1914 – 1918

Groves & Whitnall, The First World War...

When war broke out on 4th August, 1914, many of the employees of Groves and Whitnall immediately joined the forces. Lieut. Colonel J. E. G. Groves, the Chairman, was called up on mobilisation of the Territorial force. He was by then the Commanding Officer of the 5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, and proceeded overseas with them in early 1915. Mr. W. Peer Groves joined the Royal Naval Air Service, Many others followed later. Unfortunately owing to the destruction of the company's offices in World War Two it would be impossible to append a full Roll of Honour for the 1914-1918 War. Rather than give a possibly incomplete Roll, we must refer in general terms to those who served, for which they will no doubt forgive us.


Above: A Brewery Dray Truck Of The Period.

One of the first acts of Government was  to commandeer transport. The company had to hand over most of it lorries and the best of its horses, and the breweries houses were supplied under the transport pool system. In 1915, the remainder of the old stables were pulled down and additions were made to the bottling works on their former site, To save manpower, the government drastically curtailed the supply of beer. This policy caused great discontent, and the authorities were compelled to allow extra supplies to houses serving the docks, munitions factories ad in other special areas serving the war effort.

Many licensed premises, however, were closed from Sunday or even Saturday night until the following Friday evening. Some landlords formed the habit of being in their houses only at weekends and few organised attempts were made to spread over supplies by a rationing system. This policy of the Government and its application by the trade make an interesting contrast to the systems that worked out during the Second World War. These more enlightened systems, which will be mentioned later, were in general sincere attempts by the trade to give an even service to the public under difficult circumstances. Groves and Whitnall's trade increased greatly in the latter years of the war, when restrictions were somewhat eased, and especially in 1919 when the forces were demobilized.

The following changes in the Groves and Whitnall Board of Directors took place during the First World War years.

  • Colonel J. E. G. Groves, as already mentioned, was appointed Chairman and Managing Director in October 1914.

  • Mr. W. S. Cronshaw was appointed Deputy Chairman in the following year when Colonel Groves went to France.

  • Mr. Roland Whitaker, who had been head brewer since 1910, was appointed a Director in 1916.