Margaret Ballard considers the research of the Brewery History Society
1992 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Brewery History Society, and to celebrate this the Society is embarking on a first-time publishing venture to bring to the attention of a wider audience some of the highlights of its members' research.
The Society was founded in April 1972 by a small group of beer mat and label collectors hose enthusiasm for such ale-related ephemera was soon transformed into an abiding interest in the breweries that produced it.
Now, tracing the histories and telling the stories of Britain’s once numerous breweries has become the major task of many members, and one small Kentish brewery is the subject of the Society’s first venture into book publishing.
Westerham Ales by Peter Moynihan and Ken Goodley (who sadly died before he saw his work in print) appeared in September last year and traces the history of Bushell Watkins and Smith Ltd of the Black Eagle Brewery in Westerham, a small country town not far from Sevenoaks.
Although the authors claim that brewing has been going on in Westerham for at least 400 years, the history they tell is of a company that mainly developed through the nineteenth century. This fact did not, however, deter the owners from claiming on their labels in the 1930s that they had been established for over 200 years.