Some history on Davenport's Brewery Limited at Bath Row in Birmingham in the County of Warwickshire

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Despite being a Birmingham brewery of some renown, there appears to no definitive history of this company. In Birmingham's archives there is a document which states that "the first record of the Davenport family in the brewing trade is that of Robert Davenport in 1829, a brewer at 120 Brearley Street, Hockley. The document states that he also had premises in Pritchett Street and eventually owned several public houses." The same document reports that his son Robert "moved into Bath Row in 1852." I am not content with using secondary sources and this document seems to underline my scepticism with such material.

There are two key reasons for questioning this document. Firstly, a branch of the Davenport clan had already moved to Bath Row by the time of the 1851 census, which invalidates the document somewhat. This is further compounded by the fact that, in the trade directory I checked, a Robert Davenport was at the White Swan public-house in Hospital Street in 1829. Furthermore, licensing records have a Robert Davenport at the Swan in Thomas Street as early as 1804. There is also a John Davenport at the White Hart on Colmore Street in 1806. Joseph Davenport held the licence of the Paul Pry on Summer Street in 1827. Clearly, the Davenport family were involved with a number of houses in the early 19th century. It is thought that the family were brewing and retailing beer earlier in the 18th century. Certainly a widow Davenport was running a tavern on Digbeth in Swinney's directory published in 1774. Her husband was John Davenport who was listed in the first directory for Birmingham published in 1767. In that year he was running the Unicorn Inn on Digbeth.

Davenport traders in mid-19th century Trade Directories of Birmingham

Joseph McKenna, former librarian at Birmingham Central Library, probably accessed the aforementioned document and published the information in his "Birmingham Breweries" publication. What is more certain is that, by 1835, a number of Davenport names appeared in a directory for Birmingham. Robert Davenport was still listed as a maltster at 120 Brearley Street but other properties were being operated by the Davenport clan, notably the Princip Street tavern in the Gun Quarter. It is not certain whether all these Davenport's, engaged in a variety of trades, were members of the same family, though it would not be ridiculous to speculate that they were related in some way.

John Davenport at the George and Dragon on Nova Scotia Street in Birmingham [1841]

The family member in which I am particularly interested is John Davenport. Born in Birmingham in November 1805, he was running the George and Dragon on Nova Scotia Street in the early 1840s.

John Davenport in the Baptism Register for St. Martin' Church at Birmingham [1807]

The brewery used the foundation date of 1829 so where was John Davenport prior to running the George and Dragon? Well, this entry in the baptism register for St. Martin's Church in 1807 shows that John Davenport was the son of Robert and Sarah Davenport. She may be the Sarah Woolley who married Robert Davenport at the same church on in November 1789. This Robert Davenport was the son of John Davenport and seems to tie in with the publican of the Unicorn Inn on Digbeth.

John Davenport would have learned the trade of maltster through his family lineage. Interestingly, at the George and Dragon John Davenport employed Thomas Armer as a brewer and William Ranell as a maltster. This seems to suggest that he was not producing the ales sold in the house or that he was being supplied by other Davenport maltsters and brewers in Birmingham.

John Davenport at the White Horse Cellars on Constitution Hill in Birmingham [1849]

In a trade directory published in 1846 John Davenport is listed at the White Horse Cellars on Constitutional Hill. As can be seen from the above extract from an 1849 directory, he remained at those premises for a few years. His father can also be seen in the same directory, along with a few more lines of the Davenport clan.

John Davenport moves from No.43 Lancaster Street to the White Horse Retail Brewery in Birmingham [1854]

It is interesting to note that James Davenport was listed as a carpenter at 274 Bradford Street in the 1849 directory. Those premises would later become the Royal George beer house. The above sale notice chucks a spanner in the works as it shows that John Davenport was removing from No.43 Lancaster Street to take over the White Horse Retail Brewery on Bradford Street.

Certainly by the time of the 1851 census John Davenport was recorded as a maltster and located at 121 Bath Row where, along with his wife and daughters, he lived with his sons Joseph, John and Thomas. I am not sure if he was working as a maltster here whilst operating the White Horse Retail Brewery.

Dissolving of the partnership between John and Edward Davenport [1851]

This notice published in November 1851 shows that John and Edward Davenport were in partnership. However, for some reason they decided to forge their separate paths.

