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George Bateman and Son: Lincolnshire's last brewery. Part III

by Steve Andrews

The Brewery

The present brewery premises have been used for that purpose since at least 1880, according to the date above the door, though there is no actual documentary evidence to say when George Bateman began brewing here, after transferring the business from Crows original brewery. In this chapter I intend to look at the brewery itself and see how it has developed over the years. The original method of brewing at Batemans was the carriage cask system, used right up until the 1950s. This method of brewing was common amongst small brewers. It entailed the wort (1) being placed in a fermenting vessel for twenty-four hours to begin the fermenting process, after which it was roused, then placed in the casks in which it was to be delivered to the customers. As the beer fermented it oozed out of the casks and dripped into trays which were placed underneath them. This was poured back into the casks. The process required constant attention to make sure that the trays did not overflow. When fermenting had finished a cork bung covered in hopsack was placed in the hole in the casks and they were ready for delivery.

We know little about the working of the brewery in the early days and the only references to the plant in the letter books concern the replacement of existing equipment such as the boiler and repair to the open square used for the initial fermentation. The only real information is what we get from Mrs Burnett (2) who worked at the brewery between 1916 and 1928. She tells us that she started working there in 1916 when she was sixteen, to fill the position left by Stanley Robinson who had been called up into the army. She was employed to do the office work, to check on the drayman, and to fill in the cask book. Every cask had a number which was recorded as the casks went in and out. Every penny had to be accounted for.

She was in the first office leading into the hall of Salem House which she shared with Harry Bateman and if she needed him she had a bell to ring. Next to the office, at the end of the house was an off-licence. In the off-licence;

people used to come, workpeople used to come, with a stone jar in half gallons and gallons and the beer was drawn out of the cask that was kept under the counter".

"In the brewery was Harry who did the brewing and John Smith who took the barrels out. There was also John 'Sweepy' Bray who was also a sweep who came in part time to clean the casks and someone called Mr Proctor. There was probably four or five of them.

Eventually she says that a man called Ernest Riggall was employed to work in the brewery. This is quite interesting because I came across a letter from Batemans seeking a reference for someone of the same name who had asked for a job in the brewery in March 1909 (3). Ernest Riggall eventually began to do the brewing which left more time for Harry to look after the customers. Harry had a motorbike on which he would travel around to the pubs.

Half-yearly market days, in May and October were the days when the customers would come and pay their bills. They would go into the office and after the bill was paid they would proceed to the kitchen where they would be given a meal of beef and ham and as much beer as they could drink. Very often they bought the whole family with them, one customer regularly brought his wife and six children. This arrangement did not apply to casual customers though, they had to pay the drayman.

The Mill was bought from a Mr Fretwell sometime in late 1918 (4) and was used as a bottling shed. They did not really need the mill as such but what an advert it would be if there was a bottle on the weather vane. The job of putting it up there went to Joe Turner.

Oh dearie me, poor old boy, I shall think that he must have spent all week up and down the mill ... he could not get it to balance so the wind would move it, oh dear poor old boy, he used to come into the office absolutely exhausted ... the tears used to run down his face because he was so frustrated.

This would be 1926, and at about the same time the logo 'Good Honest Ales' seems to have been devised. According to Mrs Burnett it was thought up, by herself and Mr Jameson. Mr Jameson wanted 'Batemans Good Ales' but Mrs Burnett said to him "that there was no more honest a man than Mr Bateman so it should be 'Batemans Good Honest Ales'". They put that to Harry, he liked it, and it has remained ever since.

On the site of the present offices were stables with the office on top and it was a cold place. There were three in the office in the 1920s until Mr Jameson came, a "funny old man".

Every Saturday afternoon Mr Frank Thimbleby of the Solicitors in Spilsby or one of their men a Mr Parrott used to come to the brewery to do business such as drawing up wills for the local people. He used to use the drawing room of Salem House and the first thing he used to get from Mrs Burnett when he arrived was a tot of whisky.

To finish Mrs Burnetts testimony she tells one amusing little anecdote. On one occasion a group of fishermen from Sheffield who passed through Wainfleet in a charabanc seeing the brewery sign over the house stopped outside and walked in through the front door, just as the family were having Sunday lunch. Mrs Bateman going to see what the commotion was all about was greeted with "Where's t'bar missus".


Mrs Burnett left the brewery in 1928 when her wages were £3 10 0 but she had saved enough, she says, to have bought for herself in 1924 a little two-seater Morris Cowley for £175.

There is nothing in the Minute Books at all until July 1947 when we find a new refrigerator has been ordered and a new hop back and pumping back have also been ordered at a cost of £1640, to again replace worn out equipment. These latter replacements were also to require some structural alterations and they were fitted by March the following year. In November 1948 they had to replace the copper again, obtaining a second hand one from Joshua Tetley & Sons of Leeds for £500. They also ordered a new boiler from Messrs Roby & Co of Lincoln at a cost of £3,000 and in May they ordered a Webster Bottle Washing Machine and necessary structural alterations were made at an approximate cost of £5,000.

The biggest changes though came in 1952 when the whole fermenting room was transformed. By this time the head brewer was the present George Bateman and he decided to get rid of the carriage cask system and replace it with open square fermenting vessels, where the wort stays until fermenting has finished. They ordered eight stainless steel vessels to be delivered and erected, then at a cost of £13,800, and this gave a total brewing capacity of 425 barrels. They were fitted into a completely sealed room and the first 75 barrel vessel was to be installed by the end of January 1953 and the remainder between October 1953 and Easter 1954.(5)

The Minutes also state what other equipment was needed, such as rousing pumps and yeast collecting vessels, at an additional cost of £2,500 and various structural alterations that were necessary at a cost of about £700 and everything was to be completed by Easter 1954 at a total cost of £17,000 (6). I doubt, however, if all this was finished in time as the completion of the new fermenting room is not recorded in the minutes until the Board meeting of 28 April 1955, the total cost being £19,399 0 5.

