In 1891 Alfred Barnard published "The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland" in which he recorded his visits to some of the largest breweries in the nation. The Chapter on the Pike Spicer Brewery in Penny Street, Old Portsmouth is of obvious local interest and has been re-published below in full. Some of the early history of Portsmouth it relates is duplicated elsewhere on this site but it is felt that this merely adds to the ambience of the piece.
CHAPTER I: THE BREWERY, PORTSMOUTH
PROPRIETORS: PIKE, SPICER & CO., Limited
CHAIRMAN: JOHN BONHAM CARTER, Esq.
- LOTHIAN GEORGE BONHAM CARTER, Esq.
- CAPTAIN ALFRED HENRY CARTER.
- THOMAS USBORNE, Esq.
SECRETARY: ALFRED THOMAS EVERITT, Esq.
"Inspired by thee the warrior fights.
The lover woos, the poet writes,
And pens the pleasing tale;
And still in Britain's isle contest
Nought animates the patriot's breast
Like generous, nappy ale....."
BEFORE entering into a description of this ancient and interesting brewery, we must introduce to our readers some brief particulars of the town of Portsmouth, in which it is located.
To an Englishman there cannot be displayed a more interesting object than that which the view of this great seaport presents to his visual faculties, as here he contemplates one of the most important of the marine gates of the kingdom. So to speak, Portsmouth is one of the passages through which our ships pass to the scenes of our commercial pre-eminence, naval consequence, transatlantic dominions, and Oriental empire. Considering the subject as patriotic Englishmen, we behold with pride and gratification this grand marine arsenal and depot, the greatest in the world, and one of the chief sources of Britain's power and domination.
Portsmouth derives its name from Port, or Porta, a Saxon commander, who landed here with his two sons, A.D. 501, and, after a severe conflict with the Britons, succeeded in gaining possession of the surrounding country. In the reign of Richard II the French attacked and burned a considerable part of the town ; but, six years after, the inhabitants fitted out a fleet, which, in the Channel took full revenge on the French by sinking and scattering their ships.
During the reign of Henry VIII, the French king, Francis I, sent a fleet of war ships in the hope of surprising Portsmouth ; however, this time the inhabitants were in some degree prepared ; an engagement ensued which, unfortunately, was not so decisive as to prevent the French from landing on the Isle of Wight. The English admiral's ship was sunk by the overweight of her metal, and the French monarch was so pleased with this event that, boastingly, he caused his ambassadors to notify to all his allies that having made himself master of Portsmouth he had the key of England in his hand. Henry, taught by this calamity, and fully apprised of the importance of the town, ordered Southsea Castle to be erected for the purpose of defending the harbour.
Soon after the commencement of the Parliamentary war, Cromwell's troops surprised Southsea Castle, of which they took possession, and subsequently the town of Portsmouth fell into the hands of the Parliamentarians.
With respect to the improvements that have been made in this ancient seaport and borough since the end of the seventeeth century they are so vast and extensive that it would require several volumes to describe them with accuracy. The fortifications, consisting of numerous and extensive outworks, are the most complete in Europe. They combine beauty with strength, and from the ramparts, which are in all parts ornamented with trees and easily accessible, extensive and beautiful prospects are obtained, comprising objects of the deepest interest and stately grandeur.
Portsmouth Dockyard, which now covers an area of 293 acres, is by far the largest in the kingdom. Besides being an important naval station, Portsmouth is our great emporium of naval architecture, and the place whence the principal expeditions issue, and to which they return. The capacious harbour is made by a bay running up between the island on which the town is built and an opposite peninsula, having a narrow entrance commanded by the town and forts. A great many of the largest ships are always laid up here, and in time of war it is the rendezvous of the great Channel Fleet.
The borough of Portsmouth includes Portsmouth, Portsea, Landport, Southsea and Kingston, and contains upwards of 130,000 inhabitants. The streets are for the most part narrow, but they are constantly in a bustle, in consequence of the traffic occasioned by the vessels which are continuously coming into and leaving the port.
Having thus briefly considered the ancient history of Portsmouth, and adverted to its modern state, we must now direct our reader's attention to the " noted " brewery owned by Messrs. Pike, Spicer & Co., Limited, situated in Penny-Street, Portsmouth. This historic and interesting brewery is doubtless the outcome of the "seven breweries," mentioned by Leland, as having been established in the town by Henry VII, for supplying beer to the troops in time of war.
William Pike, the founder of the firm of Pike, Spicer & Co., was born in the year 1691, at Poole, in Dorsetshire. By the death of his father, when quite a child he was left an orphan, and in the year 1705 was sent by his mother to Portsmouth, to be apprenticed to her cousin, a Mr. William Mudge. This gentleman, who had commenced business as a cooper as far back as the year 1661, was at this time in a large way of business as a brewer. His brewhouse was situate at the upper end of Penny Street, where the Cambridge Barracks now stand, and it was there that young Pike served his apprenticeship to the "art, mistery, or occupation of a cooper," as the deed quaintly sets out. During his apprenticeship, Mr. Mudge transferred his business to a Mr. Thomas Perkins, in whose employ young Pike continued for several years after he was out of his time, and up to the period of Mr. Perkins' death. This event took place in the year 1719, and William Pike, having inherited a considerable share of Mr. Mudge's estate, soon after commenced business for himself on the site of the present brewery.
