150 Years Brewing in Moss Side

Hydes officially vacated Queen’s Brewery in Moss Side, this week, in order to move to a new premises in Salford on Kansas Avenue. The administration staff have moved across in the last few days, but brewing will probably continue on Moss Lane West for a short time.

The brewery at Brooks’ Bar has been on the market since the spring but its future remains uncertain. As a Grade II listed building it is protected from immediate demolition, but its listed status also makes it expensive to renovate and adapt. It’s not in a great state now; it won’t survive many years of outright neglect.

Queen’s Brewery was originally built for the Greatorex Brothers in 1861. Here’s their advert from Slaters Directory of Manchester & Salford 1863:

The Hyde Brothers began brewing around 1863 in Audenshaw; Hydes eventually moved to Moss Lane West in 1899.

L M Richmond and Alison Turton give this detailed account of the history in The Brewing Industry: A Guide To Historical Records, page 190:

HYDES’ ANVIL BREWERY LTD
Anvil Brewery, Moss Lane West, Moss Side, Manchester, Greater Manchester

History: Alfred Hyde went into partnership in about 1863 with his brother Ralph, at the Crown Brewery, Audenshaw, Greater Manchester. He moved to the Victoria Brewery, Lower Moss Lane, Hulme, Manchester, in 1870 and to the Mayfield Street Brewery, Ardwick, Manchester, in 1882.

Alfred Hyde died in 1880 and his eldest child, Annie, ran the business, moving to the Monmouth Street Brewery, Rusholme, Manchester, in 1887 and in July 1899 to the Queen’s Brewery, Brookes Bar, Moss Side, Manchester, formerly owned by Greatorex Brothers.

Hydes’ Queen’s Brewery Ltd was registered in December 1912 as a limited liability company to acquire the business. The company changed its name in 1944 to Hydes’ Anvil Brewery Ltd, to reflect the change of brewery name. It continues to brew, controlled by the Hyde family, operating 50 licensed houses in 1988.

Unfortunately I’ve never been a devotee of Hydes beer – in fact I’ve always mixed them up with Holts which is a bit embarrassing. So I never did the guided tour of Queen’s Brewery while the option was still available, although I have passed the Moss Lane site thousands of times.

It seems very ironic that Hydes and Joseph Holt have languished in my perception as low-budget, lack-lustre brands. If I had perceived them, instead, as small, local, independent, historic companies, I would have accorded them alot more prestige, and been more likely to champion their products. Compared with fashionable modern micro-breweries, Hydes and Holts have the advantages of local authenticity and many decades of brewing experience.

Stephen Tasker of Jones Lang La Salle, jointly marketing Queen’s Brewery, spoke in July about the possibility of the site becoming a micro-brewery in the future:

“There is an extraction licence to take water from a bore hole on the site and that will stay in place and there has been some interest from people who fancy running a real ale brewery here. But so far the premises have been too large for what a micro brewery would need. We are open to all suggestions though.”

Manchester Confidential’s Jill Burdett suggested that Queen’s Brewery needed “a maverick like Joel Wilkinson of Trof to take it on. He could turn the listed building into a hotel and serve beer made on the premises and have some sort of events space on the yard.”

But as Trof are already saving The Salutation and Chorlton Conservative Club from extinction, how many projects can they handle?

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November 17th 2013

I’m reading Look Back With Love, Dodie Smith’s memoire of growing up in Manchester around 1900. Her uncle…

“…was manager – or I believe the correct term is ‘head brewer’ – of a large brewery (in Oldham) and his comfortable house was at the end of the great yard. The nursery was on the first floor and I would sit at the window watching the big horses coming in and out of the loose-boxes, drays being loaded or unloaded with barrels and people coming in and out of the brewery. With its high tower and the black-slatted openings of the cooling-room, I thought it a most romantic building.

During the daytime we used to play in the hayloft and in the strawloft, talk to the men in the saddle-room, and visit any horses that were not out at work; but we were not allowed into the brewery except on Sundays, when the men did not work. Then we started at the top of the tower, from which one could see for miles across country that must once have been beautiful; now it was scarred by industrialism, sooty and barren, but it still retained a certain wildness. I always liked looking down at the Brewery House far below, seeing the chimney pots and the nursery window, all seeming very small and remote.