Batemans have always tried to obtain their barley locally, that is, from Lincolnshire. They used to have their own small maltings but not for a long time. There are references in the letter books to supplies from Pauls Malt, a company which in fact they still use and to purchases from such as Gilstrap & Earp of Newark and Pidcocks of Nottingham.

They did however tend to be more variable with their hops during the period of the letter books. This may have been because of shortages or because they may have been experimenting with various brews. They were trying such varieties as Mancktelow Kent, Shorter Pembury, Honeysett Tenterden, and Brooker Spellhurst. Their main supplier for hops at this time was J Rothbarths of London. The hops today come from Kent and Worcester.

Batemans never seemed to have any real problems with their water supplies, particularly when two of their rivals had to close because of that reason. Their advantage was being close to the Steeping River from which, in the early days they took a direct supply. By the First World War they were getting it from the public supply. They were also, trying to dig wells in the brewery yard to enhance the supply, but this water was only good enough for refrigerating as it was salt water (7).

Between about 1935 and the early 1950s the Brewery at one time used to take a tanker the seven or eight miles to Wrangle to take on water from a standpipe there. This water was from the Bourne water supply and was piped in by the Boston Rural District Council whose boundary was at Wrangle. The reason for this was that Bourne water was supposed to be very good for brewing. At the brewery the water was stored in a concrete tank in the yard ready for use. This tank is now the breweries effluent tank (8). In the Brewery Book of the 1950s under the Transport heading, all the lorries that the Company owned are listed and one is described as being adapted to carry the water tank which was semi-circular in shape. The water now comes from the mains and it is supposed to come from a particular supply somewhere near to Louth but Mr Bateman suspects that under the grid system it is probably a mixture of all sorts. At one time in the late 1950s there was a danger that their then water supply might dry up so, they made an arrangement with the Spilsby Rural District Supply to ensure that water did not run out at the brewery (9).

The last of the main ingredients is yeast, that special micro-organism that converts sugar into alcohol. Some breweries have strains that go back generations but the earliest references to the yeast at Batemans comes in the early years of the present century, when they seemed to be having trouble with their own strain and were asking around to see if they could get a different one. In particular they wrote to Charringtons, Marstons at Burton on Trent and also to the British Pure Yeast Company at Burton. In the letter to Charringtons we are told that they were having trouble with the yeast and required a strong suitable variety (10). The present strain is about twenty-five years old and comes from a brewery in Wakefield.


Of course it is no use talking about a business if we do not mention the product. What was produced in the early days we are not sure, but it would only have been a cask ale and probably only one type which may have been what we now refer to as 'mild'. It may have been in two strengths as Mr Mowbray suggests it was, when he was a boy in the early part of this century. During World War One the price lists of 1917 show only one draught ale at sixpence a pint with a bottled beer at fourpence a bottle. By May 1920 they were producing up to six cask ales - four bitters at sixpence, sevenpence, eight- pence and ninepence and two milds at eightpence and ninepence and one bottled beer.

By the 1930s they were producing six, and at one time seven different bottled beers as well as cask mild and bitter. By the 1950s the bottled range was reduced to five varieties and by the 1970s to four. Though the range varied it basically consisted of four types of beer, brown ale, India Pale Ale, light dinner ale and a strong ale. In the 1960s they introduced bright beer in casks, usually called keg beer, in both mild and bitter form. When George Bateman began working in the brewery in the 1950s they produced a light mild which was referred to as 'ale', a bitter referred to as 'beer' and a dark mild. In most of the pubs the draught beer was drawn from casks in the cellar using a wooden or brass tap and it was poured into a copper or enamel jug. There were no hard spiles, or spiles of any sort, put in the top of the barrel until it ceased to flow by the pressure that had built up in the cask due to secondary fermentation which produced natural CO2 in the beer which then forced the beer out of the tap. Many customers judged the quality of the 'ale' by the length of time it took the licensee to draw it, because the more pressure that had built up the more carefully they had to draw it. Sometimes they would have to open the tap so little that it dripped into the jug which was judged to be better quality than one which could simply be drawn quickly.

In 1978 a new draught beer called XXXB was developed, being described as a strong, distinctive, well hopped beer, it took quite a while to develop. The launch of this new brand was celebrated by the Evening Telegraph on 3 January 1978 and in the article George Bateman expressed his gratitude to the swing back to 'real ale'. In 1987 to celebrate winning the battle to keep the brewery, another beer 'Victory Ale' was produced. In recent years many of the Bateman beers have won prizes at various beer exhibitions including the Great British Beer Festival run by CAMRA (11).

The brewery has, right from the beginning of this century at least, bottled for the national brewers. This we saw in Part I when they were bottling for Bass, Guinness, Thos Salt and probably Worthington. By the 1950s' they were still bottling for them, with the exception of Salts who had been taken over by Bass in 1927. They were also bottling Reid's 'Family Stout' and Combe's 'Oatmeal Stout' for Watney, Combe and Reid and later 'Milk Stout' for Whitbread‘s.

I remember at the age of 15 I used to work in the bottling stores in the school holidays and became disillusioned with the commercial world to realize that Reid's 'Family Stout' and Combe's 'Oatmeal Stout' came out of the same cask with different labels put on them but some customers swore by one drink and some by the other (12).

Bottling for other breweries and selling their other beers usually came as part of a trade agreement and in the case of Watneys and Whitbreads, it led to Batemans taking over some of their houses at cheap rents and often later, to being able to purchase some of them at reasonable prices. For example the Black Bull at Ruskington was leased from Watneys for £1 per annum in return for selling Skol Lager. In the case of the Whitbread agreement Mr. Bateman had this to say.

