Thursday, 19 February 2009

Internet books

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:

Swansea 41,
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?

10 comments:

Velky Al said...

Shame the football results there would have been Liverpool 3 Exeter 2, rather than Manchester 1 Liverpool 3 - but then I'll take that happily in a couple of weeks.

Ed said...

I don't know if you're aware the Institute of Brewing and Distilling have regular book sales, including a lot of historical stuff. Might be worth dropping them a line to see what's on offer.

dmoore2 said...

Regarding pub numbers, it's an interesting snapshot. I imagine it would a bit more clear if you had similar snapshots from 5/10 years previous, and 5 years after? Were they expanding outward from the strongpoint of their base in the northeast, or bolstering their presence in the northeast in particular... I'm intrigued now.

Ron Pattinson said...

Ed, thanks for that tip. They've got some interesting stuff. I could do with some more books on malting.

Ron Pattinson said...

dmoore2, the vast majority of their pubs were in London and its environs. But there were a couple of concentrations elsewhere, such as South Wales.

I need to look up which breweries Truman bought up to make more sense of the list.

zythophile said...

I don't know if you're aware the Institute of Brewing and Distilling have regular book sales, including a lot of historical stuff.

Shut up! Shut up! The competition's bad enough already without more people learning about it!

Ron - I'll send you my 7,500-word history of Truman's (which I also sent to Mr Hanbury), which talks about how they acquired pubs in South Wales. The really nice Truman's history is their 300-year anniversary one - do you have that?

Ron Pattinson said...

Zythophile, ooh yes please with the Truman's history. It's one of my obsession breweries.

I do have 300 year anniversary book. I wish I could get hold of some copies of the Black Eagle magazine.

Perhaps we should co-ordinate our efforts in bidding for IBD items. Are you interested in the German-language ones?

Ike said...

My guess is that Trumans were trying to get national status in the same way that Bass had. Own a few prestige houses in good selling areas and get your beer sold in the free trade or as a premium beer in smaller brewers houses.

They were considered to be a semi national brewer for petrol purposes in the second war, as were Marstons, who also had a countrywide spread of pubs.

Some of their midland houses could have come from Phillips who they bought their Burton brewery from in 1873. (this is apparently true of the Trent Navigation Inn in Nottingham - see web site)

They had 6 pubs in Burton and 2 in Swadlincote. They were swapped with southern Courage pubs in 1971 along with all their northern houses. Truman beers were well respected in Burton - Courage/John Smiths were not.

The Swansea pubs came from the takeover of Swansea United Breweries in 1926. I drank in many of these pubs in the late 70's.

By then the beer was piss but some of the pubs were still excellent. When Trumans took them over they must have gone on a refurbishment spree which left Swansea with some cracking 30's pubs. Truman were always brilliant at detail. I think they have all been pretty well gutted now.

Ike said...

My guess is that Trumans were trying to get national status in the same way that Bass had. Own a few prestige houses in good selling areas and get your beer sold in the free trade or as a premium beer in smaller brewers houses.

They were considered to be a semi national brewer for petrol purposes in the second war, as were Marstons, who also had a countrywide spread of pubs.

Some of their midland houses could have come from Phillips who they bought their Burton brewery from in 1873. (this is apparently true of the Trent Navigation Inn in Nottingham - see web site)

They had 6 pubs in Burton and 2 in Swadlincote. They were swapped with southern Courage pubs in 1971 along with all their northern houses. Truman beers were well respected in Burton - Courage/John Smiths were not.

The Swansea pubs came from the takeover of Swansea United Breweries in 1926. I drank in many of these pubs in the late 70's.

By then the beer was piss but some of the pubs were still excellent. When Trumans took them over they must have gone on a refurbishment spree which left Swansea with some cracking 30's pubs. Truman were always brilliant at detail. I think they have all been pretty well gutted now.

zythophile said...

The Swansea pubs came from the takeover of Swansea United Breweries in 1926.

No, Truman's were buying pubs in Swansea, and had a depot there, before the First World War, IIRC - certainly they had pubs in the area before the Swansea United t/o.