Hilltop, “a new venture in public houses”, 1959

All pic­tures and text from Guin­ness Time, Autumn 1959.

Guin­ness have, in the past four years, been priv­i­leged to take part in a project which has now result­ed in the open­ing of a new pub­lic house which, both in its phys­i­cal lay­out and in the method of its plan­ning, exhibits sev­er­al new fea­tures.”

Modern pub windows.
The exte­ri­or of Hill­top.

The new pub is called Hill­top , and is in the South End neigh­bour­hood of Hat­field New Town. It is owned and oper­at­ed by Messrs. McMul­lens of Hert­ford, and it came into being after a most unusu­al piece of co-oper­a­tion.”

A crowd around the ale garland.
“Once the ale was pro­nounced good the Ale Gar­land was hoist­ed.”

It began when we found that the Hat­field Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion had no pub­lic funds avail­able to pro­vide the meet­ing place it had planned for the new pop­u­la­tion of this rapid­ly grow­ing neigh­bour­hood. The cen­tral site which had been reserved for this com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre would remain emp­ty and the only social build­ing would be a small pub­lic house which could not be expect­ed to meet all the needs of the local­i­ty. We thought this sit­u­a­tion offered a won­der­ful oppor­tu­ni­ty for an exper­i­ment.”

1950s pubgoers.
“The busy scene in the Saloon Bar after the offi­cial open­ing.”

We approached the Cor­po­ra­tion and asked them if they would con­sid­er per­mit­ting a brew­er to pro­vide the ameni­ties they had planned to include in their com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre. They agreed. We asked Messrs. McMul­lens if they would con­sid­er expand­ing the plans of the pub­lic house they were to build in the neigh­bour­hood to pro­vide these ameni­ties, and they read­i­ly agreed.”

A bland looking modern cafe.
The cafe.
A group of families and children.
“The chil­dren, too, had free drinks (and buns) on open­ing night.”

Hill­top offers the usu­al facil­i­ties of a pub, three bars and an off-licence where alco­holic refresh­ment is avail­able dur­ing licens­ing hours. It also has an unli­censed cafe where soft drinks and light meals are served. Then there is a large hall for use as a the­atre or for danc­ing or din­ners, and three com­mit­tee rooms. All these rooms may be attached either to the licensed or unli­censed part of the build­ing… by lock­ing the nec­es­sary doors. In addi­tion­al the Hert­ford­shire Health Author­i­ties have two rooms allot­ted to them in which they run a local Health Clin­ic.”

Cool looking young men with guitars and cowboy hats.
“A local skif­fle group enter­tains cus­tomers on open­ing night.”

Notes: Hill­top was designed by Lionel Brett, opened on 11 August 1959, and is still trad­ing as a pub under McMul­len’s, albeit renamed The Har­ri­er. Here’s how it looks today:

GALLERY: Guinness Time in the 1950s – design of the times

The set of Guinness papers we’ve been sorting through for their owner includes a fairly complete two-decade run of Guinness Time, the in-house magazine for the brewery at Park Royal.

While the con­tents is on the whole fair­ly dull (egg and spoon races, meet the toi­let atten­dants, and so on) the cov­ers are works of art, redo­lent of the peri­ods in which they were pro­duced.

Those pre­sent­ed below are all from the 1950s and so there are a cou­ple of ref­er­ences to TV, the hot trend of the day.

Guinness Time Summer 1956 -- a topiary seal.
Sum­mer 1956. Illus­tra­tor: Tom Eck­er­s­ley.
A man uses a giant bottle of Guinness as a telescope.
Autumn 1956. Illus­tra­tor: John Gilroy.

Con­tin­ue read­ingGALLERY: Guin­ness Time in the 1950s – design of the times”

Guinness: ‘PR 2/50/12 – Mr Shildrick’s Programme’

Among the big pile of Guinness documentation we’ve been sorting through on behalf of its owner there is one item sexier than all the rest: a head brewer’s process chart, about a metre long, printed on canvas.

Here’s a pho­to:

Guinness brewery wallchart.

On the back in pen­cil is writ­ten:

  • PR 2/50/12
  • Mr Shildrick­’s Pro­gramme
  • 10 am mash

From David Hugh­es’s invalu­able ref­er­ence A Bot­tle of Guin­ness Please we know that Mr Shildrick was Major Lance Shildrick, Guin­ness head brew­er from 1949 to 1953. From that, and the code writ­ten on the back, we’d guess that this chart was pro­duced in 1950, but that is only a guess.

