THE SUNDERLAND SITE - PAGE 207
VAUX BREWERIES

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On this page ... Vaux Breweries, a Neville Bougourd history of Vaux Breweries, Maxim Ale & the Maxim gun, A list of the breweries that beacme a part of Vaux, a 1914 photo of the 'Vaux' yard, a 1927 'Vaux' invoice, the 'Vaux' brewery horses, some 1972/73 'Vaux' staff magazines, A 'Vaux' first day cover, etc., miscellaneous data, A little data re The North Eastern Breweries Ltd.

and also Trimdon Street in 1993.

VAUX BREWERIES

A few 'Vaux' related images. Hover your mouse over each thumbnail to read the subject matter.

I should state, at the outset, that this page is rather a holding page, to accumulate & present such material about 'Vaux' as becomes available to the webmaster.

We do have two short histories of the company, however.

Firstly, I provide some history words that were provided in an e-Bay item in late 2008, which text, being a 'pack rat', I 'saved' as a data source for a future page. I have no idea as to where the following text originated. All I know today is that it came from that, now long gone, 2008 e-Bay listing.

The Vaux family had been involved in the brewery business since 1806 but Vaux did not establish their own brewery until 1837. The first Vaux brewery was on the corner of Matlock Street and Cumberland Street and named after the founder Cuthbert Vaux (1813/1878), and would become one of Sunderland's most successful businesses. By 1844 the company was doing so well they had to expand, which meant they had to move. They bought a brewery in Union Street, where the business stayed and thrived for the next 30 years.

In 1875 the land was bought by North Eastern Railway Company for the new Central Railway Station and so C. Vaux & Co. moved to Castle Street and Gill Bridge Avenue, where it would remain for the next 124 years. After Cuthbert's death  in 1878 the business was passed on to his sons, John Story Vaux and Colonel Edwin Vaux. One of the founders grandsons also called Cuthbert moved away to learn the brewing trade and after his father John's death Cuthbert and his brother Ernest joined their uncle Edwin in the company.

After Cuthbert returned to Sunderland and joined the company Vaux became one of the first British brewers to introduce bottled ales and stouts. Frank Nicholson a Sunderland chartered accountant joined the company in 1898 as a manager and secretary. He later married Cuthbert Vaux's sister Amy and became a director in 1914 and managing director in 1919. His business abilities saw Vaux expand and in 1927 he arranged an amalgamation with North East Breweries Ltd. creating the North East's second largest brewers.

The new company was called Vaux and Associated Breweries Ltd. and in 1973 it became Vaux Breweries Ltd. Horse drays carried the breweries wares to the pubs and even after trains and lorries were introduced the horses were never totally replaced, they were a colourful and impressive sight on the streets of Sunderland. Unfortunately in 1999 after 162 years big business took over.

Big business however did not help the brewery as it has now been demolished, flattened and is waiting for redevelopment.

And secondly ....

The history of Vaux Breweries - thanks to Neville Bougourd.

Neville advises that his material is the result of 20 years of research into the history of pubs in his local area (15 miles from Sunderland) and the breweries who supplied them. Some of the material was obtained from Percheron Properties (Vaux Estates Office), from Vaux pub landlords and other local history projects.  Also from the Durham County Archives.



Vaux Breweries began in a small way in about 1837, the year of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne, at premises near Wearmouth Bridge. Founded by the then 24-year-old Cuthbert Vaux (1813/1878), who had already spent ten years in the trade, including a partnership with his friend John Storey. Cuthbert married Sarah Anne Storey, one of John Storey's sisters, in 1834, a marriage that would produce at least twelve children, seven of whom died in infancy. Under Cuthbert's leadership, the business expanded to the point that in 1837 'Cuthbert Vaux & Sons' moved to a brewery on the corner of Matlock and Cumberland Streets. In 1844 it had to relocate to larger premises on Union Street, where it stayed for the next 30 years.

In 1875, the North Eastern Railway Company bought the Union Street site to build upon it the new Central Railway Station. The brewery was moved accordingly to the Castle Brewery at Castle Street and Gill Bridge Avenue. When Cuthbert Vaux died in 1878, the business passed to his sons Edwin Vaux (1844/1908) and John Storey Vaux (1834/1881). Three short years later John Storey Vaux had also died, and his sons Cuthbert (1862/1927) and Ernest (1865/1925) joined the partnership. This was to be the last partnership drawn exclusively from the Vaux line.

I read that Vaux was one of the first British brewers to introduce bottled ales and stouts.

