A History of Scott & Co

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SCOTT'S SKIPTON BREWERY 1816 - 1912 by David Parry

When Christopher Scott, a maltster of Armley, Leeds built the Skipton Brewery in 1816 he was already, in the phraseology of the day, "in a large way of business", possessing for the past 25 years maltings at Armley, Boroughbridge and Driffield.

The brewery, the first wholesale venture in the district, was erected by the bank of the Leeds - Liverpool canal, with a frontage of 170 feet to that most useful waterway. The area, known as Belle Vue, soon became Skipton's principal industrial site, later housing the extensive Belle Vue Mill, surprisingly for the West Riding of Yorkshire given over to the manufacture of cotton, and the large Victoria Corn Mill.

Christopher Scott, whose residence was Gawthorpe Hall in nearby Bingley, guided the business in its formative years until his death in 1828, when his son, William Scott, who had been brought up to the brewing trade, succeeded him. For some years past the business had been styled Scott & Moulding but the latter partner had quit the company in the mid 1820s.

In 1842 William Scott retired in favour of his cousin, also William Scott, and his two sons, Mark and John. During the next 12 years or so the business was improved and the premises enlarged. With the exception of Leeds the West Riding of Yorkshire was generally caught up in the urge to acquire tied houses, and Scott's Brewery shared the momentum from the early 1850s:-

  • King's Arms, High Skipton acquired, April 1853
  • Bay Horse Inn, High St, Skipton acquired, April 1853
  • Thanet's Arms, High St., Skipton acquired, April 1855
  • Old George Inn, High St., Skipton acquired, March 1860.

About 1855 Mark Scott had retired from the business and disposed of his share to Mr. Thomas Robinson, brother in law of his partner. Thomas Robinson died in 1865 and afterwards John Scott became sole proprietor of the brewery. The search for tied property continued:-

  • Ship Tavern, High St., Skipton acquired, April 1860
  • Unicorn Inn, Keighley Rd Skipton acquired, April 1860
  • Brickhall Inn, Skipton acquired, November 1860
  • Nag's Head, New Market St., Skipton acquired, January 1862
  • Angel Inn, High St. / Upper Green, Keighley acquired, May 1864

John Scott was joined by his son, Mark Scott and by George Robinson in 1871. Public houses were tied at an increasing rate:-

  • King William IV, Settle acquired, November 1874
  • Old White Bear, Crosshills, Glusburn acquired, July 1875
  • Thanet's Arms, Silsden acquired, December 1875
  • Cross Keys, New Market St., Skipton acquired, December 1877
  • Joiner's Arms, Commercial St., Skipton acquired, March 1878
  • Fleece Inn, Keighley Rd., Skipton acquired, May 1879
  • Swan Inn, Addingham acquired, August 1880
  • Cavendish Arms, Embsay acquired, April 1882
  • Royal Shepherd, Canal St., Skipton acquired, June 1883
  • Off-licence shop on High St., Skipton acquired, June 1888
  • Talbot Arms, High St., Settle acquired, May 1889
  • Wheatsheaf Inn, Skipton acquired, October 1889
  • Elm Tree, Main St, Bingley acquired, January 1890
  • Hart's Head, New Market St., Skipton acquired, May 1890
  • Fountain Inn, High St., Skipton acquired, June 1890
  • Royal Oak, Millbridqe, Skipton acquired, Auqust 1890
  • Wheatsheaf Hotel, New Brook St., Ilkley acquired, August 1892

By 1893 the Midland Hotel had replaced the Elm Tree at Bingley.

When the business was turned into a private limited company in 1894/5 a virtual monopoly of the licensed houses in Skipton had been gained, but purchase of outlets went on:-

  • Gardener's Arms, Sutton in Craven acquired, May 1896
  • King's Arms, Sutton in Craven acquired, November 1896

In March 1897 Scott's made their one and only take-over, that of Frederick Binns' White Horse Brewery* at Ingrow, Keighley. The company had been founded by Henry Hargreaves Thompson in 1866. The brewery, most of which still stands, was built on the opposite side of the road from the White Horse Inn. H.H. Thompson added 2 public houses and a beerhouse to the brewery's estate, and then he purchased a second White Horse Inn and adjoining brewery, this time at Bingley. He gave up at Ingrow and was succeeded by a partnership of James Tillotson, Thomas Ibbetson and Frederick Binns in 1879. However, the company still traded as H.H. Thompson until 1892 when Binns alone took over. Five houses were added to the tied estate:-

  • Ship Inn, West Lane, Keighley in 1881
  • Exchange Vaults, High St., Keighley in 1882
  • Commercial Inn, Church St., Keighley in 1884
  • Forester's Arms, Lane Ends, Keighley in 1884
  • Railway Inn, Bocking in 1885

