Brunt, Bucknall and Company
Thomas Brunt was the publican at the Lord Nelson Inn on Woodville's High Street by 1830. In Pigot's directory published five years later he was listed as a victualler at the Nelson along with being an Iron-Stone and Coarse Earthenware Manufacturer with William Brunt. The latter was also trading as a grocer and druggist. The Brunt family had fingers in many pies and seemingly much of the money paid out in wages was returned to them in one way or another. At this time Brunt and Bucknall were listed as maltsters. Samuel Bagshaw's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Derbyshire of 1846 listed the partnership as brewers and maltsters.
Born in Church Gresley in 1807, Samuel Bucknall was a farmer in the early 19th century. He and his wife Ann lived close to the maltster Samuel Simnitt at Wooden Box and, indeed, took in young Mary Simnitt as a domestic servant, suggesting a link between the two families. It is conceivable that a farmer and maltster should team up with a public house owner to create a brewing enterprise. Whatever, Samuel Bucknall himself was recorded as a maltster and brewer in the census of 1851. As the business developed he moved to a large house at nearby Blackfordby. His neighbour at Little Thorn House was George Bagnall, recorded as a 'managing clerk in a brewery,' perhaps at the rival Wooden Box Brewery but possibly working for Brunt, Bucknall and Company.
In later years Thomas Brunt was described as an earthenware manufacturer, with the palpable exclusion of brewer alongside his name. In 1860 he was bankrupt and in September of that year he was forced to assign all of his estate and effects to Francis Hamp, a wine merchant of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and James Ison, a mining agent of Swadlincote. By this time Thomas Brunt, if indeed he was involved in the brewery, had probably relinquished his interest in the firm which was flourishing. In 1871 Samuel Bucknall was employing 40 men. His close neighbour was now Henry Betterton, manager of the brewery. Joining the firm in 1867, he would later become Chairman and Managing Director.
I suspect that the Brunt branch of the company was always that of the farmer Charles Brunt. Born in 1801, he had married Mary Bucknall, daughter of the aforementioned Samuel Bucknall, in 1826. And it was following the marriage of Harriet Brunt to Samuel Ratcliff in 1852 that another family link was tied. In January 1869 Samuel Ratcliff entered into partnership with Samuel Bucknall and Charles Brunt, thus forming the company of Brunt, Bucknall and Ratcliff. Samuel Ratcliff was the grandson of Samuel Ratcliff, one of the original partners in the firm of Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton. In 1874 Charles Brunt died at Midway House. In his will several charities benefited from his legacy.
Brewery manager Henry Betterton had joined the restructured company in 1867. Born in 1845 at Fairford in Gloucestershire, he was the son of an innkeeper. However, his early career saw him work as a teacher. His rapid advance within the company followed his marriage to Agnes, daughter of founding partner Samuel Bucknall who, by the end of the 1870's, had retired and was living in Blackfordby at Thorndale House. This would later become the home of Henry and Agnes Betterton who were the parents of Henry Bucknall Betterton, 1st Baron Rushcliffe who, as a member of the Conservative Party, later served as Minister of Labour under Ramsay Macdonald between 1931 and 1934.
Like many successful Victorian brewing firms, the business increased their tied estate and expanded the site on which they produced their ales. By the end of the 1880's the business was employing over 100 people and producing around 25,000 barrels.
On November 4th, 1890 the prospectus for Brunt, Bucknall and Company Limited was published and showed the directors of the business were Henry Inman Betterton [Chairman and Managing Director] of Blackfordby, Samuel Ratcliff of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and his son Charles Robert Ratcliff, all of whom were partners in Brent, Bucknall and Co., plus Charles George Markham of Woodville who had held the post of Secretary since 1873.
The new company was formed for the purpose of acquiring and carrying on the business of Messrs. Brunt, Bucknall and Co., Common Brewers, Maltsters, and Wine and Spirit Merchants. The company had acquired and held Freehold Property, comprising the Brewery, Maltings, 65 Acres of Land, 45 Freehold Licensed Houses, valued at £103,584, besides 29 other Licensed Houses held for terms of years, and six on yearly tenancies.
Henry Inman Betterton died at a relatively early age in December 1895. He had been a magistrate for the county of Leicestershire and a member of the County Council. Consequently, when his funeral took place there was a very large procession through Woodville and a considerable congregation in the church at Blackfordby. His personal estate was valued at £21, 827. 11s. 9d. Two sixths of his shares in the brewery passed to his eldest son Arthur, the remainder being in trust for his other children. His sons Henry and Frederick were to concentrate on running the Boothorpe Pipe Works.
During the 1890's Brunt, Bucknall and Company continued to refine their tied estate, disposing of some public houses in favour of more viable business opportunities. The company paid Leicester Brewing and Malting £3,000 in order to acquire four public houses. Indeed, the firm expanded their business interests in Leicester by operating an office and stores in Rutland Street. This was managed by W. E. Chadwick.
