William Slater (Southampton)

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William Slater, Canal Walk, Southampton All Saints, Hampshire.

Geoff Carrington writes:-

William Joseph Slater was was born in Southampton in October 1803, the son of Joseph Slater and Susannah Taylor. In June 1831 he married Sarah Forder, possibly a member of the family of wine merchants. They had two sons, William (1832-92) and Joseph (1838-78).

Around 1835 he opened a beer house in Canal Walk, later known as the United Flags, and took over a building behind it where he operated a brewery. This building was built circa 1800, against the then standing Town Wall, as a warehouse served by the proposed Southampton and Salisbury Canal. However, it is doubtful if this part of the canal was actually constructed. The eastern part of the store was converted into a dwelling house and the land to the south turned into a garden. During the 1840s the building was converted into a malthouse and a brewhouse was added to the north-east corner. The doorway and windows in the east elevation were blocked and a new doorway was opened in the west elevation, on to Back-of-the-Walls.1

Slater Southampton 6.jpg

Ordnance Survey Southampton Town Plan, surveyed 1845-6, published 1846

William Slater was listed as a brewer at Canal Walk from August 1836 and three years later as a brewer and retailer of beer. The premises are listed variously as in Canal Walk or Back-of-the-Walls. In May 1844 Slater successfully applied for permission to remove certain trees standing in front of his land in Canal Walk. It was stated that now that houses were erected on the site of the Canal the trees were a great obstruction and of no use.2 By 1845 He was listed as a maltster and brewer. By 1847 Slater's family were living at 3 Union Terrace, just across Canal Walk nearly opposite the beer house. This address was later known as 3 Upper Canal Walk. William Slater died in spring 1850, aged just 47.

The business was carried on by his widow, Sarah. In the 1851 census she was described as a brewer and maltster employing 7 men. She was also listed as a beer retailer at 4 Upper Canal Walk the following year. Sarah's son William entered the business and in September 1854 was granted a licence for the beer house. In November that year he married Fanny Fletcher, the youngest daughter of Alexander Fletcher. He continued to act as a brewer and beer retailer, but in September 1855 James Parkman, formerly the manager of the Scotch Ale House in Bernard Street took the licence of the United Flags.

On 31st October 1857 the "BREWERY WITH EXCELLENT RETAIL TRADE ATTACHED", was advertised to be let and entered on immediately, described as "an excellent FIVE-QUARTER BREWERY, with capital Store Cellars, Malthouse, private residence and Premises, for carrying on the Retail Trade, situate in Canal-terrace and Back-of-the-Walls, Southampton, for many years in the occupation of the late Mr. W. Slater". The auctioneer was Alexander Fletcher, William's brother-in-law.3

Slater Southampton 5.jpg

Ordnance Survey Southampton Town Plan, surveyed 1868, published 1870

The brewery must have failed to sell as William Slater was still listed as a brewer there in 1859. In April 1859 the licence of the United Flags Inn was transferred from James Parkman to William Woodfield. In November 1860 the licence was again transferred, this time to William White.

It was probably about this time that the Slaters relinquished control of the premises. In the 1861 census Sarah Slater was living at 33 High Street as a gentlewoman. William and Fanny Slater were living at Millbrook, where William was working as a railway clerk. William's younger brother was at Cambridge studying for the church. He eventually became curate of St. Lawrence, Southampton. Meanwhile William White was a maltster at the United Flags, with his son-in-law William Courtney working as a tailor and innkeeper. Brewing seems to have ceased. Sarah Slater died at Southampton on 13th March 1865.

Slater Southampton 4.jpg

East elevation of the Old Bond Store, the former brewhouse is on the right

It is possible that the Slater family maintained an interest in the property until 3rd October 1876 when it was leased to John Grundy Thompson of Grantham, gentleman, William White of Spitlegate, Lincolnshire, gentleman and Edwin Shacklock of Bermondsey, innkeeper.4 Joseph Slater died suddenly at Portsmouth in April 1878, at the age of 39. William Slater and his family moved to Birkenhead where he died in 1892.

Further alterations were made in the 1870s, including the west façade, the insertion of the ground floor (the present basement was probably the original ground floor), the iron columns in the basement and ground floor, the revised fenestration and the massive slate roof.5

Slater Southampton 3.jpg

West elevation of the Old Bond Store

Slater Southampton 2.jpg

'Vat Room, Old Bond Store

The buildings were taken over by Scrase Ltd. on 10th July 1891 where they were used as a storehouse, malt house, coach-house, stable, outbuilding, yard, etc. Scrase's remained in occupation until they were taken over by Strong & Co Ltd. of Romsey Ltd. in 1926. Strongs relinquished the lease in 1930-31, and the buildings, now described as "Bonded Store, Steam Lorry Shed and Other Buildings" were let to Messrs. Sutton & Co., General Carriers, of London, with A. E. Chandler & Co. (Wine & Spirit Merchants) of 125 Portswood Road as sub-tenants. Chandlers remained as tenants until the 1960s, apparently as sub-tenants of Hall & Woodhouse Ltd. of Blandford Forum. The last tenants, Distributor Wales and West (Wessex) Ltd., trading as DWW Agencies, took over in 1968 and ended the Bond Store's association with the licensed trade.6

The building survives substantially unaltered and known as the Old Bond Store today.

Slater Southampton 1.jpg

The Lord Roberts, 73 Canal Walk

An archaeological survey of the public house prior to its demolition in 2008 showed that it had probably been built on the foundations of an earlier building. The brick walls of the basement were built over earlier stone walls. The earlier building was probably of early 19th century date, probably the building shown on the 1846 map. A blocked doorway in the stonework suggests that this earlier building was linked with the property to the north.7 This would probably have been the original beerhouse of William Slater.

The rebuilt public house was probably constructed between 1853 and 1863 and later known as the United Flags. This was presumably the house that William Slater jun. obtained a licence for in 1854. It was leased to Panton & Co’s Wareham Brewery from December 1890 to 1892 when it was brought by the Scrase’s Star Brewery. During the period of ownership under Panton’s their was a lot of trouble with the landlord a one Eugene Goumez who having twenty years experience as a landlord had a major falling out with the Brewery, he was replaced after the Chief Constable of Southampton in 1891 recommended that the pub’s licence should be withdrawn. In 1900 the public house was renamed the Lord Roberts, after Frederick Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, who led British troops to victory during the Boer war. The previous year he had departed for South Africa from Southampton. Scrase’s Star Brewery sold it onto Frederick Welsh Ltd, Hyde Abbey Brewery of Winchester. In 1929 it passed to William Cooper & Co. Ltd and thence to Watney, Combe, Reid & Co. Ltd before becoming a free house in 1986 and changing its name to The Strand.

As the Lord Roberts' it had become a notorious gay bar. The pub closed in 2007 and was subsequently demolished.


1 R. G. Thompson, Brewery History Journal, Dec. 1990

2 Hampshire Advertiser; 4 May 1844

3 Hampshire Advertiser; 1 Oct 1857

4 R. G. Thompson, Brewery History Journal, Dec. 1990

5 R. G. Thompson, Brewery History Journal, Dec. 1990

6 R. G. Thompson, Brewery History Journal, Dec. 1990

7 The Southampton Historic Environment Record

8 Tony Gallagher, Southampton's Inns and Taverns