On Jun. 20, 1896, Edwin, Ernest and Cuthbert Vaux held the first meeting of their newly-formed limited liability company - 'C. Vaux & Sons Ltd.' Two years later they appointed 25-year-old Frank Nicholson (1875/1952) as a manager.

After becoming a director in 1919, Nicholson oversaw a period of huge expansion, including, in 1927, an amalgamation with 'North East Breweries Ltd.', forming 'Associated Breweries Ltd.' This made 'Vaux' the second largest brewery in North East England, topped only by 'Newcastle Breweries Ltd.' (who in 1960 would merge with 'Scottish Breweries', forming 'Scottish & Newcastle', now part of 'The Big Four' In traditional dynastic style, Frank Nicholson had married Amy Vaux (1873/1949) on Jan. 25, 1900. They had two children: Margaret and Frank (#2, 1905/?).

The business name changed to 'Vaux & Associated Breweries Ltd.' in 1940.

The second Frank Nicholson became chairman of Vaux in 1952. He had five sons. Two of them, Paul and another Frank (#3), would be the men at the top when later the company's brewing activities came to an end.

Though several years separate them, both Paul and Frank (#3) were educated at Harrow and Cambridge before moving into very different careers. Their father wanted his sons to avoid the brewery trade so Paul joined The Coldstream Guards before becoming a Chartered Accountant with 'Price Waterhouse' while his younger brother Frank became a Chartered Surveyor.

 

Paul Nicholson (that's Paul at left) joined Vaux in 1965, at the age of 27. He was chairman by 1971. Frank Nicholson #3 became managing director of the Brewery Division in 1984. The company they were running, which had changed its name to 'Vaux Breweries Limited' in 1973, was one of the few remaining breweries in the North East and was a defining part of Sunderland's culture.

The brewery was one of the city's main employers and the brewery's dray horses were a common and colourful, if anachronistic, sight on Sunderland's streets.

When Paul Nicholson became chairman of Vaux, he couldn't have known that his would be the last of three generations of his family to run the brewery, stretching back to five generations by marriage, and that his would be the generation that saw its demise. In Jul. 1999, the brewery which had operated at Castle Street and Gill Bridge Avenue for 124 years, gave up brewing in favour of other activities – much to the dismay of local people and some of the management.

'Maxim' & 'Double Maxim' Ale - in part provided by Neville Bougourd.

Perceived by many as Sunderland's equivalent of (and some say superior to) Newcastle Brown Ale, Double Maxim has quite a story behind it.

Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest Vaux (1865/1925 - son of the brewery's founder) served in the 2nd Boer War of 1899/1902 in the Imperial Yeomanry - as Lieutenant, 15th Company of the 5th Battalion. Or maybe as a Major. He commanded a detachment which operated in the Transvaal, in Orange River and in Cape Colony. It would seem, however, that he must have been mostly in the Transvaal since he took part in over 80 operations there. He served between Jul. 1900 & Jun. 1901.

At left below Major Vaux is featured on an Ogden's 'Guinea Gold Cigarettes' cigarette card. At right he is shown, at centre image, with some of his 2nd Boer War companions.

Ernest Vaux was, I read, 'Mentioned in Despatches' no less than 7 times for his service in South Africa, & was awarded the Queen's South Africa Medal with four clasps. A beautiful image of a Queen's South Africa medal can be seen low on this page. In Nov. 1901 he was awarded the prestigious DSO (Distinguished Service Order). He later served in WW1, in both France and Belgium, in command of the 7th Battalion, Durham Light Infantry, composed of men from the Sunderland area. Until Apl. 1918 when he contracted dysentery & was invalided home. He was twice (or maybe 6 times) 'Mentioned in Despatches' for his WW1 service & received more awards - in 1916 he was appointed a CMG (Companion of the 'Order of St. Michael and St. George') & in 1919 an Officer of the 'Ordre du Mérite Agricole'. Other awards too. A most popular commander it would seem & clearly a successful one.

In the Boer War, Ernest Vaux's detachment used a most famous gun indeed - the 'Maxim'  - the first portable, fully automatic recoil-operated machine gun. It had been invented, in 1884, by Hiram Stevens Maxim (1840/1916), born in Maine, U.S.A., but a naturalised British subject from 1900. In 1901, Maxim was knighted by Queen Victoria. Hopefully soon, there will be more data lower on this page about the 'Maxim' gun.

 

At left a 'Maxim Ale' beer label dating from 1916. Another fine 'Maxim Ale' label can be seen on this page.

