A New Order

After the death of William Butler, Mr. Laurence Hodson became Chairman. He had a thorough knowledge of all aspects of the business, after being head of the manufacturing department for several years. The directors were Mr. Samuel Butler, Mr. F. T. Langley, and Mr. W. R. Wilson. Major T. Addenbrooke was appointed to replace the late Mr. W. Holland as company secretary. He immediately set about reorganising the office staff and improving their systems of working, which were thoroughly disorganised.

Laurence Hodson.

In 1895 the twelve hour shift system was abandoned. It had proved to be too hard for many of the staff, and so was replaced by a system of three eight hour shifts.

In the same year a new building programme began. A property maintenance depot opened on the east side of Cambridge Street to carry out alterations and repairs to the company’s public houses, and to the brewery itself, and a new water pumping house opened on the western boundary of the site.

In 1896 new buildings included a well-equipped cooperage and a cask washing shed at the northern end of the site, and a boiler house. The cooperage consisted of a range of small workshops for the making and repair of casks.

Several other new buildings were constructed including a cellar with a fermenting room above, lined with glazed tiles for cleanliness; ale storage sheds, spacious offices, an entrance into Cambridge Street, and a paved yard with granite setts. The fermenting room which had a capacity of 1,250 barrels per week was designed by Mr. Pryce, the building surveyor and his staff, in consultation with Mr. Hodson, and Mr. Beal the head brewer. Extra flooring was built on the first floor of the new brewery, and two more twenty five quarter mash tuns were installed.

A view of the brewery from the London & North Western Railway in 1899.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The stables in 1899.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

Mash tuns.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The collecting floor in the new tun room.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The forwarding department in the front yard was reorganised. Loading operations were slow, dangerous and hopelessly congested. In order to streamline the loading process a loading bay was built facing the stables on the eastern side of the site.

By the late 1890s the brewery had been fitted with fire appliances including standpipes, hydrants, and long hoses capable of reaching any part of the site. A large number of men were trained in the use of the appliances, in case of an emergency. The appliances were supplied by Merryweather & Company, fire engine and fire equipment manufacturers, based at Greenwich.

By the turn of the century the brewery employed 300 people, including a number of blacksmiths who worked at the company’s up-to-date smithies.

There was a large cooperage, complete with all the necessary machinery and appliances, a modern brewery capable of producing 3,500 barrels per week, a fine paved yard with a loading stage, and a range of splendid offices.

Mr. W. R. Wilson.

The loading Shed.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The cooperage.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The cellars.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The cask washing shed.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

Further building work took place in 1899. Another two mash tuns, made by Robert Morton & Company, brewers' engineers of Burton on Trent were installed, bringing the total up to six.

An extension was built on the eastern side of the new brewery to contain four 50 barrel coppers, and a hop back.

On the northern side of the building, a cooler and refrigeration room was added. The new plant increased the brewery's capacity to 4,000 barrels per week.

Reconstruction and refitting also took place in the fermenting rooms in the old maltings.

An ale store with a cellar below was added on the western side of the building, while on the east, the new extension included a yeast floor, a skimming floor, and a collecting floor.

Another addition, which still stands today, is a the entrance and gateway in Cambridge Street.

On 19th August, 1905 Samuel Fellows left the company where he had worked for over thirty years. He began as a clerk and subsequently became a departmental manager. In 1908 he wrote his history of the company, the only detailed history of its early years. He studied mathematics and astronomy, and became a member of the Royal Astronomical Society. He also gave talks on astronomy, and wrote many articles on the subject. He died on 3rd July 1937.
The skimming room.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

The yeast floor in the new tun room.

From the Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire Illustrated.

On 26th April, 1906 Mr. Lawrence Hodson resigned as company Chairman, severed his connection with the brewery, and soon left the district. He was succeeded as Chairman by Mr. William Frank Wilson. Also in 1906 his son Mr. W. R. Wilson took charge of the brewery.

The Wilsons had been London-based brewers since the late 17th century, and were head brewers at Combe, Delafield & Company of Castle Street, Long Acre, London. Mr. W. F. Wilson had a distinguished career in the brewing industry. He was student at the London College of Science, and studied chemistry under Professor Hofmann before joining Combes, where he succeeded his father as head brewer in 1868. He was possibly one of the best brewers in the country, and instrumental in starting the Laboratory Club, which later became the Brewers Institute. When the Wilsons moved to the Midlands they purchased 'Elmhurst', a fine house in Wood Road, Tettenhall, which still survives.

During 1906 an increasing level of carbonate in the spring water led the brewery to introduce piped water from the town supply. The five existing wells were abandoned, and town water was stored in a new tank, built over the southern end of the old brewhouse.

In 1907 the head brewer Mr. Hall left the brewery, and was succeeded by Mr. Arthur Hodson. Around the same time Mr. S. Bayliss was appointed to the Board. Sadly Mr. Arthur Hodson died in 1911 and was replaced by Mr. R. L. Siau, who had been with the company since 1903.

Major T. Addenbrooke. From Butler's Magazine, March 1925.   Major Addenbrooke lived at 'Pennover' in Vicarage Road, Penn.

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