Thursday, November 23, 2006

Brakspears bought by firm with Liberal pedigree

I see that Brakspears of Henley has been bought by the JT Davies group. More correctly, it is being "taken private" by its largest shareholder. There is a lot of history in both these firms, as the Times reports:

Alfred Davies, the son of the founder and grandfather of the current chairman, Michael, was personal private secretary to Lloyd George during the First World War, became MP for Lincoln and was knighted in 1933.

The Brakspear family history goes back even farther. One distinguished forebear, Nicholas Breakspear (sic), was the last Pope to hail from Britain, being anointed as Pope Adrian IV in 1154. A descendant, Robert Brakspear, founded WH Brakspear & Sons Brewery in 1779.

The Liberal Democrat History group records: Sir Alfred T. Davies (1861-1949). Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Department of the Board of Education, 1907-25.

When I arrived in Berkshire nigh on 30 years ago, one of its huge attractions was the plethora of Brakspears pubs all over the wonderful central Berkshire and South Oxfordshire countryside. They still exist. Sadly the old brewery in Henley was turned into swanky flats a few years ago. The wonderful Brakspears beer is now brewed by Wychwood in Witney. While Wychwood, home of the gorgeous Hobgoblin beers, is a marvellous brewery, beers are never the same when they are moved from their home brewery. The local water is the basis of a beer. Move the beer and the water changes and the basis is gone. But at least Brakspears didn't end up at some huge mass-brewery.

The pub chain is what is left of the original Brakspears. It looks like it has gone to a good home. It would be a very great shame if a significant number of the Brakspears pubs were tampered with. They are a very rich part of our country's heritage.

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