Monkey See , Monkey Brew

Monday, 28 January 2019

A Short History Of Magee Marshall

                                           Magee Marshall & Co, Crown Brewery, Bolton

The founder of Magee Marshall, David Magee, was born in Bolton in 1829 and became the licensee of the Good Samaritan on Derby Street in Bolton shortly after his marriage in 1853. He had developed his business further by the 1860s by which time he had moved his growing family to the Crown Vaults, again on Derby Street, where he re-built and expanded the Crown Brewery.
David Magee remained at the crown until his untimely death in 1875 at the relatively young age of 45. On dying, he left his business to his wife Elizabeth who, in the 1881 census return for Derby Street, is described as a “Wholesale Brewer, employing 75 men”.
Magee Marshall Extra Crown Ale Showcard , Ca 1904
Also included in that census return were David Magee`s sons who were all listed as Brewers: Thomas (26) who had joined his father at the Crown brewery aged 14 in 1869, John (24) who was studying medicine at Manchester at the time of his father`s death, and Joseph (19) who served a “Premium Apprenticeship” at a large Edinburgh brewery - quite possibly that of Cooper & McLeod  , who owned and operated the Castle Brewery.The other founder of the firm, Daniel Marshall, was born in Edale, Derbyshire in 1832. In the 1851 census Daniel Marshall is listed as a brewer at the Old Ship at Pownall Fee, Macclesfield.
By the 1860`s Daniel Marshall had moved to Bolton and was working as a brewer at one of the town`s many commercial breweries, unfortunately I`ve been unable to verify which one. By 1864/5 he was the lessee of the Grapes Inn & Brewhouse on Water St, Little Bolton, where he began to build up the business. He later purchased another brew-pub, the One Horseshoe, and by the time of the merger of the two concerns  in 1888 was quite a successful small brewer.
Magee Marshall & Co were registered as a limited company on March 22nd 1888. The shareholders were as Thomas Magee with 4,500, Daniel Marshall 4,500, John Magee 3,750 and Joseph Magee 3,750 with  Elizabeth Magee (Senior) Elizabeth Magee (Junior) and Ellen Marshall  each subscribing to a single share in the newly registered firm.

Magee Marshall Malt Stock Book Photo 1896
The company`s first offices were located at the Brown Street premises of Daniel Marshall with brewing ceasing at Brown Street and Water Street shortly after the merger, production being transferred to the Crown Brewery with the Brown St premises used for bottling and other commercial activities.
The next development was in 1894 when the Magee brothers and a consortium of businessmen purchased at auction the Wigan brewery of Henry Robinson & Co (established around 1780) which continued to be operated as a brewery until August 1896. 

Photographs of the Auction Catalogue for Henry Robinson & Co`s Brewery ,  1894
At this time the concern was formally purchased by Magee Marshall & Co, further expanding their estate to Wigan, Leyland, St Helens, Prescot and Parbold to name a few!
The Crown Brewery must have been a busy place as, by the mid to late 1890s, Magee`s commissioned the noted brewery architect William Bradford to design a new brewery on the site of David Magee`s Crown Brewery.
Magee Marshall beers in the late 1890`s were X , XX , XXX , B.B (Bitter Beer) and a Stout .
Magee Marshall Beers 1893  -  1896 
 As was common with other regional brewers, Magee`s were also bottling the products of national brewers , such as Bass and Worthington of Burton On Trent , and Findlatter`s and Guinness of Dublin  , with the beer being shipped in Hogsheads to Bolton and Wigan and bottled there.

In 1902 Magee Marshall made the decision to lease  the John Bell & Co  Brewery on Litchfield Street in Burton on Trent from Salt & Co and were brewing at Litchfield street until at least late 1907 -1908 when the decision was made to purchase land near Shobnall Road in Burton ,
 from The London & North Western Railway Co.
Magee`s Stock Book entry showing brewing at Bell`s brewery in Burton On Trent
The purpose of this was to have wells sunk in order to extract the famous Burton brewing water. This upset Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton (the local and natinal brewing giant ) who wrote a letter of complaint to Magee`s in 1909 about their extraction of “valuable brewing waters”, I`d imagine that the letter was met with an instruction to `File that letter in the customary manner`.
Magee`s Pale Ale Trade Showcard , Ca 1904 
The next and last acquisition by the company was in 1912 when they purchased the Alexandra Brewery of John Halliwell & Sons (established around 1858) , The founder was a well respected local businessman , and in common with other prominent local dignitaries was , appointed as a
`Poor Law Guardian ` for the local area , also called Halliwell !! .
A photo from the earliest surviving Wages Book of John Halliwell & Sons 
The expanded company prospered throughout the early 1900s and was an early exponent of the managed house system. Continuing to expand the estate they eventually owned pubs across Lancashire , particularly on the Fylde and Blackpool .

The Alexandra , Whelley , Wigan ;
 Originally a Henry.Robinson & Co pub
called The Von Blucher after the noted
Prussian Field Marshal
The New Market Inn
Bolton , Ca 1910


A Magee` s Pub Price Poster , 1919
By the late 1920s the purchase of another local rival, John Mercer & Co of the Plough Brewery in Adlington, was contemplated but the decision was made not to progress with Mercer`s eventually being bought by Dutton`s of Blackburn in 1929. 

Magee`s Drays 1920`s  -  1930`s 
In common with other regional brewers Magee`s had a home delivery service. Amongst the popular beers were Crown Ale and Oatmeal Stout, other Magee`s beers at the time were the famous IPA and B.B (Best Beer, not Best Bitter).
Magee Marshall Bottled Beers Showcard , Ca 1904
As with most, if not all, British brewers during the second world war materials and maintaining the quality of the beers was a major preoccupation though at the first post war A.G.M of the company in late 1945 the chairman Nancy Magee was effusive in her praise of the Head Brewer , 
 Mr A.H Morris, for his maintenance of the usual high quality and standards under difficult conditions .
New Bottling Plant being installed at the Crown Brewery , 1950`s
The post war period was a difficult one for many of Britain`s family brewers with more than a few opting to sell to either local or national rivals as was, sadly, the case with Magee Marshall.
In late 1958 Greenall Whitley & Co of the Wilderspool Brewery, Warrington, purchased the company and 105 years of independent brewing came to an end. Slowly the rationalisation of the Greenall group started to take hold and the Crown Brewery brewed its last drop of Beer in September 1970.

Magepe`s Invalid Stout Showcard Ca 1904     
Magee`s Oatmeal  Stout Showcard Ca 1904
     A version of this post  appeared as an article in the current issue of the exellent Beer Imbiber magazine .

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