Dolores had a shock today when six books arrived in the mail. I've been making a deliberate effort to improve my collection of brewery histories. But don't tell Dolores that. She'll go spare. I've already had the "where are you going to put them, Ronald" speech. I don't fancy getting the "we could have gone on holiday with that money" lecture just yet.
Today's arrivals were a mixed bunch. Two books by the Whitbread archivist. Both about Whitbread, funnily enough. "Whitbread in South Wales" and a pictorial history of the Chiswell Street brewery. Nice to see a mention of one of my favourite brewery company names: Evan Evans, Bevan.
"The Younger Centuries" is, by the look of it, a not particularly informative history on William Younger, published in 1951. I've just flicked through it. I found a couple of mentions of Edinburgh Ale. Maybe worth a couple of quid after all.
What I really wanted to tell you about was another modest volume. You're often not really sure of what you'll be getting, when you buy a book over the internet. You can't tell sometimes if it will be a gem or a dud. "The Story of Beer" this one's called. Sounds like a kid's book. But it was published by Truman, Hanbury and Buxton. The story of brewing is told through a tour of their Black Eagle brewery.
That's quite handy. I've Truman brewing logs for the period in question (the book was published in 1951). Brilliant. Now I've pictures of all the equipment and a description of how it was used. That will be perfect for the last chapter of my book.
Funnily enough, that wasn't what excited me most. The last third of the book is nothing to do with the story of beer. Not directly, at least. It's a list of all Truman's tied houses, organised by town. Why is that so fascinating?
Truman was a big brewery, at the time. But nothing like one of the national brewing groups that emerged in the 1960's. A London brewery, really. That's why the list of their tied houses came as such a surprise.
Here are some of the places that caught my eye. And the n umber of Truman's pubs they had. Remember, these all only tied houses:
Sunderland 11, South Shields 2, Newcastle 2, North Shields 1, Durham 1,
Wolverhampton 7, Brierley Hill 5, Nottingham 4, Coalville 2,
Barrow-in-Furness 4, Ulverston 3,
Ellesmere Port 3, Manchester 1, Liverpool 3, Exeter 2.
It reads like the football results.
Truman had pubs in almost every English and Welsh county. Why on earth did they have so many in the North East?
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