Upon the safe return of Ernest Vaux to Sunderland, the brewery, in 1901 or 1902, created a new ale, 'Maxim Ale' with a most distinguished looking label depicting the Maxim Gun. Apparently the brewery received complaints from pub landlords who said that the new ale was so strong that it put their customers to sleep! Not good for custom, I presume. So the strength was reduced - to be increased many years later in 1938 with the beer renamed 'Double Maxim'.

Now the label depicts the Maxim Gun indeed. I suspect however that the Maxim Gun used by Ernest Vaux during the 2nd Boer War would likely have been carriage mounted & towed by a team of strong horses, as shown in the fine next images.

Both of the images below are ex e-Bay items available in late April, 2014. The upper image was a card sold on Apl. 25, 2014 for GBP 12.50 or U.S. $21.00. The lower image, (click the image to go to the listing) is likely typical of Ernest Vaux's Boer War experience but dates from 1893, rather prior to Ernest Vaux's 1900/1901 service in South Africa.

Ernest Vaux became a philanthropist &, through his friendship with Lord Baden-Powell, was influential in the foundation of the Boy Scout movement. Baden-Powell had discussed his fledgling ideas of the Boy Scout movement with Vaux while staying with him in 1908 and Sunderland's Lampton Street Boy Scout Troupe, recognised as one of the earliest, was known as 'Vaux's Own'.

The Lieutenant-Colonel died in 1925 at the so young age of 60 - in some unfortunate & quite unusual circumstances. While the reference is short on specifics, Wikipedia advises that at a dinner party in 1925 he accidentally choked on a rabbit bone. Medical help was not received quickly enough & his health ended up seriously damaged. He was moved to a nursing home in Newcastle & on Nov. 21, 1925 he died, to be buried in St. Cuthbert's churchyard in Barton, North Yorkshire, near his home, at Brettanby Manor, North Yorkshire.

I read that 'Double Maxim' has been resurrected by two of Vaux's former directors. It's now brewed in Stockport.

You can read more about Maxim & Double Maxim Ale here. And more about Ernest Vaux, here, at George H. Graham's fine site, the source of the Boer War group photograph above.

Breweries absorbed into the final business - list provided by Neville Bougourd.

The data lists the many breweries that became part of 'Vaux' by the date they first commenced business. The same data is presented in two columns i) alphabetically by name of the brewery and ii) by the commencement of their businesses. I can see, however, that the list needs amendment. It does not refer to 'S. H. Ward & Co. Ltd.', of Sheffield, 51% of which was acquired in 1972. It does however refer to 'Vaux' acquiring a Rotherham company of the identical name c.1840. A mistake? Are there other names 'missing' from the list?

In name sequence

Location

Date

 

In date sequence

Location

Date

Associated Breweries

Sunderland

pre 1927

 

W. B. Thomson

Blackford, Tayside

pre 1488

Berwick Brewers Ltd.

Berwick

1924

 

John Wright & Co. Ltd.

Perth

c1700

Blyth & Tyne Brewery Co. Ltd. Blyth

1890

 

Robinson Brothers Ltd.

Houghton le Spring

1754

Border Brewery Ltd.

Berwick

1899

 

Whitwell Mark & Co. Ltd.

Kendal

1757

Bramwell & Scurfield

Sunderland

1800

 

Bramwell & Scurfield

Sunderland

1800

Broadway Brewery

Burton on Trent

pre 1896

 

Cuthbert Vaux

Sunderland

1805

Coldstream Brewery Co. Ltd.

Coldstream

1922

 

Muir & Martin

Perth

1815

Craig & Cordner Ltd.

Rainton

pre 1904

 

J. & A. Davidson Ltd.

Coldstream

1820

W. M. Darley Ltd.

Thorne

1927

 

Thomas Lamb & Sons

Hetton le Hole

1823

J. & A. Davidson Ltd.

Coldstream

1820

 

Thomas Usher & Son Ltd.

Edinburgh

1824

Thomas Elwen & Sons

Sunderland

pre 1896

 

C. Vaux & Sons Ltd.

Sunderland

1837

W. & T. Forsters Brewery

Darlington

pre 1927

 

S. H. Ward & Co. Ltd.

Rotherham

c1840

J. H. Graham

Middlesbrough

pre 1896

 

Samuel Ridley & Co.

Newcastle

1845

Greenhead Brewery Glasgow

pre 1888

 

Richard Murray

Blackhill

pre 1876

Harker & Co. Ltd.

Hartlepool

1911

 

J. Heslop

Norton Grange

1878

Hepworth & Co. Ltd. Ripon

pre 1947

 

Heslop & Son

Peterhead

1879

Heslop & Son Peterhead

1879

 

Greenhead Brewery

Glasgow

pre 1888

J. Heslop Norton Grange

1878

 

Blyth & Tyne Brewery Co. Ltd.