The aforementioned document in the archives at Birmingham Central Library states that the Davenport family had "bought the old Bath House, from which the Row took its name, converted the mansion into offices and built over the gardens." However, this was much later in the story of the brewery. John Davenport operated his business at No.121 on the opposite side of Bath Row, midway between Pigott Street and Cregoe Street. In 1845 Joseph Steadman was recorded as a maltster and brewer at No.121 Bath Row so it would appear that John Davenport acquired an existing malthouse rather than establish a new enterprise. In the mid-1850s the site next to the Queen's Hospital to the rear of Bath House was occupied by Mrs. Anne Faulkner, hop merchant, maltster and brewer. This would later be acquired by the firm during the 1860s. Davenport's were certainly listed there in 1867.

John Davenport succeeds Messrs. Greensill and Son at Bath Row in Birmingham [1857]

The above notice dating from January 1857 shows that John Davenport succeeded to the business of Messrs. Greensill and Son. Following in their father's footsteps, Joseph and Thomas would later be listed as maltsters living at 121 Bath Row. It was at Bath Row that the company was registered in 1867 as "Maltsters, Hop Merchants and makers of Pale and Brown Malt for brewing bitter ales and porter." At this time Edward Davenport and Son were successfully trading as Mill Street in Aston.

Joseph Davenport succeeded his father at the helm of the business. The maltster and brewer was still living at Bath Row in the early 1870s, along with his wife Adelaide and their children. The couple would have twelve children over the years. It was their third child, Baron John Davenport, who would be responsible for the massive growth of the firm in later years. With the continued growth of the business the Davenport's moved to Arthur Road in Edgbaston. Indeed, Joseph's family lived next to John Davenport who could claim to be the founder of the 'modern' company.

Advertisement for John Davenport and Sons [1888]

Davenport's grew steadily during the Victorian era and by 1896 the firm operated an estate of 57 public-houses when it was incorporated as a limited company as John Davenport & Sons Brewery Limited. The directors on the incorporation of the firm were Joseph Davenport, Baron John Davenport, Joseph Edward Davenport and John Corah.

Dray of Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1905]

With Joseph Davenport as Chair, it was Managing Director Baron John Davenport who started the infamous 'Beer at Home' delivery service in 1904. This proved to be highly successful and growth in the enterprise was rapid, necessitating the establishment of an extensive distribution network. Depots were sited around different regions. The Worcester Depot [pictured below] was based behind the Coventry Arms, a historic tavern previously known as the Cardinal's Hat.

Worcester : Depot for Davenport's Brewery at the Coventry Arms [c.1935]

Joseph Davenport died at Park House, Edgbaston Park Road, in August 1910. He had been in poor health for some time and died at the age of 79. His son Baron John Davenport succeeded him as Chairman.

The logistics of moving beer around the country was possibly a key reason for Davenport's acquiring and building public-houses further afield. In addition, the company also established supply depots in other areas. A separate company, Davenport's CB Ltd., had been created via a shares issue in 1903 in order to conduct the operations of the bottled beer and home delivery service. John Davenport and Sons Ltd. concentrated on the brewery and a tied estate of public-houses.

Aerial View of Davenport's Brewery on Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The site at Bath Row continued to expand during the inter-war years. Indeed, the company's growth between the mid-1920s and the end of the 1930s was considerable. By the outbreak of World War 2 there were 500 people employed at the brewery. Houses, roads and cottages were swept away to make room for store rooms, loading decks, cold stores, not to mention a new brewery and plant.

Beer at Home Crate of Davenport's Brewery

Baron John Davenport died in June 1939 and his dynamic leadership was a considerable loss. The company struggled between 1939'45 and during the immediate post-war period - due largely to the rationing of brewing ingredients and the lack of fuel for transportation within their distribution network. However, the Bath Row firm bounced back when it embraced the 'new' media of advertising in which a generation of British drinkers were influenced by the highly successful 'Beer at Home' adverts and jingles.

Davenport's acquired Dare's Brewery in 1962 which added 30 public-houses to the company's tied estate. Following the closure of the Belgrave Road site, Davenport's had land with which they could negotiate with the City Council. This allowed them to secure the site of the neighbouring St. Thomas's School in Granville Street which enabled the firm to build a new garage in 1970.

