A Christmas Tale of Ale December 1924


A visit to most pubs these days presents the visitor with a much better choice of beers than was the case during the period prior to the late 1980’s when breweries, national & regional dominated ownership of public houses & offered little choice to the customer of anything other than their own products. This practice was the case during the late 19th century and the greater part the following century.

In Keighley by 1924 brewers completely dominated public house ownership with only the Lord Rodney adjacent to the Parish Church standing alone in not being owned or leased by a brewer.

The licensee during the 1920’s was George Dean who unlike most of his counterparts who were tenants managed the establishment on behalf of the owners with a free hand in sourcing beers wines & spirits for sale at the pub.

The Keighley News dated 6th December 1924 informed the population of the ar ray of beers now available & throughout the festive season. As well as a varied selection of wines, spirits & bottled beers George Dean was providing his clientele with at least ten different draught beers including:

The range produced by Joshua Tetley & Sons of Leeds . Tetley’s owned no pubs in Keighley at this tim e; their principal outlets being the Kings Arms at Haworth & an off licensed shop in Fell Lane .

William Younger’s Edinburgh Imperial Stout – The Wellington Hotel being the only  other local outlet for this famous Scottish brewer.

Burton Draught Ales from the renowned Thomas Salt & Co of Burton on Trent.

Peter Marsland & Co.’s Famous Bitter the champion beer of the 1923 Brewers Exhibition.

The Albion Brewery Co. of Leeds recently declared Champion beer at the 1924 Brewers Exhibition. The brewery owned Goats Head at Steeton being the only nearby outlet for this beer.


Keighley News 6 December 1924

It is interesting to note, with the exception of Younger’s, none of these breweries are still producing beer although the Tetley name is still used to market beer brewed nowhere near Leeds . The others all became vic tim of the ongoing rationalisation process within the brewing industry that followed takeovers or amalgamations leading to inevitable closure.

Thomas Salt & Co., a brewer of national acclaim was acquired by neighbors Bass Ratcliff & Gretton of Burton on Trent in 1927. The Watergate Brewery (near Huddersfield ) of Peter Marsland & Co was

closed down shortly after Wilsons of Manchester purchased the business with its 30 public houses in September 1930.  The Albion Brewery, located where Leeds Merrion centre now stands was taken over in 1927 by another now lost Leeds brewer, the Kirkstall Brewery Co. Brewing continued on the Albion site until October 1935 when all production was concentrated at the Kirkstall site. The Kirkstall brewery owned the F lee ce Inn in Low Street closed & demolished in November 1934 to make way for the Marks & Spencer store still trading on the site.

The Lord Rodney finally lost its Free House status on 25th September 1957 when it was purchased at auction by Joshua Tetley & Sons. Tetley’s decision to purchase the pub make have been influenced by the turnover of their beers in both the nearby Devonshire Arms & Kings Arms pubs; both supplied through an agreement with William Whitaker & Co former brewer of Bradford .

The Lord Rodney purchase also meant a much narrower choice of beers available to customers than had previously been the case especially during the Christmas of 1924.

Copyright Eddie Kelly December 2011