The Defunct Essex Brewery

brewery_tap_closeup.jpgThe Essex Brewery used to be on St James Street in Walthamstow, east London. It was demolished in 1975. But there are still signs of the brewery’s existence in the immediate area. A nearby pub — which seems now to be abandoned, having been a nightclub in recent years — bears the brewery’s name.

I’m keen to find out more about “Collier Brothers Essex Brewery”. For now, I’ve found this brief history, at the East London and City Beer Guide Online:

Only one takeover, apart from the Wenlock Brewery Co Ltd, has been made by a brewery outside London. This was when Tollemache Breweries Ltd of Ipswich acquired Collier Brothers, Essex Brewery, St Jamess Street, Walthamstow in 1920. Founded by Williams Hawes in 1859. Brewing ceased in 1972 and the brewery has been demolished.


There’s also this interesting trade advert at the British Library website.


And this from the amazing British History Online website:

A brewer was listed in 1848. (fn. 169) In 1859 there were two, one of them being William Hawes, who built the steam-powered Walthamstow Brewery in St. James Street. (fn. 170) The Essex Brewery Co. Ltd. was formed in 1871 to buy Hawes’s brewery, (fn. 171) but apparently failed to attract subscribers, for the brewery was acquired by Collier Bros., who operated it as the Essex Brewery, until 1922. It was then sold to Tollemache’s Breweries Ltd., to whom it still belonged in 1968. (fn. 172)

From: ‘Walthamstow: Economic history, marshes and forests’, A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973), pp. 263-75. URL: Date accessed: 26 July 2007.

History of Burton-upon-Trent


The official history of the county of Stafford[shire], available through the excellent British History Online, has lots of fascinating information on Burton-upon-Trent and the history of brewing. For example, this evocative passage on the birth of India Pale Ale:

Although the Baltic market was not completely destroyed by the Napoleonic blockade, it came to an end in the mid 1820s as the Baltic countries acquired their own breweries and imposed high tariffs on English imports. Burton brewers, therefore, had to develop other markets, especially in London and South Lancashire, and further afield in North America and Australia: in 1822 the Wilson-Allsopp brewery advertised for sale a quantity of ‘rich pale and fine-flavoured Ale, of uncommon strength’ which it was unable to export to Russia. Also in 1822 Samuel Allsopp’s head brewer succeeded in reproducing a bitter, sparkling ale which London brewers had been for some time exporting to India. The qualities of the local water made the pale ale brewed in Burton especially suited to longdistance transport, and other local brewers followed suit, with the result that by 1832 the Allsopp and Bass breweries dominated the exports to India. Burton pale ale also became popular in the home market.

Rich, pale and fine-flavoured, of uncommon strength… so, a kind of English answer to a maibock?

Old School Beer “Blogging”

Before blogging, anyone who wanted to record something interesting they’d come across to do with their hobbies and interests had to stick it in a scrapbook.

The Westminster Archive1 (which we’ve mentioned before) has an astounding collection of beer related scrapbooks — 82 volumes in total — all of which were the work of a mysterious chap2 called “D. Foster”.

Between around 1880-1900, Every time Mr Foster came across anything in a book or magazine to do with beer or pubs in London, he copied out the section by hand. His scrapbooks, of which there are between 10-20 per bound volume, are meticulously organised. The first 60-odd volumes cover London pubs from A-Z. Then there are volumes on beer and ale; drinking vessels; coffee shops; and so on.

It really does read like a blog, and is a priceless resource of knowledge about beer. The copy in the Archive is the only one — it’s never been printed or published — so if you’re in the area, it’s worth popping in for a look.


1. The archives are on St Ann’s Street, in Westminster, and are open every day except Sunday and Monday.

2. We’re assuming D. Foster was a chap — the librarians didn’t know much about where the scrapbooks had come from, except that their author was an “enthusiast”.

Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End

Truman, Hanbury and Buxton were one of the biggest breweries in London in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They moved to Burton in the 1970s, merged with Watney Mann not long after, and then closed altogether. East London — the area immediately around the old Black Eagle Brewery — is particularly rife with small reminders.




More after the, er, “more” link…

Continue reading “Truman, Hanbury and Buxton in the East End”

The Devil Tavern

I saw this sign on an office building on Fleet Street in London, and was intrigued.
You don’t see pubs called “The Devil” much these days, even though Britain is actually much less religious now than it was in the 18th century.

How did this long-gone boozer get its distinctive name? Well, it was originally called “The Devil and St Dunstan”, but St Dunstan got dropped. Samuel Pepys mentions the Devil Tavern several times in his diaries.

Here’s a bit on the history of the pub:

The noisy “Devil Tavern” (No. 2, Fleet Street) had stood next the quiet goldsmith’s shop ever since the time of James I. Shakespeare himself must, day after day, have looked up at the old sign of St. Dunstan tweaking the Devil by the nose, that flaunted in the wind near the Bar. Perhaps the sign was originally a compliment to the goldsmith’s men who frequented it, for St. Dunstan was, like St. Eloy, a patron saint of goldsmiths, and himself worked at the forge as an amateur artificer of church plate. It may, however, have only been a mark of respect to the saint, whose church stood hard by, to the east of Chancery Lane.

Quotation from: ‘Fleet Street: General Introduction’, Old and New London: Volume 1 (1878), pp. 32-53. URL: . Date accessed: 04 June 2007.