1. Chairman’s Statement :
Happy Birthday on the 18th anniversary of Stewart Brewing.
The SBAA wish to pass on our congratulations to one of our corporate members, Stewart Brewing who celebrate their 18 years anniversary. As a result they are launching their own birthday beer ‘18’ a 5.6% ABV IPA. For more information on this limited edition beer, visit
Well done to Steve and Jo for what they have achieved. Keep it going.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth the SBAA have included a small article in this newsletter portraying some beer labels that celebrated her coronation and also a few that show the Royal warrant. If you have any others, please get in touch.
Our best wishes are with two of our honorary members, Allan McLean and Les Hutcheon. Allan is currently in hospital with parkinson dementia and Les is about to have a hip replacement operation. The thoughts of the SBAA are with both Allan and Les.
As mentioned in the last newsletter, Helen our Treasurer will be leaving the SBAA after completing the annual accounts. We would like to thank Helen for her sterling work over the last few years and to pass on our best wishes.
The month of October marked the beginning of the new SBAA financial year and as a result we ask the membership, as we do each year, if they wish to renew and continue their support. Over the last few months the SBAA has explained that the membership details would be recorded digitally on a system called MOJO, whereas before it was held manually and maintained by our treasurer, resulting in a great deal of administration, which we wanted to minimise. The good news is that I can report that the transition to this new system has went well. I can only thank Ivor and Richard in particular, for their efforts in making the change as seamless as possible. Many thanks also to our members for embracing this change. We plan to conduct a review of the MOJO system and will give an update in the next Newsletter.
The SBAA reported in the last newsletter that Heineken had announced to close the Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh, which was founded in 1869. However more bad news when I heard that the heritage site dedicated to Burton upon Trent historical connection with the brewing industry, is set to close. Owned by Molson Coors, the site will make way for the firm’s new headquarters.
Finally our AGM will take place at the Beehive (upstairs lounge) in the Grassmarket,. Edinburgh at 2h30pm on Thursday 24th November . This year we have chosen the afternoon as it might encourage those not too keen to venture out on a dark November evening. Apologies to those with daytime work commitments. We intend to have a guest speaker and a light buffet so it would be very helpful, for catering purposes, if you could let the SBAA secretary know if you are attending by 5th Nov.
Many thanks to everyone for their contributions with this newsletter, much appreciated
2. Queen Elizabeth II
With the passing of Queen Elizabeth, the SBAA have included some beer labels that celebrated her Coronation in 1953, with several brewing companies at that time, producing a beer to mark the occasion.
Also, the following are examples of beer labels that were awarded a Royal warrant of appointment to several Scottish brewing companies.
The Royal warrant enables the supplier to advertise the fact by including the Royal coat of arms, thus lending prestige to the product.
Royal warrants have been issued since the 15th century and granted by members of the Royal family to those who supply goods or services to the Royal court.
Evidence suggests brewers also produced items to celebrate the event.In this case an ashtray from Dalkeith Brewer McLennan & Urquhart Ltd.
3. SBAA event – Historical Brewing Walk Canongate
We were again blessed with good weather on the evening 1St September for our second historic brewing walks. This time covering the rich territory of the Canongate in central Edinburgh. At least 18 brewery sites have been identified and documented in the area. John Martin lead the walkers stopping to convey the brewing and historical points of interest.
Here, some of the walking party pause at the site of J&J Morison’s Commercial Brewery 1868-1960 in the heart of Edinburgh.
The party then adjourned to the 16th Century building on the Royal Mile that is the home of the Talbooth Tavern for dinner and a few sociable drinks.
We would welcome any suggestions for our 2023 events calendar.
4. Belhaven No.1 Stout Bottle
The SBAA received an enquiry asking if we could help to do date this bottle of Belhaven No 1 Stout.
What helped to give an approximate date is the following information shown on the label.
- The Belhaven brewery trademark of ‘Belhaven Bill’ was first introduced in the early 1950s by Sandy Hunter and Bill Woodward.
- The beer measurements of both fl. oz. and ml. appeared on beer labels in the mid 1970s and metric only from 1981 onwards. Many thanks to the Labologist Society for confirming this.
- When Belhaven was sold to Clydesdale Commonwealth Hotels Ltd in 1972 its name changed to Belhaven Brewery Co Ltd.
As a result of this information the time period of this bottle would be dated approximately in the mid to late 1970s.
If anyone can provide any further information on this, please get in touch.
