Brewery burrows into history
AN ARCHIVIST is looking at some thirsty work ahead as he embarks on a three-year project to record the entire history of St Austell Brewery.
Chris Knight has joined the brewery's team to catalogue every item connected to its history, possibly the county's biggest archiving project.
From beer mats and bottles to photos of pubs and hotels, the brewery is looking for anything that might help fill in the details of its 160-year history. The archiving is such a mammoth task that an appeal has been made for people to come forward with information, images and brewery-related memorabilia.
A special programme has even been set up called the Brewery Archive Reach-out (BAR), which is encouraging people to get involved with what may be hidden treasures of the brewery's past.
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The first phase alone – recording all the brewery's correspondence, estate documentation and brewery-related items stored in the cupboards, safes and attics of the Victorian site – is likely to take up to three years.
The material will be used to plot the brewery's history from its beginning and will be made available online.
Mr Knight said: "Documenting the entire 160-year history of the brewery is a humungous task, and as far as I'm aware nothing similar has been done on such a large scale in Cornwall, or in the brewing and pub trade.
"There aren't many breweries as rich in history and heritage as St Austell and there's a gold mine of fascinating information and artefacts to work through.
"Our aim for the project is to produce a complete history of the brewery and each of the pubs and inns in the St Austell estate, and open this up to anyone interested in finding out more about their local or family history in connection with the brewery."
Gems of the brewery's illustrious past as far back as the First World War have already been unearthed, including several letters from the widow of a landlord who was killed in action, asking for the brewery's permission to take over the tenancy of the pub so she could continue to make a living.
James Staughton, managing director of St Austell Brewery and great-great grandson of founder Walter Hicks, said: "The brewery is an integral part of our county, and vice versa. So many local people tell us about relatives who used to work for the brewery, or ask questions about the history of our public houses.
"As a family firm, our past is very important to us and we have long celebrated key milestones and events in our history with the Brewery Visitor Centre and History Book.
"Our aim now is to go a step further, to fill in the gaps and create as complete a picture of our past as we can, giving everybody the chance to share in our heritage and find out about the people, places and processes that have played their part in making St Austell Brewery what it is today."
Anyone with material of interest is invited to e-mail email@example.com. uk with details.