Difference between revisions of "Wordsley Brewery Co. Ltd"

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Now Brierley Hill Road.
 
Now Brierley Hill Road.
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[[List of Wordsley Brewery Co Ltd pubs]]
 
[[List of Wordsley Brewery Co Ltd pubs]]
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'''THE WORDSLEY BREWERY by David Cox
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On 12 October 1858, an Indenture of Conveyance between Samuel Parrish, Edwards Oakes and Henry Herbert marked the beginning of the business concern that came to be known as the Wordsley Brewery. Of these three individuals, it is Edward Oakes who played the major part in the story. He was born in 1820, the son of Edward Oakes Senior, who was a victualler. Edward Junior seems to have tried his hand at several business concerns before becoming a brewer, he is listed in the 1841 census as an iron merchant, and according to his bankruptcy examination in 1895, he had prospered to the tune of some £1,800 in this occupation. He also dabbled in the corn trade and had later unsuccessful dealings with a relative in the colliery business.
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In 1858, he erected a brewery complex toward the bottom of what is now Brierley Hill Road (formerly known as Moor Street and later as Brewery Street), the main building perhaps being better known to locals as the Olympia Cinema - which apparently retained its foundation stone inscription until its demolition - but more of this anon. The size or capacity of the brewery is unfortunately not recorded, but it was unlikely to have been very large; in the 1851 Census, 70% of brewery owners employed less than 10 men. The Oakes family lived in a large house fronting onto Brierley Hill Road, immediately below the brewery. In the January 1871 edition of the Brierley Hill Advertiser, the following advertisement appeared: “Wanted - a good General Servant - apply Mrs. Edward Oakes, Wordsley Brewery.” Such a servant would have considered themselves fortunate to earn about 5s (25p) per week, with free board and lodging. In 1873, Edward Oakes is listed as “brewer and maltster” in White's Directory.
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By 1874, the brewery appears to have been thriving, Edward having placed an advertisement in the Advertiser calling the public's attention to “the numerous alterations necessary for the extension and enlarging of the Brewery.” A 100 foot well had been sunk by this time to provide a suitable supply of brewing water, and Edward made clear that the water so obtained was pure and uncontaminated; he proudly informed the readers of the Advertiser that the County Analyst had found the well water to be “free from any deleterious contaminants.” The County Express of 13 February 1875 carried in its District Intelligence column a brief description of the brewery and stated that it was capable of brewing “with ease 600 bushels (4,800 gallons) of malt per week.”
 +
 +
Edward's business seems to have prospered throughout the 1870s as well it might; beer-drinking reached an all time national high in 1876, with a consumption of 34 gallons per capita (compared to present per capita consumption of c.23 gallons.) The brewery is mentioned in Mark & Moody's Directory of 1885, where it is called the Lion Brewery (two stone lions apparently being located on the parapet of the main brewery building.) By this time, the brewery was also producing “mineral water” (see Figure 1) - what we would now call fizzy drinks - either as a result of the increasing growth of the temperance movement or possibly because of uncertainty concerning the purity of the public water supply. However, this latter explanation seems unlikely for two reasons; firstly, a report to the Local Government Board on Sanitary Conditions in Staffordshire and Worcestershire in 1887 stated that Stourbridge had “a Public supply good and constant at 95% of houses” - this compared very well with the rest of the county. Secondly, in an article in an 1894 publication, A Descriptive Account of Stourbridge, the mineral water is recorded as being supplied by the Stourbridge Water Works.
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 +
By c.1890, however, Edward appears to have suffered serious financial difficulties, the brewery was mortgaged to a Mr. Collis who owned a long-established wine merchants in Stourbridge. On Tuesday 24 April 1895, Edward Oakes filed for bankruptcy at Stourbridge Court with debts of £114 1s 9d. In a report in the County Express (April 27 1895), he had previously refused an offer of £7,000 for the brewery and had also suffered £1,000 worth of “acid ale” due to poor brewing. His mineral water business had also lost £1,000. The brewery re-emerged in the mid 1890s under new ownership and seemed initially to have undergone a new lease of life. The aforementioned Descriptive Account of Stourbridge paints a rosy view of the brewery (the article in fact reads like an extended advertisement and was possibly financed by the Brewery Company itself). It describes the newly re-equipped brewery as being built on the “most advanced modern lines,” and at the forefront of brewing technology. It also gives us a good picture of the layout of a late-nineteenth century brewery, describing the scene as “a quaint blending of pastoral and industrial life, for in the fields between the church and the brewery buildings well-conditioned horses and aldermanic pigs were enjoying life and taking things very comfortably.” Horses were obviously vital in the pre-Internal Combustion Engine age for deliveries, while pigs fed on the used mash grains provided important extra revenue.
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 +
The new Wordsley Brewery Co. Ltd. spared no expense advertising their wares; a two-column full length advertisement appeared every month in the County Express throughout 1897. However, within ten years the business had failed and on July 26 1906, the brewery and its buildings, together with its 29 tied public houses and three malt-houses were put up for sale. The brewery was taken over by the Hereford & Tredegar Company, but not as a going concern. At an Extraordinary General Meeting in 1908, the brewery was sold to Mr. Anthony Bailey, who paid c.£1,250 for the brewery and associated buildings. In the same year, Edward Oakes (who by then lived in Enville) died at the age of 88.
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Mr. Bailey's contribution to the history of the Wordsley Brewery and Wordsley as a whole is more fully documented in H. Jack Haden's articles Wordsley Lymp and its Proprietor parts I & II in the Spring and Summer 1984 editions of The Blackcountryman. In 1911 he was advertising the sale of bottled beers and mineral water, and on 23 December 1912 he opened the newly converted main brewery building as the Olympia Picture House. He continued to run the mineral water business until 1919, when he sold it to Bland & Co. of Stourbridge. The Olympia continued as a cinema until 1959, with the last film shown being “Maracaibo” starring Cornel Wilde. In May 1969 the building, used as a warehouse, was finally demolished and its 111 year history came to a sad conclusion.
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 +
'''Acknowledgments'''
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Brierley Hill Library, Dudley Archives & Local History Service, Stourbridge Library.
 +
 
