Newsletter No.44

Chairman’s Statement:

I don’t think I need to remind you of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has affected our way of life, in a way that no one could have predicted. I don’t like to dwell on this, but instead to have more happier thoughts.

As a member you will know that the main aim is to promote the history of Scottish Brewery, whether it be the past, present or future. We do this in a variety of different ways, with the Newsletter, Annual Journal, events during the year and by giving talks and walking tours. Unfortunately, some of these activities have been curtailed this year. As a result, it is even more important to ensure the Newsletter and Journal continue, so please get in touch with any ideas or information you may have. It may be a photo or perhaps a question, if so, please contact Ivor Reid our Secretary.

This year’s Journal is almost complete thanks to Robbie our Editor, however at this moment not sure when it will be printed, but will keep you informed of its progress.

I would like to offer you a beer, but the best I can do just now is to show you a picture of one. It would be good to hear of what beers you have tried during the lockdown period. It may be a beer you have not tried before or perhaps one of your favourites.  I for one have ordered different beers from some of our corporate members and delivered to my door, which is great.  

As members please keep in touch, it would be great to hear from you.
Take care and keep safe. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the articles and updates below.


2. The Steeple Engine:

This Steeple Engine was used at the St. Leonard’s Brewery in Edinburgh between 1868 and 1931. Its purpose was to pump the water from underground for brewing purposes. It is now on display in the entrance hall of the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, Edinburgh.

Its name is derived from the fact that it resembles the shape of a church spire, i.e. steeple.

St. Leonard’s brewery was owned by George Mackay and located on the corner of East Crosscauseway and the Pleasance. 

The brewery was established in 1867 and registered as a limited liability company in 1908.   G. Mackay & Co. Ltd took over Gordon & Blair, another Edinburgh brewery in 1954.

In 1960, Mackay & Co. under the name of Gordon & Blair, went to court over tax assessments for the years 1956-59.  They lost the case and the subsequent appeal and found themselves in financial difficulties.  As a result, they were taken over by Seager, Evans & Co. in 1960 and resold to Watney Mann the following year.  Brewing ceased in 1963 and the brewery buildings were replaced by flats.

3. Quick Quiz – based on recent SBAA publications 

Just to keep the grey matter mashing  – the answers are at the end of the newsletter.

  1. What did The Old Fountain Brewery have on a) the wall over the gate and b) on the Roof? 
  2. William McEwan’s former home is now associated with another famous son of Edinburgh. Who is he?
  3. A bottle of beer was discovered in a 1868 shipwreck off the coast of Australia.  What Brewery name was embossed on the bottle?
  4. What was found in a jar in the Sun Temple brewery? What did it lead to? 
  5. What member of a famous Scottish brewing family served as Defence Secretary under Margaret Thatcher?
  6. The “Raise Your Glass” exhibitions in 2017 visited Alloa and what other TOWN. 
  7. What was the unusual but important ingredient used in recipe for Maclay’s Oatmalt Stout ?
  8. What brewery was inspired by one of the founding fathers of Pop Art and gives his surname to its craft lager?
  9. What was the name of the popular ‘Christmas Scotch ale’ produced by S&N for Belgium and served in its distinctive thistle glass? 
  10. A weel kent chubby fisherman never worked at the East Lothian brewery. Who was the highly respected figure in Scottish Brewing that did, and as a somewhat marketeer created him?

4. Name the Brewery ? 

This is your July teaser. Clue, it’s now a rather dull Asda.

Congratulations if you correctly identified the Brewery in our last newsletter as William Murray & Co. Craigmillar No.2 Brewery.

The Brewery in the distance is Drybrough’s. One of the seven breweries operating at Craigmillar.

No identities submitted for the range and types of vehicles on display.

“The breweries of Craigmillar” were featured in an excellent two-part SBAA Journal article by Bill Brown published in 2014/15, Below is an extract on William Murray. 

William Murray Brewery: 

William Murray, brewer and farmer, established the business at Ednam, near Kelso in 1880. The brewery was destroyed by fire and William Murray moved to Craigmillar, Edinburgh in 1886 and established the Craigmillar Brewery. William Murray & Co Ltd was registered in December 1897 as a limited liability company to acquire the business at a price of £75,000.

The company took over John Somerville & Co, North British Brewery, Duddingston (est. 1897) in 1922; John & George Brown, Macduff Brewery, East Wemyss (est. 1850’s) and 8 tied houses in 1926; William Halley Brown, Craigie Brewery, Lyon Street, Dundee in 1943; and John Wallace & Co, Aberdeen, whisky blenders and wine and spirit merchants in about 1946. Brewing ceased at Craigmillar Brewery in 1950, continuing at the North British Brewery.

The company was acquired in May 1960 by Northern Breweries, later United Breweries Ltd. of York & London which merged with Charrington and Co Ltd in 1962 through a holding company, Charrington United Breweries Ltd. It continued to brew until May 1962 when brewing was transferred to Aitchison Jeffrey Ltd, Heriot Brewery, Roseburn Terrace, Edinburgh. Bottling and malting continued at the North British Brewery until its closure in 1964.  

5. Our Brewers

The SBAA has 12 corporate members , most involved in active brewing at this very difficult time.  In response to our “support our brewers” message we would like to thank the SBAA members who contacted the Secretary to say they had tried and enjoyed their on-line services. A special mention for Stewart Brewery’s St Giles, 80/- & Radical Road, Lager. Plus the Edinburgh Beer Factory who’s  Paolozzi Lager was ordered with a freshly baked pizza ! 

Other member brewers include Belhaven, Bellfield , Harviestoun , McEwan’s Beer Co. and Tennent’s.  Please check them out and support them through the pandemic. 

6.Last Runnings 

→  Disappearing Drinks (newsletter No.43) – thanks to response to the “Happy Days” query. The consensus seems to be that it was two thirds of light 60/- in a pint glass topped up from the wee nip bottle of Fowlers Wee Heavy. Apparently still popular into the 1980’s where ‘Heavy’ or ‘Special’ was preferred to ‘Light’ . Unfortunately, no confirmation if “Happy Days” was still being served anywhere – do you know ? 

→ Lockdown Continues – One of the many consequences of the lockdown is that we have lost our ability to publish the SBAA Newsletter on line. We are also appealing to any members who would be willing to assist getting our Web based site up and running. 

→ Like most of us,  we have never had so much time to tidy up around the house and shed. During such a tidy, committee member Richard Rees rediscovered this old “Cobb Self Sealing Bottle”.

Although the history of the bottle appears to be relatively well known being made by the Portobello glass bottle manufacture Thomas Wood. It is embossed with the name James Heriot (no not the TV vet!) Edinburgh.  James Heriot is listed as an aerated water manufacturer, 18 Dumbiedykes Road. and there appears to be little else known about his activity. Did they Brew ?   Please let the us know if you have any bottles with a story in your collection. 

→ Sad to report the death of Roger Ryman at the age of 52 after a battle with cancer. Roger was a highly respected brewer running St.Austell brewery. He will be best known to SBAA members for his time at S&N and Maclays Alloa.   We would like to welcome new SBAA member Adam Lloyd who is studying at the ICBD Heriot Watt. 

Quick Quiz Answers

A1. a) A clock b) The McEwan’s globe 

A2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A3. Wellpark Brewery 

A4. a) Beer dregs from Ancient Egypt b)  King Tut’s Ale

A5. George Younger from the Younger’s of Alloa brewing family. 

A6. Musselburgh 

A7. Italian Liquorice


A9. “Gordon Xmas”

A10. Sandy Hunter


Correspondence to the SBAA Secretary   

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