The premises purchased by him consisted of a brewhouse, stabling, yard, etc.; at the rear of and belonging to an old victualling house, No. 19, High Street, called the " Antelope," which was built about 1670, by one John White, a mayor of Portsmouth. At the commencement, Mr. Pike appears to have had but three licensed houses, viz.: "The Blue Anchor," near the Mill Gate, afterwards called the "Elephant and Castle" (this house was purchased by the Government for the Gun Wharf extension, and its licence transferred to Sultan Road); the Butchers' Arms," - now in Bishop Street, Portsea, but in those days situated in a "common field ;" and the "Joyners' Arms," now the "Old Royal Oak," in College Street. The last mentioned was built by Mr. Mudge, in 1705, and was one of the first houses built in Portsea. Two years later, when several houses had been built near it, the despotic Governor of Portsmouth, Sir John Gibson, gave peremptory orders for their removal, alleging that they masked his fortifications. He even threatened to demolish them with the guns of his batteries, and doubtless would have carried out his threats, but for the intervention of Queen Anne; who was then on a visit to Portsmouth.
William Pike rapidly acquired other houses as opportunities occurred, many of them old-established ones, and it was owing to the rapid growth of the town of Portsea, during the first part of the eighteenth century, that Mr. Pike was enabled to extend his business in that part of the borough. The account books, deeds, and papers of Mr. William Pike, the founder, are jealously preserved by the present proprietors, and kept in a strong room, hereafter mentioned, erected in the garden attached to the brewery house (No. 19, High Street).
We extract the following entries from one of the receipt books, contained therein, showing the prices of malt, hops, oats and coal, in those days, which may be of interest to some of our readers:—
December 23, 1748. Pd: Mr. Slader, for barly for Newport Malthouse £71 8 0
Ditto. for barly for Ye Distilling House, now lodged in his
Store House at Newport £129 13 0
[Total] £201 1 0
More.—The price of this barley was 16/6 per quarter.
Febry. 11, 1749. Recd. of Wm. Pike, forty four pounds fourteen shillings, for 40 Quarters of Malt, by me Henry Thorngate.
Mch 11 1749. Recd. of Wm. Pike, thirty pounds and nineteen shillings for 29 Chaldron of Coles, by me John Young.
April 21 1749. Recd. of Wm. Pike, twenty five pds. Wch wh twenty-five pounds I recd. before makes up £50 for 25 Tuns of Hay.
May 12 1749. Recd. of Wm. Pike, two pounds and sixteen shillings for 4 quarters of Oats, by me John Alley.
May 29 1749. Recd. of Win. Pike, six pounds twelve shillings and sixpence for 1c. 3q. 18 lb. of Hopps, sold him by me Robt. Baynes.
July 12 1749. Recd. of Mr. Wm. Pike, ten pounds twelve shillings and sixpence in full, for eight tons and a half of Welch Coal, p me, Wm, Cranky.
Sept 26 1749. Wm. Pike to Thos. Eames., To Two Pockets of Hopps. Wt. 1. 3. 20. at £8. £15 8 0
Here is another curious note taken from the Day Book.
Decmr 20, 1750. I took of Mr. Spicer in part of payment of Excise Liquors, a receipt from Jno Biden for £8 7 6 wch he paid for barly d/d at Comm. m'house.
Another Ditto for 9 qr. of barly. £7 8 6
Dated Xbr. 15, 1750
Decem 14, a receipt for £24 0 0
from Mr. Golightly, wch was pd him by bill on Guillam.
By bill from Mr. Peachey £100 0 0
25 Johana's £45 0 0
13 Guineas £13 13 0
A piece of Gold £0 4 6
Silver and Copper £0 1 8½
In the year 1747, Mr. Pike purchased the distillery business of Messrs. Ribouleau, in Queen Street, which he afterwards removed to " Fountains Close," near the present " Mile End." It is in connection with this distillery that we first hear of Mr. Samuel Spicer, who was related to Mr. Pike by marriage, and for that reason was given a partnership in the business, the same being carried on under the name of Pike & Spicer, whilst the brewery business remained in the hands of Mr. Pike.
In connection with this business, we were shown by Mr. Everitt, who is an enthusiastic antiquarian, some old invoices, yellow with age, but beautiful specimens of penmanship. One of them, an account from J. & G. Webster, London, bears date January 24th, 1761, and is for juniper berries, cassia, etc, per Clark's Waggon, amounting to £39 l0s. 5d. It has the following foot-note " We wish them soon and safe with you, and that they meet your approbation." A second invoice from the same firm of wholesale druggists, who hail from the " Red Cross," Leadenhall Street, bears a beautifully engraved die —a cross in an elegantly chased shield— and is dated January 14, 1762. In this age of competition and hurry, merchants neither bestow time or expense on the appearance of their billheads.
