Matthew Brown & Co. Ltd

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Preston Brown.jpg
Matthew Brown Drays.jpg

Matthew Brown & Co. Ltd, Lion Brewery, Coniston Road, Blackburn, Lancashire.

Founded at Pole Street, Preston 1830. Brewing transferred to the Lion Brewery, Blackburn in 1927 when Nuttall & Co. Ltd were purchased.

Matthew Brown, including the Theakston brewery, was acquired by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd in October 1987 with 550 tied houses. Brewing at Blackburn ceased in 1991.

The story behind the label by Peter Dickinson, Labologists Society.

This label was produced by the Lion Brewery in Blackburn, probably in the 1920s. It immediately raises the question: Which company brewed it and why is there no indication on the label?

Common practice for brewers was to have the company name prominent on all advertising material including labels for beer bottles.

In 1927, Matthew Brown & Co Ltd were a successful brewer at Pole Street in Preston with over 250 pubs and a number of off-licences. The Pole Street Brewery was working to capacity and they were unable to expand. They already had a small presence in Blackburn from their earlier takeover of the Snig Brewery and the Nova Scotia Brewery and their acquisition of Nuttall and Co (Blackburn) Ltd together with 170 pubs was not popular in the town. The response from drinkers was similar to the response in the town to the attempted takeover by Scottish & Newcastle in 1986. Matthew Brown moved their entre production to Blackburn in 1928 and closed the Preston brewery. To promote a sense of continuity the new owners used an earlier Nuttall label design as the basis of the label pictured above.

There was a very shortlived attempt to use an LBB monogram as a trademark, but this was soon replaced by the Lion Brewery.

Even labels produced for their casks gave no hint of current ownership, perhaps they thought continual reminders of new ownership might upset landlords.

This seems to me to be a signal to the drinkers of Blackburn that nothing had changed. Matthew Brown was not to be mentioned. Certainly the new design bore no relation to the labels used by Matthew Brown when the beers were brewed in Preston, although the A1 was added to the new design, the trade mark and company name have vanished.

The Lion Brewery advertising material in the Brewery History wiki pages gives no indication of the company name and even in the post war square labels the name Matthew Brown & Co Ltd is small and insignificant compared with the Lion trademark. A1 Crystal Ale remained a part of their output right into the 1960s although later labels dropped the A1. Personally, I would have expected the 1953 Coronation Ale to have been renamed Queen's Ale.

Etched pub windows just stated Lion Ales and many can still be seen today. Compare that with the glorious Nuttall's tilework which can still be seen on the Park Inn in Darwen.

An assortment of images of the brewery

An assortment of adverts

Entry in the Trade Mark Registry

Registration No : 53,803
Description : Sheaf of barley & wreath of hops
Date of Application : 17/5/1886
Used Prior to 1875? : 3 months

Registration No : 526,728
Description : Words "RABBIT"
Date of Application : 29/10/1931
Used Prior to 1875? : NO