Diamond jubilee of Ann Street Brewery

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Company directors P Mc Elwee, S J Gasston and S Godrich

A history of what in its time was one of Jersey's largest companies, from Jersey Topic magazine, 1965

Tourism was just beginning to be important to Jersey. Over 50,000 visitors a year were arriving in the island, mostly from Weymouth in boats run by the Great Western Railway. The company proudly boasted that their boats were fitted with "electric lights".

A visitor could take a horse and cab around Jersey at a cost of "one shilling a mile for the first mile and sixpence for every mile after thereof". The car had only just arrived.

The Jerseyman worked on his farm growing potatoes and tomatoes and bred his famous cow, and the Militia was the big thing. A policeman's wage was eighteen shillings a week and beer sold for 10d a gallon.

This was Jersey 60 years ago, and it was against this background that Ann Street Brewery first started to operate. This month the firm, one of the most illustrious in Jersey, celebrates its diamond jubilee.

Part of the island scene

Sixty years is a long time for any business to be going. Today Ann Street Brewery and Mary Ann are such an accepted part of the island scene that it would be difficult to imagine Jersey without them.

  • How did it all start ?
  • Who were the men behind it ?
  • What are the plans for the future ?


Formation

Ann Street Brewery was formed in 1905 to acquire the business from Inverness John Bathe, who became the company's first director and chairman until his death in 1927. Mr Bathe's practical interest in the firm was on the production and brewing side, for he was essentially a brewer. His secretary, Philip Payne, was responsible for developing the commercial side of selling the beer and it was his local knowledge and business flair that enabled the company to make the early progress that it made.

In 1923 he pulled off his finest deal when he successfully negotiated the purchase of 15 inns and hotels owned by de Veulle and Company from Mr T H Middleton, and this stroke of business can best be described as the turning point in the company's plans to become one of the island's leading businesses.

The brewery in 1900

On the death of Mr Bathe in 1927, Mr Payne became managing director and a considerable number of Mr Bathe's shares passed on to his son Greville Bathe. Although he lived out of Jersey all of his life until his death in 1964, he retained a close interest in the brewery and in 1958 he was invited to become an honorary director "in recognition of his continued interest in the welfare of the company employees and the island in general".

On his death last year the substantial shares owned by him were left to charitable trusts.

In 1940 Mr Payne died and an original shareholder, Mr W J Ralph, became chairman of the company. Mr J R Woodman became managing director and they piloted the business through the difficult years of the German Occupation. Despite all sorts of promises from the German Command the Brewery was never able to start brewing operations for the local population.

Extension scheme

In 1947 a vast brewery extension scheme was approved at a cost of nearly half-a-million pounds, which resulted in the complete modernisation of the buildings and the plant. This major project of redevelopment enabled the the company to cope with the increased demands for Mary Ann beer brought about by the increase in tourism after the war.

Before the extension scheme could be instituted Ann Street Brewery had to face a serious crisis. The board were confronted with the sudden death of Mr Woodman whose knowledge of the details of the rebuilding and reorganisation, gained from personal liaison with the architects, builders and advisors, was vital.

It was at this crucial time that Mr S A Godrich was appointed to the position of manager. Previously he had been secretary. He was subsequently made managing director, a position that he holds today.

The brewery extension scheme was then put into operation to make Ann Street the most modern and compact brewery in Britain.

Competition

The very reasons that had made the company push ahead with modernisation - an increased demand from the growing tourist industry — also acted as a spur to the makers of foreign and British beers to capture some of this lucrative market.

An early staff outing

Ann Street Brewery regarded this as strict competition and fought such competition tooth and nail.

By the mid 1950s the company decided that it would be to their advantage and in the interest of the island for them to increase the range of beers available in the inns and hotels run by the company. So they began to bottle English beer; and today they act as official bottlers for Guinness, Double Diamond, Worthington, Bass, Manns, Skol and Mackesons.

These beers arrive in the island in huge containers and are then bottled in the brewery. Many of them are also sold in Guernsey.

"The general public" said Mr Godrich "reacted very favourably to this new range of beers".

Today Ann Street Brewery brew approximately 1,000 barrels of beer a week: 36,000 gallons of pale ale, brown ale, best bitter and special bitter, which gurgles happily down the parched throats of visitors and residents alike. A staff of over 100 produce it, bottle it and deliver it and the Company also owns a large number of inns and public houses where it is sold.

Head brewer

The man behind the brewing side at Ann Street is the head brewer Philip McElwee, who joined the company as assistant brewer in 1938. He was appointed to the board in 1959. The assistant brewer is Mr R T Hawkins; the chief accountant is S A Gasston, who took up his position in 1947 and joined the board in 1961. The company secretary is G D Pearce.

The board consists of E F Le Gresley (chairman), S A Godrich, P McElwee, S J Gasston and E A Mossop.

Amongst the largest shareholders who served on the board and who, during their terms of office, contributed to the success of the company are Mr F B Le Marquand (1947-1958) and the late Dr H S Le Marquand (1956-1962).

No record of the company would be complete without reference to the present chairman Edward Le Gresley, who has served as a director since 1929.

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