Everards Ltd - A History

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Everards Ltd, Southgate Brewery, Southgate Street, Leicester.

The first potential links between brewing and the family may have been in 1800, when George Everard, previously a baker on Friar Lane, was bankrupt. The sale of his possessions included brewing vessels; however, these were probably for domestic use. In 1818 Thomas Everard was a farmer and maltster at Stoney Stanton. A Thomas Everard also owned the Elephant and Castle at Thurlaston from 1818. Thomas Hull was a maltster in Newarke Street from around 1832, and was listed as a brewer in 1843.

In terms of the background to the Southgate site, one needs to look at the involvement of the Bates family. In 1794, William Bates was listed as a victualler in High Cross. Then in 1843, John Bates was shown as a brewer on Friars Causeway, whilst William Bates was shown as a brewer and maltster on Southgate Street in 1846. Brewing on the site dated back to at least 1800. In 1801 Thomas Barry was renting a 20 quarter malt office on Southgate Street from Mr Bradley.

Although John Bates was still a brewer in 1847, William was listed as a gentleman in the poll book. In 1849 Hull and Everard’s leased William Bates’ brewery, suggesting he had left the brewing trade.

This was a partnership of the following:-

  • Thomas Hull
  • Thomas Everard, Thurlaston, William’s father
  • William Everard, Narborough

They had also bought Messrs Wilmot & Company’s brewing business, the latter retiring from the business. They leased the brewery site which Wilmots had used in Southgate Street (later Castle Street) from William Bates. This was presumably the Philip Mann Wilmot (mistakenly shown as Milmot in one directory) shown in 1848-49 as brewing on Southgate. Members of a Wilmot family were later to have connections with the George Eaton, Cavendish Bridge Brewery.

The lease was for a yearly rent of £100 in four equal quarterly instalments. The inventory included the following:- 2 coppers, 2 vats of 1,000 gallons each, as well as 136 doz quart stone bottles and 137 doz pint ones.

They started trading as Hull & Everard, ale and porter brewers, with their intention, or what might now be called their mission statement:- “No effort shall be wanting in the production and supply of genuine ale of first rate quality.”

In 1855, Thomas & William Everard were listed on Southgate as brewers, hop merchants and maltsters. In 1863, William Everard was shown as a maltster and brewer at 45 Southgate, his home being at Narborough. His father Thomas had died in 1861.

In 1870 the Everard address was also shown as 1 Castle Street and as a hop merchant, with maltings on Calais Hill and Coventry Street. In the same year, William Everard was shown at the Rose & Crown, 31 Crab Street. It is not clear whether this was a different individual or simply the licence holder, since William Everard Esq was living at Narborough Wood.

In 1871 William Everard & Company were listed as the Southgate Brewery at 45 Southgate. Around this time they had a new brewery built, to the design of William’s nephew John. The new brewery started brewing in 1875. The sales from the new plant were increasing, known outlets at the time included the Greyhound on Thames Street and the Elephant and Castle on York Street. In 1875, they were also shown as maltsters at 50 Humberstone Gate and Calais Hill. Their advertisement in Harrod’s directory mentions:- Strong and Diamond Ales, Family Bitter Beer, Porter Stout and Imperial Double Stout.

By 1877, the business had become Everard, Son & Welldon at the Southgate Brewery, also maltsters. The other partner was Charles Leeds William Welldon, a local wine and spirit merchant. They were by now supplying around 100 pubs, although they owned very few. White’s directory for that year gives their address as 38 Corn Exchange and the Southgate Brewery. In 1878, they appear to have supplied the Old Horse on London Road, which was threatened with closure.

In 1881 Everard’s were advertising their Family Bitter Beer as well as the East India Pale, Mild, Strong and Diamond Ales. They also offered strong dark beers Porter, Stout and Imperial Double Stout. This product range represented the wide diversity of an industry at a time of major change away from traditional porters and vatted beer towards the pale ales most associated with Burton.