Most of the houses acquired by Mr. Pike still belong to the firm, although time has changed them and very much improved their appearance. Some are quite historic, and have a very long record. For instance, the "Coach and Horses" in Broad Street, called, in 1669, the "St. George," was built, as far back as 1612, by Owen Jenens, Mayor of Portsmouth. The "White Horse," now called the "Angel and County Court," in Highbury Street; the "Old Blue Bell" in St. Thomas Street; and the "Bull's Head," in Barrack Street; have each a history of more than two centuries. The "White Hart" at Kingston Cross, altered to this sign in the early part of the present century, was, for more than a hundred years previously, known as the "Blue Anchor" an old-fashioned roadside country inn.
Another similar house was the "George and Dragon," erected in the year 1716, known and famous, up to the year 1760, as the "Cherry Garden;" hence the Cherry Garden Field, Cherry Garden View, etc.., etc., names which have continued to the present time. There is one more house we must not omit to mention, although the date of its erection is not known. When purchased by Mr. Pike, in the year 1750, this tavern, now known as the "Baker's Arms," and situated in the busiest part of the Commercial Road was one of a small cluster of houses situated on the London Road, about half-way between Portsmouth and the village of Kingston, and known as the "Half-way houses." This house still retains its ancient appearance, although its surroundings have so vastly changed.
Mr. Pike, who lived in Penny Street, opposite the brewhouse, was assisted in his business by Ann, his wife, whom he married in the year 1715. This lady is credited: with being a very shrewd and well-informed person, with a vein of rich comic humour in her character, and much given to unostentatious charity. Her husband was seldom seen beyond the precincts of his brewery, although (in the later years of his life) he was the owner of many large estates. In the Isle of Wight Mr. Pike was lord of the manor of Appleford, Chillerton and Barton ; and the last-mentioned manor was purchased by Her Majesty in 1845, part of which is now the Royal Farm of Barton. He was also the owner of large estates at Brading, Sandown, Shanklin and elsewhere.
Mr. Pike never aimed at anything like public employment or rank ; his life was absorbed in the accumulation of wealth. He was a man also of great plainness in his attire, and, arising from this circumstance a racy anecdote is related of him by Slight. "One day, visiting the Isle of Wight, Mr. Pike went into the principal room of a tavern at Newport, while the sale a of noble estate was proceeding. The biddings went on slowly, and, at last Mr. Pike, who was standing with a basket on his arm, containing a small loaf and some fresh oysters, made an offer for the property considerably in advance of any other; the company eyed the new bidder with surprise, and no small laughter went round the room. 'Halloa, old gentleman,' said one, are you going to outbid us.' Don't know yet,' was the curt reply. A further bid from a gentleman farmer was followed by a second, much higher, from the oyster-bearer. At this stage Mr. Auctioneer began to look dubious, and enquired in an undertone, Are you prepared to pay down a substantial deposit?' 'Don't know yet,' replied the unmoved bidder. No higher bid was made, and at last, after much delay, down went the hammer. Immediately, with a heavy thud, down went on the table a canvas bag full of guineas. 'What name, sir?' said the auctioneer. 'Pike, of Portsmouth,' responded the purchaser, at which the company laughed—as the saying goes—on the wrong side of their mouths."
Mr. Pike, who was a very wealthy man, died on the 9th of May, 1977, in the eighty-seventh year of his age, and was buried in the old churchyard, of St. Thomas. He left issue, two daughters, one of whom (whose portrait hangs in the brewery house) married Mr. John Carter, a gentleman well known in the history of Portsmouth. He was the celebrated Alderman John Carter who disputed the power of the Lords of the Admiralty to nominate parliamentary members for Portsmouth, which they had done for years. After a long struggle, and innumerable law-suits, carried on for nearly forty years, Mr. Carter was at last successful in restoring the independence of the corporation. He was no less than seven times mayor of Portsmouth, and sat as alderman of the borough for exactly half a century. The other daughter of Mr. Pike married Mr. John Bonham of Petersfield, and Mr. Pike's valuable estate was divided between the issues of these marriages. By the death of Mr. Thomas Bonham, in the year 1827, the Bonham branch became extinct, when the whole of the property became vested in the Carter family.
