town burton trade brewing trent miles time
BURTON-ON-TRENT, an English town, in the northeast part of the hundred of Offlow, and the eastern division of the county of Stafford. It is situated on the west bank of the River Trent, and is distant from Stafford 25 miles, from Derby•11 miles, and about 126 miles from London. The parish comprises over 9625 acres, and is divided into the townships of Burton-on-Trent, Burton Extra, Branston, Horninglow, and Stretton on the Staffordshire side of the river, and Stapenhill and Winshill on the Derbyshire side.
The history of the town may be said to begin with the erection of a church or monastery by the river side towards the close of the 9th century. But from that time we learn little concerning the place or its progress for about a hundred years. In 1002, the Burton abbey was founded by Wulfric, earl of Mercia, and substantially endowed. In 1540 it was surrendered to Henry VIII., who, in 1549, made a grant of it with all its lands and properties to his secretary Sir William Paget, the ancestor of the present lord of the manor, the marquis of Anglesey. In the time preceding the foundation of the abbey, the importance of the town was probably equal to that of the majority of Saxon boroughs, but it seems subsequently to have made but little progress, and even to the close of the 16th century to have had its character and condition mainly determined by the fact of its being the centre of an important ecclesiastical district. Notwithstanding the situation of the town being such as to have made it always the key to one of the great high roads between the Midland Counties, it does not seem to have been at any time fortified. It was the scene, however, of many frays. Especially notable is the battle which was fought at the Old Bridge on the 18th of March 1321, between the forces of Edward II. and Thomas earl of Lancaster, in which the latter was defeated.
During the civil war of the 17th century, Burton was repeatedly taken and re-taken. The consequences to the town were serious, entailing permanent injury to its interests in trade. Previous to the outbreak of the war the woollen trade had been the staple of the town, although it had also long been noted for its alabaster works, but the frequent plunderings of that unquiet time all but mined these industries.
In the year 1255 the greater part of the town was destroyed by fire, and in 1514 it was nearly swept away by floods. The latter form of disaster has frequently recurred. In 1771, in 1792, in 1795, in 1852, and twice in 1875 the town was visited by heavy floods, which inundated the greater part of it, and inflicted considerable damage. In 1875 the depth of water in several streets was from 4 to 5 feet, and the current strong and dangerous.
In the year 1698 an Act of Parliament was obtained for making the Trent navigable as far as Burton, and for many years the " Burton Boat Company," as it was called, did good service as carrying-agents for the trade of the town. The opening of the Midland Railway in August 1839 was followed by results more marked even than such as have commonly attended the introduction of railways. The progress of the town since that date has been constant and for the last twenty years remarkably and increasingly rapid.
During the earlier years of the present century the cotton mills of Barton were so extensive as to give employment to several hundred hands, but since 1849 the cotton trade has been discontinued. The demands of the brewing trade of late years, both as regards space and labour, seem to have made it difficult for any competing industry to exist. At any rate it must be admitted that at the present time the town derives all its commercial prosperity from the manufacture of ale, the recognized superiority of which is in a great measure clue to the fact that the water used in its production, and obtained from wells sunk in the neighbourhood of the breweries, is impregnated with sulphate of lime derived from the gypseous deposits of the district. The brewing trade of Burton is comparatively of recent development, although the brewing of superior ale within the town was undoubtedly known as one of the features of the place in the days when the abbey flourished. The trade, as distinguished from private brewing, is reckoned to have commenced about the year 1708, and forty years later it had so extended as to have found a market at St Petersburg and the Baltic ports. In the year 1796, so flourishing had the trade become that there were then in the town no fewer than nine brewing firms. That most famous of Burton ale products known as " India Pale, " or " Bitter Beer, " was first manufactured, as a beverage suited to the climate of the East, about the year 1823, and for some years India was its only market. The favour it has since obtained at home it owes to