Mitchell's and Butler's Deerstalker Magazine 1948 Volume 1 No.1
I have the pleasure and honour of writing the first message in our magazine, "The Deerstalker." It is a coincidence that this first
issue should be published exactly 50 years after the amalgamation between the late Henry Mitchell and William Butler. Ever since those days our Company has expanded
by leaps and bounds. Today, thanks to the united endeavours of all, we are one of the biggest Brewing Companies in the Country, but we hope we shall always maintain
the happy relationship of the family business. In such a large concern it is difficult to maintain contact with all our friends, but through the medium of "The
Deerstalker" I hope we may have a link which will help us. I wish "The Deerstalker" every success, and hope that it will further cement the
relationship that at present exists between us all.
Robert Butler, Chairman.
The Other Man's Job : The Cooper
by W. H. McDonald
Although so many trades are associated with the Brewing Industry, it is safe to say there is none so closely connected as the Coopering Craft, which provides the containers for most of the Brewer's products.
The craft dates back to the earliest of times, and there are numerous incidents in history which mention the storing of liquid in casks. In these early times it can be assumed that the workman who had learned the craft travelled on most of the voyages of discovery, as usually food and drink were carried in casks, and so spread the coopering industry.
As in any trade which survives, the making of apprentices is essential. Until recent years it was the general practice to apprentice a boy under a journeyman cooper, and this involved his having to go where and when the cooper went. This method, however, has been altered, and boys are now taken as apprentices by a firm, and he remains with that firm until he becomes of age, and it is the general opinion that this has many advantages over the old system.
The Coopers' apprentice normally serves 5 years, and on attaining his 21st birthday he is initiated into the craft as a skilled journeyman cooper with a ceremony which is peculiar to the industry. The apprentice is trussed up in a cask in course of construction, and very often showered with shavings and water, after which the cask is rolled on the ground. He is then allowed out and his health is drunk by all present.
Owing to the increasing interest of the employers in this very old custom, and the facilities that are provided by them in order to make it a great occasion in the life of a cooper, this custom is as strong as ever.
The coopers of today are maintaining the old tradition, and the apprenticeship is necessary to provide skilled workmen, as a high degree of skill is required to make a cask that will not only stand up to normal hard usage and pressure from inside, which maintains the condition of beer, but also hold the capacity that is required. The cask of course, is a common sight at a brewery, but few who see one will realise its great strength, and it is a point of interest that through hundreds of years the arch construction of a cask has not been improved upon.
It is the construction and shape of the cask which enables one man to move a full cask quite easily, and after a little experience to place one on end. When it is considered that the weight of a full hogshead of beer is about 6 cwts. it will be seen what a great advantage in loading and unloading this can be.
In the course of making and repairing casks particular attention has been paid to the inside, which should be quite smooth in every way, to enable the cask to be thoroughly cleansed, this being a very important factor.
Trussing Ceremony of Dennis Fowkes and Jack Lawton
Great difficulty is being experienced at the present time in obtaining suitable timber for casks, and although many other containers have been tried, none has yet given the brewer complete satisfaction. The coopering industry is looking forward to the time when supplies of good timber are again available, and the cooper will be able to provide the best cask worthy of the beverage it contains.
To Harold and Annie Wastell hearty congratulations and every good wish on the occasion of their Golden Wedding Anniversary on October 30th. Married at Islington Row, Wesleyan Church, Birmingham, on 30th October, 1898, Harold, now 80 years of age, and Mrs. Wastell, 12 months his senior, are both blessed with good health.
Mr. Wastell, born at Buckhurst Hill, Essex, moved to Birmingham with his family at the age of 18 years. After working in Mrs. Wastell's native city for about 11 years, Harold moved on and settled in Wales, where for 18 years he was Manager of two gold mines at Bontddu, midway between Dolgellau and Barmouth.
At the outbreak of the First World War it was necessary to cease mining, due to shortage of labour, and operations have never been recommenced. Harold returned to Birmingham in June, 1915, and entered the service of the Company some two months later. He remained at Cape Hill for 31 years, retiring on pension in December, 1946, at the age of 78 years. He was employed on the Wine and Spirit Ledger Department for 13 years, and later acted as Commissionaire in the Enquiry Office for 16 years, during which time his only illness kept him from the office for six weeks.