In 1881 William Everard was still living at Narborough Wood House and in 1884 his son Thomas William was also living there. Interestingly, Frederick Bates was also living in the village. Although the Bates family had previously been at the Everard’s site, it seems later members, including Frederick, had returned to the brewing industry (see Leicester Brewing & Malting Co. Ltd).

The business traded as Everard Son & Welldon until around 1891. It had property at 45 Southgate Street, Castle Street and Great Holme Street - where Mrs Ann Johnson was listed as a brewer in 1881 - Church Gate, Bedford Street and Mansfield Street.

In 1892 William Everard died, at this time the business owned only 7 licensed houses. One of these was the Baker’s Arms, 40 Friars Causeway, which although less than 20 years old, had to be demolished for the building of the Great Central Railway. Its licence was transferred to the Western Hotel.

William’s son Thomas took over the business. The business was trading as Everard and Welldon, but in 1894 the name changed back to Everard, Son and Welldon, which was used when they bought the Admiral Nelson in October 1895. The business partners were Thomas William Everard & CL Weldon. They were operating maltings at 18 Calais Hill, Regent Street and Great Holme Street.

However, in 1890 they had realised that they were losing business to the increasingly popular Burton beers and so they leased the Bridge Brewery of Henry Boddington & Company. Located on an island in the middle of River Trent, this had been built in 1783 as a warehouse for the Burton Boat Company, and converted into a brewery in 1865 by Henry Eggington Whitehead.

In 1869 it was operated by Henry Boddington junior, until he returned to Manchester, hence the consequent sale.

However, the plant proved too small, so Everard’s leased the Trent Brewery, Anglesey Road, Burton on Trent, in February 1898 from the Trent Brewery Company, then in liquidation. The Trent Brewery in Union Street had been built in 1881 for Thomas Sykes of Liverpool. Initially, they operated both breweries until 30th June, when all operations were moved to Anglesey Road. Their output was thought to be around 20,000 barrels per year. In 1898 they were listed as Everard, Son & Welldon, Burton on Trent. They also had maltings in Wood Street.

In 1898 Charles Wood the Head Brewer died on 4th February, aged 25, from congestion of the lungs.

In November 1899, the partnership of Everard and Welldon was dissolved, when Thomas bought out Charles Welldon for £21,000.

The business then traded as W Everard & Company, but was still in a 1900 directory as Everard Son and Welldon, also Mansfield Street. In 1901 they were also using Nunneley & Co’s brewery in Burton.

The continuing popularity of Burton ales lead to the purchase of the Trent brewery in 1903 and the freehold was acquired from the Marquis of Anglesey in 1920.

In 1913 W Everard & Company were shown at 45 Southgate Street and the Trent Brewery. After the war the Crown and Dolphin was rebuilt and also renamed the Victory. The Prince Blucher on Waterloo Street was renamed the Admiral Beatty.

In 1920 they bought John Sarson’s wine and spirit business and in 1922, they were also listed at Bow Bridge Street.

The Head Brewer was Arthur Willis. In 1925 Thomas William, the son of William the founder, died and the following year the business of W Everard & Company was formed. W Lindsey Everard MP represented the continuing family involvement.

In 1931, the Leicester Brewery was closed and all production was moved to Burton. The closure was partly because of road improvements, but also because sales were down 20% as a result of the depression. A new bottling plant was installed on the Leicester site. Initially, a fleet of Sentinel steam wagons was used to transport the beer, although later these were replaced by motor lorries. The Trent brewery operated unchanged for many years. The local business was in the hands of WH and WS Hubbard and HW Lippitt.

At this time the major sales seem to have been the IPA and the XXXX. They also had a VB strong ale, which cost 6d per half-pint. The bottled range was:- Light Burton Ale, IPA, Barley Wine, Brown, Stout and Strong Stout.

The Braunstone Hotel on Narborough Road, opened in 1927, represented the company’s investment in the new roadside pubs which were being created throughout the country. The Union Inn at Blaby was demolished and replaced by a new pub, the County Arms. Similarly the Saracen’s Head on Hotel Street, which dated back to the year 1312, was rebuilt. In 1933, the Cradock Arms at Knighton was modernised inside and the following year, the Red Cow on Hinckley Road underwent the same process.