The last four houses plus the Malt Shovel, Leeds St., Keighley, and the White Horse at Bingley all passed to Scott's on take-over. Scott's now entered on the last phase of their expansion in terms of tied properties:-

  • Springfield House, Cullingworth Moor acquired in May 1897
  • Black Horse, Hellifield acquired, May 1892
  • Crown Hotel, Settle acquired, May 1894
  • Off-licence shop at Windy Bank, Embsay acquired, February 1898
  • Off-licence shop on Sackville St., Skipton acquired, November 1898

These premises were bought from Plett's Borough Brewery of Burnley.

  • Elm Tree with brewhouse, Embsay acquired, May 1899
  • Off-licence shop on Upper Union St., Skipton acquired, October 1899
  • Great Northern Inn, Wesley Place, Ingrow acquired, March 1900
  • Off-licence shop on Coach St., Skipton acquired, December 1907.

A successful bid was made for the company by Bentley's Yorkshire Breweries of Woodlesford, Leeds in 1912, so ending nearly a century of brewing in Skipton. The White Horse Brewery at Ingrow was sold off in May 1913 and became the White Horse Tannery.

The brewery premises appear to have been modest although obviously adequate for the supply of some 30 odd outlets. The water for brewing was obtained from a source nearly half a mile from the brewery at Massaflatts Plantation. The natural spring rose in the centre of a deep gorge. The spring water flowed through a channel into a stone chamber 12 feet high and cut into the solid rock. From there it passed through a filter bed and on to the brewery via a pipe. Brewing water was then stored in 2 cold liquor tanks situated over the malt store.

Describing a visit in 1898 the writer for the Skipton Illustrated had this to say:-

"Arriving at the brewery, we entered the engine room on the ground floor, a spacious place paved with stone, in which, besides a 12 horse-power engine, are situated the pumps for raising water through the new cooling apparatus to a tank at the top of the building, from whence the refrigerators and linings of the Yorkshire squares are supplied.

"Next, ascending a few steps, we entered the cooling room, the roof of which has a large cupola for the escape of steam, which contains a hop-back with a double strainer. Here also is the powerful steam boiler situated partly beneath the hop-back room, for supplying the engine, hot liquor tanks etc. Adjacent to this is commodious coal store, with doors opening to the canal bank for unloading coal from barges. Retracing our steps to the entrance lobby, we turned to the left and then followed our guide into the racking room situated immediately beneath the fermenting squares. From thence, down a flight of steps, we reached the cellars which extend beneath the whole of the offices, racking room, loading stage and malt store. They are well ventilated and arranged and will contain some thousands of barrels. Besides these cellars, there are two other beer stores in the High Street, one of which is very capacious, and is used for storing old ales.

"Both Racking rooms and the yeast room adjoining are very favourably situated for the maintenance of an even temperature. We reached the copper house, where there " Ascending a few steps from the first floor is a 75-barrel copper heated by fire. Next we made our way to the second floor of the brewhouse, where is the mashing room, nearly 40 feet square, containing an iron mash-tun, encased in oak, commanded by a Steel's mashing machine and fitted with gun metal draining plates. The grist case is on the upper floor, and the crushed malt is delivered thereto from the mill by elevators. On this level, in a room by themselves, are the refrigerators, by Morton's of Burton-on-Trent.

"Again ascending, we came to the top storey of the tower, where we found the grist case in a room by itself, and, beyond, the two open coolers placed over the roof of the barrel-washing department. It is louvred in the ceiling, also on three sides of its walls for carrying steam away from the copper to the cupola in the roof of the building. On our way down, just before reaching the first floor, we branched off into the No. 1 fermenting room, some 50 feet square, which occupies that portion of the premises between the brewery and offices. Ranged along the walls are twelve Yorkshire slate fermenting squares, each with a capacity of 22 barrels and fitted with attemperators. There is another fermenting house containing 5 other slate squares, and 2 large wooden tuns, much larger than the others, fitted with attemperators etc.

"The next inspected was the cask washing department. The cask washing is carried on in a new building on the west side of the yard. Along the walls are fixed taps, which project over a long frame on which the casks are placed, and beneath are a number of nozzles, connected with a Morton's steaming machine for blowing off or testing barrels.

"Messrs. Scott & Co. do a large and prosperous family trade. Their specialities are mild beer and bitter ale, the latter being a light sparkling beverage, suitable for hot climates.

Author's note

The Skipton Brewery is long demolished. Only the tallish, sturdy chimney is a rather bleak reminder of bygone days.