[[category:West Midlands]]
 
[[category:West Midlands]]

Latest revision as of 17:35, 14 June 2019

Wordsley Brewery Co. Ltd, Lion Brewery, 13 Brierley Hill Road/Brewery Street, Wordsley, West Midlands.

Registered March 1896.

Ceased trading 4th December 1906 with 33 houses.

Now Brierley Hill Road.


List of Wordsley Brewery Co Ltd pubs


THE WORDSLEY BREWERY by David Cox

On 12 October 1858, an Indenture of Conveyance between Samuel Parrish, Edwards Oakes and Henry Herbert marked the beginning of the business concern that came to be known as the Wordsley Brewery. Of these three individuals, it is Edward Oakes who played the major part in the story. He was born in 1820, the son of Edward Oakes Senior, who was a victualler. Edward Junior seems to have tried his hand at several business concerns before becoming a brewer, he is listed in the 1841 census as an iron merchant, and according to his bankruptcy examination in 1895, he had prospered to the tune of some £1,800 in this occupation. He also dabbled in the corn trade and had later unsuccessful dealings with a relative in the colliery business.

In 1858, he erected a brewery complex toward the bottom of what is now Brierley Hill Road (formerly known as Moor Street and later as Brewery Street), the main building perhaps being better known to locals as the Olympia Cinema - which apparently retained its foundation stone inscription until its demolition - but more of this anon. The size or capacity of the brewery is unfortunately not recorded, but it was unlikely to have been very large; in the 1851 Census, 70% of brewery owners employed less than 10 men. The Oakes family lived in a large house fronting onto Brierley Hill Road, immediately below the brewery. In the January 1871 edition of the Brierley Hill Advertiser, the following advertisement appeared: “Wanted - a good General Servant - apply Mrs. Edward Oakes, Wordsley Brewery.” Such a servant would have considered themselves fortunate to earn about 5s (25p) per week, with free board and lodging. In 1873, Edward Oakes is listed as “brewer and maltster” in White's Directory.

