Today is the 61st birthday of Mark Dorber, publican extraordinaire. When I first met Mark he was the publican at the White Horse in Parsons Green and we’ve judged together at both GABF and the World Beer Cup several times. More recently, he’s opened a new place a bit further northeast of London in Walberswick, on the Suffolk coast. His new pub is The Anchor. Mark is a terrific champion of cask beer and especially American beer in the UK. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of George Pargiter Fuller (January 8, 1833-April 2, 1927). He was the “the eldest surviving son of John Bird Fuller, a partner in Fuller Smith & Turner, brewers.” “Fuller inherited a share in the family brewery (in Chiswick, London) on his father’s death in 1872, and was also chairman of Avon Rubber in Melksham. He also served as High Sheriff of Wiltshire in 1878. He lived at Neston Park, Corsham, Wiltshire.” He spent most of his time, however, as a politician. He “was a member of the Wiltshire County Council, chairman of the Chippenham Rural District Council and of the Corsham Parish Council and School Board and a Justice of the Peace for Wiltshire,” and “a Liberal Party politician in the United Kingdom who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1895.” Despite his lineage and ownership stake in his family’s brewery, he doesn’t appear to have been very involved in its management at all.
Today is the birthday of Denis Holliday (January 4, 1917-June 2, 2016). He was born in Great Yarmouth, England, and worked as an apprentice at Greene King beginning in 1938. He then worked at Tollemache brewery in Ipswich and Bass’s Wenlock Brewery in London before being hired by Dorchester’s Eldridge Pope as head brewer in 1954. He completely cleaned up the brewery and turned the old brewery into a modern one. He also created their Royal Oak and Thomas Hardy’s Ale.
In 1972, he won “a record seven International Brewing Awards, the “Oscars” of the beer industry, at the London Brewers Exhibition,”and was listed “in the Guinness Book of Records after brewing the strongest beer in the world.” For a time, he was president of the International Brewers’ Guild and was awarded a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for Industry in 1977. He retired from brewing in 1982, but continued to work as a consultant in the industry. In 2008, he received an MBE (Order of the British Empire) for his service to the community.
I’m sorry to say I hadn’t known about Holliday until the end of last summer. Unfortunately, that’s when he passed away and his obituary appeared in The Telegraph. He sounds like he was an amazing person who lived a full life.
Today is the birthday of John Brown (December 31, 1795–October 23, 1890). He “was a brewer in Tring, Hertfordshire. Born in Okeford Fitzpaine in Dorset, he moved to Tring in 1826. His brewery was in Tring High Street, and he built several public houses in the area, at a period when the coming of the railway was advantageous to the business.”
Almost entirely what I’ve been able to find out about John Brown’s Tring brewery is from his short Wikipedia page:
In the 1830s, a railway line, of the London and Birmingham Railway, was built, which passed near the town. Since it used shallow gradients, a cutting was created through chalk hills near Tring between 1834 and 1837. The cutting was the largest created at that time, being 4 km long and 12 m deep. It was mostly dug manually. The navvies employed in its construction provided business for breweries in Tring, including that of John Brown.
During the 1830s he built several pubs in the area, which had a distinctive architectural style. In Tring, these included the Britannia (the present Norfolk House) and the King’s Arms. The King’s Arms is away from the town centre: John Brown expected that the town would expand with the coming of the railway, and that the pub would be in a busy area; however, the expansion did not happen as he expected. Another of his buildings is near to the railway station about two miles from Tring; it was built in 1838 under arrangement with the London and Birmingham Railway Company. Its name was originally the Harcourt Arms, after the Harcourt family who owned Pendley Manor; it was renamed, some time between 1845 and 1851, the Royal Hotel.
In 1851 John was a farmer and a wine and spirit merchant, as well as a brewer; in 1881 he was employing nine men at the brewery.
In later years the brewery was run by John’s son John Herbert Brown; he and his brother Frederick William took over when John died in 1890. However, John Herbert died in 1896, and in 1898 Frederick William sold the brewery, with nine freehold public houses, to Locke and Smith of Berkhamsted.