I went to Whitbreads, ... saw a chap there, I remember distinctly saying to him don't you think if we took Mackeson Stout from you that you give us something in exchange. He said we don't believe in that way of dealing, George, that's not our way of trading. I said fair enough I don't mind at all but I thought I would offer it you first, but if not Hope & Anchor and Jubilee Stout are very keen indeed that we should take theirs. (Those were the two direct competitors) So he said if you just hang on two or three minutes I will go and have a word with my director who is next door. He came back five minutes later saying yes, certainly, we shall be delighted to make an arrangement with you and that was the beginning of us then renting at nominal rents a number of houses from them in exchange for the amount of Mackeson Stout we took from them (13).

The agreement was to lease four pubs for 11¼ years at £100 per annum and in return to "purchase all supplies of Mackeson Stout from Tennant Bros. and no other brand of sweet stout. To take for sale in all houses 'Gold Label'. To take for sale in certain houses 'Whitbread Tankard'" (14).

Batemans present brewer, Martin Cullimore, says that brewing is basically quite easy, but the secret to success is to produce a beer that people will pay for and is consistent. Batemans beer is, he claims, distinctive and consistent and the main reason is because they are a single site brewery, small and flexible. They compete on quality and service whereas the 'big boys' compete on price. When the company first won at the Great British Beer Festival with XXXB it was with a beer that had been taken off a lorry bound for Lincoln as there was no spare in the brewery.



Batemans came through the Second World War, seemingly alright, and it is likely that Harry Bateman got on with getting the business back into full production. We see from the Minute Books in 1947 that they bought a Morris Van and in the same year they reopened the County Hotel for the Whitsuntide holiday. There are also references to getting various pubs refurbished, but it looks as though they had to wait until labour was available. In November 1947 the Budget increased the taxation on beer and spirits and also put a tax on profits which must have affected businesses like Batemans, as these increases would inevitably have affected prices at a time when most people had little money to spend freely. Another reference in the minute books informs that the Brewers Society have undertaken to see that all breweries increase the gravity of their beers by three degrees without increasing the price, so duty would not be going up (15). However over the next few years we find they must have been doing reasonably well, because they were planning to have the County Hotel extended, they were buying in further vehicles and as we saw in Chapter Seven the brewery was modernized.

To summarize the post-war years in any way is difficult, but the two main factors of this period are represented in Batemans progress during this time. The first is the number of takeovers and mergers and the rise of the 'Big Six', and the other is the growth of 'national' brand beers and lagers, usually of the keg variety.

By 1950 the number of brewers was down to 567 compared to 11,752 in 1904. In 1900 a national brewer was someone such as Guinness, Bass, or Worthington who produced a beer that was sold throughout the country, often being bottled by agents such as Batemans, and sold in other brewers' pubs. This began to change in the 1950s as national brewers took on a different role and became more influential throughout the trade. The main reason for this change was to have more control over as many outlets as possible, it had been realized that the pub was an unexploited and undervalued asset. The 1950s saw many mergers and takeovers still taking place and the first real sign that brewing was becoming big business was in 1959 when a bid of £21milliom was put up for Watneys. Although this was unsuccessful it began to set the trend. What began to emerge in the 1960s was a group of large powerful breweries, who controlled a large percentage of the industry. They became known as the 'Big Six' and they had developed out of a series of mergers and takeovers, so each company had links with many breweries. The names of the 'Six'

were Allied Breweries, Bass Charrington, Courage, Watney Mann, Whitbread, Scottish and Newcastle. Many smaller local and regional brewers were caught up in this fight to control as many pubs as possible and were swallowed up and lost. The success of the 'Six' made many of them also open to takeover by other businesses. For example Watneys were eventually bought out in 1972 by Grand Metropolitan Hotels for £420 million (16) and Courage became part of the Imperial Group.


Keg beer had been introduced in the early 1950s by Watneys with their 'Red Barrel' brand and the reason given for its introduction was that it was supposed to be easy to keep and provided a standard taste which would be available all over the country. Over the next twenty years all the major breweries introduced their own brand of keg beers and lagers and they promoted them with mass advertising campaigns.

In April 1953 we find the present George Bateman appointed to the Board of Directors after serving two years as head brewer. George was educated at Oundle School where he was Head Boy and then he served with the 17th/21st Lancers in Palestine. On leaving the army he began to learn the brewing business at Greens of Luton and Kelseys of Tunbridge Wells. John Bateman, his brother followed George into the business and onto the Board, but on the wines and spirit side, becoming responsible for Ridlingtons. He too had been to Oundle School and when he left he went to London to learn the wines and spirit trade (17).

By reading through the minutes in the 1950s and 1960s we find that the Company, following national trends, was making moves to expand. This they did by getting hold of more licensed houses and at the same time they were rationalizing by selling off those that were no longer profitable, usually in villages where there was more than one pub. They also sold the Peacock and Royal in the early 1960s because the repairs it needed were in excess of its value.

Batemans were reluctant to follow the other national trend and change to keg beer for several reasons, but the main one was that they were not really geared up to do it. They did in fact build a 'Heath Robinson' kegging plant, but they found the cost of setting it up quite prohibitive, not least being the price of the kegs. However it seemed that just at the time they thought they might have to go to the expense of setting it up the interest and demand for 'real ale' returned, which was to be to the company's advantage (18).

As we have seen the dominating feature of the industry in this period was the takeovers, amalgamations and closures of breweries throughout the country. So much so, that Batemans are the only surviving brewery left in the county of Lincolnshire. At the end of the war there were eight breweries in the county apart from Batemans. In the north of the county there was James Fox & Son Ltd whose pubs were taken over by the Barnsley Brewery in 1949 and closed. Barnsley in turn became part of John Smiths of Tadcaster and then part of Courage. A M & E Sergeant of Brigg were taken over by Hewitts of Grimsby, who were taken over by United Breweries who became part of Bass Charrington, who closed Hewitts in 1968. In the south of the county were Soulby, Sons & Winch of Alford who were taken over by J.W. Green of Luton in 1951 and closed the following year. In Grantham, Mowbray & Co Ltd were also taken over and closed by Greens in 1952. Greens eventually became part of Flowers who in turn are now part of Whitbread. In Spalding Soames & Co Ltd were taken over and closed by Steward & Patterson of Norwich in 1949 who are now part of Watney Mann. In Stamford which was once a major brewing town Phillips Brewery was bought and closed by the Northampton Brewery Ltd in 1952, they are also now part of Watney Mann. Finally there is Melbourne Brewery Ltd, who as a company still exist and operate public houses but who gave up brewing in 1974 when their brewery became too costly to repair. Their pubs are supplied by Samuel Smiths of Tadcaster and their brewery is now a brewing museum (19).

