Beer history london

Why no London brewing museum?

lamppost.jpgThe reopening today of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden has made me wonder why there’s no museum of brewing in the capital.

Sure, individual breweries around the country have their own museums, and Coors/Bass have the best claim to running the national museum of brewing in Burton Upon Trent.

But there’s nothing in London. The whole city is, in effect, a museum of brewing, but it would be nice to see key artifacts brought together in one place (the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, for example) to tell the fascinating story of brewing in this city.

Failing that, though, what about an exhibition at the excellent but occasionally overlooked Museum of London? That has a great “Victorian street”, including a pub, and some great stuff in the archives, so they’re halfway there already.

Update: I wonder if this story on Hop Talk might not have subconsciously influenced my thinking?

7 replies on “Why no London brewing museum?”

It’s astounding that there’s not a museum of brewing anywhere in London! I suppose that as a Burton on Trent local I take the Coors Visitor Centre (or Bass Museum as locals still call it) for granted but it’s certainly one of the first places that friends who are visiting the area want to go and see.

Oh yes, the brewers would love that: a museum dedicated all the companies and beers that they’ve successfully manged to kill off. Brewers tend to trade on tradition a lot on their marketing. They like people to think that things were only ever thus. You could almost say they’re the opposite of the transport industry that way.

I’d say that someone setting up this sort of establishment (which would indeed be fabulous) could expect no help from any brewer still trading. Among the first visitors would be lawyers taking note of the use of copyright material and trademarks.

I can’t imagine that a lawyer could stop a museum displaying a trademarked item, as long as they weren’t selling t-shirts with it on or anything. Equally, the fair use law on use of copyright material should see them OK if they wanted to quote from books, advertisements and so on. Academia and museums are pretty well protected by the law.

But, yes, it would have to be a forward-thinking brewery that would stump up the cash for a museum which highlights their own dodginess and which also promotes their competitors.

And with the current campaigns against “binge drinking”, it’d probably also be a struggle to get any cash off the Government or the Mayor.

I didn’t even get to the lazy binge-drinking associations in the gutter press and the Do We Really Want This Sort Of Thing? opinion pieces from Concerned Citizens. W*****s. And yes, you’d be damned lucky to get any public money for it as well.

Would CAMRA be at all interested in running something like this?

Indeed, as long as they’re the originals, as Bailey says above, you couldn’t. However, big-branded companies tend to be very sensitive about how their product is presented and will use any excuse to shut down what they would regard as unauthorised use.

Claiming that the museum’s use of trademarked material constitutes an attempt to imply an endorsement of the museum by the brewer might be worth a punt in court. If you have a good enough lawyer, natch.

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