After the death of Mr. Pike, the brewery and distillery were carried on under the superintendence of Sir John Carter, son of the before-mentioned Alderman John Carter. Sir John was mayor of Portsmouth nine times, and served the office of high sheriff of Hampshire, in the year 1784, and his son, Mr. John Bonham Carter, representcd the borough, in Parliament, for twenty-two years. Upon the death of Sir John Carter, in 1808, his nephew and son-in-law, Mr. Edward Carter, came to Portsmouth to superintend the management of the business. He also took a very active share in all public business, both municipal, magisterial, and parliamentary. The office of mayor certainly runs in the family, for Mr. Edward Carter served the office of mayor five times, under the old "regime" and when the ancient corporation was placed in the hands of a new constituency, such was his universal popularity among all classes, that he was chosen the first mayor of the new municipality. He died at the age of sixty-six, deeply regretted by all who knew him. Referring to the sad event, the Hampshire Telegraph, of August 17th, 1850, says :—" He was -kind-hearted, most charitable, and of the strictest integrity and honour, and his loss will be greatly deplored by all classes." In recording the death of this gentleman, we are tempted to give the following detailed account of his family.
The name of Carter appears recorded in the history of Portsmouth for two centuries. In the reign of Charles II, Peter Carter held one of the most respectable parochial offices, heretofore filled by the mayor. At the period of the death of Queen Anne, John Carter, the father of Alderman John Carter, was imprisoned by Colonel Gibson, the lieutenant-governor, for presuming to promulgate the news of the death of that sovereign, and the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty. He had walked from the Metropolis, a journey that took him three days, and arrived in Portsmouth before the mail brought the news of the queen's death; of course, on the arrival of the mail, he was liberated. Hence the origin of the term, "Queen Anne's dead." Alderman John Carter died at a very advanced age, leaving three sons to inherit his property. John, the eldest, was knighted by George III, and played an important part in the history of Portsmouth. A finished memoir of this "Fine Old English Gentleman" is given in "Hone's Every Day Book," in connection with the mutiny at Spithead ; and his portrait is in the Beneficial Society's Hall, Portsea. He was offered a baronetcy, in 1806 by Mr. Fox, which he declined, because, accepting it, he felt would have been a manifest departure from principles. Upon the death of Mr. Edward Carter, in the year 1850, the management of the business fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Captain G. C. Evelegh, a grandson of Sir John Carter.
But to return to Mr. Samuel Spicer. At the death of this gentleman, his interest in the distillery of "Pike & Spicer" descended to his sons Samuel and John and David Spicer. In the year 1801 these latter purchased an extensive brewery at Portsea, founded fifty years previously by Mr. Robert Temple. Later on, John Spicer purchased a brewery at Christchurch, where he settled down. His brother, Samuel Spicer, however, remained in the original business, and was made an alderman at the death of Sir John Carter, in 1808, and, the following year, was elected mayor: During his second mayoralty, in 1817, Mr. Samuel Spicer received the honour of knighthood, and it was during his fourth mayoralty, in 1824, that he died. After his decease the distillery was given up, but Mr. David Spicer, who resided at the upper end of St. George's Square, still continued the Portsea Brewery. He was remarkable for his genial manners and kindness of heart ; his pleasant face is still within the recollection of some of the older inhabitants of Portsmouth. Mr. David Spicer was three times mayor of the town, and it was during his third year of office that the Reform Bill was passed, he being the last mayor under the old corporation. At his death, which took place in the year 1840, the Portsea business came into the possession of Pike & Co., who thereupon altered the style of the firm to Pike, Spicer & Co.
The present representatives of the Carter family, and proprietors of Pike, Spicer and Co., Limited, are as follows : John Bonham Carter, Esq., of Adhurst, St. Mary, Petersfield, Chairman of the Company, son of the late John Bonham Carter, Esq., Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons, and M.P. for Winchester (his grandfather was also M.P. for Portsmouth during the progress of the Reform Bill;) Lothian George Bonham Carter, his brother, assistant managing director, and Captain Alfred Henry Carter (cousin). Our readers will begin to inquire when we are coming to what we have to say about the brewery itself and its extensive business.
There are several ways of reaching the Portsmouth Brewery from the "Keppel's Head" hotel. We approached it from Southsea, whither we had driven to get a breath of sea air, before entering upon the duties of the day. The general aspect of this brewery, is most favourable, the lofty and substantial buildings comprising it being spacious and well arranged. The premises, which are built almost in the form of a square, with a courtyard in the centre, have a frontage of nearly 200 feet in each of three streets and the whole property covers upwards of an acre of ground.
Having previously communicated with the Company, we found Mr. Everitt, the courteous secretary, ready to receive us with a mass of information and piles of musty documents respecting the foundation of the business, and early history of this noted brewery. After spending an hour with him in these interesting researches, which enabled us to obtain the information that appears in this chapter, Mr. Everitt introduced us to Mr. L. G. Bonham Carter, by whom we were politely conducted through the brewery. Passing through the noble offices, of which more anon, we ascended a staircase leading to the laboratory, from whence we made our way through the brewhouse to the malt stores, a building five storeys high. The topmost floor, to which we first climbed, contains the mill-room, and a steam hoist for delivering hither sacks of malt from the wagons in the yard. We were informed that the firm purchase malt from the most famous houses, and that they have dealt with one firm for over a century.