In October of 1936, the business became a public limited company trading as Everards Brewery Limited, with the address shown as Castle Street. The chairman at this time was Lindsay Everard, later knighted in 1939. In 1924 he had been made Deputy Lieutenant of the County. He was also the MP for Melton Mowbray for 21 years, as well as becoming President of the Royal Aero Club.

A few months before the outbreak of the Second World War, Everards showed their vision, when they started manufacturing their own table waters, concentrated fruit squashes and cordials.

In September 1942, Offiler's Brewery Ltd closed their Leicester depot because of wartime restrictions. Instead they provided 4 tons of beer per week to Everards who then provided local delivery for the duration of the war.

In 1947 Capt PAWB Everard joined the business, after war service with the Royal Horse Guards and training with Lacons of Great Yarmouth. He became the Chairman following the death of his father in 1949, a position which he held until 1978 when he became President. In the family tradition, he was also the founder of the Helicopter Club. Perhaps representing these interests, one of the new pubs opened after the war was the Airman’s Rest built next to Braunston Aerodrome.

A 1949 book celebrating one hundred years of trading gave an insight into the traditional methods of the brewery at Burton. The Morton & Company mash tuns were probably of some age and the Buxton & Thornley steam engine “Old Faithful”, which was thought to date from the original brewery, provided steam heat for the coppers. It was operated by Mr Turton the foreman, who was not quite as old as the equipment, but did have 47 years service with the business. At this time Everards were still using round fermenting vessels.

Indicative of the post-war market, the 1949 book emphasised the importance and clarity of the bottled beers, which were naturally conditioned in glass lined tanks and then filtered before cold storage until they were ready to be bottled. The main bottled products were:- Light Burton, India Pale Ale, Stout, Nut Brown and a strong Barley Wine. They also manufactured soft drinks including ginger beer, lemonade and dandelion and burdock. In addition to being available in the pubs, the bottles were sold through a variety of small off-licences such as G Tomlinson & Son. The tied estate was of 150 houses requiring 100,000 miles per annum delivery from the transport fleet.

The Head Brewer was AH Willis, a man of some 44 years brewing experience, 26 years of which had been at Everards. His assistant was a Mr HW Lake. Mr R Dolman, the head bottler, had been with the firm for 27 years. The Board also had similar experience, with the Managing Director, WH Hubbard, having been with the firm for 50 years. In addition to PAWB Everard, the other members of the Board were WS Hubbard, son of the MD, WB Frearson and WH Jarratt.

Continuity in the brewing industry could also be found in the retail side. For example, the landlady of Wheatsheaf at Thurcaston, had been running the pub for some 47 years and it had been run by her family for 40 years prior to that. However, the record was perhaps held by the Bricklayers at Thornton run by Mr & Mrs WAB Dilks. This pub had been in the same family hands for 450 years.

In the 1960s and 70s the company used a slogan “Gentlemen, the Best”, which perhaps was indicative of beer still being seen as a male drink. The estate was around 130 houses, of which 40 were in Leicester itself. The product range was:-

  • Beacon Bitter
  • Tiger Draught
  • Burton Mild
  • Tiger Special Keg

The bottled products were as follows:-

  • Amber Lite
  • Red Crown Bitter
  • Nut Brown
  • Bradgate Brown Tiger Special Ale
  • Gold Medal Barley Wine
  • Meadowsweet Stout

From 1970, the Burton site was known as the Tiger Brewery. The name originated from the famous Tiger Bitter, which in turn derived its name from the tiger cap badge of the Leicestershire regiment.