Dudley : Depot for Davenport's Brewery [c.1935]

The late 1960s were good years for the company. At the Annual General Meeting of 1968 John T. Lewis, the chairman, was able to report a profit of #163;681,163, an increase of #163;36,327 over the previous financial year. This resulted in a Dividend on the Ordinary Shares at 18.63#37;. Davenport's CB Limited had been able to increase the "Beer at Home" sale and it was reported that the introduction of "Drum" Bitter in cans with the "Sparklets" beer tap, first pioneered in October 1967, had been particularly successful. A new Tank Room had been installed at Bath Row for the processing and cold storage of bottled beers. This apparently completed a long-term programme designed to equip the department with the most modern electronically-controlled plant.

John Davenport and Sons' Limited also enjoyed a good year in 1968 with total production of both draught beer and beer for bottling showing an increase higher than the national average. At the Brewers' Exhibition held at Earl's Court in April the company were awarded First Prizes for their Stout and Continental Lager. Sales in the licensed houses and in the Free Trade grew but profit margins were claimed to have been whittled down by constantly increasing costs coupled with fixed selling prices. One house had been opened during the years and a number of houses had been modernised and extended. The Chairman also reported that the company had been successful in acquiring a group of 27 licensed house in the Midlands area.

Whitmore : Depot for Davenport's Brewery [c.1935]

Davenport's CB Ltd. and John Davenport and Sons Brewing Ltd. ceased to operate independently on October 1st 1974. The two businesses were merged to form Davenport's Brewery Ltd.

Changes in retailing led to the decline of the home delivery service and this part of the operation was sold off. Davenport's was acquired by Greenall Whitley in 1986 and, although brewing continued at Bath Row for a period, the estate of public-houses was slowly transformed and supplied with beers from Cheshire rather than Bath Row. The brewery was inevitably closed.

Beer at Home Crate of Davenport's Brewery

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Davenport's Brewery Offices on Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

In 1935 Davenport's published "Fifty Years of Progress," a book billed as "a description of The House of Davenport with illustrations from photographs of the organisation." I managed to find a copy of this at a second-hand book shop and I have reproduced much of it in this column which acts as an inter-war brewery tour. Scroll down and enjoy viewing the many different aspects of the brewery and how the beer was made.

Davenport's Brewery Tour

Malt Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

Davenport's stated that Barley Malt, the very foundation of pure beer, must be stored with the same fastidious care with which it is selected. Not only must it be kept immune from every trace of dampness, but at one unvarying temperature. Here you see a stock of malt stored in a specially constructed chamber with insulated damp-proof walls, in a temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit which reportedly never varied throughout the year.

Screen Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This image showes the Screening Room at the brewery where the first process of brewing was undertaken. Davenport's claimed that they ensured "scrupulous care was taken to ensure cleanliness of materials and that, in their spotless surroundings, every trace of dust was removed from the husk of the malt." The malt was rolled round and round by rotating wire drums, that ensured the corn rubbed the dust and husk from one another. From the Screen Room, the screened malt was passed into a conveyer and transported to the Malt Mill.

Malt Mill at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The cleaned malt from the Screening Room entered the Malt Mill through the conveyer. The Mill was quite a complicated machine which, rather than crush or grind the husks, cracked them open then dropped them into a hopper below. It was capable of sorting different size corns, dealing with the largest first so ensuring all sizes received equal treatment.

Mashing Machine at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

From the hopper, the malt dropped into this washing machine where the union of malt and water took place. Within the machine the malt was mixed in its correct proportion with water at a carefully controlled temperature. The thorough mixing of the malt and water was ensured by rapidly revolving arms inside the large cylinder seen at the bottom of this image.

Mash Tuns at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

From the mashing machine the mixture of malt and water flowed into the Mash Tun, a large insulated vessel. It was here that the liquid was kept at a carefully controlled heat for two hours. During this period of mashing, diastase, a natural constituent of malt, acted upon the starch of the malt corn and transformed it into rich malt sugar, or, to give it its technical name, Maltose.

Sugar Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Sugar Room was the store for the various sugars used in the production of Davenport's Ales and Stouts. They were selected with the most careful regard to purity and quality as they were considered a valuable adjunct to malt in the brewing of some types of beer. The various kinds of packing seen here denote different varieties of sugar.