It seems that at one time there had been some speculation that Batemans might have merged with Soulby's and Soames, the two breweries that Harry had served as director. However in discussion with George they thought that it would not be in their best interest to do so as they were the smallest of the three companies and they would therefore have been junior partners and they were not prepared to be that (20). Not long after this George was approached by Bernard Dixon of J.W. Greens of Luton, who George had been associated with during his training, about the possibility of amalgamating all the Lincolnshire breweries into one company. George met Dixon at the Petwood Hotel (Once the Officers Mess of the Dambusters Squadron) in Woodhall Spa to discuss the plan. The new brewery would be based on Mowbray's at Grantham, although not necessarily on the same site, and that George would be appointed Managing Director. Apparently George felt really flattered, but as he says:

I had become a bit wise to it by then. A lot of takeovers by the middle size brewers of the smaller brewers, in nearly every case one was aware that promises that were made to such as those that were in my position .... . They soon discovered that someone was then put in, so called under them, but countermanding all the instructions .... until they found they had no place in the company (21).

So nothing became of these negotiations.

1951 saw the resignation of James Montague Broard from the Company. Broard had joined the brewery in 1926 as head brewer, the position he retained until his retirement. When the Company had been formed in 1928 he was the first Company Secretary, a post he resigned from in 1937 in favour of William Hudson. On his resignation as Head Brewer he was replaced by George Bateman, but he was to remain on the board as a life director at a salary of £400 per annum and he did not have to resign his position in rotation. He was also allowed to remain living at Mill House rent free. J M Broard was well respected by the family and the brewery which is why he was given this treatment on his retirement. He apparently showed "keen interest in the affairs of the Company and his help and advice were greatly appreciated" so said a tribute to him after his death in the Minute Book in 1974 (22).

1979 saw the death of Miss Jessie Bateman, Harry's sister who had for many years lived at the County Hotel and had served on the board from the very beginning. She had worked in some capacity for the brewery as she appears in the petty cash books in 1918. Harry himself had died in 1970 on 29 May at the age of 86, having missed his first Board Meeting on 27 June 1968. Although he was Chairman right up to his death the company had really been run by his two sons George and John. George was running the brewery side of the business and John the wine and spirits side based at Ridlingtons. They worked quite happily together for some time and eventually both their sons came into the business. However disagreements crept in as to how the business should be run. If the Minute Books are anything to go by then the friction began as long ago as 1978 when concern was expressed over the profitability of Ridlingtons and to give both brothers some incentive it was proposed George would receive 5 per cent of the brewery's profits and John receive 20 per cent of Ridlingtons profits (23). In 1979 Ridlingtons took over a similar business in Grantham. Nothing more is recorded until 1985 when George wondered whether or not Ridlingtons should be sold, criticising the poor performance of this side of the Company, perhaps they would be better off without it! Likewise John pointed out that the brewery figures were also poor in relation to the capital involved and criticised the sales figures for the previous five years (24).

In the following set of minutes it was suggested that the two parts of the company be demerged and a scheme was put forward under which three companies would be formed. All the brewery shares would be held by George, the Ridlingtons shares by John and all existing shareholders to have a share in a property holding company (25). These were the last set of minutes for over two years.


Because of these disagreements John consulted their sister Helen, whose shares were held in trust. Both George and John had 40 per cent each of the shares allocation and Helen had the remaining 20 per cent. John and Helen then decided to pull out and were prepared to sell to George at the market price, if he could not afford that then it would go to the highest bidder. The way to get a valuation was to employ a merchant bank to secretly put the brewery on the market and get interested parties to put in bids. What George then thought was that there would be a grand opening of the offers and the highest bid would be the one they would negotiate with John and Helen. However it seems that the merchant bank was not acting in George's best interest, they had already opened the offers and attempted to get some of the bids increased, presumably so that the brewery would have had to be sold and they would then take a commission (26). John also was not happy with the bids that were coming in.

In the meantime George changed his solicitors on more than one occasion, as he did not feel that he was getting the best legal advice. Following an American Senator in a book he had read ‘I'll employ a solicitor to tell me how to do what I want to do’ (27). It was not until the day that the offers were supposed to be opened that George realized what the merchant bank had been doing with the bids and because the highest bids had been sent back, the prices that were emerging were beyond what George thought he could possibly afford. In fact to have raised what he thought he could have afforded, he would have been left with only thirty five pubs. However the bids were now £200,000 more than expected and to get anywhere near that sort of figure he would only have been left with twelve pubs in the Boston area. The bidding was still going on however and at one point it reached £1.6 million pounds more than their original maximum figure. The two companies that were bidding at this stage were Belhaven Brewery, based in Scotland, and Midsummer Inns. Of the two George reluctantly preferred Belhaven because they were a practising brewery company who wanted to get into the lucrative London free trade market with a brewery a lot closer than their own. He saw them as the best chance of keeping the brewery open and of preserving the most jobs. Midsummer Inns were only interested in the retail aspect of the industry and were seen as asset strippers who would have sold and closed the brewery and most of the pubs and just retained what to them would have seemed the most profitable. It was Midsummer who put in the £1.6 million bid above George's limit. George did not like the prospect of this as many villages would have been left without pubs and staff would have lost their jobs. However, Midsummer then began to whittle it down again as they claimed they did not realize all the ties that were involved. As it came down it got nearer and nearer to the sort of figure that George and his family could realistically afford.