Harold, whose chief hobby is gardening, is still able to devote many hours in his Edgbaston home to this hobby. He is always good company, and ready to add his contribution to the party in his almost Cockney humour. His constant companions are his pipe and snuff box and he always enjoys a glass of "best mild."
We trust Mr. and Mrs. Wastell will have many more years of happiness and good health.
Arthur Ernest Mole, the Traveller, who has recently been appointed to the South Wales area, was married on Saturday, 18th September, 1948, and we offer him our hearty congratulations.
Alec Eunson, who was a member of the Surveyors' Staff for 32 years and has been in retirement for the last years, has recently married and we offer him our hearty congratulations.
Many friends of Mrs. Josephine Lones will be interested to learn that she has re*#45;married. Mrs. Lones was employed by the Company for 16½ years as a cleaner, and left on 30th August, 1946 to join her daughter in Canada.
Walter Parker, Managed House Inspector, retired on pension from the Company's service on 30th June, 1948. He entered the Company's service in October, 1894, at the age of 13 years. The completion of 50 years' service in 1944 was a milestone suitably recognised by the Directors. Enjoying remarkably good health, Mr. Parker was able to render 4 more years efficient service, and the best wishes of all are extended for many happy years of retirement.
Congratulations to Mrs. Callear, Dining Hall, for a piece of quick-thinking one Friday evening recently. Leaving a public service vehicle she noticed a wages packet on the stairway and recognised it as our "M&B" issue. Quietly putting it in her pocket, Mrs. Callear was happy to return it to its rightful owner next morning.
Ernest Williams, Chauffeur, one of five brothers employed by the Company, left Cape Hill on 17th September, 1948, after 38 years' service. He took with him best wishes of all when leaving for Canada, with his wife, to join his married daughter.
The members of the Swimming Club decided about two years ago, that a trophy should be provided to perpetuate the memory of the late Able Seaman W. A. Savage, V.C., who was a member of the Club prior to Joining the Royal Navy, and who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for the part he played in the raid on St. Nazaire.
Thanks to the co-operation of the Admiralty, who supplied the actual constructors plans, and gave permission for the model of the ship to be made, it has been possible to make a trophy which takes the form of an oxydised-silver model, mounted on an ebony base, of Motor Gunboat No. 314, in which Bill Savage served during the St. Nazaire Raid. It was the wish of the members of the Swimming Club that contributions towards the cost of the trophy should be made only by Club Members, as they felt that this was the manner in which they could best show their appreciation of Bill Savage's heroism and sacrifice.
The raid on St. Nazaire was one of the most hazardous operations in the history of Combined Operations. Its success materially improved the strategic balance in the Atlantic. The dry dock at St. Nazaire was the only one on the Atlantic seaboard capable of holding the battleship "Tirpitz," and if it was intended that she should replace her sister ship the "Bismarck," which had been sunk on the 27th May, 1941, whilst making her way to this dock, then it was necessary for the German Navy to have this dock available to receive her, otherwise she would have to make her way to the German North Sea bases every time she required a refit.
The plan in which Bill Savage was to play his part was firstly, the destruction of the lock gates and mechanism of the dry dock by H.M.S. "Campbeltown," ; secondly, the destruction of other equipment used in connection with the working of the dry dock ; and thirdly, to destroy any U-boats or shipping in the port.
It is not intended that the full story of the happenings of that night should be recounted, but the events in the closing stages of the operation are worthy of repetition. The Naval Forces Commander, Commander R. E. D. Ryder, R.N. [also awarded the Victoria Cross] had satisfied himself that H.M.S. "Campbeltown" had successfully completed her mission and returned to M.G.B. No. --. Several Motor Launches were ablaze, and the M.G.B. was the last ship to leave the harbour. Her escape was described in the citation accompanying the award of the Victoria Cross to Commander Ryder "as a miracle." She was repeatedly hit, six shells, passing through a petrol tank which was full and did not explode, and for twenty-five minutes they faced a terrific onslaught. The official citation describes how Bill Savage, who was the gunlayer on the fo'c's'le pom-pom showed great gallantry, skill and devotion to duty. Completely exposed and under heavy fire, he engaged position ashore with cool and steady accuracy. On the way out of the harbour he kept up the same rigorous and accurate fire against the attacking ship until he was killed at his gun.
