The brewing Process
A Hot water tank (liquor tank).
B Liquor treatment plant.
C Mashing liquor tank which stores the treated liquor.
D Malt hopper.
E Malt screen and the grist mill which cracks the malt and breaks up the starch.
F Grist case which feeds the crushed malt into the mash tun.
G Mash tun where the grist and liquor are mixed and heated to produce wort.
H Underjack which regulates the wort from the mash tun and feeds it into the copper.
I Sugar storage tank.
J Copper where the wort is mixed with hops and sugar, and boiled.
K Hopback where the spent hops are removed, then sold for agricultural use.
L Jackback a storage tank for the 'brew' from the copper, and a 'brew' pump.
M Storage tank for the cooler.
N Cooler or paraflow which cools the 'brew'.
O Fermenting Vessel where yeast is added and fermentation takes place.
P Cooler or paraflow which cools the beer.
Q Racker where the beer is barrelled, and finings are added.
R Yeast tank where the used yeast is stored.
S Yeast press where the yeast is pressed before going into store.
Springfield Brewery

A new site at Springfield was quickly purchased from Richard Woodcock, a land surveyor. It had a plentiful supply of high quality water, on just over seven acres of land, with an adjacent railway. To the east were a number of fields which offered the possibility of future expansion. Building work began in September 1873, and twelve months later the new brewery opened. It had been designed to produce up to 350 barrels per week. Over the years trade increased many times, and the brewery expanded. It survived for over 100 years, and became the town’s largest brewery.

The plots of land (coloured green) that were purchased for the building of the brewery.

The new brewery had a twenty-quarter mash tun, two forty barrel coppers, twelve fermenting rounds, each capable of holding about thirty five barrels, cellars, a cooperage, a small malting, offices, and stables.

Few details of the original buildings survive, only an incomplete plan is known. Initially the south western corner of the site was developed alongside the adjacent railway line.

There were three buildings, one to the north running north to south, an ‘L’ shaped building running east to west, and another to the south alongside Grimstone Street. It seems likely that the eastern end of the ‘L’ shaped building was the four storey tower brewery.

The tower brewery contained the twenty-quarter mash tun and the two coppers. Twelve fermenting rounds were in the two storey building adjoining the brewery. Below the fermenting rooms were brick vaulted cellars. The maltings were in the northern building, with a malt kiln at the northern end, and a barley germinating floor.

The offices were in the building alongside Grimstone Street, and a cooperage and stables stood to the north east. The plant and brewing machinery were of the best quality, using the most up-to-date technology.

When Springfield brewery opened, most of the staff from Priestfield moved there. The old brewery ceased to operate, but the buildings were retained for use as a malt house, and cellars for the storage of old ale. When the brewery closed, Mark Taylor vacated the house, which was taken over by the Parkes Brothers. John Parkes abandoned the shop on medical advice, and joined his brother as a traveller and agent for the firm. The old brewery survived until about 1920.

Growth of the new brewery was rapid. Initially the buildings occupied only a small part of the company’s land, but soon the whole area had been used and more land had to be purchased to accommodate new structures. The rapid growth resulted in the opening of a building department to oversee the development.

After 1874 the relationship between William Butler and Thomas Russell progressively deteriorated. During his time at Springfield, Thomas had been developing his own commercial interest, the Great Western Brewery.

By 1876 the Great Western Brewery, in Great Western Street was ready to open. William Butler and Mr. Russell had become bitter business rivals, and so in 1876 the partnership ended.

Thomas Russell left to concentrate on the running his brewery, and took with him a large portion of Butler’s trade by offering larger discounts to customers. Shortly after his departure, Mark Taylor left Springfield Brewery to work for him at the Great Western Brewery.

Taylor’s relationship with George Parkes had been somewhat strained for several years because he was jealous of Parkes’ position in the company and thought that William Butler had overlooked him for promotion. On his departure, William Butler engaged schoolmaster Isaiah Richardson as a replacement.

A plan of the original brewery at Springfield.

William Butler found two new partners. The first, George Parkes had worked for the company since 1860 and had proved to be a hard-working, loyal employee. The second partner, Mr. William Hodson joined the business on Thomas Russell’s final day at Springfield. When Mr. Hodson arrived at the brewery and shook hands with Thomas Russell he remarked that “Rivals in business need not be personal enemies.”

William Hodson.

William Hodson proved to be an ideal partner who was well respected and liked by the staff. He was born in Burton upon Trent and moved to London where he worked for Trueman, Hanbury and Buxton at their Brewery in Spitalfields.

In 1862 he married Helen Officer Miller from a family of brewers, and they lived at 2 Church Street, Spitalfields. By 1881 the family had moved to Wolverhampton and are listed in the 1881 census as living at 91 North Road with two general servants:

Helen O. Hodson, age 41.
Laurence Hodson, age 17, brewer’s clerk.
Helen C. Hodson, age 15, scholar.
Alice L. Hodson, age 11, scholar.
Katherine F. Hodson, age 6, scholar.

William is not listed, he must have been away at the time. His son Laurence Hodson worked as a brewer’s clerk at Springfield Brewery.

William Butler and his family are listed in the 1881 census as follows:

Dwelling: Compton, ‘The Cedars’

William Butler, age 65, Brewer employing 30 men.
Hannah Butler, age 58.
Annie Butler, age 26.
Mary E. Butler, age 25.
Charlotte Butler, age 24.
William Bailey Butler, age 22.
Edwin Butler, age 20.
Samuel Butler, age 17.

Also listed are two house maids and a cook.

William Butler and William Hodson worked well together. It was largely thanks to William Hodson’s efforts that business doubled within three years of his arrival. In the late 1870s William Butler’s eldest sons William Bailey Butler, and Edwin Butler began to take an active role in the business. William, possibly the most outgoing of the two, familiarised himself with the workings of every department and soon became extremely useful to the firm, as did Edwin, but in a much quieter sort of way.


William Bailey Butler.


Edwin Butler.

In 1877 the company purchased an area of land on the eastern side of the brewery from the Walker family, who worked in the glass trade. Around the same time Butlers agreed to sell roughly three acres of land to Wolverhampton Corporation for the building of Cambridge Street and a number of houses. A small part of this land was retained by the company and later used as the site for a building maintenance department to serve the brewery’s properties. The following year the brewery exchanged land with the Great Western Railway in order to straighten the western boundary of the site, and a year later purchased one acre of land on the corner of Grimstone Street and Cambridge Street from the Duke of Cleveland.

In 1879 Mr. W. H. Holland started work in the office, overseeing cash accounts. Within a few years he was promoted to ledger clerk and worked alongside Mr. Richardson.

Sales grew rapidly, and the old brewery had to be extended in order to keep-up with demand. In 1878 a second mash tun and more fermenting vessels were added to the existing plant, and in 1880 a siding was built from the adjacent Great Western Railway line into the brewery. It became invaluable because at the time everything transported more than about twelve miles had to be sent by rail.

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