Showell's Brewery Co. Ltd

From Brewery History Society Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Messrs. Showells Brewery Co. Ltd, New Maltings, Langley Green, Birmingham. Brewers’ Journal 15th January 1898
Courtesy Steve Holt
Showells order.jpg
Showells 1924.jpg
Cross Hands trade mark registered in 1880 and claiming use from 1874
An advert from 1885

Showell's Brewery Co. Ltd, Crosswells Brewery, Crosswells Road, Oldbury, West Midlands.

Brewers’ Guardian 1874 recorded that a new brewery was being erected on the Langley Springs for Mr Walter Showell of the Victoria Brewery, Oldbury. Registered March 1887 as Walter Showell & Sons Ltd. to acquire the Victoria Brewery and possibly to finance an additional brewery.

Also at Showell's Stockport Brewery Ltd which was formed into a separate company in 1896. The London public houses were sold to Reffell's Brewery Ltd in 1898. Acquired by Allsopp & Sons Ltd in 1914 with 194 tied houses.

Mike Brown expands the history

Walter Showell originally brewed at the Victoria Brewery, Simpson Street, Oldbury, but in 1874 the Brewers’ Guardian recorded the construction of a new brewery on the Langley Springs and later the old brewery was disposed of to John Jordan & Co.

Cross Hands Trade Mark registered 1880 and company registered as Walter Showells & Sons in 1887. Also at Showell's Stockport Brewery Ltd, which was formed into a separate company in 1896.

They also had a brewery at Ely, Cardiff, see Crosswell's Cardiff Brewery Ltd. The London public houses were sold in 1898 to Reffell's Brewery Ltd in Bexley, Greater London, and there was a series of financial difficulties and prosecution.

In 1914 the business, with 194 tied houses, was bought by Samuel Allsopp & Sons Ltd Ltd, plant for sale 14th August 1918, though the company name was retained and the depot used into the 1960s.

Some of the buildings were used as a distillery, but burnt down in 2012.

Showell's Brewery Company Ltd

This brewery was established by Walter Showell in the mid-19th century and by the end of the Victorian age he and his sons were at the head of a large regional brewery with a tied estate of almost 200 public houses. Walter Showell was born in Birmingham in September 1832 and spent his formative years living with his aunt on Ashted Row. He initially pursued a career as a chemist and druggist and moved to Oldbury to work as an apprentice to Charles Tonge who had a chemist's shop in Birmingham Street. His change of career path came as a result of his marriage in 1854 to Sarah Hartill, the daughter of a master miller based in Oldbury

With a background in chemistry, his association with a family working with malt perhaps inevitably led to a new career in brewing. He may have also had some financial backing from his father-in-law Joseph Hartill. He established a small brewery in Simpson Street, a short distance from the Dog and Pheasant. His recipes seemingly proved successful because the expansion of his brewing operation was swift. He accumulated enough capital to buy a large tract of land that included the Crosswells Spring. He constructed a new brewery on the site and started production at this larger brewery in 1874.

With a healthy growth of sales, continued expansion came in the mid-1880s when another brewery was built in order to increase production. The outlets for the beer were mainly in Birmingham, along with some houses dotted around the Black Country. The business was registered in March 1887, a time when control of the company was taken over by his son Charles.

Showell's acquired the Brewers' Investment Corporation Ltd. in 1894 which doubled the company's tied estate in Birmingham to around eighty public houses. The firm moved their head office to Great Charles Street and established a warehouse and stores just off Broad Street, the canal link between Birmingham and Oldbury, thus enabling the transportation of goods between the brewery and the supply depot.

The company acquired George Taylor's Hockley Brewery in 1889 which was arguably logical in their regional expansion plans. However, they took over the Brookfield Brewery in Stockport, see Showell's Stockport Brewery Ltd, which brought considerable risk as the firm were suddenly having to supply and service pubs in remote locations. Pubs in London, the south-west and the coast were acquired in the company's ambitious plans of expansion. Some of the board's grand plans however proved to be the firm's downfall and a downturn in the economic climate hit the company hard. They were forced to sell the brewery at Stockport and they also offloaded their London houses to Refell's Bexley Brewery.

Walter Showell died in 1901 at the family home of Stourton Hall near Kinver. Thirteen years later his sons sold the company to Allsopp & Sons Ltd of Burton-on-Trent. The sale included 194 public houses and 30 outdoors. The brewery was closed by Allsopp's and they subsequently supplied the tied estate with their beers produced at Burton-on-Trent

Images of the brewery

Entry in the Trade Mark Registry

Registration No  : 22,049
Description  : A cross
Date of Application  : 5/3/1880
Used Prior to 1875?  : since 1874

Registration No  : 183,085
Description  : Label design wih words "What is IPA" and man's head
Date of Application  : 22/10/1894
Used Prior to 1875?  : NO