Melbourn Brothers (Stamford)

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Melbourn Bros Stamford letter.jpg
An advert from 1902
An advert from 1954
Championship beer of 1950
An advert

Melbourn Bros Ltd, All Saints Brewery, 21 All Saints Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Founded by 1816 and new brewery built in 1825 and was acquired by Melbourn Brothers in 1869.

Brewing ceased in 1974 and their 32 tied houses were supplied by Samuel Smith Ltd. until sold to J.W.Cameron & Co. Ltd in 1987 - although subsequently the pub estate was dispersed to other companies.

Part of the brewery became a working museum. After a period unused, brewing was re-established by Samuel Smith Old Brewery Ltd; the brewery produces the Sam Smith fruit beer brands. There is also a Samuel Smith pub at the site, converted from the former brewery stores.

Brewery tours are available.


The All Saints Brewery in All Saints Street, Stamford, dates back to 1825. In this year one William Brown Edwards is first recorded as a brewer. It is probably that the site was used as a brewery for many years before that but this is not documented. Edwards and his family ran the concern until 1857 when the brewery passed to Frederick George Phillips, who in turn was followed by Elmer Brown in 1859.

The business, which had become very successful, was purchased by Herbert Wells Melbourn in 1869. Herbert was joined in partnership by his brother Stanley. Together they expanded trade to reach as far a field as Lincoln, Grantham and Leicester. When he took over the business he bought the leases of all the public houses to form basis of the company's tied trade.

For the next 24 years he rebuilt parts of the brewery, raising the chimney to its present height in 1876. He was a pioneer in the use of mechanised processes to speed the production process. So much so that even in the late 1960's and early 1970's the brewery could produce 2,000 gallons of beer per day using equipment some of which dated back to 1839.

The brewery buildings are from three ages. The frontage on to the street which houses the offices and the manager's house at the back are Regency; the brew house was built in 1870 and the maltings are probably Tudor, but may be older.

The equipment used was also of "mature" years. The malt mill had a roller/friction drive powered by steam, as was the elevator system for the malt. The 12 quarter malt tun was dated 1876 and was copper lined. The raking mechanism is also steam powered. The spent grain was usefully recycled via the local farmers.

The mashing machine was said to be unique. It was a cataract self acting unit made by Willison, of Alloa, and controlled and mixed the flow of grist and liquor into the tun. The steam engine providing the motive power had not been dated but was thought to be turn of the century. It was purchased from a Biggleswade laundry and was manufactured by Marshall's of Gainsborough. At 15hp it was also used for pumping the liquor from the brewery well until that dried up and the town supply was used. It was also used for drying the casks.

The copper was made by Pontiflex, but what is remarkable is that it was made when the firm still had their head quarters at King's Cross in the late 19th Century. It was unusual in that the joints were brazed and is made from six plates standing on a cast iron steam pan.

The hop back was built in 1873 by Brindley and Briggs. The boiler was a Cornish installed in 1902. It provided all the hot water and steam. The brewery also had an open air cooler with a capacity of 20 barrels an hour. A feature only made possible in the relatively pollution free air of a country town.

The brewery had three fermenting vessels with a total capacity of 190 barrels. They were contemporaries of the other equipment and were supplied by Shuter's, Chippingdale and Collyer. A smaller vessel made of Kauri Pine, a rarely seen hardwood, was used for special brews.

The bottling hall was a fairly small affair but with some equally interesting equipment. There was a Dawson washer, hand loaded, which could handle 80 dozen per hour. A Pontiflex chiller was used to bring the beer down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit and it then passed through a Carlson Ford filter to a Pontiflex 12 head filler and crown corker. Then the bottles passed to a Brigg's vapour pasteuriser.

Herbert Melbourn eventually retired and died in 1927. The company continued to survive through the most difficult of times for the brewing industry. However, eventually in 1974, faced with the very expensive replacement of the 1902 boiler, the company ceased to brew. The tied houses were kept and run as a going concern with the beer being supplied by Samuel Smiths of Tadcaster. Sam's used the Stamford premises as a depot for a period. Between 1869 and the last brew in 1974 only four men held the post of Head Brewer and two of those were father and son.

The brewery in 1972

Various images of the brewery

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