Ind Coope, Romford - A History

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The brewery c.1964
The brewery c.1972

Ind Coope Ltd High Street.

From ESSEX BREWERS - The Malting and Hop Industries of the County by Ian P Peaty 1992 now out of print ISBN 978 1 873966 02 4

Founded in 1708 at the Star Inn and brewery in South Street by Mr George Cardon, who carried out the joint calling of licensee and brewer. The Star Inn was situated close to the River Rom, and later, by 1839 the Eastern Counties Railway station. In 1799 the Star Inn and Brewery were purchased by Mr Edward Ind and Mr J.Grosvenor, who remained partners for 17 years, when John Smith took Grosvenor's place. The Head Brewer at that time was a Mr Turner and it was not long before both Smith and Turner left the Romford brewery to join with Mr Fuller, to form the still independent West London brewers, Fuller, Smith and Turner. In 1845 Mr C.E.Coope joined the firm, which then became known as Ind, Coope and Company.

In 1853 a railway wagon hoist was built from the high level main railway track, into the brewery's own private railway sidings. This hoist was replaced in 1862 by an incline and so the brewery purchased its first steam locomotive in 1872. Edward Ind died in 1848 at the age of 68 and his two sons succeeded him. Trade continued to expand and the company purchased a partially built brewery adjacent to Samuel Allsopps and Son's brewery at Burton-on-Trent in 1856. The beer allowance for employees in 1882 was 5 pints per day and this amounted to 45 barrels per week.

In August, 1888, the worst floods Essex had ever known, hit the town of Romford. Ind Coope's brewery took the full force as the River Rom ran through the full length of the brewery. Flood waters were three feet deep in the yard and demolished a fifty foot length of a wall to a two-storeyed building. Between twenty and thirty thousand casks, mostly empty, were swept away. Barrels were found as far afield as Rainham and Dagenham, where numbers of men busied themselves in stopping the progress of the barrels and afterwards settled themselves down to the disreputable task of reducing the contents. 400 kilderkins from the previous days brewing were without their bungs and all were lost, the loss to the firm was colossal.

In 1889, on a 40 acre site in the middle of the town, the company employed 400 people who produced 200,000 barrels per annum. There were eight wells in and around the brewery, the deepest 300 ft deep into the underlying chalk, produced 300 barrels (10,800 gallons) per hour. There were six coppers, the largest held 900 barrels, the hop store held 11,000 Kentish hop pockets. The fermenting squares numbered 28, all made of Welsh slate, with a total capacity of 7625 barrels. The cask cleaning sheds handled 3,000 barrels per day and the Ale Store held 30,000 barrels. Originally the power source had been horses driving tread wheels, then copper steam boilers were installed, these being replaced in 1846 by a 16 H.P. beam engine.

In 1889 there were seven Lancashire coal-fired boilers of 30 H.P. The transport fleet at this time consisted of 62 horses and 40 drays and carts, housed in stables and cart sheds beside two large paddocks for the horses, bounded by the central railway sidings.

Numerous gold medals were awarded to the company for its products, from 1862 at London, Philadelphia in 1876, Paris 1878, Calcutta 1884 and at the Antwerp Exhibition in 1894 where Ind Coope and Company Ltd., received the highest award for English Beers. Companies acquired by Ind Coope included:-

The private railway sidings were a total of 2 miles and 400 railway wagons were handled in a day. In 1910 the Company got into financial difficulties and was reconstructed and renamed Ind Coope and Company (1912) Ltd., and this was to be its title until 1934, when it was merged with Samuel Allsopp Brewery Co of Burton, it then reverted back to its previous title held between 1886 and 1912.

In 1908 the site was 3 acres less then in 1889, but there were now 11 wells producing 36,000 gallons per hour. Power was now generated in three engine houses with a total power of 430 H.P. and also produced the brewery's own electricity. A new bottling store had been built where 63 girls produced 320 dozen bottles per day, the site now employing 450 people, with 75 in the Engineering department. There were 30 depots around the country supplied by the private railway system, in London, the Osborne Road stores in E.C.1. had stables for some 90 horses to deliver in London.

From 1934 to 1958 the company traded as Ind, Coope and Allsopp Ltd. During this period of wartime much bomb damage occurred and rebuilding took place after the end of hostilities in 1945. At the time of the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 1949, there were 700 employees, 370 lorries and 543 horses serving 44 Provincial Depots and 32 overseas agencies. After the war damage a temporary bottling hall built of timber had been burnt down in 1947 was replaced with a new one which produced 2,000 dozen bottles per hour, and in the draught beer department there were 600,000 casks in trade.

During 1957 the company purchased its first aeroplane - a De Havilland Rapide, which proved not suitable for the growing needs and was soon replaced by a De Havilland Dove. Shortly afterwards Tatenhill airfield was acquired a site close to Buton-on-Trent. The Dove was joined by another in 1960, then a third aircraft a Beechcraft Baron purchased. The two Doves were replaced by two Beechcraft Queen Airs. In 1971 there were three pilots and four ground crew and a maintenance department at Tatenhill.

In 1961 a new bottling hall was built covering several acres on what had previously been the company's sports ground and cask storage area. This was also the year in which the Romford brewery was to become a part of Europe's largest drinks combine, Allied Breweries. The company traded from 1958 to 1966 as Ind Coope (East Anglia) Ltd. and up to 1978 the name used was Allied Breweries (Production) Ltd.

In 1980 a new company was formed entitled Romford Brewery Company, and this had a tied estate of thirty public houses. The brewery site had by now been reduced to 25 acres with some 70,000 casks in trade which had a turn round of usage of about four weeks.

Employees amounted to 870 and they produced 500,000 barrels per annum. 170 motorised units and 160 articulated trailers helped to move the beer, the private railway system having closed down in the mid-1960s. By the mid-1980s rationalisation had reduced the work force to 570 people, but production had risen to 800,000 barrels per annum. The new boiler house built alongside the 1961 built bottling stores had three gas/oil boilers. During the 1980s massive rebuilding had been taking place in all departments, with an expenditure of one million pounds per annum, making the previous old brewery a thing of the past. Only the offices and covered entrance archway from the High Street remaining. All the new brewhouse plant and machinery, racking lines and computerised production brought on stream, officially opened on 20th March, 1987 by Mr R.G.Martin, Chairman of Allied Breweries Ltd; now capable of producing one million barrels of beer per annum. The cost of this redevelopment was £9 million.

In the same year the public houses signed as Romford Brewery Company came under the control of the reconstituted Taylor Walker of Muswell Hill, North London.

During the mid-1970s a new green field site at Gallows Corner was developed as a distribution depot and vehicle workshops, this was sold to a supermaket in 1989 and the truncking and local radial fleet deliveries returned back to the brewery. The brewery had been producing only keg beers since 1987, including XXXX, Lowenbrau, Skol and John Bull Bitter.

The trade mark of a castle with a central cross, in black, red and gold, the sign of the Liberty of Havering-atte-bower, came into use on 17th February, 1876.