The official citation adds : "This Victoria Cross is awarded in recognition, not only of the gallantry and devotion to duty of Able Seaman Savage, but also of the valour shown by many others, unnamed, in motor launches, motor gunboats and motor torpedo boats, who gallantly carried out their duty in entirely exposed positions against enemy fire at very close range."
Once outside the port the Motor Gunboat had come under the accurate fire of coastal artillery, and the tragedy followed when the last salvo of all straddled the ship at a range of four miles, and a splinter struck and killed Bill Savage.
The trophy, which has been made by the craftsmen of The Birmingham Guild, is awarded annually to the best all-round club member, points being allocated for attendance at the baths, winners of club competitions, and for representing the club in Polo matches, etc. In this way it is ensured that all members have an equal chance of winning this very fine trophy. Each year the holder of the trophy is also given a replica to retain. The winners of the trophy for the 1946 and 1947 seasons were J. H. Robinson and S. H. Brown respectively.
We are all very proud to have had the honour of knowing Bill Savage, to have had him as a fellow worker at the Brewery, and as a team mate in the
Swimming Club. We feel that this trophy is a small acknowledgment of the debt which we owe to him, particularly of those who travelled overseas during those difficult
years, and who, but for the action of Bill Savage and his colleagues, might have had to fight the ships to which the dry dock was now denied.
R. W. FINDLAY
Although Bedford is many miles from Cape Hill, it is hoped that "The Deerstalker" will shorten the distance considerably. Approximately 60 people are employed in the Maltings at Ampthill Road [photo above], and any news of "goings-on" at Bedford will be most welcome.
The Editors hope that our magazine will provide a definite link with our colleagues at Highgate Brewery, Walsall. This subsidiary of Mitchell's ' Butler's is a very happy family of 54 employees, 46 brewery and 8 staff.
As at Cape Hill, long-serving employees are much in evidence at Walsall, 14 employees having more than 20 years service.
We look forward to hearing from our Highgate friends in future issues.
Have you one in your house?
We refer of course to the "ROBOT" machine, production of which is now in full swing at the Grove Street Works. Our Subsidiary Company has got off to a good start and these machines are now being used in the "locals" for washing glasses.
There is no need to worry about getting your glasses mixed when having them re-filled. Your girl friend's lip-stick is removed by this machine as fresh hot water is used for each glass and every glass is thoroughly cleaned.
M&B's Horses Show Successes 1948
The famous horses and turn-outs belonging to the company have again scored a remarkable list of successes this year.
BIRMINGHAM HORSE PARADE
Pairs of Suffolks gained 1st and 2nd place respectively. The Spirit coach and pair secured 3rd place. In addition, the prizes offered by the Suffolk Horse Society for the best single and best pair of Suffolk's were won by the Company's exhibits. One of the Suffolk's driven by W. Hatfield was awarded the R.S.P.C.A. cup for the best undocked horse in the Parade.
The Wines and Spirits turn-out at the White Swan in Chad Valley.
QUINTON AND NORTH WORCESTER
HORSE SHOW AT DUDLEY
The Spirit coach was awarded the 1st prize in the Light Trades Turn-out and was also awarded the 'E. C. Marsland' Challenge Cup. A special prize was awarded to the pair of Suffolk's.
SMETHWICK CHARITY SHOW
A special prize was won by the Light pair of horses used in the Spirit coach.
SHROPSHIRE AND WEST MIDLAND
Three Suffolk Punches were entered in the Suffolk Gelding Class and these were awarded 3rd and 4th prizes, and also a 'Highly Commended.'
SUTTON GOLDFIELD EQUITATION CLUB
The Spirit coach was awarded a Special Prize, while 1st place was gained by a pair of Suffolks. This pair also won the 'D. H Dangerfield' cup for the best exhibit in the Light and Heavy Turn-out classes.
KING'S NORTON HORSE SHOW
A single and a pair of Suffolk's were entered in this Show. The latter secured a Special prize, and the former was placed 3rd.