In 1973 Everards were introducing a dispense system in which the beer had a CO2 covering, at low pressure, with motive power from compressed air. From the late 60s until 1976 all beer was processed at the brewery before delivery to the trade. This was fairly common throughout the industry and reflected the poor image which draught beer had acquired during the war and which had stayed with it during the fifties. This had lead to the continued growth of sales of bottled beer, with its clarity and consistency, and which also gave rise to the introduction of kegged and brewery-conditioned draught beers, including lager.

An £½m investment had been made, with beer tankered from Burton and chilling and filtering undertaken at Leicester. However, Everard’s own Sabre lager was so successful that they needed the plant for it, forcing a return to traditional racking of some bitter and mild (about 15% of output).

The early seventies had seen a resurgence of interest in a wide variety of “natural” products and a number of individuals writing about beer and the brewing industry. It was at this time that the Campaign for Real Ale - CAMRA - was formed and attracted much attention.

In 1975 Old Original was introduced as a traditional cask bitter, perhaps reflecting the renewed interest in draught real ale as represented by CAMRA. The beer might be compared with the traditional Burton IPAs and the very successful local rival, Ruddles County. On 2nd June, Old Original was available at 25p per pint in 6 Leicester pubs, rising quickly to some 50 pubs and 60 barrels a week sent to the London market. The recipe was said to be based on that for the nineteenth century Diamond Ale.

The July 1976 Sunday Mirror first survey of beers, which was one of the first to provide early information on the strength of beer in terms of its original gravity, gave Old Original a score of 10 out of 12 as a “very nice dry strong bitter” selling at 29p per pint.

However, CAMRA’s What’s Brewing around this time described the business as “an anonymous firm little known outside Leicestershire”. The tied estate was some 160 pubs mainly within 30 miles of Leicester. Around this time, Everards considered the purchase of Shipstone & Sons Ltd, but instead the Nottingham brewery was bought by Greenall Whitley & Co. Ltd. In 1977 Mild, Beacon and Tiger were on sale in cask-conditioned format.

In July 1978 Oliver Steel, a friend of PAWB Everard, who had been a non-executive director 1968 to 1975, became the Chairman. Prior to this Steel had been Chairman of Courage & Company, but had left as a result of the management changes there. He had joined Courage in 1946 after wartime service in the Fleet Air Arm. PAWB’s nephew Richard Everard, after his Army service, was then brewing at Courage London.

The Sunday Mirror second national survey in September 1978 did not include a mention of Old Original. However, it did include details about Tiger, which rated a 10 out of 12 as a “clean strong hoppy bitter”. It also made mention that Tiger in London was selling for 40p per pint, which was much higher than similar beers. That year also saw the purchase of 24 pubs from Ruddles.

In September 1978, there was a CAMRA What’s Brewing article on the business, perhaps trying to remedy the previous description. At this time, Duncan Bodger was the Head Brewer. Anthony Haig Morse, the Managing Director, was from one of the leading brewing families of Norwich. He had begun in the family firm of Steward & Patteson Ltd, where his father was vice-chairman. He remained there after the Watney Mann Ltd’s take-over in 1963 before moving to Northampton until 1971. When the Phipps & Co. Ltd brewery closed for the construction of Carlsberg Brewery Ltd, he joined Everards.

In 1979 there was a major investment for the future, with the purchase of a new greenfield site of 134 acres to the south of Leicester near the motorway junction. This proved to be a bargain at £500,000 and initially was for the offices, which were to be moved out of Castle Street. Hence the site was named Castle Acres.

The July 1980 half year results showed profits of £629,300 on sales of £5.93m. Despite the previous disparaging comment, the CAMRA branch in Peterborough voted the Bull Hotel at Market Deeping as their Pub of the Year.

In July 1981 profits had risen slightly to £651,200. In the August Everards gained a contract to supply Tiger to Aylesbury Brewery Co. Ltd, an Allied Breweries subsidiary, for a dozen or so pubs. That year, Tuborg replaced Sabre as the brewery’s lager. In December 1981 Sarson’s off-licence Queen’s Road, Clarendon Park was advertising Everards on draught, showing the continued interest away from bottled beer.

