History of Marston, Thompson & Evershed of Burton-on-Trent in the county of Staffordshire


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Some history of Marston, Thompson & Evershed Ltd.

J. Marston & Son was founded in 1834 by John Marston who had acquired the malthouse of Coat's Brewery in order to expand his brewing business. In 1846 the business passed to his second son John Hackett Marston who, along with his two brothers, William and Henry, continued to develop the firm. From 1864 the company was based at the extensive Horninglow Brewery near Burton-on-Trent. William Marston left the business in 1861 and four years later Henry Marston died, leaving John Hackett Marston in sole charge of the company. In the late 1870's he entered into a partnership with William Wayte and Richard Adrian Eddie but in September 1885 this was dissolved and the firm was once again in the sole interest of John Marston.

John Marston retired in 1888 and he spent his later years at Hilton Cottage at Etwall Road where he lived with his sister Anne along with cousin Mary Pegg. On his retirement in 1888 he sold the company to Henry Emmanuel Sugden, a former managing partner of the High Street brewing firm of J. Nunnely & Co. Two years later the firm absorbed another brewery in the High Street when the firm of John Yeomans was acquired. During the 1890's the company made acquisitions in Burton, Hinckley and Coventry thus expanding their estate of tied houses.

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In 1898 J. Marston and Son merged with John Thompson & Son Ltd. By this time the directors of J. Marston and Son were Henry Emmanuel Sugden, Alfred Henry Yeomans, and Frederick Hurdle. The directors of John Thompson & Son Ltd. were Francis Thompson and F. G. S. Holbrooke. Thompson's had been in business for more than a century, the business having been established by John Thompson of the Bear Inn on Horninglow Street in Burton-on-Trent. The combined venture had acquired a 79 year lease of the Albion Brewery in Shobnall at a time when it was capable of producing over 92,000 barrels per annum. This facility had been built in 1875 by Mann, Crossman and Paulin but, following scientific advances in brewing by which the company claimed they could replicate the water found at Burton, they concentrated their production back to London. The Albion name had been transferred from the company's site at Whitechapel Road. With additional improvements undertaken in 1898 production capability was increased to more than 100,000 barrels per annum.

Marston's Brewery at Shobnall

In 1905 the company acquired Sydney Evershed Ltd. to become Marston, Thompson & Evershed. Evershed's was founded in 1854 and based at the Bank Brewery in Bank Square. Following the amalgamation of the two businesses all brewing was concentrated at the Shobnall site. At this period Marston's had paid a dividend of ten per cent on ordinary shares, increasing to 11 per cent in 1905. Business was clearly good. The company gradually expanded during the 20th century. In 1933 for example, a dividend of 15 per cent was paid on ordinary shares in a year when the company showed a net profit of £75,116.1s.

The Evershed family, whilst continuing to play an important role within the business, had many outside interests. Sir Sydney H. Evershed held the post of Chairman for many years. He was the second son of Sydney Evershed, a former Member of Parliament for the Burton Division. He was created a Knight in 1929 for political and public services. His outstanding work was for local hospitals of which he was chairman, and under his leadership over £50,000 was raised for extensions and additions. He was a Magistrate for the borough and Derbyshire. Sir Herbert won fame as a sportsman, notably at rugby and cricket. At Rugby he played twice for the North against the South and captained the Midland Counties for several years. He captained Derbyshire County Cricket Club for some time, and was afterwards chairman. Indeed, it was largely owing to his efforts that Derbyshire became a first-class county in 1895. When he last played for Derbyshire in 1901, against Hampshire at Southampton he scored 123 out of 170 for the first wicket. Three of his brothers also played for Derbyshire.

In 1984 a major expansion into the Cheshire and North Wales markets was made when they acquired Border Breweries [Wrexham] Ltd. The Albion Brewery was the only remaining production plant that had retained the Burton Union system of fermentation - for its stronger ales at least.

Marston's ales were already widely available until the late 1990's but the best-selling Pedigree could be found in most Banks's houses throughout the Midlands region. Indeed, according to a survey carried out by The Publican magazine, Pedigree had overtaken Draught Bass to become Britain's top-selling bitter. Naturally, the arguments rage as to whether it is the same brew of old. Incidentally, the Burton Union system is a series of large oak casks which are linked by pipes so that the fermenting beer rises from the casks through vertical pipes under the pressure of its carbon dioxide. It then flows through a swan's neck into an open trough that extends the entire length of the casks. The beer then runs back down into the casks, leaving the yeast in the top trough. Beer and yeast circulate through the unions in this way, at a carefully controlled temperature, until fermentation is complete.

There was a merger/takeover by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries Ltd., after which the whole group started to trade as Marston's PLC in January 2007. However, this group is far removed from the old Marston's set-up.

Marston's Owd Roger Burton Ale [c.1912]

Genealogy Connections

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Marston's Pedigree - King of Bitters

Marston's Burton Ales

Marston's Monarch Ale [1953]

Marston's Mello Stout

Marston's Merrie Monk No.5

Marston's Light Ale

Marston's Sun Bright Ale

Most Men Like Marston's Burton Ales

Marston's Magnificent 7 Draught Beers

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Peter Griffin

"Wow, it's like I've died and went to heaven. But then they realised it wasn't my time yet. So they sent me to a brewery."
Peter Griffin

Newspaper Articles

"For their annual outing tomorrow, nearly 600 employees of Marston's Brewery, Burton, will leave Burton by special train for Liverpool. Mr. T. S. Joyce has mapped out an entertaining programme. Some of the trippers will travel from Liverpool to North Wales by boat and some to New Brighton, while others will tour Liverpool by car. Arrangements which were made to inspect H.M.S. Britannic have had to be cancelled. The return journey will begin at 11.10 p.m., and it is hoped to reach Burton at 1.47 on Sunday morning. Special omnibuses will run from Shobnall, and will meet the train on the return journey."
"Burton Workers' Outing"
Derby Daily Telegraph : July 25th 1930 Page 11.

Marston's Draught Bitter Beer

"Burton Coroner, Mr. J. L. Auden, held an inquest today on Arthur Wright, aged 65, of Forest Road, Shobnall, an ale loader at Messrs. Marston's Burton Brewery, who received rib injuries on December 19th when he fell from an ale bank at the Brewery. He was taken home after the accident, and died on Monday night."
"Death After Accident at Burton"
Derby Daily Telegraph : December 31st 1931 Page 8.

"Miss Ivy Hextill [19], of 23, Albert Street. Burton, an employee of Messrs. Marston, Thompson and Evershed, Ltd., injured her back when she slipped off a brewery bank at the works yesterday. She was taken to Burton Infirmary in the Corporation ambulance, but was not detained."
"Burton Girl Injured"
Derby Daily Telegraph : October 20th 1939 Page 4.