Copper Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

From the mash tun the solution of solution of malt, sugar and water [technically known as wort] was run off through pipes to one of these huge coppers. Here were added the hops that gave flavour and tonic qualities to the brew, and the whole was boiled vigorously for two-and-a-half hours. The boiling process adequately substantiated the claim for the purity of beer as a beverage. No harmful germ could possibly survive such drastic treatment.

Hop Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Hop Room stored a supply of hops sufficient to cover a week's requirements. The bulk of the stock, however, was kept in cold storage to ensure that the hops retained their freshness. This image shows a consignment of prime hops from the famous Kentish hop gardens, marked with the ancient sign of the Rampant Horse which dated back to Saxon times.

Hop Back at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

From the copper the wort flowed through the large pipe, seen on the left in this image, into the Hop Back, a large strainer or colander through the perforated plates of which the wort flowed, leaving behind the residue of the hops. The Hop Back was situated in the cellars, thus the process of brewing had proceeded from the top of the brewery to the bottom.

Cooler Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The cooler room was an airy, well-ventilated room situated on the topmost storey of the brewery. The wort that was left in the Hop Back in the basement was pumped up to the large shallow vessels seen in this image. Here it rested for a short period to allow hop seeds and small particles of hops that had escaped the Hop Back to settle.

Refrigerators at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The wort, at a temperature between 190º and 200º Fahrenheit, was passed through pipes to the troughs seen at the top of each refrigerator, from which it overflowed and trickled down the pan below, where it reached a temperature of 59º. During its journey it passed over a vertical layer of pipes through which cold water circulated. This process was very carefully adjusted to ensure that the wort, when it reached the pan, was of the right temperature for the reception of the yeast.

Collecting Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Collecting Room was particularly important for it was here that the wort, flowing from the refrigerators, was mixed with yeast to commence what became actual beer. It was also here that the Officer of Customs and Excise gauged the quantity and strength of each brew in order to ascertain the amount of Duty payable.

Fermenting Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

When the wort had been inspected and released by the Excise Officer in the Collecting Room, it was allowed to flow into the vessels seen in this image. It remained in these for a week, and during that period the transformation into beer was completed.

Fermenting Vats at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This image showed what was the oldest of the fermenting tanks at Davenport's, but claimed to be still far in advance of those used by many other breweries due to the perfect control of atmospheric temperature. In the height of summer this room was always cool and fresh, whilst in the depth of winter it was always mild and comfortable. The cooling equipment responsible for these conditions can be seen suspended from the roof.

Barm Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The yeast, which grew to six times its original weight during fermentation, was skimmed from the top of the beer and placed in the tanks shown in this image. The yeast was then pressed between cloths into dry cakes.

Conditioning Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

At the conclusion of fermentation the Davenport's beer flowed into the large tanks seen here, where its behaviour and improvement was rigorously controlled and followed with the assistance of the various gauges and thermometers shown. The conditioning room was controlled to definite temperatures and these never varied.

Conditioning Tanks at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

Chiller at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

When the natural conditioning was completed, the beer was chilled for the purpose of retaining the quality resulting from the process. This was accomplished by passing the beer through pipes which were encased in still larger pipes containing frozen brine. The latter was circulated from the tank seen above in this image.

Refrigeration at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This image shows the refrigerating machinery that controlled the chilling plant situated in cold stores. The size and capabilities of this equipment was such that, if instead of chilling beer, it could have been utilised to produced 120 tons of ice per day. The machinery was powered by an electricity sub-station on the Bath Row site.

Cold Store at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This is a view of the 'new' cold store at the Bath Row brewery. The brewery claimed that the tiled walls were part of the very latest achievements in Cold Store construction, only made possible by the recent invention of a new and special type of tile. The chilled beer flowed into these tanks, where it was stored until ready for filtering.

Filtering Plant at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The chilled beer passed through the filters where it left behind all trace of suspended yeast and particles of hops, emerging as a bright beer and flowing into another tank ready for bottling. The material through which the beer was filtered was made of cotton fibre, compressed into circular plates about 18 inches wide and 1¾ inch thick.

Pulp Washing Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

In the Pulp Washing Room the cotton fibre pulp from the filters was cleansed after being used, a process that took a whole day. The plates were placed in the copper vessel and churned around for many hours, during which time cold water was continually running through the pulp. Afterwards the water was heated and the pulp sterilised. It was then washed again with cold water for several hours, each wash being tested for sterility.