In 1982 annual profits were up to £1.6m. On 16th March 1982 the 45th AGM passed a special resolution not to be registered as a public company. The Chairman R Steel, noted that barrelage was up 6.8% compared to a national decline of 5.5%. Output exceeded 100,000 barrels for the first time and they were developing the new site. This included a £6.5m move of packaging of keg and cask. The fall in profits from £1.6m to £1.32m was put down to the cost of the move and the general economic recession.

In June 1982 there was a £800,000 six week campaign on Central Television, in the run up to the World Cup. The campaign focused on Old Original and featured the television actor Bill Maynard. November 1982 saw the second TV advert. The advertising was backed up by a motorised barrel on a 1961 Morris J chassis from the British Leyland Transport Museum.

In September 1982 there were plans to open a small brewery on East Falkland - Penguin Ale. The brewery at Port Stanley opened in March of the following year, with the 1040º OG beer available in 11 gallon casks or 4½ gallon polypins. It employed Philip Middleton as the manager with 3 staff.

In August 1984 it was announced that the Burton Brewery was to close, with Old Original to be brewed at Castle Acres. The Tiger Brewery was closed and sold in 1985 for a museum. The attempt to preserve the Burton site as an active brewery museum initially included a 5 year contract to supply Everards with Tiger and Mild. Geoff Calderbank production brewer would remain at Burton to run the brewery on behalf of the Trust.

The new brewery at Narborough was opened by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson. The plant was set up to brew Old Original and expected to produce 15,000 to 75,000 barrels per year. However, capacity could be raised to 150,000 barrels in a very modern brewery which had a mash vessel, described as multi-duty, since it was re-used after the lauter tun and sugar tank stage of the brewing process. Three days fermentation was then followed by three days cooling to racking temperature.

Whitbread’s brewery at Samlesbury in Lancashire was to brew a Bitter at 1033º to replace Beacon at 1036º, Anthony Morse was quoted as saying “I’d say 98% of drinkers are more than happy with it. Our market research showed that people wanted a lighter beer, one that was less filling. We have reduced the chloride content, roughly to that of other brewers, making the beer lighter and so more quaffable”. However, the beer was not liked by CAMRA, members regarded it as a poor replacement for Beacon and sales were lower than Beacon despite the strength being increased by 2º. Ind Coope at Burton trial brewed Tiger, but Everard’s Head Brewer John Peacock was not prepared to risk their reputation on it.

In 1984, they were part of the group which formed Brewers’ Dray to deliver within the area bounded by the M25. The other members being Adnams, Godsons and Ruddles.

In July 1985, they bought Rutland Vintners (now a wholly owned subsidiary of John Sarson & Son). In the October, they arranged a “beer-swap” with Camerons in which Old Original was supplied in return for Lion Bitter.

However, things were not going well in the Falklands and it was reported in December 1985 that there were difficulties with selling draught Penguin because it could not compete with the sale of canned beer through NAAFI. It closed in April 1986, because the manager had moved to England. On the plus side the month saw the launch in the UK of Old Bill, a 1068º winter warmer.

In November 1986, Everards owned some 142 houses. They were also taking Sam Smith’s Old Brewery Bitter as part of their guest beer policy, which included Adnams as well as Camerons. The following year the estate had risen to 150 pubs, of which 95 provided real ale.

On 5th November 1987, Beacon bitter was brought back, after an increase in the capacity at Castle Acres, with two extra fermenting vessels costing £70,000.

In July 1988, they formed the Old English Ale Club for guest beers in 82 pubs. This included:- Old Hooky, Kingsdown Ale, Fuller’s ESB, Farmer’s Glory, and Fortyniner in addition to the Adnams, which was already available. As a sign of the investment in the estate, Everards bought the Mill on the Soar, Sutton in Elms for over £1m.