The mill-room, which has a concreted floor, and measures some 36 feet square, contains a set of steel malt rollers for crushing the malt, over which is a screening machine, etc. Beneath this floor, and above the yard entrance, are the various malt stores, divided from each other by massive brick walls and arches. In one part is a great malt bin, running through two floors, and holding 700 quarters of malt, and there is an open space on the second. floor with storage room for as much more. On this level is the No. 1 hop store, a lofty room 60 feet by 27 feet, through which we walked to see the method of withdrawing the malt from the bins ; this is accomplished by means of "shoot traps " at the bottom, depending over a platform some 3 feet wide, and running the whole length of the walls. When required for use, the malt is run across, in trucks, from this platform to a malt hopper in the next building, from whence it is elevated to the mills.
Walking to the back of the mill-room, we were taken to see a cast-iron reservoir, holding 250 barrels, used for storing brewing water, supplied from the town mains. From thence we ascended to the flat roof of the adjoining building, where we obtained splendid views both of sea and land, including the Isle of Wight, Gosport, the numerous barracks, dockyards, and Southsea pier and promenade.
The brewhouse, to which we next bent our steps, is a spacious building open from floor to roof, the intervening space being broken up by a number of galleries and stages. Ascending two flights of stairs, leading from one gallery to another, we came to a cast-iron liquor-back, heated by steam coils holding ninety barrels.
Next descending to the spacious concreted floor, we were shown two iron mash-tuns, fitted with Cave's patent draining plates, and a revolving copper sparger, etc. One tun mashes thirty, the other ten quarters, and both are commanded by a Sorrell's mashing machine, which works most effectually. The grains fall direct from the tuns into a courtyard opening out into the main road, into which farmers' carts can be drawn up and there loaded. After passing through the mash-tun strainers the wort runs into an underback heated by copper coils, from whence it is pumped to the copper. Leaving the mashing stage for a while, we next ascended to a brick platform at the north corner of the house, to see the coppers. As we passed along, the workmen evinced great pride in showing us the brewing utensils- taps and numerous pipes—all as clean as a new pin. The boiling coppers, one a splendid vessel holding 100 barrels, and the other holding sixty barrels, are heated by fire, and constructed of copper. They are contiguous to the No. 2 hop-room, situated in the next building, which is about half the size of the No. 1 store, and holds 500 pockets. On leaving the copper, the hot wort runs through a tinned copper pipe to the hopback placed on the mashing floor, which is constructed of copper (the favourite metal in this brewery), and also contains copper strainers resting on gun-metal bearers.
Following our guide, We next entered the top floor of the small fermenting house (there are two), which contains a large open cooler and two vertical refrigerators of the newest type, each standing in a leaden tray some 16 feet square, and cooling at the rate of sixty barrels an hour. On our way thither, we passed a large tank for heating water by means of exhaust steam, which is for use in the cask-washing deparment.
Proceeding from this portion of the building, we were next admitted into the department appointed to the fermenting operations, carried on in a large structure at the south-east corner of the brewery. There is considerable historic interest connected with this place, as it was erected upon the site of an old Presbyterian chapel, and some of the materials were, used in its construction.
During the troublous times of Charles II and James II, the Dissenters at Portsmouth, as in other places, had no meeting-house, although they were a numerous body. Their minister, in 1677, was the celebrated John Hicks, who was executed for taking part in the Monmouth Rebellion, and for sheltering whom, the venerable Lady Alice Lisle was tried by Judge Jefferys, during his "Bloody Assize," and executed. This sheltering of the fugitive by Lady Lisle is the subject of a fresco in one of the corridors of the Houses of Parliament.
Hicks was succeeded at Portsmouth by the Rev. Thomas Clark, father of Isabella, the wife of Simon Lord Harcourt, Lord Chancellor. The chapel was erected in the year 1691, and in the year 1698 a celebrated public disputation upon baptism took place therein in the presence of the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth, Sir John Gibson, and Henry Stager, the Mayor of Portsmouth, the records of which, published by each party, may still be found. In 1707, the well-known Rev. Simon Brown succeeded to the ministry, of whom an interesting record may be found in the Adventurer, No. 88, wherein it is stated that he laboured for years under the delusion that God had deprived him of his rational soul. After Brown left Portsmouth, in 1716, for the Old Jewry Chapel, London, his congregation built a new edifice in High Street, when the old one was pulled down, and the site afterwards sold to Mr. William Pike.
In place of the chapel now stands the "big tun-room" or fermenting house, nearly 70 feet long, having broad galleries around three sides of its lofty walls. The fine open roof is supported on iron trusses, painted chocolate colour, and the inside is coiled with stained and varnished match boarding. Numerous windows give light and air to the building, and along the centre of the roof is erected a box louvre, for further controlling the ventilation. Ascending to the south gallery, we obtained a good view of the important processes being conducted in this spacious building, in which we were much interested. On the opposite gallery we beheld five fermenting vessels of vast size and capacity, constructed of pinewood, and having attemperators, all of which are supplied with cold water obtained from a circular tank in the roof. The wort is run into fermenting tuns direct from the refrigerators through detachable tinned copper pipes, which are taken to pieces and washed after each operation. Attached to each vessel, and reaching down to the ground floor of the house, is a shoot in the shape of the letter V, over which the yeast works in a continuous stream.
