A GREAT WAVE of prosperity ensued after the war terminated, and the Company developed rapidly. It first acquired, in 1920, the freehold of Harolds Place in Queen Elizabeth Street, where a large garage was built by Messrs. Whitehead to accommodate the fleet of Leylands. In that year also the 11,000 Ordinary Shares of £100 each were converted into 1,100,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each.
In 1925 the Company acquired the freehold of the Brewery from Sir R. Abdy by purchasing the reversion of a lease at £1,900 rent, expiring at Michaelmas, 1990. This greatly increased the value of the site, and the Company now had a free hand to rebuild all that part lying east of Horselydown Lane, including the old narrow road known as Boss Street, which was acquired from the Bermondsey Borough Council. This road ran right through the property from north to south. The Company then entered into a contract with Messrs. Dove Bros. to rebuild the entire block. The plans were prepared by the Company’s Surveyor’s Department, and provided a new assembly and loading-out yard, which was a great improvement on the old-fashioned system of loading up by crane in Horselydown Lane. Huge floors for storing empty casks were erected. The top floor was given up to the washing of casks by two large Goliaths with remarkable up-to-date machinery, and the steam cooperage, which had been instituted after the fire in 1891, was re-installed here; for the Company makes all its own casks and buys its own timber.
THE CAMDEN ABSORPTION
The Company made the first big step in absorbing other breweries when in 1923 it acquired all the interest in the Camden Brewery, consisting of freehold premises and private houses in Hawley Crescent and High Street, Camden Town, together with 78 houses, with an output of 42,000 barrels. These houses were largely situated in the north west of London, where the Company was scarcely represented and its beers unknown. The Camden Brewery was established in 1859 by four partners, Messrs. Richard Garrett, Abram Garrett, Thomas Whitaker and George A. Grimwood. Mr. R. Garrett and Mr. G. A. Grimwood found the necessary cash to build the brewery, equip it with plant and provide the working capital, and Mr. A. Garrett and Mr. T. Whitaker brought in some thirty licensed houses which they owned. They started with the ambition of brewing the best beer in London, and they were soon discovered by competitors to be strong rivals, for their beers were brewed at a heavy gravity, while their houses were supplied with Pale Ale from Bass’s. The business was formed into a public Company in 1889, the year of Courage and Co.’s formation, under the name of the Camden Brewery Company Limited, with a capital of
15,000 Preference Shares of £10; 12,000 Ordinary Shares of £10; £100,000 4¼% Debenture Stock; and £200,000 “B” Debenture Stock.
The business went well until 1900, when it felt the prevailing depreciation of licensed properties. When the Finance (1909-10) Act, 1910 was brought into operation the Ordinary Shares, which in the past had paid a dividend up to 12 or 15%, failed to earn any income, and the Company got into financial difficulties. In 1912 the Ordinary Shares were written down to 6d. and the Preference Shares to 10/-. A Receiver for the Debenture holders was appointed, and in 1923 Courage & Company acquired the shares.
The undertaking passed entirely under the control of the Courages and was carried on by them until it went into voluntary liquidation in 1926, when it became part of the Courage business. It is interesting to note that the superintendence, collection and division of houses had always been north and south of the Thames. The ledgers were divided accordingly, and the trades were kept separate; the Capital value of Estates and their return in rents and barrelage were kept in the same way, and there developed a friendly rivalry between North and South as to which did best in the return in trade on invested Capital. So far the South had always been predominant, as the Brewery was situated south of the river, and supplied the adjoining district. The North was a smaller collection, but the addition of the Camden Brewery houses brought them nearly level.
These heavy outlays of capital were all met out of income and the reserves which had been so carefully accumulated. At this period the return on Profit and Loss Account was most satisfactory, and the Company was making great strides towards becoming one of the foremost Breweries in London.
THE FARNHAM ABSORPTION
In 1927 a further acquisition took place in the purchase of practically all the shares and interest in the Farnham United Breweries Company. This Brewery was situated close to Alton, and had its own Maltings and a holding of 196 licensed houses, with an output of 45,000 barrels. As it could be easily supplied and managed by the Alton Branch the brewery itself was closed down.
A few words as to its history may be of interest. In the early part of the last (19th) century amongst the hop growers in the small West Surrey town of Farnham was a family named Barrett. In 1839 two brothers of this family, Robert and John, opened a small brewery, which they named the Red Lion Brewery. Later, in 1866, as business expanded, they bought up two small breweries, with about 20 houses in Basingstoke.
After the Crimean War in 1856, the Government had bought a tract of land on which to erect huts to form a permanent camp, which has since developed into the town and camp of Aldershot. Mr. George Trimmer, another hop grower and property owner, immediately built a brewery at the west end of the town of Farnham and applied for licences in Aldershot, where in 1856 there were only two houses. By 1859 there were no fewer than 20 fully-licensed houses and 40 beer houses. No sooner did Barretts get a petition signed for a beerhouse than Trimmer got one next door or opposite, which naturally brought about the “redundancy” of later years. This first caused the closing of houses by the Magistrates, following the decision in Sharpe v Wakefield (1888), and afterwards, owing to the injustice thereby incurred, to the passage of the Compensation Act in 1904.
In 1889 (again the same year as that in which Courages became a company) the two families agreed to form the Farnham United Breweries Company Limited. The Red Lion Brewery was closed down, and the Farnham Brewery supplied the requirements for the united trade.
The share capital was as follows:-
12,500 6% Preference Shares of £10 each;
10,000 Ordinary Shares of £10 each; and
£200,000 4½% Debentures redeemable at the holder’s option at par after 20 years.
