Groves & Whitnall, 1880’s Brewery Visit

The information you are reading is taken from "The Noted Breweries Of Great Britain & Ireland" by Alfred Barnard, The forward is dated June 12th 1890 so the visit must have taken place some time before that date, this is the most detailed account of what the great brewery must have been like in the in the 1880's and we are lucky that Barnard printed his account for future generations to research and enjoy, many thanks must also go to Tony Reynolds, himself, at one time an employee of Groves & Whitnall for supplying us with this article and allowing us to share it with you to keep the memories of the great Regent Road brewery alive. I have added links within this article to images that relate to this story, these will open in a new tab/window when clicked.


Above: Alfred Barnard, Brewery Historian (1837-1918)

 Regent Road Brewery, Salford, Manchester By Alfred Barnard......

It was a cold bleak day when we left London for the manufacturing metropolis of England, but we had much to engage our attention en route, together with a warm and comfortable carriage, and agreeable companions, we did not much heed the weather. Arriving at Manchester we drove to the Grand Hotel, where, during our three days' stay we were made comfortable that we should have been glad of an excuse to remain.

We had been told, by one of our fellow travelers, that it generally rains in Manchester, and that there is always a smokey, brown sky overhead. This was not our experience, for we had some splendid weather during our visit to Cottonopolis.

As we drove down Market Street, to make a call at the Exchange, on our way to the brewery, we were much struck with the quantity of choice flowers vended in the streets, by boys as well as girls, which were being purchased alike by artisans and well-to-do merchants. In no city in England is there such prevailing taste for beautiful flowers as in Manchester, and this is the more striking when we take into account that the greater part is purchased by the toilers in the factories and the workers in the mills. Almost every traveler is familiar with this "City Of Factories" its paved streets, long piles of loft warehouses, and noble buildings, many of them with stately fronts and pillared roofs, but few know much about the inhabitants swarming its principal thoroughfares, who are proverbial for their smartness and hospitality.

Manchester is situated in the hundred of Salford, and is alike a borough, city, and port. The surrounding districts are studded with flourishing towns and villages, outlying satellites of the great cotton metropolis all "little Manchester's" with similar features, containing huge mills, with their countless rows of windows, their towering shafts, their jets of waste steam, and scores upon scores of regular, uninteresting streets, with here and there great patches of waste ground. So far, as regards the cotton manufacture, Manchester might, with truth, be styled the manufacturing metropolis of the world, for there is not a country on the face of the globe into which the fruits of her industry have not penetrated.

The ship canal, when  completed, will form an epoch of such magnitude in the history of Salford and Manchester, that there is no doubt that their populations, in time, will be quadrupled. Indeed, many writers prophesy that Manchester will, very soon, become the most enterprising city in Europe. A drive of about ten minutes from the Exchange brought us to the Regent Road Brewery, one of the largest and most important in the district. It is situated in the borough of Salford, on the banks of the Irwell, soon to be transformed into the Manchester and Salford Ship Canal. Salford, although only a dividend from the city by river, has always maintained an independent character; this we found out before we had been in the borough a single day. It has the distinction of being a Royal borough - the Queen being lady of the manor - has been selected as a county under the recent Local Government Act, and has lately been granted a separate Court Of Quarter Sessions. The population of the borough is over 220,000, that of Manchester being about 380,000; the total population within a radius of thirty miles exceeding that of an equal distance from Charing Cross.

Regent Road 1

Above: The Brewery At Regent Road, Salford, Manchester

As we crossed the bridge, we had a fine view of the brewery, which was designed by J. Redford ,Esq F.R.I.B.A. of Manchester, and R.C. Sinclair, Esq. C.E, of London. The elevations, fronting the river Irwell, are of pleasing design with their imposing, louvered, ornamented, turreted roofs, placed over the coolers and brewhouses. They are arcaded with alternate red and blue brick arches, with keystones, and string courses of polished stone. Driving in at the front yard, we obtained a full view of the building on the inner side, comprised of two breweries, a portion of which is given in our frontispiece. They have one feature, which, in all continuous piles has a grand effect, and its uniformity. Added to this, they are also lofty, and of considerable extent, so that the whole appearance is good. An arched entrance leads through the front range of buildings into the brewery yard behind, which is of considerable extent. On either side of this noble entrance are doors leading to the counting house, partners' rooms, the cask offices and stationery stores, to which we will further allude.

All the buildings are most substantially constructed of brick and iron, and the premises cover nearly two acres of land. The brewery was founded in the year of Her Majesty's accession, 1837. Later on, it was purchased by Messrs. Bathe & Newbold, and carried on most successfully by them for a number of years under the management of the late Mr. William Peer Groves, who in conjunction with his eldest son, Mr. William Grimble Groves, and his son-in-law, Mr Arthur William Whitnall, purchases the concern in 1868, upon the retirement of Messrs, Bathe & Newbold. At that time output did not exceed 200 barrels per week, but owing to the enterprise of the new firm, and the growing reputation of the article they turned out, the business has made such rapid progress that the average output now approaches 3000 barrels per week, and has occasionally exceeded this figure. In 1885 the brewery lost its senior partner, who was universally respected and deeply regretted; and in 1886, Mr. James Grimble Groves, a younger son of his, who had been intimately connected with the business for many years, was taken into partnership. In 1884, to meet the demands of their customers, the present firm built a new brewery, and in the following year enlarged and remodeled the old one in conformity with the new, and both now contain the most modern and complete plant of any brewery in Lancashire.


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