Compressed Air Plant at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

Movement of the beer from the Conditioning Room to the Cold Stores, and then on to the Bottling Hall, was accomplished by means of compressed air. Ordinary air was used for the purpose, but as this contains many impurities it was first filtered, washed, and cooled whilst passing through the plant show in the photograph above.

Bottling Hall at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This is a general view of the Bottling Hall, in which the final stage of production was reached. Davenport's modernised this facility so that the plant was, in 1935, capable of bottling and despatching no less than 24,000 bottles of beer per hour.

Bottle Washing at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

These two automatic bottle washing machines delivered 12,000 clean chilled bottles per hour. The bottles entered a machine and passed through four tanks, in each of which they were soaked for five minutes and sprayed inside and outside five times. In the first two they were treated with caustic soda at high temperatures, which completely sterilised them, in the third with hot water, and in the last with cold water at 37 degrees Fahrenheit. The final chilling assisted the filling process.

Bottling and Stoppering at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

On the right-hand side of this image is seen a continuous stream of clean chilled bottles proceeding to an automatic filling machine. Here they were filled with beer flowing from the Cold Stores Tank. Upon being discharged from the machine each bottle was stoppered by hand and then automatically tightened. The respective temperatures of both beer and bottles were under constant check by means of the two Automatic Registers shown.

Labelling Machine at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

In this picture, showing another view of the bottling unit, the filled bottles are seen travelling to the labelling machine from which they emerged fully labelled. They were then placed in cases and the top label attached. Each case was then sealed ready for delivery.

Stopper Sorting and Washing at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

As Davenport's stated: "having taken so much care to ensure that all bottles were scrupulously clean, the brewery used reliable stoppers. Upon being removed from the bottles, the stoppers were sorted and faulty rubber rings were replaced. They were then placed individually in a chain and conveyed through hot water between brushes which thoroughly scrubbed each one, after which the machine discharged them into tanks of clean running water."

Bottled Beer Store at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The finished beer was stored In this spacious room. Cases were conveyed here to await delivery. The temperature of this Beer Store was as carefully controlled as in all other parts of the brewery. The capacity of the beer store was 100,000 cases.

Wine and Spirit Store at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

In addition to beers and stout, the company catered for their Registered Customers' requirements in wines and spirits. Davenport's kept a large stock of these, including the famous brands and vintages.

Loading Decks at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

From the Bottled Beer Stores the cases were transported by means of Automatic Conveyors to the Loading Decks seen in this photograph. It was thought that practically every type of conveyor was in use at one point or another of the premises. From these decks Davenport's could load 15 five-ton lorries at the same time.

Bottling Staff Canteen at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Staff Canteen at the brewery had several bathrooms attached, and was provided for the use of the Bottling Staff. It formed part of the pioneer experiments in Works Welfare, being established at the turn of the 20th century when the provision of baths for workers was almost unknown. In this canteen, at 11am and 4pm, tea and coffee was served, whilst at midday substantial meals were provided at moderate prices.

The Garage at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This spacious garage housed a large section of the brewery's Motor Transport Fleet. The total number of motor vehicles employed by Davenport's at the time of this image was 140. The garage had a well organised and completely equipped repair shop.

Section of the Fleet at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This photograph shows a section of the Motor Transport Fleet, including a 12 ton lorry used to convey supplies to depots for re-distribution. The vehicles varied in size and were adapted to the loads they had to carry and the nature of the journeys they had to travel.

Order Office at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Order Office was where every order had to pass through to be in compliance with the law which forbid the sale of Ales and Stouts which had not been previously ordered and invoiced to the customer.

Invoicing Office at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Invoicing Office had up-to-date equipment for typing the delivery sheets and invoices that accompanied every single bottle of beer sent out from the Bath Row site.

Registration Office at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The popular Customer Registration Scheme necessitated a vast amount of clerical work in the Registration Office. The busy scene depicted here was one of daily occurrence in this Department, where details concerning over 175,000 individual customers were recorded and filed in the cabinets which surrounded the room.

General Office at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

This image of the General Office provides another insight into the daily activities necessitated by the vast list of registered customers. The staff of clerks seen in this image were engaged upon the preparation of the detailed records required in connection with the company's Profit Sharing Scheme.