The King’s Arms was built in the early nineteenth century around 1830, for John Brown’s Tring Brewery (still highly visible but now a High St. stationer’s). When built, the the pub’s land included the top end of Charles St. (which was a dead end) and the pub’s orchard was where the two bungalows ‘Cosy Corner’ and ‘Corners’ now stand.
Brown’s distinctive architectural style was used on a number of other pubs in and around Tring as he expanded his estate. The ‘KA’ as it is known by regulars, has always been a pub, and internally in layout has not changed greatly in the last 180 odd years. Brown built grandly beside what was then the main London to Aylesbury road, catering initially for the army of navvies employed in building the railway, and in the expectation that expansion of the town would follow its completion.
As things turned out, the expected boom failed to materialise and the town centre grew slowly elsewhere, taking the main road along what became Western Road and the High Street. This left the pub rather isolated; later it became surrounded with the houses, shops and workshops that is now known as the ‘Tring Triangle’. At some time during the second half of the 19th century the range of stables and warehousing that bound the garden were built (presumably by the Brewery for general commercial use).
Tring High Street in the 19th century.
This is an excerpt from “Brewers in Hertfordshire” by Allan Whitaker, about the Tring Brewery.
In 1992, a new Tring Brewery opened, though it has nothing to do with the original brewery or the family of John Brown.
Today is the birthday of Henry Boddington (December 18, 1813-August 19, 1886). After joining the Strangeways Brewery in Manchester as a salesman in 1832, Boddington became a partner sixteen years later, in 1848, but in 1853, he bought out the partners and became the sole owner, renaming it Boddington’s.
Here’s a short bio of Boddington:
Although Boddington’s ale is associated with Manchester, his family were originally from Middle Barton in Oxfordshire.
He was born in Thame in 1813, where his father was the miller. Times were hard in agriculture and the corn-milling business suffered.
The family decided to escape the poverty of rural Oxfordshire for the booming Manchester of the industrial revolution.
Henry began as a salesman for a brewery, and through a wise marriage he gained a foothold in the Strangeways brewery, which he went on to control. Under his leadership it became one of the biggest brewers in the north of England.
This biography of Boddington is from the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,” written by R. G. Wilson:
Henry Boddington was born in a mill cottage at Thame where his father, John Boddington, was the miller. He also acted as parish overseer, surveyor of the roads and master of the workhouse where the family lived from 1826. Young Henry was educated at a dame school in the town and assisted his father in various ways, notably with compiling the 1831 census returns for Thame. Henry’s older brother John went north to find his fortune, becoming a clerk at the Strangeways brewery of Hole, Potter and Harrison in Manchester in 1831 and the rest of the family followed in the hope of better prospects.
Henry became a commercial traveller for the brewery, progressed in the business and in 1847 became a partner on the departure of Hole. By 1852 he had become sole proprietor, his success assisted by his marriage to Martha Slater, daughter of a Salford dyer and banker. In the next two decades Strangeways’ output made it a major northern brewery with an empire later extending as far as Birmingham and Burton-on-Trent.
His marriage to Martha produced eight children and his second wife, Eliza Nanson, bore him four more. He retired to Silverdale near Carnforth where he died in 1886. His sons carried on the business, all prosperous and influential public figures in Manchester life. Henry Slater Boddington (1849–1925), for instance, was a director of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Boddingtons remained a family company until 1989 when it was sold to Whitbread and is now part of the Anheuser-Busch Inbev conglomerate, the leading global brewer.
This is Wikipedia’s history of Boddington’s with the part concerning him:
Strangeways Brewery was founded in 1778 by two grain merchants, Thomas Caister and Thomas Fry, just north of what is now Manchester city centre. Their principal customers were the cotton workers of Manchester, then a burgeoning mill town. Henry Boddington, born in 1813 in Thame, Oxfordshire, joined the brewery in 1832 as a travelling salesman when the brewery was in the possession of Hole, Potter and Harrison. Like most Manchester breweries at the time, it was a modestly sized operation. Boddington had become a partner by 1848, alongside John and James Harrison, and by this time the company went under the name John Harrison & Co. In January 1853, Boddington borrowed money to become its sole owner. Between Boddington’s takeover until 1877, the brewery’s output increased tenfold from 10,000 to 100,000 barrels a year, making it not only Manchester’s largest brewery but one of the largest in the North of England, with over 100 tied houses. By 1883 Henry Boddington & Co. was a limited liability company. Henry Boddington’s estate was valued at almost £150,000 when he died in 1886.
