Mew, Langton & Co. Ltd
W B Mew, Langton & Co. Ltd, Crocker Street, Newport, Isle of Wight.
Founded by 1814. Benjamin Mew listed in 1830. Registered December 1887.
Acquired by Strong & Co Ltd. in 1965 with 144 houses and brewing ceased in 1969.
Some buildings remain.
THE HISTORY OF MEW, LANGTON AND COMPANY by Nick Redman, Whitbread's Company Archivist
In 1643 a Mr. Mewes held five plots of land in the Isle of Wight's "capital". Although no document has been found that actually links him with the Mew family, there may well have been a connection. We do know that towards the end of the 18th century Benjamin Mew and his brother formed a partnership called Mew & Co. Brewers, with a brewery in Newport and another in Lymington. They also owned a number of pubs.
In 1850 the company was granted a royal warrant to supply Queen Victoria when she was in residence at Osborne House on the island. Soon afterwards the Newport plant was renamed the Royal Brewery. The firm continued to supply the Royal Household until George V's death in 1936. A 1911 price list includes Osborne Pale Ale and XXXS Nutritious Stout.
Mew's other beers at that date included draught Guinea and Family Pale Ale, and bottled XXXX Strong Ale, Special and Oatmeal Stout. Extra capital to fund the growing business came when Walter Langton joined the firm, and in 1887 a limited liability company, Mew Langton & Co Ltd, was formed.
In 1893 a new malthouse was built adopting modern methods, and in 1898 a factory was built for a new venture that has a relevance to today's market-place, the manufacture of mineral waters. New properties were constantly being acquired, and some disposed of, during this period. But not all available opportunities for expansion were taken up. An offer in 1899 of Sweetman's houses at Ryde for £18,000 was refused, and an interest in Carter's houses at Ringwood in 1906 came to nothing. Mew Langton's did eventually acquire Henry Charles & Walter Sweetman's George Street Brewery in Ryde with 21 houses for £30,240. To support the business there was a network of stores, depots and branches, and the Lymington site was disposed of by Whitbread only in 1984.
In 1909 Mew Langton's bought a 32-foot cutter for £25 for use as a small barge, but until 1920 trade to the mainland was carried in an old chartered sailing barge. This was replaced by a new motor barge, the Wight. She was 61-feet long and cost £4,250. Wight was replaced by the XXXX, named after Mew Langton's prize-winning ale. With the exception of the Guinness fleet, the XXXX was the last brewery-owned vessel in Britain. She was commissioned in 1948 and operated until sold in 1966.
During World War I, there were "a great number of complaints received of the unsatisfactory condition of the beers" and a large quantity had to be returned to the brewery as unsaleable.
In the Second World War brewing continued throughout, and at one time the Royal was making beer for six other companies.
After 1945, the bottled beer store and bottling hall were rebuilt, and many houses were altered and improved. The last of the brewery horses was retired. Mew Langton's bottled XXXX and Nut Ale won prizes at the Brewers' Exhibition at Olympia in 1960 and 1964 respectively.
By 1965, the company had decided to accept a £1.5m merger offer from Strong & Co Ltd of Romsey. In 1969, bottling and brewing ceased at Newport, and the Royal Brewery became a distribution centre. By the end of the year Strong's had become part of the Whitbread group, and the 144 Mew houses on the island were soon being supplied with both company's products.
In 1973 the newly-established Whitbread Wessex built extensions to the bottled and draught beer storage area, and sited a new tobacco, wine and spirit warehouse in the old Mew Langton mineral water factory.
Five years ago, Whitbread began examining the future of its pubs on the island, which then numbered 112. Many were sold or closed. The Newport depot continued to operate until February this year. Supplies to the company's 40 remaining pubs are ferried across by two ready-assembled trailers from the distribution centre in Southampton.
An assortment of images of the brewery
An undated series of slides of the brewery