Records of Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd, brewers, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Memorandum and articles of association, 1901-1965;
  • Certificates of incorporation, 1901;
  • Partnership agreements, 1861-1972;
  • Amalgamation/liquidation papers, 1960-1967;
  • Directors' minutes, 1867-1959;
  • Board papers, 1916-1958;
  • Minutes of AGMs, 1901-1959;
  • Records relating to members' meetings, 1954-1963;
  • Directors' annual reports and accounts to shareholders, 1902-1978;
  • Committee meetings, 1978-1982;
  • Miscellaneous corporate records, 1904-1977;
  • Shareholding records, 1898-1966;
  • Letterbooks, 1785-1895;
  • Financial records, 1776-1984;
  • Patents and trademarks, 1878-1995;
  • Production records, 1830-1992;
  • Sales records, 1812-1964;
  • Staff, 1846-2001;
  • Licensed premises, 1852-1971;
  • Property records, 1806-1989;
  • Promotional material, c1850s-2005;
  • Public relations, 1885-2006;
  • Family papers, 1821-c2000;
  • Family tree, 1500-1985;
  • Illustrations and photographs, 1869-2000s;
  • Historical notes, 1886-c2000;
  • Equipment, c20th century.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hugh Tennent and  Robert Tennent continued the Tennent family Private brewing business, founding the Public brewing partnership, in the same place, trading as  H & R Tennent in 1740, at Drygate Bridge (also known as The Drygate, Drygate Foot, and Drygate Wellpark) , Drygate,  Glasgow, Scotland. The  Tennent family had been brewing in Glasgow since 1556 as recorded in the Chronicles of the Maltmen Craft in Glasgow, 1605-1879. Hugh Tennent's sons, John Tennent and Robert Tennent, continued the family business, trading as the partners of J & R Tennent from at least 1769. The business expanded in the 1790s  , absorbing the adjacent brewhouse of William McLehose , until the Drygate Brewery, renamed Wellpark Brewery, covered 5 acres. Wellpark was named after the "Ladywell" well found in the area, and is commemorated today by a monument outside the brewery.

On the deaths of  Robert Tennent in  1826  and  John Tennent in  1827  ,  Hugh Tennent , the eldest son of Robert, assumed control of the business.  Hugh Tennent acquired a reputation as a philanthropist, holding titles such as Town Councillor, Justice of Peace and Poor Law Commissioner. He retired in 1855 and his fifth son,  Charles Stewart Parker Tennent, took control. Under his leadership the company became the biggest beer exporters in the world, selling to markets as far apart as Melbourne, San Francisco, Mauritius and Calcutta. Charles died in  1864  , some months before his father, and the business was operated by trustees on behalf of his sons,  Archibald Tennent and  Hugh Tennent.

In  1884 Hugh Tennent acquired his brother's share in the business and assumed sole control. He started brewing Tennent's lager for export in  1885  after a tour of Bavaria in  1881/2  , commencing a new purpose-built German Lager Brewery at Wellpark between  1889  and  1891 . On  Hugh Tennent 's death in  1890  , the capital was left in shares to his five half brothers and sisters, the Campbells of Craigie in Ayr, to his sister Annie, to his uncle  James Archibald Hay and to his physician  Dr Wyllie Clark .  Dr Clark was one of two trustees who were in control of the company until, in  1901  ,  J & R Tennent Ltd was registered as a limited liability company to acquire the business. The company was one of the first businesses in the United Kingdom to can beer. It became a public company in  1953  and formed a subsidiary company,  West of Scotland Taverns Ltd, to acquire and operate its licensed premises. In  1960  it acquired  Maclachlans Ltd, Castle Brewery, Craigmillar,  Edinburgh, Scotland, and over 100 tied houses;  Turner's (Ayr) Ltd, bottlers and distributors; and  Westcon Ltd, caterers of  Ayr, Scotland.  J & R Tennent , along with 240 licensed houses, was taken over by  Charrington United Breweries Ltd,  London, England, in  1963  . In  1966  , it formally merged with  United Caledonian Breweries Ltd, Charrington United Breweries Ltd's other Scottish holding, to form  Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd. The new company's brewing was concentrated at Wellpark Brewery, Glasgow, and Heriot Brewery, Edinburgh.

Wellpark Brewery was redeveloped between 1965 and 1968 while Heriot Brewery was demolished in the 1990s. In 1967, Charringtons merged with Bass to form the  Bass Charrington Group , which continued ownership of  Tennent Caledonian Breweries Ltd . Bass Charrington was acquired by the Belgian brewer Interbrew in  June 2000  . In  2004  , Interbrew and AmBev merged to create the company InBev. InBev acquired Anheuser-Bush in  2009  , becoming known as AB InBev. In the same year, Tennent's was acquired by  C&C Plc of Ireland. Tennent's continues to brew at Wellpark Brewery, and still claims to have the largest sales of all beers sold in Scotland. In  2010  , the company celebrated the 125th anniversary of Tennent's Lager.

