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Scottish Brewing Archive

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Frequently Asked Questions

Alloa Breweries

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There were at least nine breweries in Alloa last century producing a variety of ales for home and export trades. Alloa was well positioned, with a good water supply, close to local supplies of barley and good sea transport links. Alloa ale was sent to London and George Younger had an extensive export trade in the West Indies, Egypt and the Far East. Alloa was also famed for its lager, Alloa Brewery Co developing Graham’s Golden Lager in 1925 and renamed Skol in the 1950s. Closures and mergers in the 1950s and 1960s reduced the number of breweries to 2 and by 1999 there was one, The Forth Brewery.

See Alloa Ale, a history of the brewing industry in Alloa, by Charles McMaster, 1984.

The Scottish Brewing Archive holds archive material for Carlsberg-Tetley Alloa Ltd (to be catalogued), Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd, James Calder (Alloa) Ltd), Maclay & Co Ltd, Meiklejohn’s Brewery Ltd, and George Younger & Sons Ltd

Clackmannan Libraries & Archives has local sources to help with family history enquiries, particularly Old Parish Registers, Census records and newspapers (indexed). Contact Ian Murray, Archivist, Clackmannan Libraries Archives and Walter Murray Local Studies Collection, 26-28 Drysdale Street, Alloa, FK10 1JL.

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Alloa Brewery

Founded in 1810 as Alloa Brewery Co; 1825 changed name to Andrew Roy & Co; 1837 bought Hutton Park Brewery of John Syme; 1866 Alloa Brewery bought by Archibald T Arrol; 1895 became Archibald Arrol & Sons Ltd; 1951 Inde Coope and Allsopp took full control; 1984 Alloa Brewery Co Ld, then Carlsberg-Tetley Alloa; closed 1998.

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Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd, the Townhead Brewery

Founded in 1853 by Alexander Blair; 1883 became Blair & Co of Alloa Ltd; 1896 voluntary liquidation, but new company of same name formed; 1936 went into voluntary liquidation and new company called Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd formed; 1954 bought Robert Knox (Cambus) Ltd, Forth Brewery and Ideal Taverns (Scotland) Ltd in 1957; 1959 bought by George Younger & Son Ltd, Alloa; 1962 voluntary liquidation.

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James Calder & Co (Brewers) Ltd, the Shore Brewery

Founded in 1816 by John McNellan; 1862 bought by James Calder who later bought Bo’ness Distillery and Glenfoyle; 1905 became James Calder & Co (Alloa) Ltd; 1920 re-registered as James Calder & Co (Brewers) Ltd; 1921 brewing ceased at the Shore Brewery, all brewing being contracted to Archibald Arrol & Sons Ltd; 1960 acquired by Northern Breweries of Great Britain, later United Breweries Ltd.

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Robert Henderson & Co Ltd, the Mills Brewery

The Mills Brewery was established c.1804 by John McDermid; by 1825 trading under name of Thomson, McDermid & Co; 1830 brewery leased to James Maclay; 1870 James Maclay set up his new Thistle Brewery; 1871 Mills Brewery leased to Robert Henderson and later purchased outright; 1909 registered as R Henderson & Co Ltd; 1944 purchased by James Calder & Co (Brewers) Ltd and parts of the site subsequently sold off or demolished.

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Robert Knox Ltd, the Forth Brewery, Cambus

First brewery established 1786 at Tullibody. By 1792 moved to Cambus; 1860s moved to larger site in Cambus; 1951 became private liability company - Robert Knox (Cambus) Ltd and run by Knox family until Thomas Knox died in 1951; 1954 acquired by Blair’s & Co (Alloa) Ltd and brewery closed 1955; 1957 sold to North of Scotland Distillery Co and converted into Strathmore Distillery; closed by 1980.

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Maclay & Co Ltd, the Thistle Brewery

James Maclay leased the Mills Brewery around 1830-1870; 1870/71 built new Thistle Brewery, East Vennel; 1875 died; 1876-1896 run by his sons, James and John; 1896 sold to the Fraser family, licensed grocers and spirit merchants of Dunfermline; 1897 became limited liability company of Maclay & Co Ltd; by 1990s owned by Matthews family; 1999 brewery closed; former head brewer Duncan Kellock set up Forth Brewery and brewing Maclay’s beer under contract.

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Meiklejohn’s Brewery Ltd, the Bass Crest Brewery

1774 Robert Meiklejohn’s first brewery at Auld Brig, Alloa; 1787 moved to Candleriggs, Alloa; 1828 died and carried on by son James until his death in 1837; Hugh Kennedy took over and in 1852 moved brewery to the Grange Brewery, which had been a brewery and distillery; 1852 Candleriggs brewery leased to George Younger and sold to them in 1871; Hugh Kennedy retired and although brewery traded as Robert Meiklejohn & Son, it was under the ownership of Morrison & Co and then Kidd & Blair; 1856 partnership of Maitland, Gorrie & Boyes and called Bass Crest Brewery; taken to court several times by Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton for using labels similar to Bass’s; 1890 sold and converted to a limited liability company called Meiklejohn’s Brewery Ltd; 1899 sold to Newcastle-based consortium of hotel owners and publicans and new company formed, Bass Crest Brewery Co; 1918 sold to Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton; 1919 buildings sold to George Y ounger & Sons Ltd who made non-alcoholic drinks there; buildings demolished in 1960s.

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George Younger & Sons Ltd, the Meadow & Candleriggs Breweries

Meadow Brewery established around 1764, although George Younger had been a brewer since the 1740s; Candelriggs Brewery leased from Robert Meiklejohn & Co 1852 and purchased 1871; Meadow Brewery ceased brewing in 1877, becoming the company offices; 1869 Craigward Maltings built; 1889 bottling department built at Kelliebank - became Scottish Central Glass Works in 1919; 1897 became limited company of George Younger & Son Ltd; 1898 bough R Fenwick & Co Ltd, Sunderland Brewery and Chester Brewery, Chester-le-Street; 1919 bought Charles Pearson’s Craigward Cooperage, Alloa, George White & Co, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Bass Crest Brewery; 1959 acquired Blair & Co (Alloa) Ltd; 1960 acquired by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd and ceased to brew 1963.

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Other Brewers

Thomas Paterson, Forthbank Brewery (by 1845).
John Thompson & Co, Caponcroft Brewery, Jamaica Street, c.1870-1902.

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