And here’s a longer history of the Boddington’s brewery, by Barry McQueen, town crier of Blackpool:
Encouraged by the growth of industrial Manchester, Thomas Caister and Thomas Fray established Strangeways brewery in 1778 on a site just past New Bridge Street to the north of the River Irk.
In 1813, Henry Boddington was born. At the age of 19, he became a traveller for the brewery, and was further promoted within the company, until he was made a partner by John Harrison, the then owner in 1847.
In 1853 Henry became the sole owner of Strangeways brewery, boosting production to 16,731 barrels a year. By 1872 the brewery produced 50,000 barrels a year, a figure which had doubled by 1877.
In 1877, a serious fire badly damaged the Strangeways brewery, which by this time had become the largest beer producer in Manchester. Henry Boddington introduced his son (also called Henry) to the management and thus Henry Boddington & Sons was born.
Following the death of Henry Boddington Snr. in 1886, the company become public limited with the name ‘Boddingtons Breweries Ltd.’, and in 1900 introduced the famous two bees and a barrel logo which is still used today. The logo was adopted from Manchester’s coats of arms with the two bees representing the two B’s of Boddingtons Breweries.
In 1908 Robert Slater Boddington became chairman, before his death in 1930 passed ownership to his sons, Geoffrey and Philip.
World War I followed, and on the night of December 22, 1940, German bombs destroyed Strangeways brewery, prompting the brothers to rebuild it bigger and better than ever.
After Philip’s death in 1952, Geoffrey continued as chairman of Boddingtons Breweries until his retirement in 1970 when he is replaced by Ewart Boddington. After his retirement in 1980, Erwant is replaced by Denis Cassidy, the first time the brewery had not been ran by a member of the Boddingtons family since 1853.
In October 1989 the brewing interests of Boddingtons were sold to Whitbread for £50.7 million, although the pub division was kept by the Boddington group. The move took Boddingtons from being a household name in Manchester with a production of 200,000 barrels a year and turned it into a Worldwide favourite with production in excess of 750,000 barrels, all at its Manchester Strangeways brewery!
In 1994, Boddingtons were the first brewers to introduce canned beer with a Draughtflow dispense system, which prompted the launch of Boddingtons Export in 1995 and Boddingtons Manchester Gold in 1996.
Sales of Boddies are at an all time high, so much so that over 90% of Strangeways’ production is now spent brewing the ale. As a result, Whitbread transferred brewing of Oldham Best bitter to its Burtonwood brewery in Warrington.
Today is the birthday of Thomas Cooper (December 17, 1826-December 30, 1897). He was born in England, but moved to Australia when he was 26. He initially worked a variety of jobs, but in 1862 founded the brewery known today as Coopers Brewery “at his home in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood. He brewed his first recorded batch on 13 May 1862.”
This biography of Cooper is from the Cooper Brewery Wikipedia page:
[He] was born in Carleton, North Yorkshire, the youngest of 12 children of Christopher and Sarah (née Booth). His parents died when he was young (Sarah in 1830 and Christopher in 1832), and he was raised by his sister Ann. Thomas was apprenticed to a shoe-maker, and by the late 1840s, six of the seven living children had moved to Skipton. John, a shuttlemaker, lived in Bradford; Jane and Mary married; Ann was a housekeeper; Elizabeth and Martha were domestic servants.