Typists' Rest Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Typists' Rest Room was a cosy haven, well appointed and for use of the brewery's clerks and typists. It was designed to be in keeping with the general scheme of decoration that pertained throughout the suite of offices.

Dining Room at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

The Dining Room was on the ground floor and was distinguished by its dignified scheme of decoration in oak and tapestry. It was in daily use by the whole of the General Office Staff, from the Managing Director down to the youngest Junior Clerk.

Beer Home Delivery from Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

Davenport's - Traditionally Brewed Ales

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Malt and Hops : The Monthly Magazine of the House of Davenport - Volume 1 Number 1 [June 1939]

One Dozen Empties Lost Means No Profit On Seventeen Dozen

Members of the Transport Department have seen the large posters, one of which is reproduced in replica above. It is, of course, obvious that they have been designed to stimulate the collection of empty bottles and cases, but this is not the "be all" and "end all." It is intended that when this series is well into its stride suggestions shall be put in for posters which will stimulate sales. More news about this will be forthcoming in the course of a week or so, but in the meantime why not think of something short and snappy, which will make people want to buy that which they see described. Bright ideas will mean extra pocket money for the holidays. Our immediate task however, is to help the posters prove their worth by concentrating on the collection of empty bottles and cases.


The recent national tendency towards complete preparedness in the event of hostilities, and the latest movements in international affairs, have had the effect of making every one of us "war-conscious." With this in mind, and believing that the surest way to lasting peace is to "be prepared," we have, as a Company, undertaken the proper training of individuals in various forms of up-to-date civil defence. On March 27th, Mr. Knowles, of the Birmingham Fire Brigade, commenced a series of lectures to a squad of selected men, who will specialise in the Auxiliary Fire Fighting Section. The work is of vital importance and will, we feel sure, prove of immense interest to the "participants," but we must not overlook the fact that it is only one section of the total organisation required in times of modern warfare. Because of this, we hop that those not selected as Fire Fighters will transfer their enthusiasm to general A.R.P. work, Decontamination Squads, Warfare Drill, and the all-important Medical Corps. The Company is providing such equipment as is considered necessary by the Authorities, and the standard of efficiency will depend entirely on the enthusiastic co-operation of the various squadrons. Such enthusiasm has never been "found wanting" at Davenport's, and we are confident that before long we shall have a series of detachments which will set an example to other firms, in their smartness, ability, and organised efficiency.


Bottle-Filling Machine at Davenport's Brewery at Bath Row in Birmingham [c.1935]

Once again this Company have pointed the way for the entire Brewing Industry; always abreast of that rapid development which is one of the main features of modern brewing, we have made a stride ahead of even our keenest competitors by the installation of the new Bottle-Filling Machine, which is shown above. Many of you are familiar with this fascinating piece of mechanism, but may not be aware of some interesting facts concerning its origin. Some two years ago the market for machines of this type was rapidly passing into the hands of companies who were marketing machines of a foreign origin. We determined to changed this position, and gave our full support to the present makers. Whilst we both regarded this move as something of a gamble, its ultimate success has surpassed our wildest hopes. We are now the owners of the largest Bottle-Filling Machine in Europe, so large, in fact, that we cannot take advantage of its full capabilities; this on account of there being no bottle washing machine yet built of the type we use, which can supply the required quantity of bottles per minute, with which the filler can cope. The makers were so satisfied with this super machine that their present model was built on exactly the same lines, but to rather smaller proportions. Already it is experiencing widespread popularity in Bottling Stores all over the country. To remain stationary is to fall back so this improvement carries us a distinct step forward.


A small putting green has now been laid for persons wishing to pass away an enjoyable half-hour in the open.


The popularity of Darts has come to stay, and we are happy to congratulate Mr. S. Sheppard on his winning the Cup presented by the Sports Club for the Highest Score made with three darts during a period of twelve months, and also the medal presented by Mr. H. Whitefield for a similar achievement. Mr. Shepherd's score was 156. There were also two prizes for the Finalists, and we also extend our congratulations to Mr. A. Basford, who won the first of these [a handsome clock], and Mr. J. Moulton, who won the second [a shaving set].