HARBORNE HORSE SHOW
2nd and 3rd place secured by Suffolk's in Heavy Turn-out class. The coach horses were first in Light Trades Turn-out class.
At the foot, ready for the judges, are Messrs. F. Essex, R. Miles, W. H. Holmes and W. E. Hatfield.
BREWOOD AND DISTRICT
A class for Suffolk Punches was held at this show. Three horses were entered and they secured 2nd and 3rd places. In the judging for the Championship, one of the Suffolk's gained 3rd place.
RUGELEY AND DISTRICT
The Spirit coach and pair gained 1st prize in the Light Trades Turn-out.
Caught by the M&B Cameraman
From the top, here we see 1. George Willetts celebrates his retirement in the company of some old friends: G. Taylor, E. Clarke, G. Willetts, W. Bullock, J. T. Castle and L. Horton. 2. Laurel and Hardy in Birmingham. 3. Licensee Plate. 4. The Head Brewer takes his medicine. He is not, as you might think, expressing an opinion! 5. No.2 Brewery.
These two "houses" played a most prominent part in the founding and present-day activities of our famous brewery. In 1866 Henry Mitchell began to brew at the old Crown Brewery, Smethwick, fronting the turnpike road leading from Birmingham to Oldbury. Some thirteen years later he moved to Cape Hill, as the "Crown" was no longer large enough to meet Henry Mitchell's immediate needs. Also in 1866, William Butler became licensee of the London Works Tavern at Smethwick, and growing famous as a home-brewer, moved ten years later to the "Crown" in Broad Street, Birmingham. He brewed for his own requirements in the rear of the "Crown," which were enlarged as the reputation of his beer grew.
During the latter years of the last century, the business of these two "Crown" Breweries, the one at Smethwick, the other in Broad Street, Birmingham, steadily advanced. As there was abundant room at Cape Hill, the entire business of the Broad Street Brewery was transferred, and the history of Mitchell's & Butler's Ltd. opened in 1898.
First-Aid at the Brewery
At Cape Hill we have always been fortunate in having a number of employees willing to be trained in First-Aid measures and ready to help their work-mates when need arises. Since 1906 when the Brewery Division was originally formed as a part of the St. John's Ambulance organisation they have played their part in many ways for the good of their fellow-workers and neighbours.
Gradually the movement grew, with the unavoidable exception of the first World War years - after which re-organisation was necessary - to the period 1925-1939 when Mitchell's and Butler's Ambulance Division came to be known not only in the immediate vicinity but throughout the Midlands and one might almost say the whole country.
Now, after the severe penalties of the recent World struggle, we again find ourselves, reduced in numbers maybe, war-worn and working hard, but still striving to give that help for which - unfortunately for those injured - there will always be a demand. Last year nearly 3,000 cases were attended at the Brewery itself apart from outside patients.
Perhaps some of our readers may think back on their War service, whether with the Armed Forces or in Civil Defence, and maybe think they want to forget "regimentation." Yet, in their very midst, lies the greatest chance of renewing that old spirit of comradeship we all held so dear - whatever unit we were in - and at the same time be of a very real value to their own kith and kin and those around them whose livelihood may depend on whether someone is handy to give just that necessary aid at a vital moment.
Opportunity for entry into the Brewery Ambulance Division will shortly be re-opened through the medium of an Instruction Class that it is proposed to hold during the winter months and anyone interested is invited to give his name to Corps Supt. P. A. Reed [Cashiers], Ambulance Offr. K. L. Taylor [Tenanted Houses] or any member of the Division.
A wide and varied programme is offered and it isn't all "work" !! Apart from Recreative and Social events at the Brewery there are duties at Football Matches, Speedway, Theatres, Boxing events, etc., to be covered and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you are qualified to attend such functions in a helpful capacity is in itself sufficient reward.
Here, then, is a great opportunity to benefit yourself and at the same time assist the community without being a cost to it. If this appeals to
you DON'T DELAY. ENQUIRE NOW. A warm welcome awaits those who join this fellowship.
P. A. REED.
Congratulations are extended to Harry Williams on the completion of 50 years' service with the Company. He was the recipient of many good wishes, and the Directors suitably recognised the occasion.
