The Floods of 1875

During October 1875, the brewing town of Burton upon Trent was caught up in some of the worst floods to hit Britain in decades.


The rain came down for two days leaving six dead and the majority of the town under water.


The town and its considerable economy were brought to their knees with many Burtonians taking refuge in the upper floors of their homes and in many cases sharing with their livestock.  


The carts the brewers used for transporting their famous beers were instead used to distribute provisions to the people of the town.


Following these disastrous floods, the engineer William Canning took on the task of building embankment flood defences. Canning was Chief Engineer at Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton and was highly respected. His embankments have kept the town free of major since it was built 130 years ago.


Today a small plaque marking the height of the water is one of the only reminders that survives. 


Written by Kathryn Worthington

Worthington White Shield is a traditional India Pale Ale with a fascinating history.


Worthington White Shield is a beer to get excited about. It is the oldest surviving example of an India Pale Ale in existence and it is the most awarded beer in British history. It has proven itself to be an incredibly consistent beer and is still scooping up the accolades even a hundred and ninety years after the first barrel was  produced.

The beer has a clear, bronzy colour with a toffee and banana taste and a lasting bitter finish. Jo Preece who brews the beer describes it as “The definitive India Pale Ale (IPA). The king of bottled beers”.

It is a ‘live’ beer meaning that the yeast used to brew it is still working its magic, keeping it drinkable and even maturing the flavour.

“As the beer is still alive it will keep for years. I have tried some that was twenty years old. It was slightly darker but had not lost its sing” says Jo. 



One of the most interesting things about this beer is the fact that the recipe has remained relatively unchanged since the 30’s (the 1830’s that is) when it was first brewed and shipped over to India to quench the thirst of the near mutinous troops of the British Empire.

It could almost be classed as a historic artefact. Indeed it is very fitting that it is brewed for cask in the William Worthington micro brewery at the National Brewery Centre amongst so many other iconic brewing objects. Even better, it is a historic artefact that you can drink!

“Worthington White Shield can be enjoyed by itself, with cheese or with beef. I like my Worthington White Shield from the fridge. It intensifies the Co2” says Jo. 

Amazingly, this most historic ale is still going strong and has recently the gold award for the ‘Best Bottle Conditioned Beer’ at CAMRA’s Great British Brewing Awards.

This underlines the importance of beer as part of our social history. It has a past, present and future. It is something that men and women from all walks of life have made and drunk for thousands of years and by tracing back its history, we can also trace some of our own.

Written by Kathryn Worthington

Launch of the National Brewery Heritage Trust – Tuesday 8 October

Tim Hampson's Beer Blog


Burton on Trent is quite simply one of the greatest brewing towns the world has ever seen.

Within it is the National Brewery Centre (NBC), The United Kingdom’s premier museum dedicated to brewing.

The museum, formerly known as the Bass Museum, was set up in 1977. Its galleries include an exhibition on how beer is made, a collection of vintage vehicles used for transporting beer and an interactive display about Burton’s history.

Underpinning the work of the Centre is the National Brewery Heritage Trust (NBHT).

The NBHT supports the work of the museum and its collections and was initially formed following the closure of the then Coors Visitor Centre in 2008. In November 2009, Molson Coors reached an agreement with the leisure company Planning Solutions to run the museum and visitor centre and it reopened in April 2010 following some refurbishment work.

The NBHT seeks to broaden the scope of…

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“The coroner frequents more public-houses than any man alive.”

An interesting piece on the significance of the local pub as part of our social history.

London Historians' Blog

So wrote Charles Dickens in Bleak House.

In this Guest Post, Owen Davies and Louise Falcini from University of Hertfordshire explain how justice was conducted in the pubs of London during the 18C and 19C.  These are programme notes for our re-enactments of the Petty Sessions and the Coroner’s Inquest tonight and tomorrow evening at the George On the Strand. There are places available if you’re quick.

The inn or pub was central to the effective administration of local justice in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – until the rise of police courts. In many communities the inn or pub was the only readily-available, large, indoor space where public events could take place. So auctions were commonly held in pubs and so were the petty sessions (the forerunner of magistrates’ courts) and coroners’ inquests. The proceedings were normally held in an upstairs or back room of the pub, sometimes…

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Good Beer Guide: number of breweries increases

Fantastic news!

All hail the ale

We are constantly bombarded with bad news about the brewing and pub industryin the uk but the figures released today by the good beer guide would beg to differ. In the last 12 months there has been an increase of 187 new breweries, This brings the number of regularly brewed British beers to more than 5,200, that is a lot of beer to review.

Guide editor, Roger Protz, said: “There has been a boom in the growth of breweries over the last 12 months, resulting in a total of 1,147 breweries now producing beer in the UK — and with more breweries comes greater choice for the drinker and more opportunities to buy locally produced brews.”

the thing I love about all these new breweries is all the places they are showing up, there used to be a saying that went “you cant call yourself a town unless you have…

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Can you think of a caption?


Can you think of a caption?

This image captures an important rite of passage for all young coopers, that is ‘Trussing In’.

A strange ceremony to say the least, after a completing the seven year apprenticeship the young cooper is forced into a barrel of dirty water, has muck poured over them whilst his fellow workers bash the side of his barrel with hammers.

As you can imagine, this type of ceremony also drew in very large crowds.

go to our Facebook page to add your own caption to this picture!