Malt and Hops : The Monthly Magazine of the House of Davenport - Volume 1 Number 2 [July 1939]

The passage of the last few weeks has in some measure dulled the sharpness of the shock that the morning of May 30th brought to us all. There are some men in life who seem permanent and irreplaceable. We feel that they will never leave us, and can hardly conjecture how we shall feel if they are removed from our midst. Such a man was Mr. Baron John Davenport, and for more than half a century he, like a Colossus, bestrode his life's work. We had learnt to regard him as someone tangible and trustworthy; someone to whom we could all appeal; a power of strength around whom lesser men such as ourselves could cluster. And now his earthly work is complete, and we are left with but his memory and inspiration as heritage. Since his passing away men have spoken one with another of his qualities. He was kind, quick to forgive, yet stern and rigid in his belief that all men should obey the same code of self-discipline, with which he always governed himself. He was humble in spirit before the majesty of organised creation, and this humility was reflected in his life by his desire to achieve good works quietly and avoid applause. He had a great hatred of all shams and subterfuges, and his brain could always pierce a man's outward shell, and reveal to him either quality or worthlessness. Some men make a fetish of modesty which becomes with them an affectation, but he was one of that rare type which made him beloved of all who knew him intimately. It is strange to think, and yet true, that if he, in some other sphere, knows of these words, then he will disapprove, and yet how otherwise can we express our love and sorrow for one so great? If Mr. Baron were still here he would say : "by deed and not by words," and actually that is the only way in which respect for his name may be truly shown. He has left to us a tradition of honesty and work well done, and if we, which means every man and woman in this Company, can carry on his principles, we shall have erected a memorial to his memory the like of which no one has seen before.


It may come as a surprise to realise that the Company owns public-houses widely scattered throughout the country, and it is very gratifying to mention that the trade at these outlying public-houses has increased to such an extent that it has been necessary to re-build every one of them. At the present moment the Bay Horse, Bristol, which has already been greatly enlarged on one occasion, is being re-built, and the Lion and Lamb, on the outskirts of Leeds, is being entirely re-built on a far greater scale than the original house. Trade in these outlying districts is a useful pointer to us of the growing popularity of the Company's products, and indicates the fact that we may well look forward to larger trade extensions than ever in the future.


Davenport's Brewery : Reginald Fieldhouse and Miss Simpson at the Gala Sports Day [1939]

Following the passing away of the late Mr. Baron Davenport, a meeting of Directors was held to decide whether the many social events taking place about this time should be cancelled. It was felt by all that it would have been Mr. Davenport's wish that everything should take place exactly as usual. In connection with Gala Day a word of thanks is due to the Directors, Sports and Works Committees, for their work during this event and it need hardly be added that everybody deeply appreciated Mrs. Baron Davenport's action in presenting the prizes. In the above photograph Reginald Fieldhouse can be seen winning one of several races. He was first in the 100 yards flat handicap, 220 yards flat handicap, along with the 440 yards flat handicap. Also picture is Miss Simpson who is concentrating during the egg and spoon race.
Note : I looked up Reginald Fieldhouse. Born in 1904, he was recorded as a brewery charge hand whilst living with his wife Lilian at 127 Bolton Road. The couple had earlier lived in York Avenue. Reginald Fieldhouse originated from Leicester where his father worked as a hotel waiter. The family lived in Ash Street. He married Lilian Jacques at Leicester in October 1933. He died in Leicestershire in October 1980.


The passing away of our late Managing Director, Mr. Baron John Davenport, has filled our hearts with a grief and sorrow which we shall all bear for a very long time. We wish his successor, Mr. J. D. Davis, every happiness and pleasure, with his new responsibility. We all know that the guidance given by our late Chief will be carried on by Mr. Davis in the same thoughtful and considerate manner. We are sorry to record the death of Mr. W. Rushton who during the past 12 years has become a familiar figure to all as Office Commissionaire. He had 25 years' service to his credit. It is our pleasant task to record the marriage of Miss C. Brown [Office], Miss Q. Brown [Office], and Miss L. Sheridan [Bottling]. We wish them every happiness. Our very Hearty Good Wishes for a long, pleasant and well-earned retirement are extended to the following: Mr. A. G. Brookes, Mr. A. J. Rider [Dudley], Mr. B. G. Foreman, Mr. F. Price, Mr. W. Nightingale, Mr. J. Perkins, Mrs. M. A. Hill, Miss W. C. Cunliffe. A special mention must be made of Mr. G. Chatham, the manager of our Guinness Bottling Dept., one of the largest Guinness Bottling Departments in England. Commencing with us at the age of 7, he has completed nearly sixty years' service. An old and valued servant of the Company, forced to retire on account of ill-health, we wish him the best of health and a long and happy retirement.