Harry entered the service of Cheshire's Windmill Brewery in 1897 at the age of 13 years. He was employed as an office boy from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. for 5/-per week. He arrived at Cape Hill in 1914 at the time Cheshire's Brewery and Mitchell's & Butler's amalgamated. He served with the Royal Field Artillery in the First World War from 1916-1920, and saw service in India and Mesopotamia. After demobilisation in 1920 Harry resumed his work in the Stocks Department and is still giving of his best. During the last war he played his part as a member of the Brewery Control Room Staff.
Harry is of a modest nature and always has a cheery word in spite of having had to undergo a major operation last year. He has made a remarkable recovery, and to use his own words is "now going well."
By Our Sports Editor: Wherever men in this tight little island of ours foregather, in the club or the pub, in the park or the dark, you can gamble that sooner or later the talk will turn to sport. It's a certainty. Take our 4-page daily leaflets [commonly known as newspapers]. We can devote one page to sport, and, to the amazement of foreign visitors, the average native on picking up a paper will look for the sports news before turning his mind to the more serious problems which beset this troubled world of today - despite a couple of World Wars which were going to make the place so much happier and comfortable.
I do think this desire to find out if the favourite's won, or how the local team has fared, or whether Bradman is still getting centuries, has a stabilising effect upon our character and there is an absence of that excitability which characterises our counterparts in foreign climes. However, I will not pursue this line of discussion, rather would I leave it to the more learned professors, except to say that we should be the poorer if we could no longer dwell in conversation on the delights of the top-class sportsman in action, or if we heard no more of those priceless 'gems' about the coats of varnish that always appear to be missing off the stumps; the holes in one; the short heads that have upset so many threepenny trebles; those colossal drives that might have carried the goalkeeper into the back of the net; and the fish that got away.
It so happens that the Brewery has had a very long association with sport in the Midlands, and by virtue of the long-standing policy of the Directors to provide facilities for the healthy recreation of employees we have a very flourishing Recreation Club comprising some ten sections, all of which receive the greatest encouragement and in consequence are very lively. The victories, defeats, and various other incidents which happen during the games are naturally the subject of conversation, and it is easy to imagine that sport talk is probably above average on the Brewery. For some time it has been felt that with the increasing interest in sport generally, Recreation Club matters would have an interest outside the sections concerned. Thus when it became known that a Brewery magazine was to be published many of us felt that here was the grand opportunity to 'get things across' so to speak.
So many people have joined the Brewery during and since World War II that they are probably unaware not only of our more recent achievements, but also of the very long and interesting history which lies behind the present day success of the Recreation Club. The Club has records which go back to 1880 when activities were confined to Cricket and Football. Even so the Football section then known as Mitchell St. George's - was playing top-class football, and became members of the Football Alliance [afterwards merged with the Football League and called Division 2] and such famous clubs as Sheffield Wednesday, Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, and Glasgow Celtic were entertained on our Cape Hill Sports Ground.
The Cricket section were founder members of the present Birmingham and District Cricket League which was formed in 1888, and apart from a short spell in the 1890s has enjoyed unbroken membership ever since. With the expansion of the Brewery it was quite natural that the Constitution Recreation Club should extend its activities, and by 1919 when the present Constitution of the Recreation Club was laid down, Bowls and Lawn Tennis sections had come into existence. The year 1930 saw the official opening of the New Sports Ground, Portland Road, which included a cricket ground of county class, three bowling greens, tennis courts [hard and grass] and a spacious Pavilion, Since that day the Club has continued to grow and today there are ten sections affiliated to the parent body - Angling, Bowls, Amateur Boxing, Cricket, Football, Lawn Tennis, Netball, Swimming, Table Tennis, and a Dramatic Society.
These are but a few important details in the affairs of the Club and in later issues we shall hope to give fuller reports the of its colourful history. Meanwhile in this issue we are giving details of certain sections which we hope will be of interest not only to the old-stagers, but to the many newcomers who had joined our ranks in recent years.