After the tower, we came down exploring each floor. First came the store rooms, piled with sacks filled with queer-tasting things – we were allowed to take a little pinch of some of them. I never liked any of these but I loved the thick, brown sugar, almost like fudge, which was stored in huge tins. We could usually find one tin that had been opened and we would then draw funny faces on the sugar’s smooth surface before digging out a small piece to eat. I have never tasted anything quite like that brewing sugar.

On a lower floor were the great coppers where the beer was boiled – or perhaps it was ‘mashed'; vague brewing terms flit in and out of my mind. Ladders led to the top of the large coppers from which one could look down at the depths and think how dreadful it would be to fail into boiling beer. I only saw the coppers when they were empty. I don’t think I could have dared to look down into them when they werer full. Their bases went through the floor so that one could walk round them on the floor below.

More frightening even than the coppers was the cooling-room. This was like a huge, shallow stone swimming-bath. Along its length were tall apertures filled in with black shutters like heavy venetian blinds, tilted to let the air in. Just once I saw the cooling-room filled with beer, a great golden-brown steaming flood. In the queer light from the tilted shutters it might have been a lake in Hell.

The place I liked best was the fermenting-room, where the beer lay in large, square vats. It was possible to clamber up and lean over these and, with one’s hand, waft up the smell of the deep froth. This was a most invigorating smell, quite unlike the smell of beer itself, which I have always found unpleasant. At certain stages of fermentation the smell was so strong that it almost took my breath away, but I went on wafting and loved the sensation of pins and needls in my nose. It has occurred to me since that I may have been slightly intoxicated; certainly I always felt particularly gay in the fermenting-room.

The cellars were full of barrels and there was a miniature railway on which they were trundled about. Pools of beer lay on the dark flagstones and there were the largest cockroaches it was ever my misfortune to see….

When I was a little older we used to play hide-and-seek in the brewerey in the evenings. The cheerful fermenting room was brightly lit, but nearly everywhere else was in semi-darkness. A few kindly workmen were on duty and used to cheer us on. I doubt if there was ever a more exciting place for hide-and-seek.

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8 Comments

  1. Carol Bulmer

    I worked here from 1978 -1981 when the bottling plant closed, have a lot of fond memories, had a good many laughs :)

  2. Hi there
    I started there in 1980 on the loading bay Barry Nixon was in charge Dot Joy her Daughter Stefanie on the bottling Irene and many more Chris Hyde was in charge of brewing with Gordon Bailey I worked there 32 years till it shut ..Robert Jordan..

    • Hi youll probably remember my brother John Rielly, he worked there till 1981, I worked there till all the ladies were made redundant when they stoppd bottling. I remember, Dot Joy, steph, jean, her neice Gina, Myrtle. Carol (rielly

  3. Phil Moran

    Went on the last guided tour before the closure of Hydes Queens Brewery and was so glad I did, wonderful mixture of Victorian brewing equipment and modern kit together with the classic buildings and brewery yard. Hope it can converted into something useful whilst preserving the character!

  4. gill battersby

    My Grandmother & her sister were in service at the Hydes family home from around 1890 until 1910….dont know where the family home was though…

  5. MARTIN DAVIES

    Hi Urs
    I was interested by your piece on the Hydes Queens Brewery as it reminded me of the iconic photograph of Violet Carson taken some time in the early 1960s – around the time that Coronation Street was taking off. The picture is here.
    https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/508062401685542463/
    It’s a great photo in lots of ways – summing up one world giving way to a new world beautifully in a single image. I think it’s the Hydes Brewery in the background with (what was the continuation of) Cornbrook St leading up to it. As long as I can remember, it didn’t have a chimney and I’ve struggled to find photos that show it with a chimney. By looking at old maps I think Violet Carson must have been standing on the balcony of either Grafton or Clifford Court – two of the remaining “Three Sisters” you have written about too. I’ve sometimes wondered if the photo was tampered with in some clever way as it seems almost too good to be real.

    • Hi Martin – it’s a brilliant photo but I am struggling to recognise the brewery apart from the clock… my own photos aren’t much help. I should take some new ones since the site’s been re-developed as flats.

  6. MARTIN DAVIES

    Yep, I know what you mean…I’ve stared at it and can’t really ‘recognise’ it either. Plus I can’t find any old photos with the chimney there. But various websites claim it is the ‘old’ Cornbrook St with the Brewery in the background. Morrissey mentions the photo in his Autobiography, as the new flats were very close to where he lived in Hulme. Maybe someone can shed a bit more light…

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