firm of McEwan’s Brewery, which later became Scottish Brewers before merging with the Newcastle Brewery Company in 1961 to become Scottish & Newcastle. Younger was the first chairman and managing director of the new company.
He stood twice as the Unionist Party candidate for the West Lothian at the 1950 general election, but it was a safe seat for Labour and he came a poor second. He was honorary secretary of the Scottish Unionist Association from 1955 to 1964, and was later chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party from 1971 to 1974.
Here’s an obituary, by Peter Lloyd, that ran in the Alpine Journal, a climbing club to which was a member:
Bill Younger, who died in 1992 after a long illness, outlived his climbing contemporaries, and it falls to me, who only knew him in the last 20 years of his life, to write his obituary. He was a great figure in the business world, especially in Edinburgh and in the Conservative Party in Scotland. He was elected to the Club in 1927 while still an undergraduate on the proposal of A M Carr Saunders and Geoffrey Winthrop Young, so totalling 65 years of membership.
On leaving Oxford he went straight into the family brewing business of McEwans and proceeded to build this up first by the acquisition of another family company, William Youngers, and later by the takeover of Newcastle Breweries and several smaller Edinburgh companies to form Scottish and Newcastle with about 10% of the market. He had an outstanding war record, enlisting in 1939 in a lowland anti-aircraft regiment of the Royal Artillery with which he served in the North African campaign, including the first siege of Tobruk, and in Italy, finishing up in command of the regiment. His double-barrelled name, evocative of beer, earned him the nickname ‘Colonel Screwtop’.
After the war he remained chairman of his company until 1969 and was also active as director of a number of other Edinburgh companies. He was Deputy Lieutenant of Midlothian and later of the City of Edinburgh and, in the seventies, Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party. Through his charitable trust he supported many good causes, notably his college Balliol, of which he became an Honorary Fellow, many Edinburgh charities
including the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Mount Everest Foundation and the A C Irvine Travel Fund.
Bill Younger’s mountaineering record is largely lost in the sands of time, but his companions in his Oxford days included Douglas Busk, A M Binnie and Carr Saunders. In the thirties and after the war he climbed with John Tilney and Claude Elliott. There is a splendid portrait in oils, now in the possession of his daughter, showing him as a young man against the background of the Cresta Rey on Monte Rosa.
When I knew him, in the seventies and eighties in Edinburgh, in Glen Lyon and then in his final home near Henley, we were both past anything more than walks on the Scottish hills. I remember him best in his beautiful house in Moray Place, a swell but quite without pomposity, easygoing but suddenly coming out with trenchant criticisms of the good and the great, casually dressed with a glass of whisky and a cheroot in his hand, enjoying life.
William McEwan Younger is also featured in The Brewing Connection in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, by Ray Anderson, published in Brewery History in 2005.
Scottish brewers get a good airing in the dictionary. Heading the list is McEwan, William (1827-1913), described as ‘a plain, blunt man’ but ‘undoubtedly one of the most successful brewers of his generation … a shrewd, hard headed, hard working businessman…one of the merchant princes of Scotland.’ The piece on McEwan also has a mention of his uncle John Jeffrey with whom he trained before in 1856 ‘he established his own business at the Fountain brewery,’ and of McEwan’s nephew William Younger who joined him as an apprentice in 1874, and who ‘played an increasingly important role … becoming managing director of the firm on its incorporation in 1889 with McEwan … devoting himself increasingly to politics.’ McEwan’s ‘presumptive only child,’ Greville [née Anderson], Dame Margaret Helen (1863-1942), ‘society hostess,’ is also in the dictionary in her own right and has her own place in brewing history having on her death left all her ordinary shares in the brewery to Younger, Sir William McEwan, of Fountainbridge, baronet (1905-1992), who would go on to become the first chairman of Scottish & Newcastle Breweries. The dictionary succinctly explains the background of this splendidly named and unconventional ‘brewer and political activist,’ thus: ‘His father was the brother of George Younger, first Viscount Younger, and of Robert Younger, Baron Blanesburgh [a judge]; his paternal grandmother, Janet, née McEwan, was the eldest sister of William McEwan, Gladstonian Liberal MP for Edinburgh and the founder of McEwan’s Brewery. He was thus brought up with a background of brewing and politics… .’ Younger (known as Bill) joined McEwans when he left Oxford shortly before the firm merged with fellow Edinburgh brewers William Younger (not a relative) as Scottish Brewers Ltd. He had good war and was: ‘Known by his men as Colonel Screwtop, the main supplier of beer to the army being McEwan Youngers.’ The dictionary contains the following intriguing passage on Bill Younger’s unconventional approach to business as managing director of Scottish Brewers: ‘… when the main rival to Scottish Brewers Ltd in Scotland was offered to him he refused the offer on the basis that the resultant combine would so dominate the Scottish brewing scene as to extinguish competition and blunt the competitive edge of his company. His business philosophy was at variance with that of the rest of the brewing industry and he took no part in the councils of the various trade associations.’
Today is the birthday of Samuel Whitbread (August 30, 1720-June 11, 1796). He founded a brewery with a few partners in 1742, but was the largest investor and retained control of the venture. In 1799 his brewery was renamed Whitbread & Co. Ltd. He was also “appointed High Sheriff of Hertfordshire for 1767–68 and elected Member of Parliament for Bedford in 1768, and held the seat until 1790.” The portrait of Samuel Whitbread below was painted by Joshua Reynolds.