Blyth

1890

Johnson & Darling Ltd. Berwick

1892

 

Johnson & Darling Ltd.

Berwick

1892

P. B. Junor Sunderland

pre 1896

 

Broadway Brewery

Burton on Trent

pre 1896

Kirk Brothers Stockton on Tees

pre 1896

 

Thomas Elwen & Sons

Sunderland

pre 1896

Thomas Lamb & Sons Hetton le Hole

1823

 

J. H. Graham

Middlesbrough

pre 1896

Lorimer & Clarke Ltd. Edinburgh

1920

 

P. B. Junor

Sunderland

pre 1896

Meadow House Preston

pre 1975

 

Kirk Brothers

Stockton on Tees

pre 1896

Muir & Martin Perth

1815

 

William Storey & Co.

Sunderland

pre 1896

Rainton Brewery Co. Ltd. Rainton

1904

 

George Wright & Co.

Belford

pre 1896

Richard Murray Blackhill

pre 1876

 

The North Eastern Breweries Ltd.

Sunderland

1896

The North Eastern Breweries Ltd. Sunderland

1896

 

Ridley, Cutler & Firth

Newcastle

1898

John Platt Sowerby Bridge

pre 1900

 

Steel, Coulson & Co.

Edinburgh

1898

Ridley, Cutler & Firth Newcastle

1898

 

Border Brewery Ltd.

Berwick

1899

Samuel Ridley & Co. Newcastle

1845

 

John Platt

Sowerby Bridge

pre 1900

Robinson Brothers Ltd. Houghton le Spring

1754

 

Warwick's Brewery Co. Ltd.

Darlington

1903

Steel, Coulson & Co. Edinburgh

1898

 

Craig & Cordner Ltd.

Rainton

pre 1904

William Storey & Co. Sunderland

pre 1896

 

Rainton Brewery Co. Ltd.

Rainton

1904

W. B. Thomson Blackford, Tayside

pre 1488

 

Harker & Co. Ltd.

Hartlepool

1911

Tweed Brewers Ltd. Berwick

1924

 

Lorimer & Clarke Ltd.

Edinburgh

1920

Thomas Usher & Son Ltd. Edinburh

1824

 

Coldstream Brewery Co. Ltd.

Coldstream

1922

Cuthbert Vaux Sunderland

1805

 

Berwick Brewers Ltd.

Berwick

1924

C. Vaux & Sons Ltd. Sunderland

1837

 

Tweed Brewers Ltd.

Berwick

1924

S. H. Ward & Co. Ltd. Rotherham

c1840

 

Associated Breweries

Sunderland

pre 1927

Warwick's Brewery Co. Ltd. Darlington

1903

 

W. & T. Forsters Brewery

Darlington

pre 1927

Whitwell Mark & Co. Ltd. Kendal

1757

 

W. M. Darley Ltd.

Thorne

1927

George Wright & Co. Belford

pre 1896

 

Hepworth & Co. Ltd.

Ripon

pre 1947

John Wright & Co. Ltd. Perth

c1700

 

Meadow House

Preston

pre 1975

Such material as follows is in date order.

THE 'C. VAUX & SONS' YARD, DATING FROM 1914

What a fine image! Ex an e-Bay item in Apl. 2012, that sold for GBP 4.99 or approximately U.S. $8.04. I added a little contrast for better presentation on this page. A larger version of the photograph, also adjusted, can be seen here.

A 'C. VAUX & SONS LTD.' INVOICE, DATING FROM ABOUT 1927

An e-Bay item that sold in Oct. 2006 for GBP 24.99 or approximately U.S. $47.05. I show the top portion only of the whole invoice. In Jan. 2010, a similar invoice, of a very similar date (Mar. 28, 1927) sold via e-Bay for GBP 30.00 or approximately U.S. $48.76. 15 bids. So the webmaster cannot be the only person who enjoys seeing such visually interesting material.

THE 'VAUX BREWERIES' HORSES

At left a fine little image of Vaux Breweries Limited horses at work. Featuring, I believe, a pair of beautiful white Percheron horses.

Alan Vickers kindly advises me that the horses of Vaux Breweries were, in fact, featured in the Jul. 1977 issue, i.e. Vol. 17, of 'A and P News', the employee magazine of Austin & Pickersgill Limited. The cover of that issue showed the horses at work & page 15 of that issue talked of the care which was bestowed on the magnificent animals.

You can see both of those 'A and P News' pages, in a legible size, by 'clicking' on the large thumbnails below.

