Stoneware is no small beer
The ups and downs of individual Lincolnshire breweries, illustrated through the stoneware containers they used to distribute and advertise their wares, provide a most interesting insight into the rollercoaster ride this industry has had.
Taverns and ale houses have been commonplace in many large towns for centuries but the large scale advertising and distribution from often small scale operations occurred during a very short period – mainly spanning the mid-points of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. One only has to scan salerooms to see the volume of stoneware jars, flagons, vessels, bottles, flasks and so on to realise that although businesses were often small in size, production was on a large scale.
Sadly, almost as quickly as the small time brewer was known, they were swallowed up by bigger industries and either renamed or liquidated, often with only a well worn sign on a Lincolnshire house or stoneware vessel being the only indication they ever existed at all.
Burg Brewers of Spalding was an example of a great many others; it was in business and production in 1887, was taken over by Soames Brewers in 1909, who in turn relinquished to Steward in 1949, who liquidated the firm in 1957. Similar to the disappearance of corner shops now, the small time brewer couldn’t really succeed – the unsuccessful ones shut because they made no money, the successful ones were taken over by big businesses and names were changed and extinguished from history.
The odd snippet is the only reminder of what a large industry brewing was. Barton upon Humber has two signs, worn with age but still visible for the brewers Hunt & Sons and William Stones. Bass produced at Dudley Road in Grantham. Guildhall Street in Lincoln itself illustrates its brewing past with bygone advertisements on house sides; Ward Brewers produced at Newland and Alfred Street, Warwick of Newark had premises on 467 High Street and a house on Newland Street West still proudly advertises Ind Coope, which retailed there in the early part of the last century.