5. Roy’s Alloa East India Bottle
The last Newsletter No.52 contained an article regarding a stoneware bottle that had came to light with Roy’s Alloa East India Pale***** branding. The later part of the text was unclear.
SBAA member John Reade followed up the story
“I was interested in the item regarding the Roy’s stoneware pale ale bottle in the last newsletter. I’ve been able to track down various adverts for the beer but been unable to come up with anything to explain the wording on the bottle. I’ve looked at a couple of Scots dialect dictionaries but without success. The only explanation I can think of is that the wording was actually a spelling mistake in the manufacture of the bottle and it should have read “pale ale” as the words palfitte or paleitee don’t appear to be any ‘hindi’ or Indian word for ale or beer and there are not any old Portuguese dialect words other than the modern one – cerveja.
Thought you might find the two attached adverts from Roy’s Greenock Agents for Roy’s India Pale Ale of interest. First one is from Hutcheson’s Greenock Register 1846 and the other is the Greenock Advertiser 31 December 1850.”
6. Wm. Younger advert survives
The SBAA was grateful to receive this photo from Andrew the son of Allan McLean, which shows a recently restored William Younger advertisement in Newcastle’s Groat Market very close to Bigg Market.
Prior to the amalgamation of Scottish Brewers and Newcastle Brewers in 1960, Wm. Younger beers enjoyed a great presence in the North East of England.
The pub in question is one of Newcastle’s oldest pub and has been renamed Swarley’s after its first landlord.
If you have any images of long forgotten Scottish beer advertisements that are still on show today, please forward them for possible inclusion in future Newsletters.
Footnote. The pub dates back to the early 1800’s and was known as Black Boy and Blackie Boy for over 200 years. The name change is not supported by ‘pubsnewcastle’ who view the name change as a loss of local historical heritage.
7. Venetia Stevenson 1938 – 2022
On the 26th September Venetia Stevenson passed away at the age of 84. In 1957 she was considered the “the most photogenic girl in the world” by the very popular American pin-up magazines of the time. A fact not lost on the George Younger brewing family of Alloa who were looking to replace the cartoon like label on their bottles of Sweetheart Stout. The photo was used on cans and bottles from 1958. The image has survived many changes in the brewing industry and can design (see photo below courtesy of Neil Lawrence) and 64 years later it can be seen on your local supermarket shelve, making it one of the longest running beer can designs in the world.
Venetia herself had an acting career in Hollywood , but was equally famous for being married to Don Everly (of Everly Brothers fame). Her British father directed the film Mary Poppins and her daughter Erin was married to Axl Rose founder of rock group Guns N’ Roses. Now there’s some trivia to impress your friends in the pub!
8. Another “Father William” RAF bomber of World War 2
Members may remember an article published in an earlier SBBA Newsletter (No.42) about an RAF Lancaster bomber which carried the William Younger & Son famous “Father William” caricature nose art on its port side fuselage under the cockpit.
Recently I became aware of another bomber with similar artwork.
Wellington Mark X of No. 466 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Bomber Command, serial HZ 279 HD-R.
Photo courtesy of Friends of 466 and 462 Squadrons
The pilot for most of its operational life before he was sent to another unit was Flying Officer Raymond A.L.Young, so the reasoning behind the“Father William” artwork is understandable.
The aircraft took part in many raids into enemy territory until its final such sortie on 28th June 1943, a large scale mission to attack the Ruhr.
As the larger four engined Lancaster started to assume the role of principal aircraft in Bomber Command’s campaigns the Wellingtons began to be phased out.
HZ 279 HD-R was then transferred to pilot training in another squadron.
Tragically, F/O Young was killed on 9th October 1943, along with three fellow officer aircrew, whilst attempting an emergency crash landing near Northallerton.
My thanks to Andy Arthur, a hopefully prospective member, for the heads up.
9. The McEwan Dome
Another beer related connection unearthed.
City Observatory – Playfair Building
I recently visited the City Observatory on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, as I wanted to see the McEwan Dome, which is not normally open to the public. As it was Doors Open weekend, I was able to book onto a guided tour, conducted by Sarah Morton, Operations Manager of Collective, who now run the buildings on Calton Hill. These include the City Observatory, City Dome and a purpose-built exhibition space for artists to display their work.
The main building was designed in 1818 by William Henry Playfair in the shape of a Greek temple, aligned with the four cardinal points of North, South, East and West. His uncle, Prof. John Playfair, was a founding member and the first president of the Astronomical Institution of Edinburgh. George IV granted the building Royal Observatory status.
