Brewing in the Borough
Article by Nick Molyneux of Nottingham CAMRA
By the start of the 19th century, the area which is now the borough of Gedling had alehouses and coaching inns serving the needs of both locals and travellers. However, the largely rural nature of the area at the time meant that these establishments were comparatively few and far between.
Between 1552 and 1828, anyone wishing to operate an inn, or an alehouse had to become a licensed victualler in a system administered by the local magistrates. As a guarantee of good behaviour, the licensed victualler paid a financial bond known as an Alehouse Recognizance to ensure compliance with the conditions of the licence. Two local citizens also had to vouch for the victualler, by making similar commitments. Any breach of the licensing conditions could lead to the forfeiture of both the money and the licence. In the area that now forms the borough, surviving records show that there were twenty-eight licensed victuallers in 1823 and these are listed in the following table.
Many of the borough’s publicans in the early 19th century would have brewed their own beer and ale. At that time, ale was a hop-free malt liquor quite distinct from hopped beer. The ingredients for brewing were often locally sourced. There was, for example, a large hop garden where Waverley Avenue now is in Gedling village. Similarly, local farmers and specialist merchants provided the malted barley which was the key ingredient for both ale and beer.
The trade of maltster often seems to have prospered regardless of the area’s economic ups-and-downs. One such trader was William Robinson of Home Farm, on Oxclose Lane in Bestwood. Like many businessmen at the time, he had a number of sources of income from different occupations, his including farmer, wool merchant, maltster and brickmaker. When commercial opportunities arose, maltsters were well placed to benefit from the acquisition of breweries and public houses.
Robinson’s son, John Daniel Robinson (1839-1929), was an entrepreneur with several successful businesses to his name. The urban growth of the mid-nineteenth century created a growing market for low-cost beers of consistent quality delivered direct to local public houses and off-licences. In 1875, Robinson founded the Daybrook Brewery, which was developed into an industrial operation by the construction of a state-of-the-art brewery complex, designed by local architect and engineer Herbert Walker in 1881. Water was extracted from a deep well under the site. In 1890, Robinson sold the business to the Home Brewery Company Limited, a financial vehicle established for the purchase and whose name retained the original connection to Home Farm. Robinson went on to establish the Daybook Laundry and was also involved in the tobacco trade and in cement production.
The Art Deco office building on Mansfield Road in Daybrook, designed by local architect T. C. Howitt and completed in 1936, has a Grade II listing. The Home Brewery Company was sold to Scottish & Newcastle in 1986, along with nearly 450 pubs and the unique identity of Home Ales was gradually phased-out. Brewing ceased on the site in 1996 and the administration building was subsequently adapted by Nottinghamshire County Council for use as office space. Howitt also designed the Vale Hotel at Daybrook for the brewery. The pub, also an Art Deco design, opened in 1937 and has survived the closure and sale of the brewery. It is also a listed building.
John Robinson became a Justice of the Peace and was also High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire in 1901, receiving a knighthood in 1905. A keen country sportsman, in 1890 Robinson purchased the stud farm at Worksop Manor, where he bred race horses. His horses would go on to win the Derby, the 2000 Guineas, the Ascot Gold Cup and the Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, a horse racing accident led to the death of Sir John’s son, John Sandford Robinson, in 1898. The John Robinson Alms-houses on Mansfield Road in Daybrook were built in his memory.
A less well-known part of the Borough’s brewing history sits at the junction of Marhill Road and Primrose Street in Carlton. Built as the Carlton Brewery in 1899, the building is unmistakable as a design by noted local architect Watson Fothergill. Operated by the Vickers family who ran the Black’s Head in Carlton Square, the brewery was short-lived and was sold in 1909. Now a listed building, it became a laundry, dye factory and printworks and has since been converted to residential accommodation.
Of the twenty-eight public houses recorded in the borough in 1823, seventeen are still trading on the same site, or as re-builds very close by. A significant number of these survivors still bear the same name as they did then (see the following table). Several have recently closed. The fact that more than half of the pubs noted in 1823 still exist almost two hundred years later is a remarkable example of continuity in the heritage of the borough.
Licensed Victuallers in the Borough of Gedling in 1823
Source: Alehouse Recognizances 1823; Nottinghamshire County Archives C/QD/LV/4
|No.||Alehouse||1823 Licensed Victualler||Settlement||Pub Still Trades 2018||Notes|
|1||Black Swan||John Cockayne||Arnold|
|2||Cross Keys||William Dickenson||Arnold||✓|
|3||Horse & Jockey||John Rhodes||Arnold||✓||Now named Eagles Corner|
|4||Joiners Arms||Thomas Rhodes||Arnold|
|5||Old Spot||Peter Bramley||Arnold||✓||Now named Coopers Brook|
|7||Robin Hood & Little John||Elizabeth Rimmer||Arnold||✓|
|8||Seven Stars||John Robinson||Arnold||Closed and demolished in 1969|
|9||Three Crowns||Peter Bramley||Arnold|
|10||White Hart||Sarah Hickling||Arnold||Replaced in 1964, the new pub also now demolished.|
|11||Horse & Groom||Elizabeth Merrill||Linby||✓|
|12||The Hut||Martha Mealey / William Palin||Newstead||✓||Now named The Hutt|
|13||Griffin’s Head||William Bell||Papplewick||✓||Grade II Listed Building|
|14||Swan & Salmon||John Blatherwick||Burton Joyce|
|15||Wheat Sheaf||Samuel Taylor||Burton Joyce||✓||1930’s replacement close by an earlier pub building|
|16||Rodney||Christopher Beckett||Calverton||✓||Now named Admiral Rodney|
|17||White Lion||Joseph Brunt||Calverton||✓||Now named Oscars|
|18||Blacks Head||George Savidge||Carlton||✓|
|19||Royal Oak||Thomas Cave||Carlton||✓||Rebuilt in the 1930s, now named Inn for a Penny|
|20||Volunteer||George Savidge||Carlton||✓||Now named Old Volunteer|
|21||Windsor Castle||Elizabeth Rowe||Carlton|
|22||Chesterfield Arms||Thomas Brierley||Gedling||✓||Now named Gedling Inn|
|24||Free Masons Arms||Mordecai Brownley||Lambley|
|25||Boat||Elizabeth Bosworth / William Cupit||Stoke Bardolph||✓||Now named Ferry Boat Inn|
|26||Cock & Falcon||Thomas Wood||Woodborough|
|27||Four Bells||John Gadsby||Woodborough||✓||1920’s replacement of earlier pub building|
|28||Punch Bowl||William Hogg||Woodborough|
Images: Old Brewery