Though far from lacking opportunities of seeing new inventions and appliances, or old methods more or less successful connected with the manufacture of beer, which we have hitherto done our best to explain, it seems desirable to add freshness and novelty to this chapter by particularising. these "yeast shutes." They are unlike any others we have seen in our pilgrimage, consisting, as they do, of wooden V-shaped shoots, with side boards fixed flush with the top edge of the fermenting-tun, and long enough to direct the yeast into the yeast wagons below. When the fermentation reaches the proper stage, the removable end boards of the tun are lifted, and the yeast allowed to work over into the wagons. It is really a pretty and interesting sight to watch the yeast working over from the fermenting tuns to these shoots, like a series of cascades, and seeing it disappear in the capacious yeast wagons below. When the latter are filled, they are drawn away into the yeast-pressing room, where the barm is passed through powerful presses to be sold to bakers, or stored in large slate yeast-backs for future use. On the paved floor beneath there are forty-two smaller fermenting vessels for cleansing and finishing porter and stout, which is racked therefrom direct into the barrels.
From the north gallery we passed through an archway to another tun-room, situated beneath the cooling department, where there are three square and two round fermenting vessels, holding from fifty to seventy-five barrels. On its south side is situated the head brewer's office, most comfortably. furnished and fitted, through which we walked to the laboratory, connected with it by a covered bridge. Here Mr. Bonham Carter showed us a number of scientific instruments and testing apparatus; and also produced several specimens of yeast being then used in the brewings, which he placed under his microscope for our inspection.
Our next visit was to the two racking rooms, situated on the ground floor of the No. 2 fermenting- room, where ales and stouts are filled into casks, which are afterwards rolled away into the Cellars. This is always a busy place, and whilst pursuing our way we had constantly to be on the watch for a rolling barrel. On arriving at the exit, the workmen's bell reminded us that the time had arrived when we must conclude our labours, and leave till the following day the task of inspecting the cellars.
"When a man is fatigued with the toil of the day,
No medicine like ale can drive care away ;
Without it his blood will grow thicker and thicker,
But his pulses flow brisk when refreshed with good liquor.
Give water to those who, like water, are cold ;
'Tis Portsmonth Old Ale that make's my heart bold,
I leave to abstainers their potations so weak,
And stick to old ale that crimsons my cheeks."
18th Century Ballad.
[In our last chapter] we noticed the contents of the fermenting and racking rooms ; we now proceed to describe the cellars, which, in this brewery, are unusually spacious and lofty, though mostly under ground. Directed by the superintendent of the department we first visited the "Lord Nelson," or big cellar, 50 feet by 40 feet, a lofty building at the right of the main entrance. Entering it from the yard, we found ourselves on a gallery some 15 foot wide, extending around two sides of the structure, from whence we obtained a full view of the contents of this fine building. Looking over the gallery of this spacious cellar, we beheld, rising from the paved floor four giant vats for storing ale and porter, two of which hold 250 barrels, while the others are of somewhat less capacity. In the centre, standing 35 feet high, is a water hoist of unique description, the invention of one of the partners. It consists of a cage attached to one end of a chain running over two pulleys ; at the other end of the chain is a tank; when at rest these two counter-balance each other. As soon as a cask is rolled into the cage, it drops slightly, causing the tank to lift a valve at the bottom of a reservoir in the roof, and admit enough water to more than balance the casks to be lifted. The reservoir is supplied by waste water from the refrigerators. The gallery of the Nelson cellar is used for storing bitter ale casks, and will accommodate nearly 2,000 barrels.
Descending to the floor, by a flight of steps, we beheld a vista of larger cellars, branching out right and left to an immense distance, and containing many hundreds of barrels. Those to the right are double cellars, one above the other, and stretch as far as High Street ; those to the left, used principally for running ales and stouts, extend beneath the offices and fermenting department. Following our guide, we entered one of the long avenues, and then, diverging to the left, came to the middle cellar, where are stored, one above the other, in endless rows, hundreds of casks of pale ale. Here our guide left us for a moment; and we wandered on by ourselves to another cellar, called the High Street cellar, where we almost lost ourselves. Presently our guide joined us, and proposed that we should return to the vathouse by another route, and then visit the porter cellars. To see this vast stock of "the national beverage," it would certainly seem as if the....
"....Nine so fam'd of old
In musty tales by poets told,
Their Heliconian streams had slighted,
And in good Nappy Ale delighted,
Esteeming cellars better fountains
Than any in Parnassus mountains."