A brass transit telescope was installed in the small Transit House, which sits adjacent to the main Playfair building. A larger transit telescope was installed in the Playfair building in the 1830s and is still in situ. The transit telescope moves on one axis, following a slot in the roof. It tracks the Edinburgh meridian, so that stars can be observed. It was also used to keep the observatory clock accurate. This is important, because the time ball at the nearby Nelson Monument was installed in 1854 and was controlled by electronic pulses from the observatory clock. The ball would drop at 1 pm each day to help sailors set their chronometers. It also controlled other clocks in the city and, for some time, the One O’Clock Gun at Edinburgh Castle was controlled by the time ball by means of an electrical wire which linked the clock and the gun.
By 1888, the observatory equipment had become obsolete. The city-centre location was not ideal either, as light pollution from the New Town made it more difficult to observe the skies. Therefore, a new Royal Observatory was proposed for Blackford Hill.
In response to all of this, Charles Piazzi Smyth, the second Astronomer Royal for Scotland, resigned and the Government planned to close the Calton Hill observatory.
When the Earl of Crawford learned of these plans, he donated instruments from his own observatory and astronomical library on condition that the Government provide a new Royal Observatory. The Blackford Hill Observatory was therefore created and the Town Council took over the Calton Hill facility, renaming it the City Observatory.
So, what has any of this got to do with beer? The McEwan Dome is named after William McEwan of Fountain Brewery, because in 1896, he donated the 6” Photo-visual refractor telescope, built by T. Cooke & Sons of York, which was installed in the dome of the Playfair Building. He also donated a spectrograph and chronometer. The refractor telescope is motorised and, as the dome can be rotated in any direction, it can be used to follow the movement of objects across the sky. It is also capable of taking long-exposure photographs and the shutters, which cover the windows in the dome meant that the space could be used as a dark-room for developing the photos. The telescope still works today and demonstrations on its use take place occasionally. It is a truly beautiful object and looks as good as new. It carries a brass plaque, bearing William McEwan’s name. The plaque also refers to other items donated by McEwan at the same time i.e. a spectroscope and a chronograph. A spectroscope breaks light from a single material into its component parts (the way that a prism splits white light into the colours of the rainbow). By recording this spectrum, the astronomer/scientist can analyse the light and discover properties of other materials interacting with it, which is crucial to understanding the universe (Hubblesite.org). A chronograph is a clock with several dials, which can be used to record and measure the movement of objects in the night sky over time and this can still be seen, built into the wall of the Dome.
You can read more about William McEwan’s philanthropy in this year’s Annual Journal, to be issued later this year.
https://ewh.org.uk/project/city-observatory/ – Accessed 25.09.2022
https://hubblesite.org/contents/articles/spectroscopy-reading-the-rainbow – Accessed 25.09.2022
http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB27826 – Accessed 25.09.2022
https://www.astronomyedinburgh.org/about-us/a-guide-to-edinburghs-popular-observatory/ – Accessed 25.09.2022
https://www.collective-edinburgh.art/visit/site-history – Accessed 25.09.2022
Images: Eleanor Docherty
Refractor Telescope with open dome
Brass plaque on Telescope
10. New Book
Committee Member Robbie Pickering has brought this new book to our attention. Available at £12.55 on Hive.co.uk
“From the time of the Picts to the present day, Scotland has played an important role in the development of British brewing, providing a host of inventions and other contributions vital to its success.”
“Covering such topics as Scotch Ale, Porter, Shilling Ales and the influential waters of Edinburgh and Alloa, The Little History of Scottish Brewing will intrigue both the aficionado and the interested enthusiast.”
11. Last Runnings
WARM WELCOME – to new members Jim Ryan and David Shearer , both master brewers at Wellpark Brewery. Delighted to have SCOTBEER back as a corporate member following Covid 19 for more details of SCOTBEER TOURS check . https://www.scot.beer/edinburgh.html
HISTORIC BREWING RECORDS – SBAA member Edd Mather has been in touch to say he has visited the archive at Glasgow University . He has produced some interesting analysis and summaries extracted from the J&R Tennent Brewing book dating from 1830-31, hopefully we will see the fruits of his labours in future SBAA publications. In the meantime if anyone has knowledge of brewing (grists and records) from Turner’s Ayr & Newton Breweries Ltd. Please get in touch.
Correspondence to the SBAA Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org