Saturday, 9 July 2016

Burton on Trent

As mentioned yesterday, Burton on Trent is where the Trent & Mersey Canal changes from a wide canal to the east and the River Trent at Shadlow whilst to the west it’s a narrow canal.  By 1712 a navigation had been created linking Burton on Trent with the River Trent which led to the development of the local brewing industry.  The finished product could then be transported down to Hull for export or down the coast to London.

The local water was particularly suited to brewing as it contains a high proportion of dissolved salts, predominantly caused by the gypsum in the surrounding hills. This allowed a greater proportion of hops, a natural preservative, to be included in the beer, thereby allowing the beer to be shipped further afield.

The Napoleonic Wars adversely affected exports from the local breweries but fortunately the rest of the Trent & Mersey Canal had been completed in 1777 which allowed finished products to be transported by canal to London and to west coast ports for export.

A gradual decline in beer consumption resulted in brewery closures and consolidations.  By the early 20th century there were only three major breweries left (Bass, Ind Coope, Marston’s).  The are still a number of breweries in the town with the two majors being Coors and Marstons.

The bulk of the town is located between the canal and River Trent.  We wandered though the town with me (as usual) looking for interesting buildings.  The brick square tower building opposite the library caught my eye.

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It has the date 1866.  After some searching I have identified it as the former Bass Brewery water tower and would have been one of a number of water towers in the town.

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Around from the library there is a wrought iron bridge over the River Trent.  Erected in 1884, the Andressey Bridge was a gift to the town by the Mayor Councillor G.H. Allsopp.  I had thought it crossed the River Trent and then thought how shallow and tame the river had become in the 13 miles since leaving it at Derwent Mouth.

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Now I realise this is only a minor branch of the Trent with the bridge leading to Andressey Island.  I should have walked further!

I think this is the ‘new’ Bass Brewery.  I hadn’t realised that by the late 19th century Bass was the largest brewer in the world and the first UK company to have a registered trademark (red triangle). You can tell I’m not a beer expert. 

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This next building was obviously slightly easier to identify Smilealthough you have to look closely at the photo to see the start of the vertical “Travelodge” to know its current use.

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Meanwhile back at the boat the brush strokes from painting yesterdays topcoat appears to be slowly flattening.  Consequentially I’ve delayed applying the second coat whilst I wait to see if the brush marks completely disappear.

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