Thomas Salt and Co

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Thomas Salt & Co. Maltese Cross trademark Thomas Salt & Co. Burton Ales.jpg
Thomas Salt & Co. Maltese Cross trademark

Thomas Salt and Co. was a brewery that operated in Burton upon Trent, England for 150 years.

Brewery business that makes and sells beer

A brewery or brewing company is a business that makes and sells beer. The place at which beer is commercially made is either called a brewery or a beerhouse, where distinct sets of brewing equipment are called plant. The commercial brewing of beer has taken place since at least 2500 BC; in ancient Mesopotamia, brewers derived social sanction and divine protection from the goddess Ninkasi. Brewing was initially a cottage industry, with production taking place at home; by the ninth century monasteries and farms would produce beer on a larger scale, selling the excess; and by the eleventh and twelfth centuries larger, dedicated breweries with eight to ten workers were being built.

Burton upon Trent town in East Staffordshire, England

Burton upon Trent, also known as Burton-on-Trent or simply Burton, is an industrial town on the River Trent in East Staffordshire, England, close to the border with Derbyshire. In 2011, it had a population of 72,299. The demonym for residents of the town is 'Burtonian'. Burton is 13 miles (21 km) from Lichfield, 11 miles (18 km) from Derby and 26 miles (42 km) from Leicester.

The brewery was founded in 1774 as Joseph Clay and son by Joseph Clay, described in The "British Directory" of 1791 as one of the famous "nine common brewers of Burton-on-Trent." Joseph Clay came originally from Merrybower, near Derby. When Clay died in 1800, his son Joseph took over and also acquired the Leeson brewery. Joseph Clay junior then opened one of the first banks in Burton, and delegated the brewery management to his maltster, Thomas Salt. He sold out to Salt just before the Napoleonic Blockade of Russia and the Baltic, which led to a dramatic decline in beer exports. [1] Burton brewers had exported large quantities of beer to the Baltic, importing in exchange timber and iron to make the barrels.

Malt germinated cereal grains that have been dried

Malt is germinated cereal grain that have been dried in a process known as "malting". The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air. Malting grains develop the enzymes required for modifying the grain's starches into various types of sugar, including monosaccharide glucose, disaccharide maltose, trisaccharide maltotriose, and higher sugars called maltodextrines. It also develops other enzymes, such as proteases, which break down the proteins in the grain into forms that can be used by yeast. Depending on when the malting process is stopped, one gets a preferred starch to enzyme ratio and partly converted starch into fermentable sugars. Malt also contains small amounts of other sugars, such as sucrose and fructose, which are not products of starch modification but were already in the grain. Further conversion to fermentable sugars is achieved during the mashing process.

Continental System

The Continental System or Continental Blockade was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France against the United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts enacted by the British government on 16 May 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on 21 November 1806, which brought into effect a large-scale embargo against British trade. The embargo was applied intermittently, ending on 11 April 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication. The blockade caused little economic damage to the UK, although British exports to the continent dropped from 55% to 25% between 1802 and 1806. As Napoleon realized that extensive trade was going through Spain and Russia, he invaded those two countries. His forces were tied down in Spain—in which the Spanish War of Independence was occurring simultaneously—and suffered severely in, and ultimately retreated from, Russia in 1812.

In “The Curiosities of Ale and Beer”, John Bickerdyke records that Thomas Salt is included in the list of brewers in the town records in 1789 [2] . According to Bickerdyke, Salt's Maltings were adjacent to Clay's brewery in 1774 and by 1789 Salt had started his own brewery. Thomas Salt later worked Clay's brewery as part of his own brewery at 119 High Street, Burton.

Prior to 1802 Thomas Salt, Francis Pitt, Edward Marston and John Allen were in partnership as common brewers under the firm of Thomas Salt & Co. In 1802 Edward Marston left the partnership, leaving the other three to continue [3] . In 1804 Thomas Salt passed his share in the company to his son, Thomas Salt the Younger. [4] When Thomas Salt the Younger died in 1813 his son, Thomas Fosbrooke Salt, was only 5 years old. In 1818 the brewery was running in High Street and Susan Salt (widow of Thomas Salt) was also living in High Street [5] . At some point after this the brewery was managed chiefly by Thomas Fosbrooke Salt, under the name Salt and Co.

In 1853 Henry Wardle (Thomas Fosbrooke Salt's son-in-law) joined Salt in the business and in due course Salt's sons Edmund and William also became directors. Henry George Tomlinson, who had joined the company as its chemist also joined the board. When pale ale became popular, Salts like other Burton firms responded to the public's changed tastes and Salt's IPA became particularly well-known. The company’s workforce grew from 194 in 1861 to 400 in 1888 making it one of the major breweries in Burton behind Bass, Worthington, and Samuel Allsopp & Sons. [1]

Henry Wardle was a British brewer and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892.

Samuel Allsopp & Sons was one of the largest breweries operating in Burton upon Trent, England.

In 1889 Alfred Barnard visited the brewery and included an extensive account in his The noted breweries of Great Britain and Ireland [6]

Alfred Barnard British historian

Alfred Barnard (1837–1918) was a British brewing and distilling historian.

