The Essex Herald on August 29, 1871 covered the employees’ outing of a storied brewery in Stratford: no, not E.F. Flower of Stratford-on-Avon, of which I will speak soon enough, but Savill Brothers of Stratford, East London.*
They functioned from 1855 until 1925, a Brewery History page neatly limns the trajectory.
The image below is courtesy that page, which contains further evocative images.
The Herald piece has a more vibrant tone than often attended the provincial press. I append extracts below.
Hark back to 1871, to the busy workaday town of Stratford.
Despite this aura of mart and money, the article starts in romantic tone. Maybe an English river and agreeable company can do that to you, in summer. Or maybe Savill’s good strong beer deserves the credit. Either way a reporter’s tongue was set in florid motion.
AN OUTING WITH THE EMPLOYES OF THE STRATFORD BREWERY.
The stalwart figure of the brewer’s drayman in the time-honoured flannel coat and never to be abandoned red cap is familiar to all, and nine-tenths of Englishmen regard him as a sturdy pillar of the state and personal embodiment of the British constitution.** In spite of his Herculean proportions he is generally found to be docile as lamb—quiet, civil, and obliging….
The “drayman”, however, represents to the popular mind vast industry in which millions of money is invested, and which gives employment to thousands and thousands. Every town and city in the United Kingdom possesses its “brewery” which becomes as a matter of course a local institution. The extensive firm of Savill Bros., of the Stratford brewery, is one of these, but owing to the fact of its contiguity to the metropolis, it has long outgrown the character of mere suburban establishment, and, aided by a combination of circumstances, it has achieved such success as to be recognised among the number of first-class metropolitan breweries—the proof being the lofty and noble pile of buildings situate In the heart of Stratford New Town, which can be seen from any point in the parish of West Ham, and which bid fair to absorb the whole of Maryland-road and Maryland-street up to the church of St. Paul’s.
On Saturday week the excursion of the employes took place, and consisted of those who could be possibly spared, numbering over 100 and their friends. The party mustered at the Stratford-bridge station, and proceeded by train to North Woolwich, where the Martin river steam boat (which had been specially chartered for the day’s excursion) awaited them. A brass band was in attendance. The run down the river was delightful, the weather being glorious. Two formidable casks of rich brown ale placed in the bows of the vessel told of creature comforts being amply provided for during the voyage, and were patronised as occasion required….
At the dinner subsequently held it was noted in the speeches:
… Savill Brothers’ success was the whole story of what energy, enterprise, straightforward and honourable dealing would accomplish. Their “brilliant pale ales’’ were acknowledged by the London trade to possess every quality of superiority. They were appreciated by the public and were acquiring wide world renown. That meant more work for [employees] and increased prosperity to the firm.
So it was for any enterprise of scale and duration; so it remains today, as the fundamentals of business don’t change.
*An earlier version of this post stated Savill Bros was in Stratford-on-Avon. This is not correct, it was in Stratford, East London. We will however deal soon with E.F. Flower in Stratford-on-Avon. It furnishes a further example of beery celebratory outing, as well as other points of interest in its long trajectory.
**By implication the dissenting one-tenth represented the temperance lobby.