In 1913 Brunt, Bucknall and Company was acquired by Thomas Salt & Co. Ltd. of
Burton-on-Trent. However, the brewery continued to operate as a subsidiary.
However, when the parent company was bought out by
Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton in 1927, the brewery at Woodville was closed and
the site sold.
"The fact that
Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton, the world-famous firm brewers, with headquarters
at Burton-on-Trent, were going to acquire another important business was
referred to the annual meeting Thursday, and full details the became known
Friday. The firm concerned is Messrs Thomas Salt and Co., Ltd., and its
subsidiary companies, Brunt, Bucknall, and Co., Ltd., and E. J. Miller and Co.,
Ltd., all Burton. The purchase price payable under the agreement is £1,177,773
[subject to various adjustments], plus additional sums in respect of trade book
debts and stocks, the vendors retaining their cash and investments. In addition
to the purchasing price, Bass Ratcliff and Gretton Limited; have agreed pay
£65,000 for the payment compensation to agents and employees of the vendor
companies in respect of the termination of their employment, and £40,000 as
compensation for loss of office to the directors of the vendor companies. It is
a term of the agreement that each of the vendor companies shall go into
liquidation as soon as practicable after the completion of the agreement. On
completion of the sale [if the necessary resolutions are passed] the directors
of the vendor companies propose immediately to redeem the debenture stocks and
income stock and debentures at the appropriate premiums, paying interest in lieu
of notice. Meetings of the companies concerned have been called for August 23rd,
at Derby. The negotiations leading to the combine have been very protracted. The
Stock Exchange Year Book states that Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton, Ltd., has a
capital of £2,040,000 in fully paid Ordinary shares of £1 each; 4½ per cent,
mortgage debenture stock to the amount of £1,360,000; and 3½ per cent. B
mortgage debenture stock totalling £560,000. The capital of Thomas Salt and Co.,
Ltd., is £554,000 mortgaged debenture stock and loans; £81,150 4 per cent,
income stock; £116,977 preference stock; £45,125 preferred ordinary; £64,346
deferred ordinary; and £703 2s 6d. voting shares of one farthing each, carrying
rights to dividend or distribution of assets, but conferring on the holders the
right of one vote for every sixteen complete shares. For the past eight years,
seven per cent, has been paid on the preference, preferred ordinary and deferred
ordinary stocks of Thomas Salt and Co.. Ltd. Brunt, Bucknall and Co., Ltd., has
authorised capital of £60.000 in shares of £10; and five per cent, mortgage
debentures for £70,000."
"On Thursday evening Mr. A. S. Clarson [Birmingham] offered for sale the Stone
Cross Inn at Tamworth, occupied for many years by Councillor Luby. There was a
large attendance, including representatives from the principal Burton breweries.
The bidding started at £1,200, the property being ultimately knocked down to
Messrs. Brunt, Bucknall, and Co., Hartshorne Brewery, Burton, at £2,785."
"The future of an historic brewery building in
Woodville is one step closer to being safeguarded, as South Derbyshire
District Council considers putting a new measure in place. Victoria House, in
High Street, was at risk of demolition last year, after the owners were unable
to attract business tenants, but following an impassioned plea by councillors to
stop bulldozers moving in, it was saved. Six months on, the council is hoping to
use its powers to make sure it cannot be knocked down without the authority
having a say. At a planning meeting due to take place on Tuesday, councillors
are expected to confirm an article four direction, which removes the right for
the owners to demolish the building without applying for planning permission.
The report says: "The loss of the building would represent a significant step in
the evolution of
Woodville, removing one of the few surviving heritage assets. "Woodville
carries a strong industrial past, not only in terms of the significance of the
Brunt and Bucknall Brewery, but also the former pottery kilns and works. "Making
a direction in respect of Victoria House is considered appropriate in regard to
the protection of the amenities of the area in terms of its local historic
significance." Victoria House is the only remaining part of the brewery, and
Councillor Steve Taylor, who represents the area for the council, said it was
important to people in the area. He added: "It's the last remaining part of the
brewery, and people care about what it did and its value. "It's not in a
conservation area, and it's not a listed building, but it's a building which has
real significance, given the significant activity there was in Woodville." Brunt
and Bucknall Brewery was the first to be set up in Swadlincote, and the longest
in existence, surviving until 1927. Victoria House is understood to have been
used as a bottling store after it was built in 1896. It is considered by the
conservation and design officer at Derbyshire County Council to be of
architectural merit, and to 'positively contribute to the public realm.'
According to English Heritage, an article four direction can increase the public
protection both of designated and non-designated heritage assets. The planning
board at South Derbyshire District Council will consider the application at
their next meeting on Tuesday."