MANY CHANGES have taken place during the past forty years that it is difficult to recall that in those early days of the Company there was no electric light or power, no telephone, typewriter, motors, tubes, taxis - none of the new inventions which are transforming the world of today. The Brewery was lighted only by gas, and the men used to wear tallow candles fixed in the front of their paper caps to see their way about to fill the various casks singly by rubber hoses; this is all done now by air pressure. All letters had to be written by hand, and everyone came to business in a top~ hat, which had to be worn by every clerk in the Head Office. This custom is still carried on by the Head Brewer and his colleagues. All vehicles were horse-drawn, this was the only method of conveyance (even the trams were pulled by horses). Men worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with about 2 hours off for meals and rest. Wages were far lower; the cost of living, and rents, rates and taxes were far less ; everybody appeared to be contented. Public Houses were open for about 18 hours a day.
Beer was drunk in pewter pots, and, so long as it was sound and good, no notice was taken of its brightness, but since the advent of glass the eye has almost governed the palate, and every beer is now held up to the light and has to be star bright. Being then of a higher gravity, it used to keep far longer, and was a much better drink than the chilled and filtered article of today.
Money was plentiful and cheap, the Income Tax being 6d. in the £1. Farming was prosperous, and the barleys and hops were wonderful value for the money.
With regard to machinery, Courages have kept pace with the times, and as mentioned in the foregoing chapters they now possess every modern requirement for the Brewing trade.
Various Acts of legislation and taxation have also been alluded to, but it is of interest to give a table of the Taxation of Beer since the formation of the Company.
Duty 6/3 in 1889 " 6/9 in 1894 " 7/9 in 1900 (Boer War). " 23/- in 1914 (Great War). " 24/- in 1916 " 25/- in 1917 " 50/- in 1918 (Great War ended). " 70/- in 1919 " 100/- in 1920
100/- less 20/- per Bulk Barrel in 1925 103/- " 20/- " " " " 1930 134/- " 20/- " " " " 1931
This taxation is killing the consumption of the national beverage.
In addition to brewing good beer here are one or two illustrations of what the Courages have done.
They have organised and carried out a Contributory Superannuation Scheme for their Staff, which secures pensions, according to length of service and salary, and benefits to the widow or family in case of death.
In addition the Company started the Hospital Savings Association, to which practically all the men belong.
Then, during the War, the National War Savings Certificates were instituted, and some £13,000 was saved by the employees. Further, there are Deposit Accounts for the men, and their own Sick Fund as well; so all their interests are well looked after.
The Company has provided a Sports Club Hall at the Brewery containing two full-sized billiard tables and every kind of indoor game ; also a Sports ground at Dulwich, adjoining the Grove Tavern,” with cricket and football ground, hard and grass courts for tennis, and a bowling green. This club is in a flourishing condition, for it is well patronised by the members, who pay 2d. a week for their recreation. The Company also provides a lorry for conveying the members to their ground .: A similar ground, with every facility for outdoor sports, has been established at Alton.
One is pleased to note that during the Great Strike in 1926 not a man ceased work although many were called out, which proves how well they appreciate the kindness and goodwill of the Directors.
The house of Courage has built up a century-and-a-half old business. In that time (in the latter portion of it particularly) it has subscribed millions to the National Revenue. It has provided large reserves for its own business. It has, and always has had, men of capacity at its head, and younger members of the family are still coming along to carry on the old and high traditions of the House. Given fair play, Courages will continue to hold its own, and carry on one of the most eminent of England’s Breweries.