By 1874, the brewery appears to have been thriving, Edward having placed an advertisement in the Advertiser calling the public's attention to “the numerous alterations necessary for the extension and enlarging of the Brewery.” A 100 foot well had been sunk by this time to provide a suitable supply of brewing water, and Edward made clear that the water so obtained was pure and uncontaminated; he proudly informed the readers of the Advertiser that the County Analyst had found the well water to be “free from any deleterious contaminants.” The County Express of 13 February 1875 carried in its District Intelligence column a brief description of the brewery and stated that it was capable of brewing “with ease 600 bushels (4,800 gallons) of malt per week.”

Edward's business seems to have prospered throughout the 1870s as well it might; beer-drinking reached an all time national high in 1876, with a consumption of 34 gallons per capita (compared to present per capita consumption of c.23 gallons.) The brewery is mentioned in Mark & Moody's Directory of 1885, where it is called the Lion Brewery (two stone lions apparently being located on the parapet of the main brewery building.) By this time, the brewery was also producing “mineral water” (see Figure 1) - what we would now call fizzy drinks - either as a result of the increasing growth of the temperance movement or possibly because of uncertainty concerning the purity of the public water supply. However, this latter explanation seems unlikely for two reasons; firstly, a report to the Local Government Board on Sanitary Conditions in Staffordshire and Worcestershire in 1887 stated that Stourbridge had “a Public supply good and constant at 95% of houses” - this compared very well with the rest of the county. Secondly, in an article in an 1894 publication, A Descriptive Account of Stourbridge, the mineral water is recorded as being supplied by the Stourbridge Water Works.

By c.1890, however, Edward appears to have suffered serious financial difficulties, the brewery was mortgaged to a Mr. Collis who owned a long-established wine merchants in Stourbridge. On Tuesday 24 April 1895, Edward Oakes filed for bankruptcy at Stourbridge Court with debts of £114 1s 9d. In a report in the County Express (April 27 1895), he had previously refused an offer of £7,000 for the brewery and had also suffered £1,000 worth of “acid ale” due to poor brewing. His mineral water business had also lost £1,000. The brewery re-emerged in the mid 1890s under new ownership and seemed initially to have undergone a new lease of life. The aforementioned Descriptive Account of Stourbridge paints a rosy view of the brewery (the article in fact reads like an extended advertisement and was possibly financed by the Brewery Company itself). It describes the newly re-equipped brewery as being built on the “most advanced modern lines,” and at the forefront of brewing technology. It also gives us a good picture of the layout of a late-nineteenth century brewery, describing the scene as “a quaint blending of pastoral and industrial life, for in the fields between the church and the brewery buildings well-conditioned horses and aldermanic pigs were enjoying life and taking things very comfortably.” Horses were obviously vital in the pre-Internal Combustion Engine age for deliveries, while pigs fed on the used mash grains provided important extra revenue.

The new Wordsley Brewery Co. Ltd. spared no expense advertising their wares; a two-column full length advertisement appeared every month in the County Express throughout 1897. However, within ten years the business had failed and on July 26 1906, the brewery and its buildings, together with its 29 tied public houses and three malt-houses were put up for sale. The brewery was taken over by the Hereford & Tredegar Company, but not as a going concern. At an Extraordinary General Meeting in 1908, the brewery was sold to Mr. Anthony Bailey, who paid c.£1,250 for the brewery and associated buildings. In the same year, Edward Oakes (who by then lived in Enville) died at the age of 88.

Mr. Bailey's contribution to the history of the Wordsley Brewery and Wordsley as a whole is more fully documented in H. Jack Haden's articles Wordsley Lymp and its Proprietor parts I & II in the Spring and Summer 1984 editions of The Blackcountryman. In 1911 he was advertising the sale of bottled beers and mineral water, and on 23 December 1912 he opened the newly converted main brewery building as the Olympia Picture House. He continued to run the mineral water business until 1919, when he sold it to Bland & Co. of Stourbridge. The Olympia continued as a cinema until 1959, with the last film shown being “Maracaibo” starring Cornel Wilde. In May 1969 the building, used as a warehouse, was finally demolished and its 111 year history came to a sad conclusion.

Acknowledgments

Brierley Hill Library, Dudley Archives & Local History Service, Stourbridge Library.