Historical records of Heron & Brearley Limited

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The contents consist of minutes of meetings, articles of association, memorandum of association, applications and allotments, register and a share ledger for Heron & Brearley Company Limited and Heron & Brearley Contractors Limited. Minutes of meetings, directors’ report, balance sheets and a letter to shareholders for Castletown Brewery are present. Minutes of meetings, registers of mortgages and bonds, members, applications and allotments, register of share ledger, register of directors/managers, a summary of share capital, shares and brewing notes associated with Okell’s Brewery are included. Material relating to Boddingtons (IOM) Ltd and Maningtons appear in the form of minute books, mortgage trust deed, memos and articles. Material relating to Vincent Bucknall & Co. Ltd such as minute books, shareholders annual returns, members and share ledger, register of directors/managers and summary of share capital and shares are within the contents. A director’s report with a statement of accounts for the Manx Electric Railways Co. Ltd is included. Further items relate to the Heron & Brearley steamer contracts and relations with Ellerman Lines and Silloth & Dublin Steamers. Legal documentation in relation to wills and estates, a legal dispute (regarding the illegal distribution and trading of Bass Ale on the Island) and the Corrupt Practice Act are within the deposit. Material relating to the Isle of Man Banking Co. (credit references and receipts of balance sheets) and customs and trade are included. Further information relates to maintenance and transits and job applications within Heron & Brearley.

Numerous items relate to Heron & Brearley’s relations with companies the hospitality trade such as Guinness Brewery and Bass Ale. Drinks merchants Kuhner, Henderson & Co., Blandy Brothers, Yates Bros. & Co., Matthew Clarke & Sons R. P. Culley & Co., Rose’s Lime Juice, Bovril and Coleman & Co are present. Champagne specialists include Moët & Chandon and Pommery and Greno. Whiskey specialists include Andrew Usher & Co., Bulloch Lade & Co. Ltd, Wright & Greig Ltd, McCelland & Co. and Jameson & Co. Sherry and port distributors include Gonzalez Byass & Co. and Feurheerd Bros. & Co. Ltd. Gin suppliers include Coates & Co. Plymouth Gin, J&W Nicholson & Co. and J de Kuyper & Son, Rotterdam. Mineral and carbonated water companies include Jewsbury and Brown Mineral Water Manufacturers, Apollinaris Springwater Company, Schweppes and the Isle of Man Mineral Water Association. Bottling specialists include Bucknall Brothers, Qualtrough & Co. Ltd, Beavis of Bristol and Nuttall Beer Bottle Manufacturing.

Items relating to relations with hotels within the deposit include the Swan Hotel, Ramsey, Granville and Athol Hotels, Douglas, Clara Macauly-Shore Hotel, the Prince of Wales Hotel, Ramsey, Peveril Hotel, Peel and Clarendon Hotel, Harrogate. Further Miscellaneous and ephemera items relate to details the Isle of Man Agricultural Show, dray horses, Guinness and Bass Ale show cards, Ushers posters, labels for bottles and drinks advertisements.

Administrative / Biographical History

Heron & Brearley Limited is an Isle of Man business that offers a range of services in the hospitality industry both on and off Island. They have management over pubs and bars, the retail chain Mannin Retail, entertainment and vending solutions and a drinks wholesaler. They also manage Okell’s brewery and the logistics company Trade Distribution. The Heron & Brearley story began by the combination of two family businesses in the late nineteenth century. George Chilwell Heron (1847-1898) was the son of George (c.1800-1864) and Caroline (c.1817-c.1879); his father had come to the Island to manage the Castle Mona Hotel, Douglas. George Snr then founded the Castle Mona Wine and Spirit Stores in Castle Street, Douglas and upon his and his wife’s death the sole succession was passed to their son who became one of the Island’s leading wine and spirit merchants and caterer to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Limited (IOMSPCo). The Brearley association consisted of two brothers Henry (1846-1926) and James Crossley Brearley (1850-1914), sons of John (c.1814-1877) and his wife Mary Ann (c.1816-1907). They arrived on the Island from Rochdale in the 1850s and opened a wine and spirit business on Finch Road, Douglas. Henry Brearley entered an apprenticeship for the Manx brewer and wine merchant William Allen (c.1825-1896) and James Crossley served his apprenticeship at the Heron business. The resulting acquaintances resulted in beneficial business relations for the Brearley brothers. In 1882 the brothers established Brearley H. & J. C., wine and spirit merchants, Wellington Street, Douglas later expanding to Drumgold Street, Douglas.

By 1898 George C. had died and with no clear business heir the Brearley brothers took the initiative to buy and amalgamate the two businesses, thus gaining Heron’s clients and contracts (including the catering for the IOMSPCo). The board consisted of James Ritchie (c.1865-1953), William J. Kelly (c.1862-1932) and James Mills Cubbon (c.1871-1947), representing a union of the best connected individuals in the Manx drinks trade of that period. 1898 also saw the employment of John Daniel Cowley (c.1872-1942) as company representative; he succeeded as director in 1914 and established a dynasty of Cowley employees throughout the twentieth century to present day. The business went from strength to strength, securing contacts with brands such as Moët & Chandon champagnes, Martel cognac, Guinness and Bass beers, distributing to hotels and retail outlets. In 1899 Dumbell’s Bank acquired three breweries and 46 licensed houses through the ‘Isle of Man Breweries Amalgamation’ scheme in reaction to the changing structure of the English brewing industry. Heron & Brearley had no interest in joining the scheme and luckily so for the year 1900 witnessed the downfall of Dumbell’s Bank and the liquidation of many businesses (including many hospitality institutions).

In 1926 and 1930 Heron & Brearley bought the small drinks companies Maningtons Ltd and Vincent Bucknall & Co Ltd. The Second World War saw three Cowley sons, Leslie Quayle (1912-1963), George Henry (1914-1972) and Ken (1917-1983) represent Heron & Brearley in the war effort with all three joining the fifteenth (Isle of Man) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment in 1939. After the war the business acquired Okell’s Brewery in 1946 which represented a conscious diversification from the wine, spirits and bottling trade and cemented their position in the Manx drinks trade. 1986 saw Castletown Brewery join the family and in 1987 they acquired the sole contract for the entertainment and vending services. The 1990s saw the business outgrow its premises (including Okell’s Falcon Brewery, Douglas) and a new site erected in Kewaigue, 2000 saw the formation of Trade Distribution and 2007 saw the establishment of Mannin Retail. By 2011 the UK based Market Town Taverns joined the company, highlighting its significant expansion within the UK market.

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im

Other Finding Aids

Printed box list available.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from Time Crumplin & Roger Rawcliffe’s A Time of Manx Cheer (2002: Chapters 2, 4 & 5) and the Manx newspapers the Manx Sun (17 March 1877), Mona’s Herald (18 May 1898, 5 January 1927, 22 November 1932, 29 December 1942, 26 August 1947 & 14 July 1953) and the Isle of Man Examiner (14 March 1896 & 29 October 1898). Isle of Man newspapers available online at http://www.newspapers.gov.im/Default/Skins/IOMDemo/Client.asp?skin=IOMDemo&enter=true&AppName=2. Further biographical information was gathered from the websites http://www.imuseum.im/search/people/ & http://www.hb.im/history.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), January 2016.

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes numerous library resources. Other archival resources include further Heron & Brearley company papers (reference numbers: MS 12251, MS 12271, MS 13558 & MS 13559).