Honorary Secretary : J. H. Tyler [Malt and Hop]
Although formed in 1928 it was not until 1931 that the Angling Society became affiliated to the Recreation Club. Many enjoyable outings were enjoyed by the members between that time and 1940 when the war put a stop to activities. However, in 1946 the Club resumed and due to the enthusiasm of the officials and older members they have been able to increase considerably the membership figures.
The two principal contests are the Bye Contest, held early in the season, and the Annual Contest, which is normally held in September, and is known among the members as the 'Event of the Year,' because members are competing for the 'John Mason Lones Trophy,' which was presented by Mr. J. A Lones to perpetuate the memory of his father. In addition the Prize List at the Annual Contest is usually high. This year it amounted to £40 and the winners were: 1st Prize. J. Foster [Conditioning Room] with a catch of 1 lb. 1 oz. 6 drms. 2nd Prize. C. Townsend [Cartage] with a catch of 11 ozs. 3 drms. 3rd Prize. H. C. Williams with a catch of 8 ozs. 6 drms.
The Brewery rents a stretch of water on the Packington Estate at Coleshill for the use of the members of the Club. Members in addition to paying their 2s. 6d. subscription to the Recreation Club also contribute 6d. weekly to the Prize Fund. All members are affiliated to the Birmingham Angling Association and it is pleasing to record that the majority of them will be taking part in the Association Annual Contest which is being held between Tewkesbury and Bridgnorth on 3rd October, and quite naturally they hope to bring back the Mitchell's & Butler's Cup. The Club have also joined the Birmingham Breweries Angling Society and on the 31st October they will be competing for the very fine Silver Bowl presented by the President, Mr. W. H. Dare. From which it will be seen that the Brewery anglers have a very busy time during the season. If you fancy the sport don't hesitate, get in touch with Jim Tyler or Ronnie Brookes. New members are always welcome.
Honorary Secretary : Arthur. E. Walker [Stocks Dept.]
The Bowls Section so ably looked after by the inseparables, Arthur Walker and Sid Hadley, has always been a popular means of recreation with the Brewery employees, and for a number of years the membership has been 300 or over.
This year the Senior side took part in Division 1 of the Warwickshire & Worcestershire Bowling League, and managed to finish 3rd. They were knocked out of the Senior Cup by The Hawthorns in the 5th Round, and The Shireland knocked us out of the National Savings Trophy. The Junior side in Division 2 of the Junior League have not enjoyed a good season, and by virtue of having lost three games at home they will probably be relegated to the 3rd Division.
An interesting feature this year was our re-entry into the Midland Works & Business Houses Association after an absence of 9 years. The members voted for this at the last Annual Meeting, and although not among the honours it can be said that the team has had a fairly good season and the members have enjoyed the extra competition.
Throughout the season the Club has played 16 Friendly matches, 8 home and 8 away, all of which have been very enjoyable affairs. Many of the games, incidentally, were played against teams from our Licensed Houses and Free Trade customers.
At the last Annual Meeting of the Bowls Section, Arthur Walker was presented with a Cigarette Case, subscribed for by members and friends, in recognition of his 25 years in office. A truly remarkable record, and the presentation just one of those things which have always characterised the good fellowship existing between the members and section of the Recreation Club.
Honorary Secretary : C. A. Ball [Purchase Dept.]
The Amateur Boxing Club was formed in 1946 and preparations are afoot for what they are hoping will be another successful season.
The new Training Centre at Portland Road which came into use last season is fully equipped with all the amenities associated with the Sport, thanks to the encouragement and financial support of the Directors.
With such excellent facilities it is only natural that there should be very keen interest among the members, and last year Jack Richmond, Benny Fisher and young Don Lightfoot excelled themselves in the roped square against some of the best amateurs in the land. The best achievements of Jack Richmond were his fights against Don Scott [Olympic Finalist]; Jack Tansey [Northern Counties Heavyweight Champion], and when he represented the Midland Counties A.B.A. against the Royal Navy, Jack has now left the Brewery but is is hoped that he will still continue to represent the Club in the ring.
Probably Don Lightfoot's best performance was the clever manner in which he defeated the newly-crowned British 8-stone Junior Champion.
Each season the Club has been responsible for organising a top-class Amateur Boxing Show at the Thimblemill Baths, Smethwick, the results of which have benefited local charities to the extent of some £300.