While this was going on George also got himself into negotiations with Mansfield Brewery about becoming an independent subsidiary of them, something he saw as preferential to a complete takeover. Despite the fact that he was a good friend of Mansfield's Chairman, Robin Chadburn, their proposals did not really please him either as the Mansfield Board insisted that they had a majority on the Batemans Board. However, by this time the bids had come down to such a degree that George now felt he could attempt to buy his brother and sister out. He had also by this time been shown how he could do so without having to raise enormous capital, by using the Company's reserves and selling a number of pubs. By May 1987 the business was over and John and Helen accepted an offer just over what the Mansfield proposal had been and despite the acrimony they still preferred to sell to George. Thus Bateman's is still an independent family brewery with not only George but his wife Pat and children Stuart and Jaclyn all actively involved. (28)


A Conclusion

My aim in this study was to see if I could establish why Batemans have become Lincolnshire's last brewer. Although I do not think the answer is difficult I think there are several strands to it.

The Company, for instance, may not be too attractive to other brewers for several reasons. The brewery itself, for example, is comparatively old fashioned and too small to be of use to a larger, more modern, brewer who at the most would only use it as a store house and that is unlikely. The tied-estate is probably not too attractive either, except for one or two of the pubs and hotels, as to a great extent, it is dominated by small country pubs that do not have big turnovers and which are often difficult to get to in terms of deliveries. They have no real involvement in any large towns, and in fact have only really been dominant in Boston since the 1950s, and Boston is probably not regarded by bigger brewers as a large centre of population. Of the nearest towns to Wainfleet only Skegness with its mass of holiday makers might attract the 'big boys' but Batemans have very little interest in the town apart from the Parade, County and Vine hotels. Skegness is mainly served by brewers from South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, the origin of most of the holiday makers and many of the 'new' residents who have moved into the town. In fact Mr Bateman has admitted that he cannot really compete in Skegness because they cannot afford the discounts that the brewers, who are operating there, can.

So why did the others sell out? This I can only guess at at this stage, there is room for more research here but one of the factors is that they must have had more to offer the bigger brewers. Soulby's, Mowbray's, and Soames were all situated in larger population areas and had more tied-houses. Also, in the case of Soames' and Soulby's at least, there was no family interest left in the business or no-one on the board was involved in the brewing business. This is why Harry Bateman was invited on to both boards so that he could offer his advice and is probably why when offers of a takeover were given to these companies they accepted them. The only times that Batemans were involved in takeover or merger talks, in the 1950s, nothing became of them because they would have been the junior partner in one case and they did not trust the agreements in the other.

Overall I think the answer is simply the fact that the company is a family run firm of which they are very proud. It is controlled by only the third generation in what is nearly 120 years of operation with the fourth generation waiting in the wings. Being a private limited company there are no outside shareholders and no shares on the stock exchange to have enabled other brewers to buy their way in and try to take control, which has been a familiar ploy in other takeover situations.

The period of the mid 1980s when George's part of the family fought to retain control of the company is a very emotive one but the determination of the family and the workforce to survive must have some bearing on why they are the last brewery in Lincolnshire. They got a great deal of support, not just locally, but from all parts of the country. Not least they got support from CAMRA who did not wish to see another local beer disappear in the cause of rationalization.

Over the last twenty years what has probably been as important to Batemans survival as anything was the return to traditional beer. In the 1950's the trend was to go over to 'bright' or 'kegged' beer which tended to be more consistent than most beers at the time, although they lost a lot of character in doing so. Batemans were unable to follow this trend at the time because of cost and facilities. As a result when the trend for 'real ale' began in the 1970s they were already producing it and over the last few year they have been able to expand out of their traditional area into more populated ones and cater for the demand for real ale. They have done this by buying pubs in larger towns such as Nottingham, Derby, Hull, and London and through wholesalers to free houses and off-licences. They are also exporting their beers, particularly to America, and trying to get into the lucrative supermarket trade.

Like any business there has to be room for adaptation and change to cope with modern trends. In some ways missing out on the trends of the 1950's has been lucky for Batemans but they are not prepared to sit back and trust to luck today. Brewing is a cut-throat business and Batemans are still doing all they can to remain.



Since I wrote this dissertation, back in 1991, things have obviously progressed at Bateman's. I know for a fact that the list of public houses will be well out of date as will much of the information as to where the company is selling its beers. I would imagine that their market is now greater than ever before.

In fact I recently paid a visit to the brewery, the first time for a number of years and it was interesting to see the changes made. There is now a proper visitor's centre based around the mill giving a history of the brewery and brewing. It also contains a restaurant, bar (of course) shop and conference centre. There are also a selection of old bar games inside and outside the centre that visitors can play and remind themselves what a pub should be all about. However, more importantly, they have had to build a new brewhouse to cope with the increasing demands of Bateman's beers. This has a more modern approach than the old brewerhouse but believe me the beers are just as good.

I think, also, that more documents have come to light since I did my original research so it would perhaps make an interesting task to look further into the company and develop this history further. Who knows?


Appendix 1

The main points about the Output of Beer (Restrictions) Act which was passed on August 3 1916 was as follows;

A brewer shall not brew at his brewery or breweries during the first three quarters to which this Act applies more than the aggregate maximum barrelage for those quarters as determined for the purpose of this Act, and shall not brew at his brewery or breweries in any subsequent quarter to which this Act applies more than his maximum barrelage for the quarter as determined for the purpose of this Act.

If a brewer acts in contravention of this provision he shall be liable in respect of each offence to an excise penalty of one hundred pounds and in addition to an excise penalty of two hundred pounds for every barrel of beer brewed by him exceeding the maximum barrelage.