After Henry Wardle died in 1892, the company became a public limited company. In an era of expansion in the 1890s, the company took over John Bell and the Anchor Brewery. By the end of the century the company had tied houses as far away as Cheltenham and Gloucester. In the difficult trading conditions in the first decade of the 20th century, Salts were by 1906 unable to pay interest on shares [7] and tried to effect a merger with Allsopps and the Burton Brewery Company. [8] This was opposed by some of the debenture holders, and the company went into receivership in 1907. [9] The company was restructured financially by depriving the Directors of almost all the value of their holdings, but survived until 1927, when it was taken over by Bass for £1,177,773. [10]

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Worthington Brewery

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Charrington Brewery

Charrington Brewery was a brewery company founded in Bethnal Green, London in the early 18th century by Robert Westfield. In 1766, John Charrington joined the company, which then traded as Westfield, Moss & Charrington from the Anchor Brewery in Mile End. It merged with United Breweries of London in 1964 to become Charrington United Breweries, then, after acquiring a number of other breweries, it merged with Bass Brewery in 1967 to become the largest UK brewing company, Bass Charrington, later simply Bass plc. The brewing operations of the company were bought by Interbrew in 2000, while the retail side were renamed Six Continents. In 2003 Six Continents split into a pubs business, now known as Mitchells & Butlers, and a hotels and soft drinks business, now known as InterContinental Hotels Group.

Michael Thomas Bass British politician

Michael Thomas Bass, DL was an English brewer and a member of Parliament. Under his leadership, the Bass Brewery became the largest brewery in the world, and Bass the best known brand of beer in England. Bass represented Derby in the House of Commons as a member of the Liberal Party between 1848 and 1883 where he was an effective advocate for the brewing industry. He was a generous benefactor both in Derby, and in Burton-on-Trent where his company was based.

Burton upon Trent has a long history of brewing, at one time exporting beer throughout the world and accounting for a quarter of UK beer production; emulation of Burton water in brewing is called Burtonisation. Much of the town was given over to the industry throughout the 19th century and brewers dominated it politically and socially.

The International Brewing Awards, previously known as the Brewing Industry International Awards, is a biannual brewing competition with its origins dating to 1886. It is believed to be the oldest international brewing competition in the world. The Awards are owned and organised by Brewing Technology Services Ltd (BTS). Only beers that pay to enter are judged.

George Hayne was a merchant and entrepreneur who was responsible for the creation of the Trent Navigation in England and hence the development of Burton upon Trent as the pre-eminent beer brewing and exporting town.

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George Allsopp (MP) English brewer and Conservative politician

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Truman's Brewery was a large East London brewery and one of the largest brewers in the world at the end of the 19th century. Founded around 1666, the Black Eagle Brewery was established on a plot of land next to what is now Brick Lane in London, E1. It grew steadily until the 18th century when, under the management of Benjamin Truman, and driven by the demand for porter, it expanded rapidly and became one of the largest brewers in London. Its growth continued into and through the 19th century with the expansion of its brewery and pub estate. In 1873, it purchased Philips Brewery in Burton and became the largest brewery in the world.

Beer is produced through steeping a sugar source in water and then fermenting with yeast. Brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BC, and archeological evidence suggests that this technique was used in ancient Egypt. Descriptions of various beer recipes can be found in Sumerian writings, some of the oldest known writing of any sort. Brewing is done in a brewery by a brewer, and the brewing industry is part of most western economies.

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Burton Ale Type of English beer

Burton Ale is a type of strong ale which has been described as "a draught beer darker and sweeter than bitter, named originally after the great brewing town of Burton-on-Trent but now common to all breweries wherever they are". The Beer Judge Certification Program has defined a style guideline for Burton Ale, which it describes as "A rich, malty, sweet, and bitter dark ale of moderately strong alcohol. Full bodied and chewy with a balanced hoppy finish and complex malty and hoppy aroma. Fruity notes accentuate the malt richness, while the hops help balance the sweeter finish." The guideline lists the characteristic ingredients as "bready and biscuity English base malts with a substantial portion of 'high kilned' malt: historical versions often used brewing sugars and corn, more modern versions can use crystal malts for flavour and chocolate malt for color; English ale yeast; traditional English hops, often dry hopped."


  1. 1 2 'Burton-upon-Trent: Economic history', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9: Burton-upon-Trent (2003), pp. 53-84. Date accessed: 02 May 2012
  2. Bickerdyke, John (1889). The Curiosities of Ale and Beer - An Entertaining History.
  3. The London Gazette Issue 15452 page 144, 9 Feb 1802
  4. The London Gazette Issue 15681 page 289, 6 Mar 1804
  5. Parson; Bradshaw (1818). Staffordshire General & Commercial Directory for 1818. Manchester: J. Leigh. p. 144.
  6. Barnard, Alfred (1889). The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland. London: Sir Joseph Caxton & sons. pp. 110–134.
  7. The Advertiser (Adelaide) Saturday 6 January 1906
  8. Sydney Morning Herald 11 June 1906
  9. Financial Times, 7 June 1907
  10. The Glasgow Herald, Aug 13 1927