Some history of John S. Simpson's Park Brewery at Chapel-en-le-Frith in the county of Derbyshire.


The Park Brewery at Chapel-en-le-Frith, operated by John S. Simpson, was located on Park Road. The small complex of buildings were to the rear of the brewer's residence that fronted Market Street. I have highlighted the site of the brewery buildings on the above map extract surveyed in 1897 and published during the following year.

Map extract showing the location the Park Brewery at Chapel-en-le-Frith; [1898]

It is John S. Simpson who is most closely associated with this brewery. However, the story of the firm goes further back. He was born in Manchester in April 1839 into a well-to-do family living at Chorlton-on-Medlock, he was working as a banker's clerk when he married Irish-born Hannah Fox in October 1864. This was seemingly his introduction to the production of ales because she was the daughter of the brewer Adam Fox. And it was in Market Street that he was producing beer. He was recorded there in the census of 1851. At that time Hannah Fox was 14 years of age and possibly helping out with some of the duties. She was one of four children born at Cork in Ireland. I am not sure what took Adam and Mary Fox across the Irish Sea. I could speculate on military service but this really is speculation. They both hailed from Chapel-en-le-Frith so one can only wonder why they left and returned. The Fox family were at Martin Side and owners of extensive land.

As a widow, Mary Fox continued to operate the Park Brewery. She was assisted by her son, John, along with daughters, Sarah and Mary. It was into this household that John Simpson honed newly-discovered brewing skills following his marriage to Hannah Fox. Her mother had died in 1862. By 1871 John and Hannah Simpson employed four people at the Park Brewery. They were also involved with a brick and tile works at Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Chapel-en-le-Frith; : Advertisement for the Park Brewery of John S. Simpson [1880]

Chapel-en-le-Frith; : Letter to the Glossop Advertiser by John S. Simpson of the Park Brewery [1896]

During the latter part of the 19th century John S. Simpson made the newspapers across the country for his outspoken views and criticism of the United Kingdom Alliance, a temperance movement that emerged in Manchester during 1853. The above letter was printed in their weekly publication "The Alliance News." The brewer liked to roll out the quote of Lord Bramwell : "Let those who drink in moderation continue to do so, and let others leave it alone or learn to take it moderately." Note: I need to investigate further into his lambasting of the temperance agitators.

For some reason, although still owning the brewery enterprise, John S. Simpson and his family lived in other places, the house fronting Market Street being occupied by his mother, along with his brother, Samuel. Census enumerators did not list him as a brewer, simply recording him as living on his own means. Living for much of his life with his mother, he seems to have enjoyed the Life of Riley. And yet I cannot imagine that he did not get his hands dirty from time-to-time and helping out with the brewery enterprise behind the house.

At the time of the 1891 census John S. Simpson was living at 59 High Street at Chorlton-on-Medlock. In the following decade he and his family were living in some splendour on leafy Anson Road at Ardwick. However, by the time of his death in December 1907, he was living at Glenwood on Saint John's Road at Buxton.

President of the New Mills, Chapel-en-le-Frith and District Licensed Victuallers Association, John S. Simpson had been a keen supporter of the local volunteers and had provided the land for the construction of a new drill hall in 1903. He was appointed Honorary Major in the V.B. Sherwood Foresters. Indeed, he was buried with full military honours, his coffin being draped in a Union Jack, covered with his helmet and sword.

The firm had developed a small tied-estate of public-houses in the local area, including the Sportsman's Arms at Hayfield and the Crescent Inn on Market Street at New Mills.

John Simpson had three daughters, two of whom married clergymen so it was perhaps inevitable that there was little family interest in the brewery following his passing. In 1910, following the death of Hannah Simpson, the business was acquired by Stancliffe Brothers Ltd., of the Sutton Brewery at Macclesfield.

In September 1897 Stancliffe Brothers Limited was registered, with a capital of £70,000 in £10 shares to acquire and take over the existing going concern at Mirfield in Macclesfield. The directors were William W. Stancliffe, John W. Stancliffe, Percy Stancliffe, and John S. Stancliffe.

Chapel-en-le-Frith : Horse and Cart of Stancliffe Brothers Limited of the Park Brewery [c.1912]

I presume that a couple of the brothers concentrated on the brewery at Chapel-en-le-Frith. Certainly the cart seen in this photograph has the address of the Park Brewery. Perhaps these are two of the brothers, the younger person being a son?

Chapel-en-le-Frith : Employees of Stancliffe Brothers Limited of the Park Brewery [c.1912]

Here are the employees of the Park Brewery in a photograph possibly taken at the same time. Some of the men in the photograph are known, though applying a name to a face is another thing! One of them is a brewery labourer named Ernest James Nichols who lived nearby in Market Street. His next door neighbour, the brewer Richard Nall, is also featured in this photograph. In fact, James Nall lived in the other adjoining property and he is also in this photograph. The fact that they all lived next to each other suggests that the brewery owned the row of houses on the other side of Park Road, a row of solid-looking properties that, along with the main residence, still stand on Market Street.

The man to the rear, dressed in a suit, is almost certainly John Heyworth. He was the manager of the brewery. He had worked for the Simpson family as a brewery traveller and book-keeper. He lived with his wife and large family at Bank View on Eccles Road. George Lomas was the drayman around this period but I am not sure if he is featured here. The other name for this photograph is the brewery labourer, Samuel Roper, who lived in the Market Place.

I am not exactly sure when the Park Brewery ceased operating. In July 1920 Stancliffe Brothers Limited were acquired by Lonsdale and Adshead Limited, a firm also based in Macclesfield.

Pubs of John S. Simpson

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Related Newspaper Articles

"The thirty-second annual supper to workmen and others connected with the Park Brewery was held at the Bull's Head Inn, Chapel-en-le-Frith, on Friday week, when substantial meal was partaken of, and the catering of Mr. and Mrs. Thornhill much appreciated. After supper Mr. J. S. Simpson took the chair, and having given the toast of the "Queen," the evening was spent in songs, recitations, etc. Mr. George Walker, Mr. Saville, and Messrs. Burdekin giving songs which were much appreciated. The usual votes of thanks and the National Anthem concluded the proceedings."
"Park Brewery - Treat To Employees"
Derbyshire Times : January 30th 1892 Page 7


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