I think the Club officials will readily admit that the good results so far achieved have been in no small measure due to the two trainers, Les Tarrant and Glen Chance, who have put in some wonderful work. For anyone who is keen to learn the noble art of self-defence you can do no better than put yourself in the safe hands of these two, What is more, if you care to put in an appearance at Portland Road you can be assured of a grand welcome from the members and you will be able to see how enthusiastically they do their training.
Honorary Secretary : F. C. Smith [Railway Siding]
Season 1948 : The First XI who were champions in 1947 did not enjoy a successful season, but played very entertaining cricket, and finished fifth in Division 1 of the Birmingham & District League. The Second XI had one of the best seasons in the history of the Club, and after finishing jointly bottom of the 2nd Division of the Birmingham and District League in 1947, regained their prestige by winning the League Championship in 1948 from West Bromwich Dartmouth by the handsome margin of 8 points. This makes the 15th success they have enjoyed since 1893, the year of formation of the 2nd Division of the League, and on one other occasion they were joint champions with Old Hill, making 16 in all. The analysis of matches played this season is as follows : Played 18, Won 11, Drawn 6, Lost 1; giving a total of 39 points out of a possible 54. Their batting and bowling was most consistent, G. R. Allen with an average of 35.18; C. A. Armstrong 32.12; A. S. Hadley 26.14; D. T. Varley 24.42; R. Baker 24.2; T. G. Elias 22.2; C. B. Harbage 19.8; proving the strength of the side, while the attack came from J. Bannister with 28 wickets for an average of 8.7; C. B. Harbage 10.7 and C. A. Armstrong 10.8. The real success of the team was the loyalty of the players to the captain, Jimmy Goodwin, and playing regularly as a team always with a spirit to win.
The Business Houses First XI, competing in Division 1 of the Midland Works and Business Houses League had a really good season, and were concerned in a ding-dong struggle along with Bakelite and Revo Electric for the latter half of the season. Bakelite finally won and our team were runners-up 3 points behind. The side was well captained by Ron Looms; no doubt they missed the services of Johnnie Bannister whose consistent bowling earned him promotion to the 2nd League XI, just when they looked like establishing a lead in the Division. The Business Houses Second XI, competing in Reserve Division B of the League, finished up Champions of their Division with a lead of 7 points over their nearest rivals, Metropolitan. G. Wenman with an average of 22.3 headed the batting, closely followed by W. Moseley 20.3. Stan Brown was the mainstay of the attack, taking 46 wickets for an average of 5.4. It was rather unfortunate that their Captain, Reg Benjamin, could not complete the splendid work he started, but a serious accident halfway through the season kept him out of the side for the remainder of the games. His place was filled by Jack Hearn, who proved a fine substitute, and instilled the same confidence into his young players, of whom special mention should be made of D. Robinson and G. Morgan. Always interesting and popular, the Inter-departmental Competition took place on similar lines to previous years.
Honorary Secretary : E. Platnauer [Secretarial Dept.]
The Dramatic Society is one of the younger members of the Recreational Club and was founded in 1932 by a number of enthusiasts led by Mr. J. W. Pugh. The first production was in December of that year when Mr. Pugh presented three One-Act Plays, which were so well received that a further four One-Act Plays were produced in the March following. The next season saw the first full-length play when "The Lord Of The Manor" was put on; from this point success followed success until the war suspended activities. It might be mentioned at this stage that an interest was taken in the amateur theatre of the district and at the Birmingham Drama Festival in 1937 the Society won the Sir Cedric Hardwicke Trophy with a fined presentation of "Exit," a One-Act Play by Cyril Roberts. After the war it was found that a number of the original members were not available so that Mr. J. W. G. Brazill and Mr. C. B. Harbage called a Meeting in October 1946, when it was decided to resume the Society's activities, and on 30th January 1947 Mr. Brazill produced "Quiet Weekend"; this comedy fully re-established the Society and three full length plays are now presented each season. During the forthcoming season three productions have been arranged, the first of which is the farce - "Women Aren't Angels" - on 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th October, the proceeds of which will be devoted to the R.A.F. Benevolent Fund in connection with the Smethwick Battle of Britain week. Social activities are arranged for the close season, and it is the object of the section, in addition to supplying the audience with good entertainment, to provide a unique type of amenity to all who may be interested, at a time when the Sports Sections are in most cases compelled to suspend their games for the winter months. It should be needless to mention here that a welcome will be given to new members who can supply the fresh blood that is urgently needed to maintain the high standard set by the original team and it must be remembered that there is always plenty of work to be done behind the scenes. A feature of the productions has always been the brilliance of the settings on the excellent temporary stage erected in the Sports Pavilion by the Company, but it is thought that with the increased demand for tickets, the hall will prove inadequate to accommodate the audiences and it is therefore hoped that eventually a permanent theatre may be available when even better effects may be achieved.
