The history behind Nottingham’s Home Brewery Company – Nottinghamshire Live

January 5, 2023 by No Comments

The Home Brewery building on Mansfield Road, Daybrook is one of the more distinctive buildings in Nottingham and it has a long history as a brewery. Home Ales and Shipstone’s were two of the most prominent Nottingham city brands but sadly neither is around today.

The founding father of The Home Brewery Company was Thomas Robinson who was a farmer from Arnold with a malting business. When he passed away, his youngest son, John took over the business and half of his farm. By adding more property to this, John and his brother opened the Daybrook Laundry before going on to create the brewery in 1877.

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He created the name for the brewery from his farm, Home Farm in Bestwood and the business became the Home Brewery Company. It also allowed John to take over other breweries including W H Hutchinson and Sons in 1914. The W H Hutchinsons brewery was based in New Basford where only the brewery buildings and maltings survive. It is now used as a residential building.

John also purchased George Green’s Brewery which was based on Howard Street in 1921. Meanwhile, his father John (Snr) served on the Nottingham Town Council for 20 years before becoming the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1888 until 1896 before going on to receive a knighthood in 1905.

Plans for the brewery were drawn up in 1938 by Nottingham architect Cecil Howitt who had also designed many of the pubs which were owned by the brewery. Building work began the same year but was put on hold after the second world war broke out.

The war caused a significant delay in the building work which mean that the central tower wasn’t completed until the 1950s. The building has an unusual feature made by the sculptor Charles Doman along the front wall. It shows cherubs taking part in the brewing process including drinking tables, barrel making and stirring the beer. The designs are in white and repeated along a blue background.

The brewery was acquired by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries in 1986 when it owned 447 pubs around Nottingham. The takeover amount was said to be valued at over £120 million. Some of the pubs associated with The Home Brewery Company included The Bluebell Inn on Parliament Street, The Forester’s Arms on St. Ann’s Street and The Fox and Grapes on Southwell Road. The brewery also sponsored Nottingham Forest and Notts County at one time.

It wasn’t just beer that the brewery produced as they also made Apollo soft drinks which were produced at the rear of the building. They made orange and cola-flavoured fizzy drinks until the mid-90s.

Steve Westby, Chairman of Nottingham CAMRA commented: “Nottingham had numerous small local breweries which were locally based, going back before the first world war and the second world war which gradually became consolidated. Nottingham ended up with three larger regional breweries which were Home Brewery, Hardy’s & Hansons in Kimberley and Shipstones.”

“Home Brewery had over 400 pubs attached to it which means they could sell not only Home Brewery Beers but also, the soft drinks they made there called Apollo’s Soft Drinks. They also sold spirits under the name Killingley’s.”

Steve said: “People were either a Home Ales drinker or Shipstone’s drinker and people were very loyal to the two. This continued until Scottish & Newcastle took them over and closed it down. The beers were brewed for a while by other companies until they stopped producing beers with that name. Shipstone’s was taken over by a bigger Northern Brewery.”

Scottish and Newcastle began subcontracting to other breweries including their rival Mansfield Brewery and running down productions at the Daybrook site. Towards the mid-1990s, there were concerns that the brewery could close which would place jobs at risk in the area but despite many meetings, the brewery eventually closed in 1996. When the building closed, it was thought to have cost the local economy financially and cut 400 jobs.

The Home Brewery Company in Nottingham

Scottish & Newcastle UK Ltd was taken over by Heineken NV and Carlsberg and now operates as a subsidiary of both since 2008. It has since changed its name to Heineken UK Ltd.

The Home Brewery Company building became a grade II listed site in 1993 but had been developed since and part of it converted to council offices in more recent times.

In 2018, the council announced it was thinking of selling the building and running studies to see if it could be brought back into viable commercial use. It was hoped that the council could use EU funding for 50 per cent of the costs needed to convert the building from an office space. To date, there appears to have been no further plans to convert the building.

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