In 1849 he married Ann Laycock Brown (1827–1872) in the Wesleyan Chapel in Skipton. Their first child, William (1850–1882), was born in 1850, and Sarah Ann (1851–1852) in 1851. In 1852, Thomas, the pregnant Ann, and their two children emigrated to South Australia, setting sail from Plymouth on the SS Omega on 29 May 1852. During the 86-day voyage, Sarah Ann was one of the six children who died, but their third child was born as they rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and was named Sarah Ann (1852–1854) in memory of her sister. The family arrived in Port Adelaide on 24 August 1852. Their first home was a rented two-room cottage near the Rising Sun Inn on Bridge Street in the then village of Kensington, about three miles east of the city. In the ten years before he commenced brewing in Norwood, Thomas worked initially as a shoemaker, then as a mason, and then as a dairyman, while Ann bore four more children: Mary Ann (1855–1856); John Thomas (1857–1935); Christopher (1859–1910); and Annie Elizabeth (1861–1921). In 1856 he purchased land in George Street, Norwood, and using his new skills as a mason, built a house which he described to his brother as having “6 rooms & Cellar & Passage” and 12 ft ceilings “on acct of Sumr heat”. In the same letter, and many others, he urged his brother and family to join him in South Australia, but this never eventuated.
On 13 May 1862, Thomas brewed his first recorded batch. He did all the work himself (purchasing, calling for orders, brewing, washing, filling, corking and wiring the bottles, delivering the finished product), possibly with the help of then 12-year-old son William, while continuing to attend the cows, run the dairy, and do the daily milk deliveries. Being unlicensed, in early June he sought “professional advice on the sale of beer” from a solicitor, which his ledger records as having cost 7s 6d. Towards the end of 1862 Thomas realised that to make a living as a brewer, he would need to increase his brewing capacity, so he mortgaged his property to Frederick Scarfe, the Mayor of Norwood, a butcher, and a customer of Thomas’s ale, for £300, and built a new brewhouse. In January 1863 he sold his cows and the milk delivery run. Although with half-a-dozen breweries in Adelaide, there was a lot of competition, Thomas’s ale was unique in that he used no sugar, “consequently, ours being pure, the Doctors recommend it to their patients”. Although one of the smaller South Australian brewers, Thomas gained a reputation for quality. By 1867 he had over 120 customers, some quite notable (e.g. Samuel Davenport, John Barton Hack, George Hawker, Dr Penfold and the Lord Bishop of Adelaide, but he did not supply public houses, “apparently because it was against his principles”.
Ann bore four more children before dying suddenly in 1872: Joseph Brown (1863–1888); Jane Amelia (1865–1943); Margaret Alice (1868–1869) and Samuel (1871–1921). She was survived by all five of her sons, and two of her six daughters.
Thomas remarried in 1874, and Sarah Louisa Perry bore eight children: Stanley Reasey (1875–1938); Thomas Perry (1876–1876); Francis Scowby (1877–1878) Frederic (1878–1952); Edward Booth (1880–1881); Charles Edward (1881–1936); Lily Louise (1881–1893); and Walter Astley (1882–1909).
When he died in 1897, Thomas was survived by his wife, and nine of his nineteen children – seven of his sons, and two of his daughters.
This story is of Coopers’ beginnings is from the brewery website:
When Thomas Cooper used an old family recipe to brew his first batch of ale back in 1862, it would be fair to describe him as a novice craft brewer. Apparently he’d only intended it to be a tonic for his sick wife, but the resulting ale was so flavoursome that friends and neighbours soon came to appreciate it for more than just its ‘restorative’ properties. As demand for his naturally conditioned ales grew throughout the fledgling colony of South Australia, Thomas Cooper’s growing passion for brewing soon became his profession.
Before Thomas passed away, he handed over the reigns of the brewery to four of his sons, and so began a proud family tradition that has continued in an unbroken chain of six generations, for more than 150 years. While we’re still using Thomas Cooper’s original recipe, successive generations of Coopers have made improvements along the way.
The fusion of traditional Coopers brewing methods with cutting edge production technology has helped us grow our capacity and deliver consistent brew quality and flavour. As a result, we now have the ability to produce our naturally conditioned ales and stouts for a global audience, with absolute confidence that whenever one of our signature beers is poured, the drinker will enjoy a quality Coopers brew. This marriage of century-old brewing techniques and modern innovation is what makes Coopers unique in Australia’s brewing landscape.