In September 1988, there was some estate rationalisation, with a pub swap with Banks, the Wolverhampton Brewery. This involved the Racehorse in Warwick, plus £1m in exchange for 9 smaller pubs in Leicestershire and Derbyshire:-

  • Ashby Woulds, Moira
  • Balloon, Lutterworth
  • Bandwagon, Loughborough
  • Shakespeare, Repton
  • William Caxton, Derby
  • Forester’s Arms, Leicester
  • Rocket, Leicester
  • Sportsman, Leicester
  • Westcotes, Leicester

This took them to a total of 131 pubs of which 111 were in the county. Nevertheless, they were looking to expand into the West Midlands, with £500,000 to be spent on the Racehorse. In October 1988, the strong winter brew Old Bill was on sale again, with a gravity of 1080º. Brewers’ Dray became an Adnams’ subsidiary, but was still used for delivery by Everards.

In February 1989 the estate of 135 pubs was to receive a £3m investment programme, with an emphasis on pubs as locals. This included the Original Inns concept for 20 pubs. Some 60% of the spending would be on the 44 managed pubs e.g. £200,000 on the Crown at Uppingham. They had already spent £336,000 on the Cradock Arms at Knighton. To cope with this, the brewery capacity was doubled, split evenly between cask and bright beer.

In March 1990, they bought the last batch of Tiger from Burton. The same year, the beer was a gold medallist at the Brewing Industry International Awards. In 1992, the management team was as follows:-

• PAWB Everard, President • RAS Everard, (Chairman) Directors • JN Lloyd • MA Newman, Managing Director • Mrs SA Richards, non-exec Finance Director and Company Secretary • AR West, non-exec • CM Faircliffe • AO Norman, Managing Director Training

The Head Brewer was RJ Butler and part of his work included reformulating the Mild, with a higher gravity of 3.1% abv. The Old Original won a silver medal at BIIA. Their faith in cask-conditioned beer was backed by an investment in a new cask-washing machine, which was regarded as most useful given the dry-hopping of full casks.

August 1993 saw the formation of the Independent Family Brewers of Britain, of which Everards are a member. The following year they hosted a meeting of IFBB to discuss the problems from duty on beer and the rising tide of legal and smuggled imports.

In August 1994 Beacon was voted the winner of the bitter category at the Great British Beer Festival. The win resulted in an article in the November What’s Brewing. This emphasised that family ownership was the key to survival, with Richard Everard and his sister Serena Richards on the Board. The article contrasted the traditional nature of a family brewer with its very modern brewery with its “unusual brewhouse”. Head Brewer Graham Giblett accepted that the design and space-saving layout was unique. The compact nature of the pair of dual purpose vessels was achieved through their usage both, before and after, the wort went through the lauter tun. This allowed two brews to be handled at the same time. However, they were using conical fermenters.

The throughput was doubled to 66,000 barrels pa, including Labatt Lager. A new beer, Daredevil at 7.1% abv, replaced Old Bill and was also available in bottle. This was seen as part of the drive to recruit new drinkers to the ale market.

The total sales of £35m were backed by the continued investment in the tied estate of 146 pubs, with some £20m over the previous four years. They continued their guest ale policy, based on Brewers’ Dray, but all delivery was contracted out. There was some criticism of the balanced product range as being rather bland. However a new marketing campaign emphasised the dry-hopped taste of Tiger, including full-page advertisements in What’s Brewing. An expansion into SE England saw in April 1995 the purchase of the Mermaid in St Albans from Whitbread.

The Chairman was Richard Everard, with PAWB Everard as the President. The Head Brewer was GF Giblett. The £3m capital was made up of £1 ordinary shares, 90% owned by Richard Everard and his sister Serena. The output was 52,000 barrels. The business had 1,100 employees and 154 retail outlets, 39 managed houses and 115 tenancies. They were gradually expanding as well as supplying around 500 free trade outlets with national distribution.

The latter was to be re-named Original, with new pump clips and advertising to back a new campaign. They also brewed Nutcracker Winter Ale 5% which had replaced Daredevil, and a variety of seasonal specials, as well as Chester’s Best Mild for Whitbread. To celebrate the 150th anniversary they brewed Tiger Triple Gold 5%.