This section shall not apply to brewers other than brewers for sale.

The standard barrelage was determined by the Commission, as it would have applied to Batemans, for each brewery individually. It was defined in the case of a brewery working in the corresponding quarter in the year ending March 1916 to be the number of barrels brewed in that quarter reduced by 15%.

The brewers are allowed to supply to pubs that they may acquire in a quarter the business of the same barrelage as that pub had received in the corresponding quarter less 15%.

No new licences for a brewer shall be given after this date for as long as the Act is in operation.

If a licence holder (licensee of providing he gets a certificate from the previous brewery to say what his standard barrelage was. The amount was then reduced from the maximum barrelage of that company and transferred to the new one pub or club etc) which is a free house and wishes to change brewery he can do.

Appendix 2

At the outset of the Company a Nominal Capital of £75,000 shares divided into £1.00 shares of which 25,000 would be preferential.

The objects to which the company was established are -

a) To acquire and takeover as a going concern and carry on the business of a Brewer, Licensed Victualler, Wine & Spirit Merchant, Hotel Proprietor, and allied business now carried on by HARRY BATEMAN at Wainfleet All Saints in the County of Lincoln, and Boston, in the said County of Lincoln and elsewhere under the styles or firms of "GEORGE BATEMAN& SON" and "J.E.RIDLINGTON & SON" respectively, together with all or any of the real and personal property and assets of the proprietor of those businesses and in connection therewith or belonging thereto, and with a ... to enter into and carry into effect(either with or without modification) an agreement which has already been prepared and engrossed and is expressed to be made between the said HARRY BATEMAN of the first part, JESSIE BATEMAN of the second part, and the above named company of the third part, a copy whereof has for the purpose of identification been signed by two of the subscribers hereto.

b) To carry on, either in connection with the business aforesaid or as a distinct and separate business, the business or businesses of Brewer, Maltster, Distiller, and Rectifiers of all kinds of Spirits, Cask, Bottle, Stopper and Cork Manufacturers and Merchants, Hop Merchants and Growers, Malt Factors, Corn Meal, Yeast, and Grain Merchants, Ale Beer, Porter, Stout, Cider, Wine, and Spirit Merchants and Dealers. Licensed Victuallers, Family, Residential, and Commercial Hotel Proprietors, Boarding House, Lodging House, Tavern, Inn, Beerhouse, Restuarant, Cafes, and Refreshment Room Proprietors and Keepers, Hydropathic Establishment Proprietors, Manufacturers of and Dealers in Arearated Waters of all kinds, Purveyors and Caterers of Public and Private Amusements and Entertainments, Refreshment Contractors, Proprietors of Clubs, Baths, Dressing Rooms, Laundries. Libraries and Rooms for Public Use. Jobmasters, Livery Stable Keepers, Coach, Carriage, Omnibus, and Motor Vehicle Proprietors, Garage Proprietors, Dealers in and Letters of Hire of Motor Vehicles and Vehicles of all kinds, Agents for and Dealers in Petrol, Motor Spirit, Oils and other Fuels and Accessories, Carriers, Proprietors and Managers of Omnibus Service, Railway, Coach, Touring and Forwarding Agents, Insurance Agents, Theatre Box Office Agents, Tobacconists, Chemists, Hair Dresser, Farmer, Grazier, and Dealers in Fruit and Flowers, and to manufacture and sell, and deal in articles, commodities, produce, apparatus, and things of all kinds used in connection with the above businesses or of any of them, or likely to be required by customers of or persons having dealings with the Company.

c) To carry on any other business(whether manufacturing or otherwise) which may be seen to the Company capable of being conveniently carried on in connection with the above or calculated directly or indirectly to enhance the value of or render more profitable any of the Company's property.

d) To purchase or by any other means acquire any freehold, copyhold, leasehold, or other property, for any estate or interest whatever, and any rights, privileges, or leasements over or in respect of any property and any buildings, factories, breweries, distilleries, maltings, cooperages, mills, offices, works, wharves, roads, railways, tramways, machinery, engines, rolling stock, plant, live and dead stock, barges, vessels, or things, and any real or personal property or rights whatsoever, which may be necessary for, or may be conveniently used with, or may enhance the value of any property of the Company.


Number of Directors to be no more than 5, but need not exceed 1

First director shall be Harry who shall be a permanent Director and shall hold office for as long as he lives and shall hold no less than 10,000 shares

Other Directors to rotate on a cycle.

Appendix 3

Probable Tied Houses in 1917

Royal Oak Wainfleet Old Chequers Croft
Red Lion " Ship Inn Toynton
Barkham Arms " Bricklayers Arms Old Leake
Axe & Cleaver " Sailors Home "
Three Horse Shoes Leverton Windmill Hotel "
Anchor Hotel Friskney Prince Albert Irby
Three Tuns " White Lion Little Steeping
Bricklayers Arms " Great Northern Hotel Surfleet
Good Intent " Rising Sun Stickney
Barley Mow " The Ship Ingoldmells
Shepherds Arms Wrangle The Nelson Spilsby

This list has been compiled from the letter books being those pubs that got regular letters about prices etc. and the Trade Bottling Account Book 1914-1917. The list is not necessarily complete and the brewery did not actually own all of them at this time. The following may also have belonged to the list.

