History of William Oliver & Sons Ltd. at Cradley in the county of Worcestershire. 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.


William Oliver & Sons Ltd.
William Oliver & Sons Ltd.

Some History on this Brewery
Part of the brewery buildings of William Oliver's enterprise can still be found next to the Talbot Hotel in Cradley, a pub he also built in the mid-1870's. Indeed, the brewery was subsequently called the Talbot Brewery and supplied a number of public houses in the Black Country. Looking back it would appear that William Oliver took over an existing brewery enterprise rather than founding a new business.

William Oliver was born in Lye in 1826. Following his marriage, he moved to Cradley to run the Vine Inn whilst continuing his career as an engine fitter. The beer house was located at Colley Gate in a locale known as Park View. This was at the top of Colley Lane along Park Road and facing the open parkland up the hill towards Oldnall.

William Oliver may have befriended William Hadley who was operating a brewery here by the early-1840's. It would appear that Smethwick-born William Hadley elected to concentrate on brewing whilst William Oliver and his wife Mary kept the beer house. Interestingly, there is another William Oliver listed as a maltster in Netherend in Pigot's 1842 directory. He may have been part of the same clan and possibly bestowed some of his trade skills on the younger William Oliver who, at this time, was living with his parents in Park Lane.

In subsequent years William Oliver was recorded as an engineer and mechanic in the census, though trade directories continued to list him as a beer retailer at the Vine Inn. His sons Frank and William also trained as mechanics but probably helped with general duties at the pub. William Hadley continued to brew the beer for the Vine Inn and possibly started to supply other public houses in the vicinity.

It was following William Hadley's death that William Oliver was recorded as a maltster and publican. Mary Ann Hadley, widow of brewer William and recorded as an annuitant, continued to reside next door to the Vine Inn. Either William Oliver was very successful as a maltster and brewer or he benefited from his relationship with the Hadley family. Either way, he had enough capital to fund the construction of a new public house and brewery on the corner of Colley Lane.

In more recent times, there was a bowling green behind the Talbot Hotel but this was once the site of the brewery. One large building, possibly a stable block, next to the pub has survived but all other buildings have long since vanished. The malthouse for the brewery was across the road in Chapel House Lane.

William Oliver died at the Talbot Hotel in May 1886. The business passed to his sons Frank and William who, in a directory published two years later, were recorded as maltsters and farmers operating the Talbot Hotel and the Park Lane Tavern. It would appear therefore that the brothers had a vertical integration strategy and started to grow the ingredients for the brewery themselves.

The brewery continued to expand and an estate of tied houses was gradually developed. Registered in December 1915, the Talbot Brewery was acquired by Darby's Brewery of Greets Green, West Bromwich in 1937.
© Copyright. Posted on 29th July 2012
Images supplied by Digital Photographic Images.



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 Worcestershire 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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