McMaster, Charles and Rutherford, TomThe Tennent Caledonian Breweries, official history (Scottish Brewing Archive, 1985) T12/5/4 Douie, RobertChronicles of the Maltmen Craft in Glasgow, 1605-1879 (The Incorporation of Maltmen, 1879Richmond, Lesley and Turton, Alison (eds). The Brewing Industry. A Guide to Historical Records ( Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1990 );The Brewer , Vol.71, September 1985, No.851; and information from the Family Open Day at Wellpark Brewery To Celebrate 100 years of Tennent's Lager Sunday, 12th May 1985, Souvenir Programme T12/10/14.

A number of senior staff at Tennent's were responsible for collecting and depositing all the Tennent's archives. Also, Angus Meldrum and the late David Johnstone compiled and commissiong extensive research about Tennent's history:  

  • Angus Meldrum, ex Managing Director
  • Douglas MacLeod, ex Finance Director
  • Donald Smith, ex Distribution Director
  • David Johnstone, ex Head Brewer
  • Jimmy Simpson, ex Brewery Director
  • Bill Nolan, ex Head of Public Relations and Sponsorship
  • Simon MacQuarrie,ex Senior Brand Manager
N.B. Contact Tennent's Wellpark Brewery or Angus Meldrum to interview some of the above if required.


The material is arranged according to the Scottish Brewing Archive classification scheme.

Access Information

Some records may be subject to Data Protection legislation. It is advised that you should contact the Duty Archivist before visiting:

Acquisition Information

Tennent Caledonian Breweries

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard Scottish Brewing Archive and GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

The collection was previously stored at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. It moved to the University of Glasgow in 1991. Further deposits have been received since 1991.



Related Material

Some of the collections mentioned below are of companies that were acquired by Tennent Caledonian Breweries.

GB 248 ARTEFACTS: Scottish Brewing Archive Artefacts Collection

GB 248 WST: Records of West of Scotland Taverns Ltd

GB 248 GJM: Records of G & J Maclachlan Ltd

GB 248 CUB: Records of Charrington United Breweries Ltd, breweries & licensed premises group

GB 802302: Records of Charrington United Breweries Ltd (private collection, enquiries to Business Archives Council, London, England)

GB 802302 BAC: Records of Charrington & Co Ltd, brewers (private collection, enquiries to Business Archives Council, London, England)

GB 248 UCB: Records of United Caledonian Breweries Ltd

GB 802302 no 619: Records of United Breweries Ltd (private collection, enquiries to Business Archives Council, London, England)

GB 248 GY: Records of George Younger & Son Ltd

GB 248 JJ: Records of John Jeffrey & Co Ltd

GB 248 JA: Records of John Aitchison & Co Ltd

GB 248 AIT: Records of James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd

GB 248 AJ: Records of Aitchison Jeffrey Ltd

GB 248 JF: Records of John Fowler & Co Ltd

GB 248 TR: Records of Turner, Ayr & Newton Breweries Ltd

GB 248 WC: Records of Westcon Ltd

GB 248 GTT: Records of Glasgow Trading & Transport Ltd

GB 248 DIM: Records of D I Macleod.

See also GB 2779: National Brewery Centre, Burton on Trent


Schofield, Charles and Kamm, Antony, Lager Lovelies: The Story Behind the GlamourGlasgow: Richard Drew Publishing , 1984 . T 12/11/1

McMaster, Charles and Rutherford, Tom, The Tennent Caledonian BreweriesGlasgow: Scottish Brewing Archive , 1985 . T 12/5/4

Tennent's Malts. Scottish Brewing Archive Newsletter No 25 (Summer 1985)

McMaster, Charles. Men of Brewing - Hugh T Tennent. Scottish Brewing Archive Newsletter No 7 (Summer 1986)

Anderson, Archibald F. Letter Received by J & R Tennent, Wellpark Brewery, Glasgow, 5 December 1938. Scottish Brewing Archive Newsletter No 17 (Summer 1990)

Manz, Stefan. J & R Tennent's Lager. The German Connection. The Annual Journal of the Scottish Brewing Archive 1 (1998), pp1-12

Manz, Stefan. Technologietransfer und Spezialistenwanderung. Eine Augsburger Lagerbrauerei in Glasgow, 1881-1959. Zeitschrift für Unternehmensgeschichte 45 (2000), pp225-247

Additional Information

This material is original

Fonds level description compiled by Natalie Milne, Archive Assistant (Hub), Tuesday 20 November 2001; Catalogue converted to Encoded Archival Description, 8 June 2005. Revised by Wiebke Redlich, Archive Assistant (Hub), 20 March 2002; Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist, 19 December 2008; Revised by Michelle Kaye, Archives Assistant, 11 May 2012, and 30 May 2012; Administrative history amended by Cheryl Brown, Archives Assistant, 28 May 2012; Revisions and additions made by Rachel Egan, Assistant Archivist, Aug 2014-May 2015; Revisions and additions made by Clare Paterson, Senior Archivist, March 2017; Revisions and additions made by Kirsty Menzies, Catalogue Data Assistant, May 2017.

Geographical Names