Manor Hotel Little Steeping Duke of Wellington New Leak
Bell Hotel Burgh Pier Hotel Skegness
Duke of Welington Midville Avenue Club "
Kings Head Firsby Bull Hotel Spilsby
Railway Hotel " The Roebuck Lincoln

Clubs being supplied during and just after World War One:

Monks Road Working Mens Club Lincoln
Liberal Club "
Union Club "
Constitutional Club "
The Mess Club "
Social and Democratic Club "
Working Mens Social Club New Brumby
Liberal Club Scunthorpe
British Working Mens Reform Club "
Iron & Steelworkers Club "
Constitutional Club "
St. Phillips Institute "
Working Mens Social Club "
United Servicemens Club "
Working Mens Social Club Ashby
Constitutional Club "
Brigg Road Social Club "
Ivy Leaf Club Crosby
Constitutional Club Grimsby
Central Club "
Workers Union Club "
Engineers Club "
Sailors & Soldiers Memorial Club "
Dockers Union Club "
Boilerworkers & Shipwrights Club "
Central Club Cleethorpes
G.C.R. Staff Dining Club Immingham Dock
P.R.H. Association Club Toft

Information from the letter books

Appendix 4

Pubs being supplied by 1920 including tied houses and free houses:

Royal Oak Wainfleet Duke of Wellington Midville
Ship Inn Stallingborough Kings Head Firsby
Red Lion " Railway Hotel "
Vine Inn South Thoresby Duke of Wellington New Leake
Barkham Arms " Pier Hotel Skegness
White Hart Boston Roebuck Hotel Lincoln
Axe & Cleaver " Royal Oak New Bolingbroke
Glass & Bottle Donington Windmill Hotel New Leake
Three Horse Shoes Leverton Plough Inn Halton Holegate
Black Swan " Bell Hotel "
Anchor Hotel Friskney Vanguard Keale Cotes
White Swan Grimsby Chequers Inn Irby
Three Tuns " Gate Ulceby
Royal George " Windmill Alford
Bricklayers Arms " Bull Spilsby
Lincoln Arms " Red Lion "
Good Intent " Red Lion Raithby
Alexander " Red Lion Revesby
Barley Mow " Red Lion Stickford
Beach Hotel Sutton on Sea New Inn Saltfleet
Shepherds Arms Wrangle Prussian Queen Saltfleetby
Staggs Head Burwel Louth Hotel Mablethorpe
Old Chequers Croft Masons Arms Louth
Hope Tavern Holton le Moor Greyhound "
Ship Inn Toynton Fleece Hotel "
Turner Arms Wragby Kings Head "
Bricklayers Arms Old Leake Peckham Arms Brocklesby Station
The Plough " Bell Hotel Burgh
Windmill Hotel " White Lion Little Steeping
Prince Albert Irby

Appendix 5

1950 This list is complied from information supplied by the Company and the Minute Books:

County Hotel Skegness Wheatsheaf New Leake
Vine Hotel Skegness Windmill "
Bricklayers Arms " Queens Head Legbourne
Woolpack Louth Wheel Welton
White Swan Coningsby Three Tuns Ingoldmells
Station Holbeach Victoria Tavern Hogsthorpe
Packet Dogdyke Old Chequers Croft
Blacksmiths Sleaford New Chequers "
Ship Fosdyke Fox & Hounds Hundleby
Queens Head Spilsby Rising Sun Bratoft
Bull " Prince Albert Irby
Nelson Butt " Chequers Inn "
Angle Wrangle Dukes Head Old Bolingbroke
Blue Bell " Black Horse "
Saracens Head East Keale Waggon & Horses Kirton Holme
Bricklayers Arms Friskney Duke Boston
Barley Mow " Carpenters Arms "
Three Tuns " Britannia "
Good Intent " Lord Raglan Horncastle
Anchor " Kings Head "
White Swan Burgh Cross Keys "
Red Lion " Nags Head "
Red Lion Wainfleet Red Lion East Kirkby
New Inn " Black Horse Gosberton
Royal Oak " Plough Nettleham
Barkham Arms " Durham Ox Thimbleby
Axe & Cleaver " Railway Kirkstead
Windmill Old Leake Bell Halton Holgate
Duke of Wellington Midville Plough "
Ship Toynton Midge Hatton
White Lion Little Steeping Rising Sun Hagworthingham
Railway Firsby Three Tuns Thorpe
Kings Head " Gate Ulceby
Great Northern Surfleet Robin Hood Bolingbroke
Oatsheaf New Leake

Appendix 6

1970 This list has been compiled with information from the Company

County Hotel Skegness Black Horse Gosberton
Vine Hotel " Plough Nettleham
Bricklayers Arms Friskney Durham Ox Thimbleby
Barley Mow " Railway Kirkstead
Anchor " Bell Halton Holgate
Good Intent " Midge Hatton
Woolpack Louth Three Tuns Thorpe
Britannia Boston Gate Ulceby
Duke " Axe & Handsaw Quadring
Carpenters Arms " Duke Of York Gosberton
Coach & Horses " Sebastopol Minting
King William IV " Foresters Arms Mareham
Mill " Royal Oak "
Indian Queen " Plough Swineshead
New Castle " Londesborough Arms "
White Swan Coningsby Butchers Arms Leake
Windmill " Coach & Horses Hemingsby
Station Holbeach Cross Keys Huttoft
Packet Dogdyke Crown "
Blacksmiths Sleaford Globe Stickford
Ship Fosdyke Golden Cross Billinghay
Queens Head Spilsby Red Cow "
Bull " Ball House "
Nelson Butt " Railway Irby
Red Lion " Red Lion Mumby
Kings Head Horncastle Red Lion Orby
Nags Head " Three Tuns Bilsby
Cross Keys " Admiral Nelson Bennington
Black Swan " Bull & Dog Frieston
Crown " Castle "
Lord Raglan " Kings Head "
Angle Wrangle Five Bells Butterwick
Blue Bell " Flying Horse "
Coach & Horses " Ostrich Leverton
Saracens Head East Keale Pied Bull Sibsey
Royal Oak Wainfleet Rose & Crown Stickney
New Inn " Rising Sun "
Red Lion " Royal Oak New Bolingbroke
Barkham Arms " Robin Hood "
White Swan Burgh White Hart Old Leake
Red Lion " White Hart Sibsey
Duke of Wellington Midville White Hart Nettleham
White Lion Little Steeping Golden Fleece Wigtoft
Railway Firsby Three Horseshoes Leverton
Great Northern Surfleet Butchers & Beast Heightington
Crown Legbourne Red Lion Baumber
Wheel Welton Axe & Cleaver Hutoft
Three Tuns Ingoldmells Green Man Scrumblesby
Victoria Tavern Hogsthorpe Half Moon Alford
Old Chequers Croft White Hart "
Fox & Hounds Hundleby Ship Chapel
Black Horse Old Bolingbroke Three Tuns Bilsby
Waggon & Horses Kirton Holme Red Lion East Kirkby



