John J. Hunt Ltd

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John J Hunt York.jpg
From 1974

John J Hunt Ltd, Ebor Brewery, 27 Aldwark, York, North Yorkshire

Founded by Joseph Hunt 1834. Registered March 1895, though James Ballantine listed that year.

Acquired by J.W.Cameron & Co. Ltd. with c.230 houses in 1953 including those of subsidiary Scarborough & Whitby Breweries Ltd. Ceased brewing 1956 and demolished 1972.

Andrew Davison writes:

The firm was founded in 1836 by Joseph Hunt, but was still a small concern at his death in 1858. His nephew, Henry Hunt, succeeded to the business, but died after only three years in charge. The brewery was subsequently let, firstly to the partnership of Kay and Braithwaite, then from October 1865 to John Flawith, who was declared bankrupt in July 1866. At this stage the brewery appears to have been only a minor part of the business; advertisements offering the premises to let following Flawith's bankruptcy stressed the extensive nature of the malting business (a new 25 Quarter malting had been erected in 1860), and the brewery itself was only mentioned as an adjunct to this.

Failure to let the business led John Joseph Hunt, Henry Hunt's only son, to take over himself at his coming of age in March 1875. He gradually built up the business, and from 1890 began to acquire public houses at a steady rate. The brewery was inconveniently sited for passing trade, so a site for new offices and stores was acquired in Pavement. In August 1895 the firm became a limited company, with an authorised share capital of £60,000, plus £40,000 in First Mortgage Debentures. For the purposes of the share issue, the brewery, plant, stock and 21 hotels and licensed houses were valued at £87,092. A further issues of £40,000 of debentures and £30,000 of Cumulative Preference Shares was made in June 1897, to fund the purchase of Brett Brothers' brewery, together with 15 licensed houses, for £74,000. This sale had been agreed the previous November, and completed in April; not only did it give Hunt's a significant number of new houses, but also gave a the firm a substantial city-centre site, which became the new location for its offices and stores. By this time the firm's trade was no longer limited to the city and its immediate hinterland, and agencies were operating in Escrick (where Thomas Bradley, proprietor of the Escrick Brewery, had ceased brewing to take up an agency agreement in 1883), Elvington, Darlington and Malton. A range of eight beers, including three milds, a bitter, Light Dinner Ale, Old Tom, India Pale Ale, and Double Brown Stout was being brewed; to met the increasing demand for its products, the Ebor Brewery, already greatly extended, was comprehensively rebuilt, the work being completed in 1899.

The company's next significant acquisition was that of the Tockwith brewery of Robert Brogden Sons & Co. Ltd, which was purchased in 1904 along with some 50 licensed houses. Although some of these were in York, the majority were in the Harrogate, Knaresborough and Northallerton districts, where Hunt's was not well represented.

Hunt's other major acquisition was that of the Scarborough & Whitby Breweries Ltd. A controlling interest was acquired in 1923, although the subsidiary was not fully absorbed until 1949. Following the death of John J Hunt himself in November 1927, the company made no more attempts to expand by acquisition, but concentrated on building up its tied trade by other methods, such as building new public houses to serve York's expanding suburbs. In September 1953 the company was acquired by J W Cameron & Co. Ltd of Hartlepool, and production ceased in the autumn of 1956. The brewery stood derelict for some years until purchased by Shepherd Homes in June 1972; it was demolished shortly afterwards, and the site redeveloped for housing.

Cameron's still held records of Hunt's and their subsidiaries back in the late 1980s, when they allowed me to inspect them. At that time they still used the John J Hunt name for some of their managed pubs in the York area, and the brass registration plate for John J Hunt Ltd (along with those for a lot of other companies taken over by Cameron's) was fixed to the door of their offices.

An assortment of images of the brewery