This more modern history is by Martin Wooster, which was part of a longer travel piece he did for All About Beer in 2000 about Australian breweries, entitled “In the Shadows of Giants:”
The brewery that has done the most to provide Australians with choice and diversity is Coopers of Adelaide. But even when given clear directions, it’s a hard brewery to find. It’s quietly nestled in the shady Adelaide suburb of Leabrook, hidden beneath towering jacaranda and lilly pilly trees. For a brewery that’s been making beer on its site for over 100 years, it’s an amazingly quiet place.
The Coopers story begins in 1862, when Thomas Cooper, a British emigrant, decided to make some ale to help his ailing wife Ann deal with a fever. Ann Cooper came from a brewing family, and Thomas Cooper used her recipe. In south Australia’s relatively hot climate, Cooper had to adapt the British recipe, making his ale bottle conditioned to last longer and adding sugar to spark the secondary fermentation. The result was a style known as “sparkling ale.”
Cooper then followed with Coopers Extra Stout. Like the ale, the stout is bottle conditioned and can age for a long time. The Lord Nelson Hotel in Sydney serves five-year-old Coopers Extra Stout⎯when it mellows and develops port-like notes.
Thomas and Ann Cooper had 10 children; when she died in 1874, Thomas Cooper married Sarah Perry and had 10 more children. Eleven of these children survived into adulthood, ensuring that there were lots of Coopers to continue the family name. Coopers is the only Australian brewery controlled by descendants of its founder. “We wouldn’t want to be the generation that sold the brewery,” says marketing director Glenn Cooper.
Like most family-owned breweries, Coopers has gone through hard times. Coopers refused to adapt to changing times; it did not make lager until 1968, and until 1982, secondary fermentation for its ale and stout still took place in giant wooden casks called “puncheons.” While many younger drinkers thought that the cloudy beers were something only grandpa drank, Coopers stubbornly stuck to its traditional ways. The result was that, even when Australian beer was at its blandest, consumers knew that a good beer didn’t have to be a lager.
Coopers paved the way for us,” said Blair Hayden, managing director of the Lord Nelson Hotel, Sydney’s only brewpub. “It showed Australians that there was something else to drink besides lagers.”
What saved Coopers was homebrewers. Homebrewing was legalized in Australia in 1973, and Coopers at first sold sacks of wort that could be fermented with the addition of yeast. But customers found the sacks cumbersome, so in 1977 Coopers was the first brewery to market malt extracts for homebrewers. Coopers engineers also built the canning equipment needed to mass produce the extracts, and created a special lid to ensure that the Coopers yeast packets were securely fastened to the cans.
According to Glenn Cooper, Coopers currently has 35 percent of the world market for homebrew kits and 80 percent of the Australian market. Sales, he says, are largest in countries with high beer taxes, such as Canada and the Scandinavian nations.
In the 1990s, Coopers has diversified into many other areas. In the early 1990s, it began to enter the honey business through its Leabrook Farms subsidiary. Why honey? “Like malt extract, it’s a heavy, viscous substance,” Glenn Cooper said. Another Coopers division makes gourmet vinegars.
The core of Coopers business remains its beers. Under the leadership of head of brewing operations Tim Cooper (who abandoned a career as a cardiologist to work in the family brewery), Coopers now has 10 beers, adding several filtered beers and a dark ale to its portfolio. In 1998, the company released Extra Strong Vintage Ale, the first vintage-dated beer ever issued in Australia. Production of the ale, which is designed to age for up to 18 months, is limited to 25,000 cases, for sale only in Australia.
Production, Glenn Cooper says, is increasing by 18 percent a year. And Coopers beers are becoming more available in America. They are available in most Outback Steakhouses, and, repackaged under the Old Australia label, are also sold in most Trader Joe’s stores.