 

A splendid 1967 image of a 'Vaux' brewery dray, appearing here thanks to the kindness of photographer David Christie. David makes his copyrighted images available via 'Flickr', specifically here - 1351 of them as this page is updated! Here is a larger version of David's image.

'M. A. & D. Calvert', whose store is just visible in the image background, are Sunderland butchers, & were still in existence in 2012 after 45 years. Then on Trimdon Street. That does not mean, however, that the photograph below was taken on Trimdon Street. Nor does it name the pub on the corner in which the dray driver was probably sampling 'Vaux' product! Maybe today's owners of the store can tell us the name of the pub? But .... Jimmy Beaty has been in touch to advise that the pub, on the corner of Beach & Trimdon Streets, is the 'Caledonian' (a Gary Foreman posting used to exist about it but no longer, it would appear. The Atkinson Buildings are in the background & Govans, the bakers were there also. Jimmy advises that as a boy he lived at 7 Atkinson Buildings above the chemist shop which was next to the bakery. Thank you so much, Jimmy!

 

A rather later delivery vehicle!

A 1960s Atkinson 4x2 articulated brewery tanker with a twin-axled 'Vaux Breweries Ltd' trailer in the authentic red livery. A 'Corgi Classic' limited edition toy in 1:50 scale. I read that only 7,600 of them were produced.

An expired e-Bay item here.

SOME 1972/1973 'VAUX BREWERIES LIMITED' STAFF MAGAZINES

In Nov. 2011, 4 'Vaux Breweries Limited' 1972/73 staff magazines were offered for sale on e-Bay. Here. I was not aware that such magazines were published but understand, thanks to 'cedrusdeodara', the vendor, that they mainly covered matters of social interest to the staff rather than historical data & imagery - subjects that would be of interest to 'Sunderland Site' visitors. The vendor advises that the magazines mostly 'concern themselves with retirements, obituaries, Fred who won the skittles evening last March, competitions, launch of the new lager, photo competition' etc. And the Chairman's message to everyone, each Christmas.

The listing images are next. Followed by some of the general interest content of the magazines.

1

'Looking Back', 50 years at Vaux, by W. A. Liddle. Ex the Summer 1972 issue.

2

'Welcome to Wards'. Vaux acquired 51% of brewer 'S. H. Ward & Co. Ltd.', of Sheffield. Ex the Winter 1972 issue.

3

The 'Dandy Cart', a new public house at Newton Aycliffe, & the mining contrivance after which it was named. Ex the Winter 1972 issue.

4

'Beltane'. An article about James Bell & Co., of Leith, Scotland, owned by Vaux & manufacturer of 'Beltane' scotch whisky. Ex the Winter 1972 issue.

5

'12 minutes work to earn a pint of beer'. Enough said! Ex the Summer 1973 issue.

6

'New Keg Plant'. The new plant built in late 1972 & in 1973. With a portion of the Winter 1973 issue's cover.

A 'VAUX BREWERIES LIMITED' FIRST DAY COVER, DATING FROM 1977, & the RELATED BEER BOTTLE LABEL

MISCELLANEOUS DATA

1) 'Lorimer & Clark Ltd.', of Edinburgh, were a subsidiary of Vaux Breweries Limited of Sunderland. Certainly in 1986. A 'Lorimer' ashtray, ex e-Bay.
2) The main entrance to Vaux offices was about 100 yards into Gill Bridge Avenue off High Street West at the Londonderry corner. The stables & brewery extended behind the office buildings towards the staiths. It was a big area now completely demolished for development.

THE NORTH EASTERN BREWERIES LTD.

The webmaster is, as is apparent, a pack-rat when he spots interesting data. So ... a few webmaster modified items, ex e-Bay, that relate to The North Eastern Breweries Ltd., of Wear Brewery, Sunderland, & of Stockton-on-Tees too. The lorry was stated to be a PT8 steam lorry.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001.PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

To Thomas M. M. Hemy Data Page 41. All of the other Thomas Hemy pages, including image pages, are accessible though the index on Thomas Hemy page 05.

To the Special Pages Index.

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TRIMDON STREET

An above paragraph refers to the 'Atkinson Buildings' on Trimdon Street, Sunderland. Herewith, an image of Atkinson Buildings (note the upside down sign at upper right), Trimdon Street, taken on Jan. 30, 1993 - placed in this spot on site by the webmaster absent a better place to include it. Ex an e-Bay item which sold on Oct. 27, 2014, described by the (unknown) photographer as being 'Trimdon Street shops -- What's left of them, anyway'. You may click the image below for a larger version. Note