The Board consisted of Samuel Lipscombe Seckham, Chairman, Colonel Tamplin, Percy C. Reid, Charles Trimmer and Edward Barrett. The business was carried out with success, the General Manager after 1890 being Mr. Harry Loe, who was followed by his son Mr. W. E. Loe.
The business came entirely under the management of Colonel M. R. F. Courage, the local Director at Alton, his son Mr. M. V. Courage and the staff, Mr. W. E. Loe, the Farnham Managing Director who had been with that Company for over 16 years, being retained in the same position under the amalgamation.
The closing of this Brewery entailed a further enlargement of the Alton Brewery, at a cost of some £20,000. A new chimney shaft was built, oil burning boilers and new mash tans were instituted, and wine and spirit stores were set up; and it now has plant capable of brewing over 4,000 barrels per week. The trade for 1931 was 120,000 barrels.
The present (1932) plant is up-to-date in every way, and is so constructed that two separate brewings can be carried on at the same time. The bottled beer plant is capable of bottling 750 barrels per week. The maltings at Farnham and Alton are capable of making 6,500 quarters of Malt in a season. There are two grain dryers, capable of dealing with all the grains, a yeast dryer, and also a C.O. plant for collecting gas for the Bottled Beer and Mineral Water departments.
It has thus come about that what was once the visiting place of Cardinal Newman has become the largest and most up-to-date Brewery in the County of Hampshire.
The purchase of the Farnham Brewery added largely to the Alton output, and its acquisition has become a valuable asset.
To meet the outlay the Company in July, 1929, made a further issue of 150,000 Ordinary shares of £1 each at the price of 55/- bringing the total Share Capital of the Company up to £1,250,000.
THE NOAKES ABSORPTION
In March, 1930, a still further development took place when Courages acquired practically all the interest in the Ordinary Shares of Noakes & Company, Black Eagle Brewery, White’s Grounds, Bermondsey, which had been in existence as a Company since 1897. The property consisted of the freehold Brewery, plant, etc., and 120 houses at Bermondsey and the freehold interest and plant of the Nevile Reid Brewery at Windsor, successor to Jennings Brewery, with 140 houses, which had been acquired by Noakes & Co. during the War. Further, in 1920, Noakes & Co. had purchased the Royal Brewery, Windsor, of J. Canning & Son and 20 houses. These all came into the new purchase.
Noakes & Co., was another very old established Brewery situated on the south side of Tooley Street, and may probably have been one of the four “beere” houses (mentioned in the opening chapter), which were in existence in the fifteenth century. Anyhow its position appears to have been in Crucifix Lane, and it has certainly been established for over 200 years as the Black Eagle Brewery.
The first record that can be traced of it is under the name of Clarke’s Brewery, as shown by an old drawing depicting an eagle standing on a barrel and engraved “Clarke’s pure Bermondsey Ale. From malt and hops. Brewhouse, White’s grounds, Bermondsey.” The business passed from Clarke to Mr. John Cox, and there is an engraving advertising Cox’s Fine Double Strong Ale dated 1837. Rumour states that Mr. Cox was the original grower of Cox’s Orange Pippin, the well known apple, now in fact the favourite among dessert apples.
In Midsummer 1848 there was a further change from Cox to Messrs. Day, Payne & Co., who acquired the Freehold Brewery, fixed plant, utensils and machinery, together with some 19 houses, book debts, rents and loans owing to the concern, for the sum of £14,755. Robert Day took in Wickham Noakes as a partner in 1852. Wickham Noakes got his first name from his mother, Elizabeth Wickham, who was supposed to be a direct descendant of the famous William of Wickham (or Wykeham, in the more usual spelling) who founded Winchester School.
The Brewery for many years was known as Day Noakes & Co., but when Robert Day died it was converted into a Limited Liability Company called Noakes & Company Limited, with a share capital of
220,000 Ordinary Shares of £1 each, 25,000 5% Preference Shares of £10 each; and £300,000 4% Debenture Stock.
The Brewery premises were rebuilt in 1896, the old buildings, after 200 years of service, having fallen into dilapidation. Part of the old buildings was even more ancient, and had been used as the kennels of the Old Surrey Foxhounds.
Noakes & Company will long be remembered by lawyers because of the leading case of Noakes v. Rice in 1902, which decided that a tenant tied by mortgage is entitled to freedom from the tie after paying off his mortgage, as well as the later case of Noakes v. Day, (1905) which, with Courage v. Carpenterestablished in 1910 that a tie obliges the brewer to supply beer of good quality at fair and reasonable prices.
In Courage v Carpenter the Court heared that in consequence of the increased licence duties proposed in the Finance Bill of 1909, the plaintiffs and substantially all the London brewers (except a few small brewers) agreed to raise the price of beers 6s. a barrel to the trade, leaving the trade to recoup themselves by raising the retail price to the public one farthing per half-pint. The increased prices were agreed to by the trade generally, but the defendant Carpenter refused to pay them and purchased his malt liquors elsewhere at the old prices. In an action by the plaintiffs, Courages, to restrain the defendant from committing a breach of his covenant, the Court held, that under the circumstances the increased prices were fair and reasonable, and that the Courages were entitled to an injunction.
To meet this purchase the Company issued a further £800,000 5½% Debenture Stock at 98, redeemable in 1970.
This last purchase completed the acquisition of other breweries by Courage & Co.
No sooner had they rearranged and organised all details for the supply, collection, supervision and control of their various new houses in London and the country, than the staggering impost on beer duty from Mr. Snowden’s emergency Budget in September, 1931, completely shattered all hopes and prospects of improvement in trade and profits.