Today is the birthday of Charles Buxton (November 18, 1823-August 10, 1871). He “was an English brewer, philanthropist, writer and member of Parliament. Buxton was born in Cobham, Surrey, the third son of Sir Thomas Buxton, 1st Baronet, a notable brewer, MP and social reformer, and followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a partner in the brewery of Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, & Co in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London, and then an MP. He served as Liberal MP for Newport, Isle of Wight (1857–1859), Maidstone (1859–1865) and East Surrey (1865–1871). His son Sydney Buxton was also an MP and governor of South Africa.”
The original brewery was probably established by the Bucknall family, who leased the site in the seventeenth century. The site’s first associations with brewing can be traced back to 1666 when a Joseph Truman is recorded as joining William Bucknall’s Brewhouse in Brick Lane. Part of the site was located on Black Eagle Street, hence the brewery’s name. Truman appears to have acquired the lease of the brewery in 1679, upon the death of William Bucknell. Through the Truman family’s efforts – not least those of Sir Benjamin Truman (who joined the firm in 1722) – the business expanded rapidly over the following 200 years. By 1748 the Black Eagle Brewery was the third largest brewery in London, and likely the world, with 40,000 barrels produced annually.
In the mid-18th century Huguenot immigrants introduced a new beverage flavoured with hops, which proved very popular. Initially, Truman’s imported hops from Belgium, but Kent farmers were soon encouraged to grow hops to help the brewery meet growing demand.
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 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.
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.
They also later built a Black Eagle Brewery in Burton. As you’d expect, Martyn Cornell has an amazingly thorough account of Trumans, which he refers to as When Brick Lane was home to the biggest brewery in the world.
Today is the 34th birthday of Mark Dredge, who writes the beer blog Pencil and Spoon from his home in Kent, England. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking with Mark on a few of his trips across the pond. The first time, at the opening gala for SF Beer Week, and several years ago at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado, and more recently judging at GABF. By day, he works in digital marketing and social media, most recently for Pilsner Urquell, and by night, he’s “a beer writer and blogger.” The last two times I saw him, a few months ago in Belgium, and last week in San Francisco, it was working for Pilsner Urquell. In December 2009, he won the British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year for Pencil and Spoon. If you don’t read his stuff, you should. Join me in wishing Mark a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Michael Arthur Bass (November 12, 1837–February 1, 1909). He was the oldest “son of Michael Thomas Bass and the great-grandson of William Bass, the founder of the brewery firm of Bass & Co in Burton,” England.
He was “known as Sir Michael Bass, 1st Baronet, from 1882 to 1886, was a British brewer, Liberal politician and philanthropist. He sat in the House of Commons from 1865 to 1888 when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Burton. He was a Director of the family firm of Bass, Ratcliff, Gretton and Co. from 1863, and Chairman of the Directors upon his father’s death in 1884. He also sat as a Member of Parliament for Stafford from 1865 to 1868, for East Staffordshire from 1868 to 1885 and for Burton from 1885 to 1886. As a brewer, it was uncomfortable to be a Liberal MP as there was a strong temperance element to the Liberal party at the time.”
This account of his life is from the 1912 Supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography, by Charles Welch:
BASS, Sir MICHAEL ARTHUR, first Baron Burton (1837–1909), brewer and benefactor, born in Burton-on-Trent on 12 Nov. 1837, was elder son of Michael Thomas Bass, brewer [q. v.], by his wife Eliza Jane, daughter of Major Samuel Arden of Longcroft Hall, Staffordshire. Educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, he graduated B.A. in 1859, M.A. in 1863. Bass on leaving the university at once entered his father’s brewing business, and was soon well versed in all branches of the industry. By his energy he did much to extend its operations, became head of the firm on the death of his father in 1884, and to the end of his life never relaxed his interest in the active management. The firm, which was reconstructed in 1888 under the style of Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton, Ltd., has buildings covering over 160 acres of land, employs over 3000 men, pays over 300,000l. a year in duty, and has a revenue of over 5,000,000l. per annum.
