Brewing in our area
Captain Tucker's 1852 Ordnance Survey map of York
Beer and ale are the only drinks that have been made in our area for sale to the public. I have already mentioned the medieval church-ales in Clementhorpe and not far from the site of that church was our only significant brewery. A map from 1852 produced for The Ordnance Survey shows ‘The Clementhorpe Brewery’ close to the Ouse and near to The Slip pub. No doubt its siting was to allow deliveries by barge. Founded in the early 19th century it had a succession of owners. In 1855 it was bought by another York brewery, one based in Friargate. It was closed by 1858 and the site was later occupied by Terry’s first chocolate factory in York, itself demolished in the 1980s. I do not know if the brewery supplied any pubs in our area. This brewery had its own maltings – a building used to produce malted barley, an essential ingredient for making beer.
Another (unrelated) maltings was built in the late 19th century between Vine St and Lower Darnborough St for the Tadcaster Tower brewery. This maltings closed in the 1950s and is now preserved as a building converted into housing.
A real curiosity is a ‘botanical brewer’, one John Sinkinson, who was operating in the early 20th century from long gone premises at 6 Cherry St. Botanical beers are naturally alcoholic and include ginger-beer, such as is still brewed commercially (but now as a non-alcoholic drink) by Fentiman’s of Hexham. I have also found a reference in a book to an aerated water manufacturer in Dale St. The author adds “with beer brewing too no doubt” but he offers no evidence. Another aerated water plant was sited in Nunnery Lane and this one did bottled beer (including ‘Dandelion Porter’) and cider made elsewhere.
I mentioned earlier that the home brewing and wine-making shop, Best Cellars, late of Bishopthorpe Road, had a special claim to fame. This was that it was the last commercial brewer in our area. John and Avril Boothroyd, who ran the shop, made small quantities of bottled beer for sale to the public until they closed in the 1990s. Thus, commercial brewing began and ended in the same small part of our area, first with the Church and much later with John and Avril. The same small area also contained our only sizeable brewery and two sets of maltings.
STOP PRESS We recently heard from David Parker, whose father still has a bottle of beer from Best Cellars, bought in the 1970s, see the picture.