History of Burton Brewery Company of Burton-on-Trent in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, beer labels, pump clips, stories of local folklore, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.


Burton Brewery Company
Burton Brewery Company

Some History on this Brewery
Former tanners Henry and Thomas Wilders founded this business as Wilders' Burton Brewery Company in 1840. The brewery was erected on the family's High Street premises that had been used as a tannery. In order to facilitate expansion the company was registered in 1845 and capital of £50,000 was raised by issuing 2,000 shares. The new venture was known as the Burton Joint Stock Brewery Company; the directors were Nehemiah Isaac Stevens of Derby, Edward Mammett of Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Bartholomew Hoskins of Burton-on-Trent. Thomas Wilders remained as a major shareholder. When they held their first Annual General Meeting in 1846, the company, managed by John Proudman, announced a dividend rate of seven per cent because the business was thriving and expanding rapidly.

Burton Brewery Company - High Street Burton-on-Trent [c.1900]

In 1854 the company enlarged the brewery and celebrated the construction of the new buildings with a dinner for over one hundred of their employees which was held in the large Union room. As the workers feasted with a roast beef dinner, the Saxhorn Band from Ashby-de-Zouch played celebratory music. The chairman, Edward Mammett, commended the work of the architect H. J. Stevens and the contractor W. Smith who was in charge of the new brewery's construction.

Edward Mammett was a very astute businessman and regarded as a visionary by fostering a community-based relationship with his workforce. He died in 1860 by which time the Burton Brewery Company had become the third largest brewery in the town and employed almost 300 people. The altruistic spirit lived on within the company and many day trips to London and Liverpool were organised for all employees. As the company continued to prosper, the workforce increased to around 500 by the early 1870's; this number being reported on a day trip to Buxton.

The late 1870's and early 1880's was a successful period for the Burton Brewery Company. At the annual general meeting held in 1886, the company reported business being "vastly ahead of any previous year of their existence." The dividends were equal to 14 shillings on each preference and 18s.3d. on each ordinary share for the year. Little wonder that when shares were made available by individuals they were keenly sought-after in local auctions. Mr W. Wright was the chairman during this boom period and, in reporting similarly good business during the following year, he announced that shareholders should be very pleased with a seven per cent dividend considering the fact that trade was generally depressed in other parts of the country.

The company was re-registered in June 1888 when the company's policy was geared towards the purchase of a large tied estate. They had seen profits eroding as other breweries were buying up large numbers of public houses. Consequently, they joined the race of developing an estate of pubs throughout the region. During the 1889 AGM, the chairman expressed his "regret that the result of the year's workings were not so favourable as usual, or as they might wish. In explaining the cause for the decrease in profits, he reminded the shareholders that seven years previously "a resolution was passed, contrary to the desire of the directors, that no public house property should be purchased without first obtaining the consent of the shareholders." He added that "this was like tying their legs together and them telling them to run a race." He reported that "during the 1880's no less than 235 public houses that had traded with the company for years had been bought by other brewers." It was for this reason that the company was restructured in 1888 so that the directors had the power to acquire licensed properties. In the following twelve months the firm purchased 52 houses.

In 1891 Mr Edward Rudgard was appointed as general manager whilst, at board level, chairman Mr. W. Wright was succeeded by Mr. J. W. Beech. With a policy analogous to that of other large breweries, the Burton Brewery Company acquired smaller operations in order to expand their tied estate. Consequently, in 1895 the company bought the Bridge Brewery of Messrs Nunneley & Co. for the sum of £13,000.0s.0d. This purchase however, only included a small estate of public houses. Acquisitions were not restricted to the local area; in 1897 the company purchased the business of the Penn Brewery Company Limited near Wolverhampton. The brewery also secured a contract to supply beer to army canteens throughout the British Empire. However, the growth of their tied estate fell behind that of their competitors and the brewery relied heavily on supplying the free trade market which was more expensive; the cost of distribution during 1898 was £56,000.

The company found themselves in financial difficulties in the mid-Edwardian period. There was a proposal to join forces with the neighbouring Thomas Salt & Co. Ltd. and Samuel Allsopp and Sons Ltd. but this arrangement did not materialise. In June 1907 the company went into receivership. The brewery was later acquired by Worthington's.
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Newspaper Articles
"An inmate of the Burton Union by the name of William Clarke, was found dead in his bed on Thursday morning. Clarke went to bed overnight apparently in his usual health. The career of the deceased has been a sad one. Some dozen of fourteen years ago he was cashier at a well known brewery in Burton, and in receipt of a salary of several hundred pounds per annum. Getting involved in his accounts the matter was looked into, and it was found that Clarke had embezzled several thousand pounds. He was prosecuted and sent to gaol for twelve months. After his release he procured a situation at Messrs. Charrington and Company's, and began to regain his position as a respectable man, but from some cause or other he was again thrown out of employment, and was compelled to take refuge in the workhouse, where he has been the right-hand man of the Master in keeping his books. Heart disease was the cause of death."
"An Unfortunate Career"
Derby Mercury : August 5th 1885.

Burton Brewery Company - Fine Burton Ale [c.1920's]

Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding this brewery you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

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

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