Hon. Secretary : J. Barbour [Wine & Spirit Ledger Dept.]
Activities were re-commenced during season 1946-7 with one team in the Birmingham & District Works A.F.A. and a very successful season was enjoyed both by players and supporters. The abnormally bad weather in early 1947 led to the suspension of the League Competition, when we were well in the lead, but even so we managed to win the Holt and Prudential Cups. Last season we went into Division 4 and although not winning any honours we managed to finish runners-up in the Division, proving that our promotion to this Division was well-merited. This year we have been promoted to Division 2 with a Second XI in Division 9. The season has just commenced and both teams have already enjoyed early victories. The enthusiasm is such that we can look forward to another enjoyable year.
Hon. Secretary : C. H. Long [Wine & Spirits]
Mitchell's & Butler's Lawn Tennis Club was formed in 1917 by a nucleus of enthusiasts at the Brewery, when the four grass courts were situated on the Brewery Premises in Kelvin Drive. Obscure as the Club was from the point of view of standard of play its keenness was great and it was fortunate in the excellence of its courts and the hard work put in by its pioneers to get it going. Gradually, as the result of the energy of its original organisers and players it began to emerge into the outside world of competitive tennis, and an important step was taken when, through the generosity of the Directors of the Firm, the new ground at Portland Road was opened in 1930. Here are situated seven excellent grass courts of a standard practically unsurpassed in the Midlands, and three first-class hard courts. In 1933 a team was entered in a lowly division of the Birmingham League and by 1939 the Club was in the Second Division of the League.
George Willetts retired on pension on the 4th September last, having completed over 50 years' service with the Company. In May, when George reached his half century of service, he was invited by the Directors to join them, together with a few of his workmates of his own choosing, to commemorate this milestone in his life. At this informal gathering, the Chairman, making a presentation, congratulated George on his wonderful record, and extended best wishes on behalf of the Directors and his colleagues. Overawed by the occasion, and surrounded by many well-wishers, George was unable to reply, but in a quieter moment he gave us a few details of those days of long ago. In 1898, George entered the service of Cheshire's Windmill Brewery, and arrived at Cape Hill in 1914, when this Brewery was absorbed by Mitchell's & Butler's. In those far-off days, George tells us, working conditions were very different from those of today. The working day was one of twelve hours, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the wages 20/- per week.
A typical day's work at Cheshire's with cleaning a copper commenced ready for a brew. Following this, the next task was on the hop back, throwing out the spent hops. After a break for breakfast, the scouring of the hop back had to be done in readiness for the next brew. From the hop back up to the "Friges," then the cleaning of the refrigerators and coolers was commenced. This work was left partly finished to carry out the next task, throwing out a tub of grains in the Mash Room. There was just sufficient time to complete the cleaning of refrigerators and coolers before welcoming the dinner hour. After this brief respite a return to the hop back was made to throw out the hops and clean down in readiness for the following brew. The day's work was brought to an end by again getting in the mash tun to throw out the grains. Often it was necessary to work overtime until 8 p.m. to complete these tasks, all undertaken by George himself and his mate.
George, a quiet, unassuming man, has worked conscientiously and well for a lifetime, and in the Chairman's words : "It is men like George Willetts who have brought the Company to the proud position it holds today."
George has now entered into well-earned retirement, but he will not be forgotten at Cape Hill. To him are extended the best wishes from his many friends for long life and happiness.