Read about the process of brewing, and some of the terms used in the process
Priestfield Brewery

William Butler, born in 1816, worked as a shingler in the finery at Shrubbery Ironworks, run by George Benjamin Thorneycroft. He also kept a small grocery shop in Ettingshall Lane (later Ettingshall Road), which must have been quite successful because in the late 1830s he decide to expand the business. He purchased a piece of land alongside John Street, in Priestfield on which to build a house and a larger shop. Over the next few years the area grew into a small village known as ‘New Village’. John Street became the main shopping street in New Village with a wide variety of shops and businesses.

William Butler. From Butler's Magazine, June 1940.

Around 1840 he had the idea of supplying his neighbours and his workmates at Shrubbery Ironworks with beer, and began to build a small brewery. He excavated clay from the back of his premises to make the bricks, and built the brewery above the clay hole. This became the cellar in which to store the beer.

He obtained a beer license for the shop and began to supply beer in small casks, which he delivered to the homes of his customers in a wheelbarrow. The new venture exceeded all expectations. After about two years he left his job at the ironworks to become a full-time grocer and brewer.

The business continued to grow to such an extent that he couldn’t continue alone. In 1850 he employed Mr. John Parkes to manage the shop, so that he could concentrate on the brewing side of the business. He delivered the small casks with a pony and trap, but soon found that larger casks were required. Unfortunately the pony and trap were not suitable for the larger casks, so in 1853 he had a small float built, and engaged Mr. S. Faux as his first drayman. A year later he employed Mr. Faux’s brother, J. Faux as cellarman and general yardman.

In the early 1850s William married Hannah, who came from Willenhall. They had three daughters and three sons: Annie born in 1855, Mary born in 1856, Charlotte born in 1857, William Bailey born in 1859, Edwin born in 1861, and Samuel born in 1864.

The location of Priestfield Brewery.

The original entrance to the brewery was through a narrow passage between the shop and the brewery. William decided to convert the passage into a small bar, where customers were served from the shop, through a sliding window. He lived in the shop building with his family and John Parkes, until 1856 when he decided to leave the running of the grocery business entirely to John. He built a house in the brewery yard for himself and his growing family, and around that time hired his first brewer, William Salt, who was soon succeeded by George Geary.

The business continued to prosper, and so in 1860 William engaged three new members of staff:

Thomas Salt who went on to give the brewery twenty years faithful service, and became brewer and general manager. Then Mark Taylor who became the book keeper and cashier. And last but not least George Parkes, the brother of John Parkes who managed the shop. He became the traveller and agent, and in 1876 William Butler’s partner.

The office was located in a small dingy upstairs room adjoining the back of the shop, from which a view of the brewery could be obtained. The brewery became known as Ettingshall New Village Brewery.

Return to
the beginning
  Proceed to
Early Growth