A History of Sergeant & Co Ltd

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A M & E. Sergeant & Co. by Pat Aldabella and Robert Barnard

Sergeant & Co took over the Bridge St. brewery from Saville. Antonie Middlemoor Sergeant came to Brigg from nearby Melton Ross in 1834 or 35. He was born in Camberwell and started the business in partnership with his brother, Edward. In 1840 the dwelling house and brewery, Bridge St. was to let by Mr A Sergeant; the brewery was the only one in town and Sergeant continued to run it. In 1851 A M. Sergeant was aged 42 and employed 5 men and 1 boy. A year later he erected extensive brewery buildings on the west side of the old river behind the White Hart. The water came from springs at Castlethorpe, to the west of Brigg, a mile from the river. Ale cost from 10d to 1s 6d, porter from 1s to 1s 6d and bitter 1s 4d per gallon. The White Hart was acquired by the firm after the construction of the brewery.

A. M. Sergeant lived at Glanford House, 25 Bridge St., in 1881 employing 9 men and was a brewer, maltster, wine and spirit merchant and coal merchant. His son, John Hampden Sergeant, was church secretary in 1904. John was born in 1846. Antonie had another son, also named Antonie Middlemoor Sergeant, who was a brewer by 1893 when the company were brewers, maltsters, wholesale & retail wine & spirits merchants, cigar importers, hop & coal merchants, agents for the General Plate Glass and Liverpool, London & Globe insurance companies. In 1882 A M. Sergeant was also the town's registrar.

In 1858 A M. Sergeant was elected one of four deacons, by 1866 he was senior deacon and became church treasurer. He suggested that the workload was too much for one man and in 1869 a committee was set up to deal with the church's financial matters. He served on the committee until 1884 when he was 75 and ill. He died in 1893 aged 85.

The business was taken over by Hewitt Brothers Ltd. of Grimsby in 1954 and the brewery closed at the end of October 1967. The brewery was of yellow brick with a northward extension of red brick. The second floor at south end had three small rooms, two store rooms 20 x 30 ft and a small office 10 ft square. At one time the brewery owned its own maltings at Castlethorpe, later supplies came from Barnetby and farther; horse radish grown at Castlethorpe was reputed to improve the flavour of the malt. At closure the brewery employed a staff of 24, brewing twice a day in two teams. The last head brewer was Nevill Cheatle who had held the job for 30 years and was responsible for Sergeant's Dolphin Ale winning first place at the Brewer's Exhibition in the 1920s. A beer named 'Brigg Bitter' was brewed by Charrington's at Tadcaster after closure.

Harry Sergeant, a Scunthorpe solicitor, sold the brewery to Hewitt's; he lived at Castlethorpe House. Before the war he had bought Wortley House, Frodingham, the former home of Maximillian Mannaberg, who made Scunthorpe's first steel in 1890. Sergeant converted the house into the Wortley House Hotel and this was also sold to Hewitt's.