1880s and 1890s saw major staff changes at the brewery. Ten
of the most senior and well respected members of staff died.
The deaths were as follows:
||Mr. George Parkes
||Mr. Thomas Salt
||Mr. William Bailey
||Mr. I. Richardson
||Mr. W. Nevill
||Mr. William Hodson
||Mr. William Butler
||Mr. Edwin Butler
||Mr. John Parkes
||Mr. W. Holland
The bereavements began with the death
of George Parkes who had been a loyal employee for twenty
three years, and a partner since 1876. When his illness
began he tried to carry on as usual, but the attacks of
sickness got worse and developed into pneumonia. He died at
his home in the old brewery, and was buried at Bilston
Three years later another death
occurred which would have come as a great shock to all.
William Butler’s eldest son, William Bailey Butler who had
worked at the brewery for nine years, and become an
important member of staff, died after undergoing a
life-saving operation. Only eight years earlier all of the
employees had celebrated his twenty first birthday in style,
at the Molineux Hotel, during a grand party organised by his
father. On the day of his birth, his father brewed a
specially strong ale, which he kept until the party. It was
greatly enjoyed by all of the guests.
Mr. William Bailey Butler
in 1883 to 1885, possibly outside The Cedars.
Courtesy of James Hewitt.
In September 1887 Mr. I. Richardson
died. He had always suffered from ill health, and was often
away from work. During these occasions Mr. W. Holland
carried out his duties, so unsurprisingly on his death, Mr.
Holland stepped into his shoes.
In 1890 another important member of
staff, William Hodson died. During his time at the brewery
he had done much to increase trade, and became a much-liked
senior partner. Although still living at Compton Hall, he
died at Gratwicke House in Worthing, which is believed to
have been a nursing home.
After William Hodson’s death, William
Butler decided to convert the business into a limited
liability company, possibly because of his advanced age, and
the relative inexperience of the senior management. In April
1891 the firm became W. Butler & Company Limited with a
share capital of £300,000. The directors were Edwin Butler,
Samuel Butler, Laurence W. Hodson (William Hodson’s son),
and F. T. Langley. Mr. Holland became company secretary.
Two years later the staff at the brewery
received what must have come as a great shock, the death of
William Butler, who not only founded the company, but had
been the essential driving force behind its development and
success. William carried on working until the end, possibly
because of the death of his eldest son, who would have been
destined to take-over the business. Because of his advancing
years, his visits to the brewery were less frequent, and
much shorter. On 10th March, 1893, at the age of seventy
seven, he spent some time at the brewery before returning
home to ‘The Cedars’, where he passed away that evening.
William Butler's funeral, which
took place on Wednesday 22nd March, 1893, was
reported in that evening's Express & Star as
The Late Mr. William Butler.
On Wednesday at noon, amid many
manifestations of regret, the mortal remains of the
late Mr. William Butler, of Compton, founder of the
firm of Butler & Co., Springfield Brewery, were laid
to rest in the family vault at the Wolverhampton
The officiating clergymen were
the Revs. J. Bailey (Isle of Wight), A. Sargent, and
R. W. Hopewell. Carriages were sent by Mrs. Butler,
Mr. S. Bayliss, Mr. W. Bayliss, Mr. Wilson, Mr.
Hodson, and other friends, and the mourners included
Mr. Edwin, Mr. Samuel, Mr. Jacob, and Mr. Isaac
Butler; Mr. Samuel, Mr. Moses, and Mr. William
Bayliss; Mr. S. and Mr. Joseph Bailey, Mr. E.
Thomas, Mr. John Parkes, Mr. Wilson, Mr. L. Hodson,
Mr. F. T. Langley, and Mr. L. T. Smith.
Wreaths were sent, in addition
to the above named, by the employees of Springfield
Brewery, the Trinity Wesleyan Sunday School, Mr. and
Mrs. Chas. Clarke, servants at Ashfield House and
The Cedars, and others.
Samuel Fellows in his history
of the brewery, sums him up as follows:
“Mr. Butler was a genius; his
knowledge of human nature was great and
comprehensive, and his practical acquaintance of
every kind of work was remarkable. He was in every
sense a working man, and never aspired to public
life, but filled his place as a brewer and succeeded
in a surprising manner. He left behind him a great
concern, the name and reputation of which was famous
throughout the greater part of Staffordshire.”
Only five months after William’s death,
his second son Edwin died. He had been suffering from
consumption for some time, a disease that is now known as
pulmonary tuberculosis. Before his father died he purchased
a house for Edwin at Tettenhall, but Edwin never had the
chance to enjoy it. On medical advice he went to Colorado in
the hope that the warm dry climate might help. Sadly after a
stay of several weeks he died, and was buried there. In his
will he bequeathed £5,000 to the brewery for the building
and maintenance of a reading room, and another £5,000 to
provide music in West Park during the summer months.
On 1st May, 1895 another important and
well-liked member of staff, John Parkes died. He had been
suffering from bronchitis for some time. Initially it seemed
as though he would recover, but as the illness progressed he
had to remain at home. He died there, and was buried
alongside his brother at Bilston Cemetery.
On 3rd May, 1895, only two days after
John Parkes’ death, W. Holland died at Abergele. He was
buried at Wolverhampton Cemetery on the same day as John
Parkes. It must have been a very sad day for everyone at the
Left to right:
Mr. I. Richardson, Mr. Guy, Laurence Hodson, Samuel
Fellows, William Hodson, Edwin Butler, William Bailey
Butler, Mr. Oxenham, and Mr. W. Holland. From the July
1940 edition of Butler's Magazine.
Back Row left to right:
Mr. A. W. Hunter, Mr. A. L. Legg, and Mr. H. Slater.
Middle Row left to right: Mr. A. E. Wood,
Mr. H. T. Hards, Mr. A. Southwick,
and Mr. J. S. Yates.
Front Row left to right: Mr. E. Ecclestone,
Mr. W. H. Holland, Samuel Fellows,
Mr. W. C. Sheldon, and Mr. S. Ismay.
From the July 1940 edition of Butler's Magazine.
||A close-up view of Samuel Fellows
from the photograph above.
1870 Samuel Fellows was engaged by the company to assist in
the office. He worked at Butlers for 35 years before leaving
due to ill health in August 1905.
His history of Butlers covering the
first sixty eight years of the company's life, ended on 30th
A New Order