Progressing along, we found no thinning of this mighty array of barrels, no change in the monotony of casks—all exactly alike ; and we grew weary of following our guide down the vistas of barrels. Before we were quite fatigued we came to the sampling room, where we were glad to refresh ourselves with a draught of Pike's celebrated "fourpenny," as it has been called from time immemorial. There is something peculiarly nice and mellow about the flavour of this light refreshing beer, which is indescribable. It has had a local celebrity ever since the year of Her Majesty's accession, and its reputation has even reached to distant towns. We afterwards sampled the "Portsmouth Bitter," a refreshing beverage, sold at a moderate price, which is as sound as a bell and tastes well of the hop. The bottled ales and stouts proved highly meritorious, whilst the porter, for body, colour, and quality, will compare favourably with those brewed in the Metropolis.
Before taking leave of the manager of this department, we accompanied him to the bottled ale stores, situated in St: Nicholas Street, and distant about fifty yards from the brewery. The operations are carried on in a large square building, whose massive walls rise to a height of upwards of 50 feet, and which is most conveniently arranged and fitted up in all departments. In the basement, ranged along the walls, are barrels containing ale and stout, specially brewed for bottling ; and on the paved floor stands a Lumley's syphon bottling machine, and a patent one by a different maker, for bottling ale under pressure, near to which are the corking apparatus and labelling trays. When the ales have been bottled, they are stored in bins, or piled in stacks, on the cellar floor. The empty bottles and cases, etc., are kept on the upper storey, where also is the store room for corks, stoppers and labels.
Bidding adieu to our guide, we returned to the brewery, to inspect the cask-washing departments and cooperage. The cask-washing shed is a large building, having a corrugated iron roof supported on iron columns. It contains all the usual hot and cold water appliances and machinery; and, as operations are conducted in the same manner as in the big London breweries, we need not here describe them.
Crossing the yard we came to the cooperage, carried on in two buildings, one having an open shed below, and the other containing the cooper's shop. This is a busy place, and quite an important industry in this brewery. We were much struck with the appearance of the coopers, as we watched them pursuing their laborious toil. They are a stalwart pair, who slash with axe and wield weighty hammers; who lift heavy casks as if they were toys, or stand over a pyre of flame heedless of either fire or smoke. On exchanging a few words with them, we found that their talk was as muscular as their arms, and that to them technical culture means nought ; nevertheless, they are very independent, earn good wages, and know how to enjoy themselves.
Next to the cooperage there is another large shed, with an iron roof supported by columns, which is used for carts and drays ; there is also a similar one opposite, for the same purpose. At the back of the large dray shed there are extensive brewery lavatories, excellently arranged; and all fitted up like those at the railway stations.
The industrial shop, such as carpenters', joiners', painters', engineers', etc., arc situated on the first floor of the running ale cellar, and are quite as important as those in other large breweries.
Bearing round to the left, we passed the front of the brewhouse and came to an archway beneath the malt stores, where is situated the engine and boiler-house, a large room, some 36 feet square, containing a vertical engine of fifteen horse-power, and a Cornish double-flued boiler of the newest type. There is also another boiler in the adjoining shed, of the Galloway type, fitted with the latest improvements. Here also is the fitters' shop, containing a drilling and other machines.
We then visited the stables, situated in a yard at the back of this building, which contain a range of eight stalls and two loose boxes, over which are hay and corn lofts. Next to them is a harness-house, neatly fitted up and heated and beyond, a dwelling-house for the head drayman. Here also are the capacious coal stores for the brewery.
There are two wells on the premises, one worked by a single and the other by a three-throw pump, the larger well having a boring of over 400 feet and in the pump-room, over one of them, is a set of three-throw gun-metal wort-pumps, and a centrifugal pump for delivering wort from coolers. To the right of the archway is a fine building used for wine and stores, containing a spirit-loading room and a spirit and wine store, and a vatting room ; and on the first floor a capacious store for cordials, wines, cases, etc. A handsome roof, or penthouse, projects over the doorway in front of the building, where spirit jars are washed, and carts can load up under cover in wet weather. Here we may remark that the firm have provided for the use of the workmen a capital mess-room and cooking-house, fitted up with every requirement for their use.
The arrangements for extinguishing fire are very complete, for, besides two portable engines, there are hydrants and other appliances distributed throughout the premises.
At this point of our tour we were invited to inspect the house, No. 19, High Street, which backs on to the brewhouse yard, and is occupied by Mr. Lothian G. Bonham Carter, the assistant managing director. From time immemorial this picturesque structure has been the brewery house, and has been tenanted by each successive generation of proprietors. A pretty little garden, and more extensive conservatories, divide the house from the brewery premises. Entering from the garden, we found ourselves in a broad corridor with wainscotted walls, right and left of which are the sitting rooms. The morning room and dining room are both 25 feet square, and the drawing room about half as big again. In the dining room there are recesses 7 feet deep, fitted up with mahogany shelves of handsome design, and on the wall a very fine portrait, in oils, of Alderman John Carter, referred to in an earlier chapter.