Arrangements have now been made to join the Birmingham and District Works Football Association for the 1939-40 season, and preliminary divisions have been drafted out. Copies received by the Secretary show that the 1st team is placed in Division 5, and the second in 19. It is felt that by joining these divisions, the teams will stand an equal chance of carrying off honours, both in league and cup competitions.


The Tennis Section is now in full under the able direction of Miss N. Jackson, the Tennis Secretary. Many enjoyable games have been played, and pleasant Sundays and evenings spent amongst the delightful surroundings which our Tennis Courts offer. Congratulations to Miss E. A. Jones and Mrs. F. Williams for winning the Mixed Doubles Tournament, run in connection with the Gala Day. Members are reminded that Tennis Section Subscriptions are now overdue, and Miss Jackson would appreciate an early response to this appeal.


Davenport's Brewery : The Monthly Magazine of The House of Davenport

Malt and Hops : The Monthly Magazine of the House of Davenport - Volume 1 Number 3 [August 1939]

The Holiday Season ... it says much for our innate ability to ignore the pessimistic outlook when we realise that, although for months now each week has brought its own carefully made-to-measure crisis, our main concern at the moment is whether the Sun will shine! Holidays are here, and the silly season is at its height. At any second now the appearance of a sea serpent will make front page news, and play Epstein's Adam as a seaside attraction. We all need a holiday. The change will do us good and equip us for the approaching Autumn. What does the weather matter; even if it rains new scenes and new people will give our minds a fresh diet, and they need some other food besides foreign affairs. Let us get the idea firmly fixed in our minds that all will be well and then we shall find that things will turn out alright. When we return, all those great big worries will seem insignificant. Let's drown the word "jitterbug" in the depths of a bitter mug. Here's to a holiday.


More to follow ......


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Related Newspaper Articles

"This morning the City Coroner [Mr. Oliver Pemberton] held an inquest at the Victoria Courts, touching the death of George Henry Neal [26], of Malakoff Place, Wheeley's Lane. The deceased, who was assistant engineer at Messrs. Davenport's Brewery, Bath Row, fractured the base of his skull on the evening of Monday last, falling down a flight of steps leading to the engine-room brewery. He was generally a sober man and, on the day in question, had had no more than the regulation four pints allowed by the firm in one day. He was taken to the Queen's Hospital, where died the foliowing day. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned."
"Fatal Accident at a Birmingham Brewery"
Birmingham Mail : May 1st 1896 Page 3

"While oiling the bearings of some revolving shafting at Messrs. Davenport's Brewery in Bath Row, Birmingham, last Friday, an assistant engineer, named Albert James [25], back of 115, Benson Road, a native of Colwall, was caught in the machinery and killed. On Monday the Coroner [Mr. I. Bradley] held an inquiry into the affair at the Victoria Law Courts. From the evidence of severai workmen it appeared that the deceased was in the habit of oiling the shafting while in motion, notwithstanding the instructions which had been given that it should be stopped, and to do which would merely have to move a lever and transfer the driving belt from the fast to the loose pulley. A man named Masters, who was working near deceased on the day of the accident, said that deceased went to oil the bearings, and a minute afterwards he heard a shout, and saw deceased being whirled round. The machinery was stopped, and deceased's was found twisted round the shafting. Death must have been instantaneous. One of his arms had been torn off and lay on the floor, while both thighs were fractured, and there was exhaustive hemorrhage. A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned, and the Coroner remarked that nearly all such cases as this the deceased person was to blame for not stopping the machinery before oiling. Mr. S. H. Knyvett, the Inspector of Factories, said although it was desirable that there should be some means for instantaneously stopping machinery in case of an accident, it was only where cutlery grinding was carried on that the law required all parts of the factory to be in direct communication with the engine room, but he thought with very little pressure the law might be altered so as to apply to other trades."
"Colwall Man's Terrible Death"
Worcestershire Chronicle : May 23rd 1903 Page 5

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