Scope and Content

The Morland association with brewing began in 1711 when John Morland bought West Ilsley House. His son Benjamin inherited the business in 1726 and built a new brewhouse and John's grandson, William, was the first in the family to describe himself as a brewer. George Morland (1763-1804), the famous painter, was a relative of the brewing family and this connection is commemorated in the later business logo.

A grandson of William Morland, Edward Henry, inherited the West Ilsley brewery in 1855 and subsequently acquired the Eagle Brewery at 40 Ock Street, Abingdon, in 1861, by auction and the Abbey Brewery, also in Ock Street, in 1866. Brewing ceased at West Ilsley and at the Abbey Brewery and Edward concentrated his business at the Eagle Brewery, which remained the site of Morland beer production until closure of the business in 2000. Ock Lea House still survives from the time of the Eagle Brewery.

After these first amalgamations, the business adopted the trade name United Breweries and in 1887 it was registered as a limited company. Further acquisitions of independent breweries followed, as the company expanded. In 1889 Saxby and Co. of Stert Street, Abingdon and Field and Sons of Shillingford were acquired, together with other property in Shillingford and Wallingford. In 1899 the Angel Brewery in Reading was also purchased, which had been founded in 1724. In 1905 a new malt house was erected at the Eagle Brewery site and then, in 1911/12, a brand new brewery was built.

This period of consolidation was then followed by more acquisitions, beginning, in 1920, with The Wantage Brewery Company of Back Street, Wantage, followed by Dymore Brown and Sons of Reading in 1926, H. Hewett and Company Limited of Waltham St. Lawrence in 1927and Belcher and Habgood of Tower Brewery, also in Ock Street, Abingdon. From this period on Dymore Brown's Royal Albert Brewery in Queens Road, Reading became a bottling plant and distribution depot for Morland. Dymore Brown and H. Hewett and Co. had in fact combined their respective strengths of production and retail capacity in 1911, although they had remained separate companies and, in 1913/14, the Morland Board had consented to an agreement between Dymore Brown and Fergusons, that the latter would discontinue brewing and purchase beer from the former at fixed prices, in return for the latter supply wine and spirits to the former. However, none of these agreements prevented the eventual absorption of these businesses by Morland.

In 1944 Morland became a public company and all its subsidiaries were wound up, except Fergusons Limited, which had become an agent for handling Morlands' substantial wine and spirit trade. As a consequence of the growth of Morland in the first half of the 20th Century, by the second half of this century, the company had over 200 tied houses and many free trade customers concentrated particularly in the Thames and Kennet valleys of Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

The records have been divided into the business records of Morland and Co. Ltd, Fergusons, Dymore Brown and Sons, H. Hewett and Co., Palmer Ltd and Belcher and Habgood and then the records of individual public houses owned, rented and maintained by Morland. Where the complicated history of amalgamation has made it difficult to distinguish which company the record belong to, they have all been catalogued under Morland and Co. Ltd.

The business records include minute books, financial papers, records relating to beer production plans of Morland and Royal Albert brewery sites. The records of the individual public houses mostly contain plans, photographs, correspondence and property deeds.

The majority of the material in this collection was collected directly from the offices of Morland and Co. Ltd at Ock Street, Abingdon, in February 2000. Subsequently, additional records were received via Abingdon Museum in February 2002, the Oxfordshire Buildings Record in May 2002, the Berkshire Record Office in November 2002 and the Vale of The White Horse Archaeological Group in July and December 2002, all as Acc 4711. A further deposit was made in June 2005 as Acc 5401 and in November 2011 as Acc 6042, has also been included in the collection.

Catalogued by Giles Morris 2004-2005 and Alison Smith August 2011-March 2013.

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