Beery Bits and Bobs – with Dave Pickersgill

Greene King takes over Spirit

Burton-based pub company, Spirit, has agreed to a £774 million takeover from Greene King. In September, Spirit rejected an initial offer, which valued the company at 100p a share. The new offer is 115p/share. Spirit, which was split off from Punch Taverns in 2011, runs the Chef & Brewer, Fayre & Square, Flaming Grill,  Good Night Inns, John Barras, Original Pub Company, Taylor Walker and Wacky Warehouse brands. It was originally part of the Bass empire and has over 750 branded, managed pubs throughout the UK and over 450 leased pubs. Sheffield outlets include: Drakehouse Mill (Waterthorpe), Peacock (Owler Bar), Red Lion (Gleadless Town End), Ridgeway Arms (Mosborough) and the Wagon and Horses (Millhouses).

‘STRIKES BOCK’ BEER NAME SPARKS TRADEMARK DISPUTE

Star Wars creator George Lucas and Lucasfilm have filed notice to force Empire Brewing in Syracuse, New York, to stop using the name Strikes Bock for a beer it has been brewing for seven years. Empire recently applied for a trademark for the beer, which it previously sold only at its brewpub and now plans to distribute from a larger brewery it is building. “The thing is the beer is called ‘Strikes Bock,’ not ‘Empire Strikes Bock,'” owner Dave Katleski told a local newspaper, “It’s ‘Strikes Bock,’ by Empire.” In its legal argument, Lucasfilm, now owned by the Walt Disney Co., contends that the Empire Brewing beer label could infringe its trademark rights and cause confusion among consumers.

BEER, THE FERTILITY DRUG?

A study of men whose partners were undergoing In vitro fertilization at Massachusetts General Hospital found that those who drank the equivalent of a pint of beer a day had the best chance of conception. Men who consumed an average of 2.7 alcohol units each day had a 57% chance of the process ending in pregnancy — double that of those whose intake was lower. Health experts have attributed this to alcohol’s ability to temper stress levels, and for those consciously trying for a child, removing some of the pressure during sex could be the key to aiding conception. Speaking at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s conference, Dr. Allan Pacey of the University of Sheffield, agreed: “There has been conflicting data about the benefit or harm of drinking alcohol when trying to conceive. However, I firmly believe that moderate social drinking within guidelines (three to four units per

day) can be of benefit for couples trying to conceive… It helps to reduce stress.”

Earl Grey Hotel, Sheffield 

IMG_5155

This half-pint glass bottle is in the privately owned, Hooge Crater Museum (Canadatlan 26, Zillebeke, West Flanders, Belgium). It was found locally on the WW1 Western Front, close to the site of the Hooge Crater. This crater was created by the British when they smuggled 1,700 kg of dynamite into tunnels which ran under the German front line. Detonation occurred on 19th.July 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres.

The Earl Grey (97 Ecclesall Road, Sheffield 11) opened in 1833. At the time Charles, 2nd.Earl Grey (1764-1845) was Prime Minister (1830/34). He put through the Wilberforce Act which abolished the African Slave trade. Hence, the pub is highly likely to have been named after the PM. At that time, the location would have been at the edge of the city.  It is known that from 1907-1939, the landlord of this Tennants pub was William Jackson Downes. The pub was demolished in the 1980’s as part of the Sheffield Inner Ring Road development. At the time, the Earl Grey was a Whitbread pub. (Whitbread took over Tennants in 1962.)

Can anyone tell us how a half-pint bottle from Sheffield made it’s way to this corner of Belgium? It is unlikely that it was full of beer, probably spirits. It was also probably carried by an officer. But, who, and how?

Any answers to dpickersgill1@googlemail.com

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Andy Cullen

About Andy Cullen

Andy has been actively involved in CAMRA since the early 2000s after being recruited to sit on a National Younger Members Task Group. Since then he has held roles on the branch committee including Secretary, Membership Secretary, Magazine Editor, Chair and now Social Secretary. Andy has also been involved with the Steel City Beer & Cider Festival almost every year since becoming active in the branch.

2 comments

  1. How did a bottle from Sheffield reach the Western Front?

    Thanks to John Stocks and Martine Welsh for responding to my notes in the December edition of ‘Beer Matters’ when a glass bottle which on display in the Hooge Crater Museum in Belgium was mentioned. This bottle has these words:

    W J Downes
    Earl Grey
    Hotel
    Sheffield

    The Earl Grey (97 Ecclesall Road) opened in 1833. The landlord from 1907-1939 was William Jackson Downes .The 1911 edition of ‘White’s Sheffield District Directory’ describes him as a ‘victualler.’ The prestige of the Earl Grey is indicated by the entry in this directory. There are five pages of listed, ‘Hotels, Inns and Taverns.’ Only two entries are listed in bold print: one is the Earl Grey.

    William married Florence Ann, the 1911 census including their son, William Sidney, born in 1894 and named after his father. On 18th.October 1915, the Sheffield Evening Telegraph announced the marriage on Thursday 14th.October, ‘by the Rev.F.Okell, of Private W.S.Downes, City Battalion, the only son of Mr. and Mrs.Downes, Earl Grey Hotel to May Crook.’

    The Sheffield City Battalion was instigated by Sheffield University and aimed to recruit ‘professional men.’ By the end September 1914, 1,131 had enlisted. Training commenced at Bramall Lane, but quickly transferred to a Redmires. Accommodation was created on Redmires Road, this site becoming a POW camp in WW2. The area is currently forestry with a perimeter wall, a remnant from a 65 acre 1873 racecourse. Racing lasted for only four years, the final meeting taking place on 19th.July 1876.

    The City Battalion was in camp for about six months. They left on 13th.May 1915, arriving in France, via Egypt. After taking part in the Battle of the Somme (the ‘big push’ on 1st.July 1916), the Battalion withdrew on the evening of 3rd. July, having lost 513 officers and men killed, wounded or missing; a further 75 were slightly wounded. By the early weeks of 1918, the battalion was disbanded.

    It seems that William Sidney, having survived the Battle of the Somme, returned to Sheffield and married. As for the bottle, perhaps, it returned to France with William as a toast for his wedding? Subsequently, it was probably reused, before finally reaching Belgium.

    As for the Earl Grey, the pub was immortalised as part of a 1959 short film, ‘Short Stop’ http://yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/short-stop. This film includes scenes which were shot in the ‘back room.’

    Martine, whose parents, Pam and Arthur Beardow, were licensees of the Earl Grey from 1972 to 1979, has confirmed that this is the case. In the late 1950’s, the Earl Grey hosted a Friday night jazz club where the Imperial Jazz Band played, filming taking place at one of the regular weekly sessions. The room was also used for private functions and included a small bar: by the 1970’s this dispensed Whitbread Trophy and Heineken Lager. The pub was demolished in the late 1980’s as part of the Sheffield Inner Ring Road development.

    – Dave Pickersgill

    1. Apologies -.there is an error in the above- 3rd.paragraph from the end should read: ‘William Sidney returned to Sheffield and married, before surviving the Somme.’

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