History of Charrington and Co. Ltd. of London and Burton-on-Trent in the county of Staffordshire


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Some history of Charrington and Co. Ltd.

Charrington's is something of a tale of two breweries, particularly for The Midlands. Founded around 1738, Charrington's were a London brewery but built a separate brewing operation at Burton-on-Trent in order to join the Burtonisation brewing process for pale ales. This was in production from 1872 until 1925 before being sold off during the following year. The sale included 87 licensed properties dotted around the region, from Stoke to the north and Worcester to the south with others in the East Midlands and Warwickshire.

Robert Westfield is the man credited with founding the company. He had established a brewery in Bethnal Green and, in 1757, went into partnership with Joseph Moss. Together, they moved the business to new premises at Mile End which became known as the Anchor Brewery. The Charrington name entered the story nine years later when John Charrington became a partner in the company. Born in 1739, John Charrington had previously worked as a brewer with Hale's of Islington. The three partners traded as Westfield, Moss & Charrington.

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The founder, Robert Westfield, retired in 1769, subsequently selling his shares to John Charrington. Following the retirement of Joseph Moss in 1783, John Charrington was in control of the business along with his brother Henry. The company prospered and became one of the largest breweries in London. Nicholas Charrington, son of Henry, joined the firm in 1806 and, following the death of his uncle John Charrington in 1815, managed the business with his father.

Charrington's Anchor Brewery at Mile End Road [1900]

There was a change of name in 1833 when Charrington's acquired Steward & Head of Stratford-upon-Avon, with the company subsequently trading as Charrington & Head Co. In 1872 the firm acquired Lewis Meakin's Abbey Brewery in Burton-on-Trent's Abbey Street and in the following year a new brewery was constructed in Queen Street. This was another example of a southern-based company establishing a brewery in Burton to take advantage of the Staffordshire town's famed water.

Charrington's Abbey Brewery at Burton-on-Trent [c.1888]

In 1859 Edward and Spencer Charrington succeeded their father Nicholas to spearhead the company and, following the death of Head in 1880, the company traded as Charrington & Co. Towards the end of the 19th century and during the Edwardian period Charrington's acquired a number of breweries, thus establishing the firm as a major player in the brewing industry.

The London and Burton breweries were operated independently, though Francis Charrington, son of Spencer Charrington, was once chairman of both boardrooms. However, how much time he spent at the company during the late Victorian period is questionable. During the South African War he commanded the South Staffordshire Regiment, and was present at the battles of Warrenton, Lindley, Bethlehem and Wimburg. He would later become a committed member of the Temperance Movement after he claimed that he witnessed dreadful behaviour at a Charrington-owned pub in the East End of London. After that evening he vowed that he would never enter the brewery gates again. He told a meeting of the Temperance Society that he had washed his hands of the trade. The former Colonel died at Harlow in July 1921.

Charrington's Auction Catalogue [1926]

The Abbey Brewery at Burton-on-Trent, along with 87 licensed properties were sold in 1926. The company had decided to consolidate the business at London and servicing the public houses in the Midlands would have proved prohibitive once the Abbey Brewery was closed. Advances in brewing science had allowed the company to replicate the taste of the pale ales produced in Burton and, consequently, production was moved south. The brewery was withdrawn from auction at £30,000 but later sold to Messrs. H. Ellis and F. A. Bailey of Burton-on-Trent.

The company continued to acquire breweries during the inter-war years, notably Hoare & Co. Ltd. of Smithfield, the oldest brewery in London. Following the Second World War, further acquisitions of breweries and licensed houses were made. One of the largest purchases was that of the People's Refreshment House Association's large chain of freehold and leasehold properties in 1962, the same year that the company merged with United Breweries Ltd.

Another important brewery to come under the Charrington's umbrella was Offiler's of Derby which was acquired in 1965. Two years later Charrington's merged with Bass and Mitchell's and Butler's to form Bass Charrington Limited. The Anchor Brewery was closed eight years later. In 1997 Bass Charrington sold off its large estate of public houses, thus creating the Punch Taverns chain.

Newspaper Articles

"Four thousand gallons of beer, valued at between £300 and £400, in a vat was poured down a drain as the result of a fire at Messrs. Charrington and Company's Anchor Brewery, in Mile End Road, early yesterday. The beer was spoiled by smoke and diluted by the firemen's hoses."
£400 Worth of Beer Down a Drain"
Western Daily Press : November 15th 1927 Page 8.

Charrington's Barley Wine Beer Label

"The concluding stages were reached in the Divorce Court yesterday of the case in which Mr. Ernest Charles Charrington, formerly a brewery director, asked for decree, alleging adultery between his wife. Mrs. Mildred Charrington, with Lieut. Richard John Harrison, a young naval officer. Mrs. Charrington, cross-petitioned for divorce on the ground of her husband's alleged adultery and cruelty. All the charges were denied. The jury found that Mrs. Charrington had not committed adultery with Lieut. Harrison, and that Mr. Charrington had committed adultery, and had been guilty of cruelty. His Lordship granted to Mrs. Charrington a decree nisi with costs. When the President spoke of Lieut. Harrison leaving the Court without a stain on his character, there was applause, which was sternly suppressed."
"Charrington Divorce Suit"
Western Times : December 4th 1925 Page 12.

Genealogy Connections

If you have a genealogy story or query regarding Charrington and Co. Ltd. you can contact me and I will post it here.

Charrington's House of Toby Ceramic Tiles

I have not seen this type of ceramic tiling on any pub in the Midlands' region but the company decorated exterior walls with these attractive tiles on many of their London properties. This example is from The Ship on Kennington Road.

Charrington's Special Stout Beer Label

Charrington's Oatmeal Stout Beer Label

Charrington's Brown Ale Beer Label

Charrington's Anchor Stout Beer Label

Charrington's Pale Ale Beer Label

Charrington's Pilsner Lager Beer Label

Charrington's Punch Stout Beer Label

Charrington's Toby Ale Beer Label

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Robin Hood and Friar Tuck

"This is grain, which any fool can eat, but for which the Lord intended a more divine means of consumption... Beer!"
Friar Tuck - Robin Hood

Eduard Grutzner - Bruder Braumeister im Bierkeller [1902]