Some history of Alton & Co. Ltd. of Derby in the county of Derbyshire.

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Alton & Co. Ltd. were based at the Wardwick Brewery in Derby. The history of the brewery site goes back to the late 18th century. Brewing is thought to have been started by Thomas Lowe following his acquistion of the premises from John and Samuel Crompton. Successful in business, Thomas Lowe became involved in public affairs and served as Mayor of Derby. In September 1828 the firm was transferred to his son Charles Matthew Lowe who, for some years, had been assisting with the business. Born in 1784, he had married Penelope Orme in 1814. He served as a magistrate and, like his father, was elected to the office of Mayor in 1831.

Derby : Advertisement for M. C. Wedge and Co. of the Wardwick Brewery [1855]

In 1838 the Wardwick Brewery was acquired by Moreton Charles Wedge of Newport in Shropshire. His advertisements suggest he was not a man to undersell himself for he claimed his beers could not be surpassed in quality.

Alton's Famous Derby Ales

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Moreton Charles Wedge continued to run the business until selling to Messrs. William Alton and Edward Barnett. I would suggest that the advertisement below, dated October 1863, was published not long after the partners took over the business, along with the freehold of the brewery. Moreton Wedge remained in Derby and was known to assist the company when required. Indeed, it was recorded that he had been working at the brewery shortly before his death in 1881.

Derby : Advertisement for Messrs. Alton and Barnett of the Wardwick Brewery [1863]

Derby : Dissolution of the partnership between William Alton and Edward Barnett of the Wardwick Brewery [1870]

The above notice is interesting in that it shows that the partnership of William Alton and Edward Barnett was dissolved in 1870. Secondly, it shows that the business also operated in Castle Donington in Leicestershire. Indeed, Heage-born maltster William Alton had been based in Castle Donington for many years. As his business developed and his prosperity increased he was able to move into the Manor House at Borrowash.

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Derby : Wardwick Brewery of Alton & Co. Ltd. [1900]

In December 1873 the solicitor George D'Arcy Clark acquired a share in the brewery and joined William Alton as a business partner. Together, they developed the business markedly and this meant that the Wardwick Brewery required larger premises. Adjoining land was acquired and further brewery buildings erected. The above architectural drawing shows hows the Wardwick brewery appeared in 1900.

When William Alton died his shares and interest in the Wardwick Brewery passed to his nephew Hepworth Tropolet Alton. The son of a Wesleyan minister, he was born in Ramsgate, Kent in 1859. He moved up north to live with his uncle and started as a clerk in the business early in life. He married Helen Clarke at Holborn in April 1884. She was the daughter of Alderman Thomas Clarke who served as Mayor of Derby in 1862. Hepworth Alton continued in partnership with George D'Arcy Clark, and was joined by Arthur Walkden. This business relationship continued until the 17th of April 1888, when the firm was converted into a Limited Liability Company, under the joint Stock Companies Acts, with a capital of £110,000.

During the late Victorian period Alton & Co. Ltd. grew significantly, acquiring houses as they came on the market and also snapping up smaller brewery concerns. For example, in 1895 the company acquired Messrs. Weall Brothers of Ashbourne Road, along with 7 public-houses. A new company was registered in July 1899, by which time the brewery operated 91 public-houses. The tied-estate had grown to 154 houses when the company was acquired by Stretton's Derby Brewery Ltd. in January 1903. Hepworth Tropolet Alton died later in the year at the relatively young age of 45. He left his estate to James William Newbold.

Despite being owned by Stretton's, Alton & Co. Ltd. enjoyed autonomy and was managed as a separate concern until 1922 when the brewery was closed. Stretton's were themselves mopped up by Samuel Allsopp and Sons Ltd. in 1927.

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Pubs of Alton & Co. Ltd.

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Related Newspaper Articles

"A feature of the dedication of offerings tonight will be the first public viewing of two antique and historic gold vases which have been given to the Cathedral by Mr. E. T. Hargraves, chairman directors Strettons' Derby Brewery and Alton & Co. Ltd. The formal presentation took place unostentatiously on July 28 in the Boardroom of the premises of Alton and Co., Ltd., Wardwick, Derby, in the presence of Canon Ham, the Bishop of Derby, and Mrs. Pearce."
"Golden Gifts to Cathedral"
Derby Daily Telegraph : November 1st 1928 Page 1

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