accident. A vessel carrying some hogsheads of India pale ale was lost in the channel, and its cargo sold for the benefit of the underwriters. In this way it was that bitter beer first became known as a beverage in this country, and so rapid was its popularity, that since 1828 the pale ale trade has taken the lead in the commercial transactions of the town. The development of the Burton brewing trade generally from that date to the present time has been marvellous, but especially so since 1862 The magnitude which it has now attained may be inferred from the following facts and statistics. There are in all some thirty breweries in the town, the largest of which are those of Messrs Bass & Co. and of Samuel Allsopp & Sons. Last year (1875) the quantity of malt mashed in the several breweries together was 737,190 quarters, to contain which in the form of ale would require 2,918,761 barrels of 36 gallons each. The average price per barrel being 48s., we are enabled to set clown the amount of brewing business done in the town, in one year alone, at £7,000,000. A calculation has been made by which it has been found that if all the barrels (2,948,761) of ale brewed in twelve months were put end to end in a straight line, that line would measure no less than 1535 miles. The Messrs Bass & Co. alone brew 250,000 quarters per annum; S. Allsopp & Sons alone 200,000 quarters. The business premises of the former firm cover 50 acres of freehold and 100 acres of leasehold property. Traversing these premises they have six miles of railway and six locomotives their own exclusive property. They employ over 2000 men and boys, and pay in wages to employes in Burton alone about £2000 per week. S. Allsopp & Sons have also private lines of railway, extending over 10 miles. These lines, Allsopp's and Bass's and others, as they connect with the outer railway system, intersect the town at many points. The amount paid to the several railway companies (Midland, North Staffordshire, and London and North Western) by the several brewing firms for carriage of ale in the course of 1875 for that year alone was £517,665.
The sanitary conditions of the' town has been greatly improved since the passing of " Burton-upon-Trent Act, 1853." Under this Act, the town is divided into three wards, the Burton-upon-Trent Ward, the Burton Extra Ward, and the Horninglow Ward ; and the local government is vested in a hoard of commissioners, twenty-seven in number, elected by the wards. Of public works in Burton the most notable is the New Bridge over the Trent, which was erected at a cost of £20,000, and was opened for traffic on the 22d June 1864. It is 469 yards in length, and has twenty-nine arches, supported by light but solid buttresses. The old bridge, which this one superseded, was of a curved form and extremely narrow. It had thirty-four arches, and is said to have been the longest bridge in the kingdom. The new cemetery, which occupies a plot of land 12 acres in extent, is situated in the township of Stagenhill, and was constructed at a cost of £13,000. it is divided into three parts, devoted to the separate burial of members of the Church of England, of nonconforming churches, and of the Church of Rome. It contains two mortuary chapels, and the house of the registrar.
Although, in some old records, Burton is styled a borough, it is certain it was not possessed of a charter of incorporation, nor has it yet obtained one. The police are those of the county. About five years ago the Burton Infirmary was opened, and has since been considerably enlarged. A new post-of ee is being erected, of dimensions suitable to the increasing growth of the town. There are three local newspapers published weekly. On the Derbyshire side of the river, and skirting its bank is the public recreation ground. The principal banking firm is the " Burton. Uttoxeter, and Ashbourne Union Bank," established 1830.
Burton is included in the diocese of Lichfield. Besides the Church of England, which has seven places of worship, there are the following denominations represented, - Presbyterian, Congregational, Wesleyan, Baptist, Free Church Methodist, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Catholic. The educational interests of the town are well cared for, there being, besides board schools, a grammar school, an endowed school, and three other schools of a voluntary character.
Commensurate with the increase of trade has been the increase of population. In 1801, when the first census was taken, it was a very little over 6000. From that year onwards to 1851 it steadily but very gradually increased. The ten years ending 1861 show the first great advance, the population being then 17,358. In 1871 it had grown to 23,748, and as the increase since then has been at the rate of over 1000 per annum, the population cannot now (1876) be less than 30,000.