Wort - unfermented mixture of mashed malt and liquor (water)


Mrs Burnett


LB 2 Mar 1909


LB 24 Sept 1918 & 20 Jan 1919


Minutes 1952-54


Minutes 30 Sept 1952


LB 5 Apr 1920


G Bateman 23 Aug 1990




LB 1 Nov 1909


Campaign For Real Ale


G Bateman 23 Aug 1990




Minutes 28 Feb 1962


Minutes 18 Apr 1950


C Hutt, The Death of the English Pub (1973)


Century of Brewing, G Bateman & Son 1874-1974, Lincolnshire Standard - a special supplement


G Bateman 23 Aug 1990


N Barber, Where Have All the Breweries Gone (1980) Swinton pp 16,20,29,30


G Bateman 23 Aug 1990


ibid. Brewery History Number 117 Winter 2004


Minutes 6 May 1974


Minutes 16 June 1978


Minutes 21 Jan 1985


Minutes 27 Feb 1985


Interview with George and Stuart Bateman 23 Oct 1990




I was unable to contact either John or Helen Bateman to get their views on this affair



Letter Books 1909 - 1920

Petty Cash Books 1915 - 1920

Tenancy Application Book

Spirit Books 1913 - 1914

Cask Books 1887 - 1917 (not complete)

Costs Book

Incoming Letters

Brewing Diary 1895

Bottling Account Book (Private and Trade)

Cash/Invoice Books

Ledgers 1875 - 1911 (not complete)

Minute Books 1 to 7 (1928-1990)

Application for the Grant of a Provisional Licence to the Spilsby Licensing

Meeting 1933 in respect of the Jolly Fisherman

The Vine Hotel and the Peacock and Royal Hotel, information booklets

Transcript of a conversation between G Bateman, P Bateman, and Mr Mowbray

16 August 1986

Transcript of a conversation between P Bateman and Mrs Burnett 31 August 1986

Interview with Mr Mowbray 21 August 1990

Interview with Mr Danby 21 August 1990

Interview with George Bateman 22 August 1990

Interview with George Bateman 23 August 1990

Interview with George Bateman 11 March 1991

Interview with George Bateman 23 July 1991

Interview with George and Stuart Bateman 23 October 1990

Various legal papers held at Ringroses, Boston (Batemans solicitors) including the deed to

the brewery and the Indenture referring to the transference of the business from George

Bateman to Harry Bateman in 1919

Programme compiled for the opening of the new Ridlingtons 1st February 1990

Wainfleet, a commemorative booklet for the Quincentenery celebrations


Good Honest Ales, George Bateman & Son, Wainfleet, a reprint from Brewers Journal 20th September 1961

Special edition of Boston and Sleaford Target on Batemans

Report in Lincolnshire Standard 6 Oct 1928

Report in Lincolnshire Standard 22 June 1935

Report in Lincolnshire Standard 25 May 1970

Special edition of Lincolnshire Standard on Batemans 22 May 1987

Century of Brewing, George Bateman & Son 1874-1974, Lincolnshire Standard - a special supplement

Report in Brewers Trade Review December 1953


William White History, Gazeteer and Directory of Lincolnshire 1826 Leeds

William White History, Gazeteer and Directory of Lincolnshire 1856 Sheffield

William White History, Gazeteer and Directory of Lincolnshire 1872 Sheffield

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1882

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1892

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1900

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1926

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1933

Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire 1937

Census Returns 1871 and 1881 for Wainfleet and Friskney, Lincoln Library

Horncastle and Kirkstead Brewery papers, Chad 8 Lincoln Records Office

Output of Beer (Restrictions) Act 1916

Instructions for Changing the Beer Duty (1912)

Companies House: Memorandum of Agreement concerning the incorporation of the business


The Economics of Brewing - a paper prepared for the Brewers Society by the Economists Advisory Group 1969

J Vaizey The Brewing Industry 1886-1951 (1960)

KH Hawkins & CL Pass The Brewing Industry: A Study in Industrial Organisation an Public Policy (1979)

P Mathias The Brewing Industry in England, 1700-1830 (1959) Cambridge

JD Chambers The Vale of Trent, 1600-1700

FA King Beer Has A History (1943)

NR Wright Lincolnshire Towns and History, 1700-1914 (1942) Lincoln – History of Lincolnshire Vol xi

JP Deare & JW Taylor Apects of Yellowbelly History (1988) Spalding

J Scarisbrick Beer Manual (Historical and Technical) (1896) Wolverhampton

P Bristow The Mansfield Brew (1976) Ringwood

G Bruce Kimberley Ale (1982)

B Harrison Drink and the Victorians (1971)

J Baker The Brewing Industry (1905)

C Hutt The Death of the English Pub (1973)

HS Corran A History of Brewing (1975) Newton Abbott

N Barber Where Have All the Breweries Gone (1980) Swinton

M Lovett Brewing and Breweries (1981) Aylesbury

B Sullivan Local Brew

HA Monckton A Story of the Publican Brewer (1982) Sheffield

HA Monckton A Story of British Beer (1981) Sheffield

PE Dewey British Agriculture in the First World War (1989)

R Protz The Great British Beer Book (1987)

The Brewers Society How Beer is Brewed


This dissertation was originally completed in 1991 so please keep this in mind in relation to this chapter for, as we know, there have been further colossal changes over the last 14 years.

Copyright © 2004 the Brewery History Society