Bass entered parliament in 1865 as liberal member for Stafford, represented East Staffordshire 1868-85, and the Burton division of Staffordshire 1885-6. He proved a popular member of the house, and was a personal friend of Gladstone. His father having refused both a baronetcy and a peerage, Bass was made a baronet in vita patris in 1882, with remainder to his brother, Hamar Alfred Bass, and his heirs male; Hamar Bass died in 1898, leaving his son, William Arthur Hamar Bass, heir to the baronetcy. Bass was opposed to Gladstone’s home rule policy in 1886, but on other great questions he remained for the time a consistent liberal, and presided on 9 March 1887 when Francis Schnadhorst, the liberal party organiser, was presented with a testimonial of 10,000 guineas. He was raised to the peerage on Gladstone’s recommendation on 13 Aug. 1886 as Baron Burton of Rangemore and Burton-on-Trent, both in co. Stafford.
The growing hostility of the liberal party to the brewing interest as shown in their licensing policy and the widening of the breach on the Irish question led Burton to a final secession from the liberals, and he became a liberal unionist under Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain. After 1903 he warmly supported the latter’s policy of tariff reform, and he led the opposition to Mr. Asquith’s licensing bill in 1908, which was rejected by the House of Lords.
Always genial, outspoken, and good-humoured, Burton was a personal friend of King Edward VII, both before and after his accession. The king frequently visited him at his London house, Chesterfield House, Mayfair, at his Scottish seat, Glen Quoich, and at Rangemore, his stately home on the borders of Needwood Forest, near Burton. The king conferred upon him the decoration of K.C.V.O. when he visited Balmoral in 1904.
He was a deputy-lieutenant and a J.P. for Staffordshire, and a director of the South Eastern Railway Company. An excellent shot, he was long in command of the 2nd volunteer battalion of the North Staffordshire regiment, retiring in August 1881 with the rank of hon. colonel. He built and presented to the regiment the spacious drill-hall at Burton, and gave for competition at Bisley the Bass charity vase and a cup for ambulance work. Burton’s gifts and benefactions to the town of Burton were, like those of his father, munificent; together they presented the town hall, which cost over 65,000l. He gave club buildings to both the liberal and the conservative parties in succession; he constructed, at a cost of about 20,000l., the ferry bridge which spans the valley at the south end of Burton, and afterwards freed the bridge from toll at a cost of 12,950l. and added an approach to it over the marshy ground known as the Fleet Green Viaduct in 1890. As an acknowledgment he accepted a piece of silver plate, but he declined the proposed erection of a public statue. As a loyal churchman he generously contributed towards all diocesan funds, but will chiefly be remembered as a builder of churches. St. Paul’s Church at Burton, built by him and his father, is a miniature cathedral; its cost in first outlay was 120,000l., a sum of 40,000l. was provided for its endowment, and large sums in addition for improvements and embellishments. Another fine church, St. Margaret’s, Burton, was also built by father and son, and they erected St. Paul’s Church Institute at a cost of over 30,000l.
Burton had a cultivated taste as an art collector, and Chesterfield House, his residence in Mayfair, which he bought of Mr. Magniac, was furnished in the style of the eighteenth century and contained a choice collection of pictures by English artists of that period, which became widely known owing to his generosity in lending them to public exhibitions; Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Romney were represented both numerously and by masterpieces. His more modern pictures were at Rangemore, and included some of the best works of Stanfield, Creswick, and their contemporaries.
Burton died after an operation on 1 Feb. 1909, and was buried at Rangemore church. He married on 28 Oct. 1869 Harriet Georgiana, daughter of Edward Thornewill of Dove Cliff, Staffordshire, by whom he had issue an only child, Nellie Lisa, born on 27 Dec. 1873, who married in 1894 James Evan Bruce Baillie, formerly M.P. for Inverness-shire. In default of male issue, the peerage, by a second patent of 29 Nov. 1897, descended to his daughter.
By his will he strictly entailed the bulk of his property to his wife for life, then to his daughter, then to her descendants. The gross value exceeded 1,000,000l. He requested that every person and the husband of every person in the entail should assume the surname and arms of Bass, and reside at Rangemore for at least four months in every year.
From Vanity Fair, November 1908.
Here’s his obituary:
Today is the 55th 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.