Previous to the passing of the Reform Bill, the Liberal party was for many years in the habit of meeting in this room, to choose their candidates for Parliament. Portsmouth was one of the few, if not the only borough, which, after the Reform Bill, returned the two members who had represented it previous to the passing of that enactment.
Among the old pictures which adorn the walls is a portrait, painted in oils, of Miss Pike, who was the means of bringing the brewery into the present family. We very much admired the old winding staircase leading up from a broad corridor to the first and second floors, where there are as many as fourteen bedrooms, some of which contain curiously shaped cupboards and secret recesses.
In an ancient plan of Portsmouth, drawn about the year 1577, now in the British Museum (Cott. MSS., Aug. i., ii., 117), a house standing on this exact spot, No. 19, High Street, Portsmouth, is shown as belonging to David Savior. Coming down to the year 1646, we find the house inhabited by Lady Honora Norton, who was the only daughter and heiress of John White, of Southwick Priory, who died in 1608. She was wife of Sir Daniel Norton, who, with his son, Col. Sir Richard Norton, took the side of Parliament in the civil wars. Passing over the intervening owners, we next come to John White, of Portsmouth, who purchased the house No. 19, and the adjoining one, and converted them into an inn called the " Antelope." This gentleman, who is variously described as baker, victualler, and maltster, was elected mayor of Portsmouth in 1690. The "Antelope" is mentioned in the borough records, under date October, 1672, as being "enclosed with two high stone walls, the one on the east side, the other on the west side thereof." A small portion of each of these walls is still standing.
At the death of John White, in 1698, the premises ceased to be used as an inn, and for some years afterwards, his son, John White, an attorney (mayor in 1724), resided there. The next tenant was John Arnold, gentleman, whose descendants sold the property, in 1761, to William Pike, the founder of the brewery. Sir John Carter was living in the house in 1781, but no record has been found of the date when he took possession. Lady Carter continued to occupy the house till her death, in 1814. On reference to the corporation statistics, it is noticeable that all the occupiers of this house, for a period of over two hundred years, were mayors of Portsmouth.
In connection with this famous house, we may here state that Mr. John Pounds, the noble founder of Ragged Schools, was in the habit of frequently calling upon Mr. Edward Carter, the owner, who was most kind-hearted and charitable to solicit assistance from him in carrying on his good work. At one of these visits, on the 1st of January, 1839, Mr. Pounds was taken suddenly ill and almost immediately expired. He had often expressed a wish that he might die "like a bird dropping from its perch;" he had his wish. The chair in which he died was carefully preserved for many years, but has lately disappeared.
Next to this house, is another almost as important, occupied by Mr. Gerard Bonham Carter, and occasionally used by the chairman of the Company when visiting Portsmouth.
In a line with these houses, and beyond the stables attached to them; is another large house, also facing the High Street, and the property of the Company. It is the residence of Mr. A. T. Everitt, the assistant manager and secretary to the Company, and has a neat garden and conservatory at the back, looking on to the brewery cellars.
Near the garden gate (of No. 19, High Street) which leads into the brewery yard; stands a detached private office, for the use of the managing director, which contains, besides the handsomely fitted room and lavatories, a fireproof room, some 12 feet square, called the muniment room, where all the old deeds; charters, leases, valuable documents, and heirlooms are deposited, some of which date back to the sixteenth century.
Last of all, in our perambulations, we entered the office building, situated to the left of the main gateway and fronting Penny Street. It is rather an imposing building, and contains a spacious counting-house, cashier's office, secretary's room, and two private rooms, accountants' and cask clerk's office, a board room, and a stationery store: There is also a waiting room, and a strong room, for storing away at night the account books and ledgers.
We were informed that Messrs. Pike, Spicer & Co, own (??) tied houses in Portsmouth, and that they do a large private trade through the firm's office in Victoria Road, Southsea. As a matter of fact, about one-third of the full licensed houses in the borough belong to this enterprising firm, and the majority of them have been licensed for more than a century. Indeed, a number of them have been licensed for rnore than 150 years, and some few for over two centuries.
In conclusion, we have to acknowledge the courtesy of Messrs. Bonham Carter & Everitt, in showing us all that there was to be seen in this interesting brewery, We must also express our pleasure at the harmonious and kindly feeling which evidently exists between master and men throughout the whole establishment. The maintenance of such a feeling between parties thus connected in a large undertaking like this, forms one of the most valuable ties between employers and employed.
"Ye true honest Britons, who love your own land,
Whose sires were so brave, so victorious and free,
Who always beat France, when they took her in hand,
Come join, honest Britons, in chorus with me,
Let us sing our own treasures, old England's good cheer,
The profits and pleasures of stout English Beer.
Your wine-tipping, dram-sipping, fellows retreat,
But your beer-drinking Britons can never be beat."