Because this doc­u­ment is such an odd shape, and is fair­ly bat­tered, it proved chal­leng­ing to scan until we bit the bul­let and did it one tiny sec­tion at a time using a small portable device.

We then tried to stitch it togeth­er auto­mat­i­cal­ly using var­i­ous bits of soft­ware but none worked.

In the end, we had to man­u­al­ly fit the pieces togeth­er in Pho­to­shop, lin­ing them up, nudg­ing them this way and that, straight­en­ing and rotat­ing by tiny degrees.

We then con­vert­ed it to black and white and invert­ed the colours it to make it, we think, eas­i­er to read.

The end result isn’t per­fect, but it’s not ter­ri­ble either.

You can view or down­load the full 1mb image file here.

We’ll be try­ing to make some sense of this our­selves but in the mean­time would wel­come insight and com­men­tary from brew­ers, or any­one else who can glean use­ful info from the chart.

* * *

Scan­ning, stitch­ing and tidy­ing up this doc­u­ment took some­thing like five hours so we must once again thank Patre­on sub­scribers like Mason Sin­gle­ton, Sam Schwab and Tom Fur­niss whose ongo­ing sup­port encour­ages to spend our free time on this kind of thing.

Guinness Confidential, 1977: Economic Crisis, Quality Problems, Image Issues

In 1977 Guinness commissioned consultant Alan Hedges to look into why sales of the bottled version of the stout were dropping off. His research revealed changes in the beer, and changes in society.

Hedges is, it turns out, some­thing of a leg­end in the world of mar­ket research hav­ing writ­ten an impor­tant book called Test­ed to Destruc­tion, pub­lished in 1974.

We guess from the odd con­tex­tu­al clue that he got the Guin­ness gig because he had worked for S.H. Ben­son, an adver­tis­ing firm that held the Guin­ness account in the 1960s.

He may well still be around – he was active in the indus­try in the past decade or two – so maybe he’ll pop up to tell us more if he ever stum­bles across this post. (That’s one rea­son we like to put things like this out into the world.)

This par­tic­u­lar item is yet anoth­er doc­u­ment from the col­lec­tion of Guin­ness paper­work we’re cur­rent­ly sort­ing through on behalf of its own­er. We’re not going to share the whole thing, just high­light some of the most inter­est­ing parts.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Guin­ness Con­fi­den­tial, 1977: Eco­nom­ic Cri­sis, Qual­i­ty Prob­lems, Image Issues”

The Mother lode: Attitudes to Beer, 1963

In 1963 Guinness hired Public Attitude Surveys Ltd to compiled research into the attitudes of drinkers towards stout, and the state of the beer market more generally.

The result­ing report feels to us like an impor­tant doc­u­ment, record­ing sta­tis­tics on dif­fer­ent types of beer, and dif­fer­ent types of drinker, based on gen­der, social class and atti­tudes to alco­hol.

It’s about Guin­ness but almost acci­den­tal­ly gives us great insight into the rise of lager, the death of mild, and so on.

Unless we’re mis­tak­en, this is a source that has­n’t pre­vi­ous­ly made its way into the pub­lic domain or oth­er­wise been much exploit­ed, though there were some con­tem­po­rary news­pa­per reports pick­ing up on its find­ings. We only have our hands on a copy because it came as part of the col­lec­tion of Guin­ness papers we’re sort­ing through on behalf of the own­er.

It begins with a sum­ma­ry of what was learned from pre­vi­ous ‘Nation­al Stout Sur­veys’ car­ried out in 1952–53 and 1958–59:

Guin­ness was marked­ly more depen­dent on the heavy drinker than Mack­e­son, the next most suc­cess­ful stout on the mar­ket… Recruit­ment to Guin­ness was not to any sub­stan­tial amount from sweet stouts… [And] Guin­ness was much more depen­dent on the old­er drinker – those over 45 – than Mack­e­son and the oth­er sweet stouts.

This helps us under­stand what Guin­ness was wor­ried about: that younger drinkers were turn­ing away from dark, bit­ter, heavy beers. That’s a prob­lem when your flag­ship prod­uct – more or less your only prod­uct – is a dark, bit­ter, heavy beer.

Graph -- main drink by sex

This is the first big splash from the doc­u­ment. It shows that in the ear­ly 1960s women hard­ly touched draught bit­ter or mild, and weren’t espe­cial­ly keen on the then fash­ion­able bot­tled ales either. But lager and stout – two oppo­site ends of the spec­trum you might say – were about equal­ly pop­u­lar with men and women.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Moth­er lode: Atti­tudes to Beer, 1963”