Lichfield Brewery & The Bridge Tavern

The Lichfield Brewery Co was formed in 1869, a merger of two local breweries, owned by the Griffith Brothers Co and The Lichfield Malting Co.1 The name is fading, but just about legible on this building behind Lichfield City railway station. Observant readers will notice that the date on the building of 1858 predates the company by 11 years  – it’s thought the building originally belonged to the Griffith Brothers. Perhaps Lichfield Brewery Co was added at the time of the merger.

In Howard Clayton’s Victorian Lichfield, there is reproduction of a Lichfield Brewery Co advert. On offer are Pale Ales, Light Pale Ale ‘AK’ (intriguingly recommended for family use!), Strong Ale, Mild Ales, Stout and Porter along with Harvest Burgundy (Red or White) and Tintara wines.

The company was taken over by Samuel Allsopp and Co in 1930 and production at the Lichfield Brewery ceased soon afterwards. In 1931, The Lichfield Aerated Water Co set up at the site, but were taken over by a Derby company, Burrows & Sturgess (who produced soft drinks and who claimed to have produced the first Iron Bru.2 I always thought it was made in Scotland, from girders!). A new company called the Birmingham Chemical Co was established from this takeover. Apparently, the site became known as the ‘Wiltell Works’, after this company’s slogan ‘Quality Will Tell’, and there’s a Wiltell Rd nearby too!3

The majority of the buildings were demolished in 1969.  However, still standing are the Brewery Offices with their roll of honour, still actively used to pay tribute to the 13 employees killed in the First World War.  Their names are also included on the memorial in the Remembrance Garden.

On the opposite side of Upper St John St is a building that was once the Bridge Tavern4. Staffordshire Pasttrack has two photographs taken outside the pub around 1910. The first depicts the publican, stood outside by a horse & cart. The second, shows the pub decorated with greenery, and a huge crowd of people gathered for a celebration, possibly the Bower.

You can still see where the pub sign used to be, and a little further down, the place where a board proudly announced:

‘William Whatkiss Licensed Retailer Ale, Beer, & Foreign and British Wines and Spirits. Dealer in Tobacco’

In my previous post, I said I’d like to find out about current local breweries. It’s been a lot easier to find out about the old Lichfield Brewery than it has about the new Lichfield Brewery!  I’m sure I had one of their beers at the Lichfield Medieval Market a couple of years back, called Festival Ale.  I’ve been trying to find out if the brewery is still going.  You can buy pump clips on ebay for their beers such as Steeple Jack and MT Pocket, but I can’t find much more at the moment.

Sources:
1. ‘Lichfield: Public services’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990)
2. http://www.bygonederbyshire.co.uk/
3 & 4 The Old Pubs of Lichfield – John Shaw*

*I had a copy of this ages ago and lent it out.  Chatting on Twitter with @brownhillsbob a while ago he reminded me about what a great book it is and I treated myself to another copy.   Loads of info & some great photos too. If you’re interested in Lichfield History (and if you’re here, I’m assuming you are ;0), you should invest in a copy. Go on, go on, go on….

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5 thoughts on “Lichfield Brewery & The Bridge Tavern

  1. Hi.
    As landlord of the Horse and Jockey ,Sandford street ,Lichfield I would like to say
    we sell Lichfield brewery beer as a guest ale at least three or four times a month.
    M T Pocket and Overdraught to name just a few.
    Any enqiries call James on : 01543-410033

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  2. Hi James, Thanks for that, really pleased to hear it. Was just hard to find any info on the Internet about them! Who needs to read about them when you can sample their ale though! By the way, I love the Horse & Jockey on Sandford St – one of the best pubs in Lichfield 🙂 Was telling Brownhillsbob the other day actually, after he took a great photo of the pub for his #365daysofbiking blog! Keep up the good work! Cheers, Kate

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  3. I”m wiring a book on Vintage Port.

    Auction, by Messrs. Christie Manson & Woods, on 25 June 1912, “The Property of Frank Brace, Esq., deceased, late of Needwood House, Burton-on-Trent”, lots 76 to 79 totalling almost 13 “Dozens of Port, 1892, Taylor, bottled 1895”, the non-ullaged lots selling at 70/- to 65/- per dozen to “Lichfield Brewery Co”. (My pictures 21356/62-3.) Do records of the brewery’s dealings in Vintage Port survive?

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  4. I’ve got my great-grandad’s silver pocket watch, engraved:
    Presented to A. Lines 1879, for his prompt efforts to extinguish a fire at the brewery (Lichfield Brewery)
    What better reason to present a man with a watch……!

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