Hook Norton & Three Tuns

We have had the following interesting note from Rob Woolley –

Dear Jeff

I have recently found the ‘Gazetteer of operating breweries’ online. Its an interesting document, but when I came to look at the entry for the Hook Norton Brewery I found several historical errors in the first couple of sentences. I’m not certain whether its possible to amend these, but I felt that I should at least, with my knowledge of the brewery’s history provide the correct information. [I don’t think we will be able to amend these documents, but we should keep a running list of revisions. Jeff]

Error 1: The brewery was not established ‘around 1850’. John Harris arrived in Hook Norton in late 1846 and set up as a maltster. He probably started brewing in 1849 (Harris family oral tradition) but did not advertise himself as a ‘common brewer’ until 1852. The year he bought the site.

Error 2: A three-storey brewery was not erected in 1872. The plans are not very informative, but in 1872 Harris employed Henry Pontifex to carry out ‘alterations to a 6½ quarter brewery’. There is no mention of building a three storey building. In 1880 Harris engaged Arthur Kinder to carry out alterations. Documents relating to building work refer to raising the roof line of an existing building to three storeys.

Re: The Buxton Thornley Steam Engine. It no longer does the brewery pumping. This is done by an electric motor!

Re: The Three Tuns in Bishop’s Castle – I was told by the then brewer that the ‘copper’ was actually an ex-military potato boiler which needed constant stirring. I can’t vouch for the accuracy information so its probably not a valid alteration, but an interesting comment that could be checked. [Rob later added the comment that – the first time I went round the Three Tuns was sometime during the mid 1980’s and the assistant brewer, a woman, was sitting on top of a pair of wooden step ladders frantically stirring the contents]

Best Wishes
Rob Woolley

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