Here is Peter Mathias’ biography from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:
Whitbread, Samuel (1720–1796), brewer and landowner, was born on 30 August 1720 at Cardington, near Bedford, the seventh of eight children and the youngest of five sons of Henry Whitbread (d. 1727) and his second wife, Elizabeth Read. The Whitbread family were of prosperous nonconformist yeoman stock, farming their own land and closely associated with leading Bedfordshire puritans. Whitbread’s father was receiver of the land tax for Bedfordshire, and his first wife was the daughter of John Ive, a London merchant. This gave Whitbread the advantage, through a half-brother, of a connection in the City when his widowed mother apprenticed him at the age of sixteen to John Wightman of Gilport Street, a leading London brewer, for the large fee of £300. He set up in business himself in December 1742 with two partners, Godfrey and Thomas Shewell, buying a small brewery at the junction of Old Street and Upper Whitecross Street and another brewhouse for pale and amber beers in Brick Lane, Spitalfields. Whitbread brought an inheritance of £2000 to the firm, plus the proceeds of a small family holding in Gloucestershire, and loans from friends and kinsmen in Bedfordshire. He became free of the Brewers’ Company on 8 July 1743. The partnership was valued at £14,016, owning the leases of 14 public houses, with further loans to publicans, and deployed 18 horses and almost 18,000 casks. However, this was the prelude to a dramatic new venture.
Godfrey Shewell withdrew from the partnership as Thomas Shewell and Samuel Whitbread borrowed more to buy the large site of the derelict King’s Head brewery in Chiswell Street in 1750. The new brewery was specifically for the single product porter, the basis for the vast brewing enterprises then being developed in London by Henry Thrale and Sir Benjamin Truman. It was named the Hind’s Head brewery after the Whitbread family coat of arms. From the outset Whitbread was the leading partner financially, solely responsible for management, and Shewell withdrew completely in 1761, Whitbread buying out his share for £30,000. Great expansion ensued, with such notable innovations as vast underground cisterns containing 12,000 barrels of porter, designed by John Smeaton, and benefiting from installation of only the second Boulton and Watt steam engine in London (Henry Goodwyn, also a brewer, had beaten him by a matter of months). Public renown came on 27 May 1787 with a royal visit to Chiswell Street—by the king and queen, three princesses, and an assembly of aristocrats in train—with James Watt on hand to explain the mysteries of his engine. In the year of Whitbread’s death, 1796, the brewery produced an unprecedented total of 202,000 barrels (that is, almost 30 million quart pots of porter).
Great investment in the brewery did not preclude Whitbread’s amassing a personal fortune and large estates. On his marriage in July 1757 to Harriet, daughter of William Hayton of Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire, a leading London attorney, Whitbread began buying land in Cardington, the locality of his birth. His wife died in 1764, leaving him with an only son, Samuel Whitbread (the couple also had two daughters). Whitbread went on to buy the Bedwell Park estate in Hertfordshire in 1765, and he also owned London houses, first at St Alban’s Street, Westminster, and then at Portman Square (from 1778), together with a large house in Chiswell Street by the brewery. In 1795 shortly before his death he bought Lord Torrington’s Southill Park estate in Bedfordshire and immediately engaged the architect Henry Holland to rebuild the existing house. Whitbread had by this time accumulated a landed estate worth some £400,000.
Affluence brought higher social status and also Whitbread’s second marriage on 18 August 1769 to Lady Mary Cornwallis, younger daughter of Earl Cornwallis; but she died in 1770, giving birth to a daughter, Mary Grey (1770–1858). Whitbread became MP for Bedford in 1768, mainly, but certainly not always, supporting the tory interest until his son took over the seat in 1790. He was regarded as completely independent of the administration and spoke mainly on matters pertaining to the brewing industry, save that he was a firm advocate of the abolition of the slave trade.
Whitbread died on 11 June 1796 at Bedwell Park. He appointed his three senior clerks as his executors because his son was ‘a perfect stranger to the whole’ (Mathias, 309). Whitbread not only had his own portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, but he also commissioned Thomas Gainsborough, Gainsborough Dupont, and George Romney to paint portraits to hang in the library at Southill of all nine of his senior clerks and brewers, in recognition of their importance in managing the business. Unfortunately, in their very rich gilt frames the pictures had to observe the dissipation of the great fortune by the younger Samuel Whitbread as he pursued a costly social and parliamentary career, neglecting the brewery which had been the source of the family’s wealth and prestige.
An early history of the company from Encyclopedia.com:
Samuel Whitbread, at the age of 14, was sent to London by his mother in 1734 to become an apprentice to a brewer. Whitbread, raised as a Puritan, proved to be an extremely hard worker. In 1742, eight years after coming to London, he established his own brewery with a £2,000 inheritance and additional underwriting from John Howard, the renowned prison reformer. As the brewery became successful, Howard’s investment became more lucrative—it even led to a reciprocation of financial support by Whitbread for Howard’s reform movement.
By 1750 Whitbread had acquired an additional brewery located on Chiswell Street. At this time there were more than 50 breweries in London, but, despite intense competition, the Whitbread brewery expanded rapidly. By 1760 its annual output had reached 64,000 barrels, second only to Calvert and Company.
Whitbread was enthusiastic about new brewing methods. He employed several well-known engineers who helped to improve the quality and increase the production volume of the company’s stout and porter (a sweeter, weaker stout).
The Whitbread family had a long history of involvement in English politics. Samuel Whitbread’s forefathers fought with Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads during the English Civil War and later developed a connection with the Bedfordshire preacher and author John Bunyan. Samuel Whitbread himself was elected to Parliament in 1768 as a representative of Bedford. His son, Samuel II, succeeded him in Parliament in 1790, and Whitbread descendants served in Parliament almost continuously until 1910.
Samuel Whitbread died in 1796.
The Whitbread Brewery in Chiswell Street, 1792, painted by George Garrard.