Beer history breweries marketing

GALLERY: Vaux Beer Mats 1970s-80s

Vaux was an important brewery in Sunderland in the North East of England which was founded in the early 19th century and collapsed at the turn of the 21st.

These beer mats all come from the massive bin bag of several hundred we acquired from Ebay a month or so ago and span, by our reckoning, about a decade from c.1971 to 1982.

Norseman Lager, 1970s.
The slightly sinister Norseman Lager, 1970s.
"Samson -- Heads Above the Rest"
That’s Jack Charlton, right? So there’s a deliberate joke here about Samson’s hair, right?

Mat lists the full Vaux range c.1971: Gold Tankard, Silver Tankard, etc.
We know this is from c.1971 because…
Decimal conversion chart on a beer mat, c.1971.
…this is the flipside.
Vaux Gold Tankard beer mat advertising a 1973 race at Redcar Racecourse.
We’re pretty sure this is from 1973.
Horse-drawn Vaux dray, bright red, 1970s.
They see me rollin’, they hatin’.
Another horse-drawn dray.
This was obviously part of a collectible series but we’ve only got two.
"Beers to Boast About"
The flipside of the mat above listing the full range of Vaux beers from… maybe around 1975?
Vaux illuminated sign with caption: "Good cheer, good beer, right here."
This is just rather nice. BrewDog should nick this slogan for their bars.
Basic white mat with red text: 'Vaux -- Brewers of fine beers since 1806".
And a spectacular one to finish… Oh, sorry.

14 replies on “GALLERY: Vaux Beer Mats 1970s-80s”

Lovely stuff! I was born in Sunderland, but grew up in Essex from age 5. That said, I spent a lot of my formative years on visits up there, and remember seeing the dray fondly. Drank a few times in the Brewery Tap but to be honest can’t remember if the beer was any good. I remember in the 90s being puzzled to see Vaux pubs in strange places. There were a couple in London I think, and seemed to be a run of them along the A5 in North Wales as I recall.

I’ve got that first dray one myself 🙂

I was marketing manager at Camerons of Hartlepool in the mid 80s. I remember an ad campaign for Samson headed “Make mine Samson, Delilah” but don’t recall the Jackie Charlton ads.
As Vaux were very much Wearside ( as opposed to Tyneside) based, the logic of using Charlton isn’t obvious, obscured as it is by the mists of time.
An amusing, if possibly apocryphal, tale involves the takeover by Vaux of Wards, the Sheffield brewer.
Allegedly Vaux launched a poster campaign with the tag-line ” Vaux is good, says Robin Hood” presumably on the basis that Wards’ trading area stretched south into North Notts.
Some wag applied a graffiti response stating “IS it f**k says Friar Tuck.”
I’ ll get my coat……

You know it was Bobbie Charlton who had the famous combover?

The decimalisation one is probably from 1970 rather than 1971 – the new money came in in February ’71, and they’d been preparing us for it for months in advance (rightly so, really).

Yes, but we’re not sure that photo shows a comb-over, and we thought it looked more like Jack, who had a kind-of comb-over too, and was a bit baldy by the 70s. But we’re not sure, which is why we asked.

Worked in a Vaux pub as my first bar job, and today have been drinking beer brewed by an ex-Vaux brewer – Old Chimneys Mild in Suffolk

I have a funny history with Vaux in that I know its beers but only at a remove and in certain forms. Its Double Maxim brown ale, the reputed but possibly ersatz “northern” style of brown, was a regular export to North America in the late 70’s and 80’s. I recall it being good, not quite as full-flavoured as the typical craft of today but nice-tasting, toasty hazelnut-like. It had a tendency to throw a haze if kept in the fridge too long. I think I had a bottled version of Samson too, which was similar to the regular brown.

Also, Vaux , in 1982, made one of those early moves into the North American market by buying a small, old regional in Dunkirk, NY on shore of Lake Erie, Fred Koch. Kind of ahead of its time for both operations. It didn’t last, but a porter called Jubilee Porter issued which I’m sure must have been from the Vaux archive. It was not black, but dark brown-reddish and had a malty rich taste. Geneses picked it up with the Koch labels after Koch closed.

Has Double Maxim continued in any form, if so is it similar to the original?


There is, I believe, a Double Maxim Brewing Co which was set up after the closure of the Vaux Sundrerland brewery, around 2000. As well as Dohble Maxim, I think they brew ( or certainly have done ) versions of both Samsons and Wards.
Initially they used other brewers to produce their brands but now brew at Houghton – Le – Spring, Co. Durham.
Hope this helps.

Vaux had pubs in odd places in the early 1980’s too – including quite a number dotted around the Lake District, and one at Ormskirk in South Lancashire. One of the beermats actually looks like the Kendal pub, but I can’t believe that they would have taken their dray horses to such remote parts.

The Ormskirk one was the Queens Head. It is still trading. I remember going there from Liverpool the first time, probably in 1982 or 1983, with an ex girlfriend with a very short skirt. She turned a few heads in what was then an old fashioned corridor pub. I remember too what I drank. Sunderland Draught Bitter. It must have been decent. We went back.

I’d have said that the Ormskirk branch was the Buck I’th Vine, but you are probably correct.

Hi I live in Sunderland and vaux brewery occupied a 15,acre site in the centre of Sunderland the brewery tap pub was the only pub that vaux could guarantee the quality of their products as it was next door to the brewery!
As advised by someone in an earlier post double maxim is still available but is not the same as the original.
Sadly missed !

Fred: “I’d have said that the Ormskirk branch was the Buck I’th Vine, but you are probably correct.”

Just checked the GBG and my recollection is correct. The Buck I’th Vine was a Walker’s house. I think the Roper’s Arms was Burtonwood.

Comments are closed.