Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Truman’s Asks: “Find us a Brewery”

Truman’s – the classic East London beer brand – is asking the capital’s ale drinkers to help find a site for its new brewery. James Morgan, who re-founded the company alongside Michael-George Hemus in 2010, commented: “We’ve been looking very hard for a site over the last year and despite a few near misses, we’re still looking. But East London is a big place and not every potential site is currently on the market. As such, we thought it would be wise to ‘crowdsource’ our search and tap into the local knowledge of East Londoners.”

A year’s supply of beer – 500 bottles of Truman’s Runner ale – is on offer to the person that finds the eventual site. A 12-bottle case of Runner will be given to anyone that sends in details of a site of real interest and all of those that enter will be invited to the opening party at the new brewery. Michael-George added: “We do have a bid with the Olympic Legacy Committee to take over a part of the Olympic site after the games. A number of potential developers have expressed an interest, but we are talking 2013 before we even get a spade in the ground. And we are determined to be brewing Truman’s back in London by the end of 2012.”

Truman’s was brewed in East London for more than 300 years, most recently at the iconic Black Eagle Brewery in Brick Lane, where production stopped in 1989. The building is now home to London’s creative communities. Following its re-founding in 2010, Truman’s has been brewed under licence. Potential sites must meet the following criteria:

  • In East London (boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forrest or Newham)
  • Commercial premises
  • Between 6,000-8,000 square feet (2 to 4 tennis courts in size)
  • Good access
  • Part of the site must be convertible to ‘double height’ (five metres and above)

Entries can be made by sending an email to Please include the address of the site (including post code), current status (leased, vacant, derelict, etc.) and the contact number of the site owner (if known). The more details provided the more likely the entrant is to win some beer. Entries must be in by March 1st 2012. Further details can be found on the Truman’s blog. For images, quotes and samples – or more information on the re-establishment of Truman’s - please email or phone James Morgan +44 (0)7816 667 706


Established in 1666, closed in 1989 and re-established in 2010, Truman’s is the classic East London beer. Once a heavyweight of British brewing – by the late 1800s it was reportedly the world’s largest brewer – it fell victim to the “merger mania” of the 1960s and 70s. Truman’s held on to be one of the last independent brewers in London, but in 1971 it succumbed to an aggressive bid. Eighteen years later, after a long period of decline, its breweries were closed and its pubs sold off.

In 2010, Truman’s Beer was re-established by two local beer enthusiasts, James Morgan and Michael-George Hemus. Many a day was spent examining the records of the London Metropolitan Archives to find the original foundations on which it should be rebuilt. The goal of the business it to make Truman’s a great name in beer once again – by going back to basics, brewing great beer and being part of the local community. Truman’s Runner is the flagship beer of Truman’s and is a copper coloured, well rounded 4% bitter. ‘Runner’ was traditionally the name of a brewer’s easy drinking, session beer – available to everyone everywhere. Truman’s Runner is our interpretation of this custom.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Clyde Arms, Brighton – Once a House of Repute in Sussex

It is my intention to identify all the pubs that were houses of the Kemp Town Brewery, Brighton. A main reason for my interest in this brewery is that they were evangelists for the cause of public house improvement during the interwar years and used local architect John Leopold Denman to execute many of their designs. Some of the buildings that their pubs inhabited are, unfortunately, no longer with us, having been demolished.

I did at least manage to visit the Ball Tree, Sompting some years before its recent demise, the subject of my Blog dated 24th October 2011. Not so for the Clyde Arms, 25 Bristol Gardens, Brighton. Hence, I have to rely on old photographs.
The Clyde Arms dates from the 1870s when Bristol Gardens was called Sussex Street, the pub being at No. 5. In this 1927 photograph from the James Gray Collection the pub remains a recognisably Victorian building but this was just a year before it was rebuilt. The fascia advertises KEMP TOWN BREWERY ENTIRE and identifies the landlord as F. HUGGETT. More specifically, as the Trade and Post Office Directories of the period tell us, he was Frank R. Huggett, who took over in 1927 from Alfred Francis and by 1935 was succeeded by a George S. Huggett, obviously a close relative.

The application and plans for the rebuilding were lodged at the Brighton Borough Petty Sessional Division, date 20th December 1927, now stored at the East Sussex Record Office, Lewes. The client was Messrs Abbey & Sons & Kemp Town Brewery, the Architect or Builder, Denman & Son.

The above, second photograph of the pub, appears in the brewery’s own publication, In and Around Brighton: Houses of “Repute” in Sussex, was taken after the rebuild and shows a characteristic classical neo-Georgian design by Denman. What is now advertised is the brewery’s Dolphin brand of beers. The modelled panels either side of the central window on the first-floor front elevation may depict dolphins. Note the east-facing, bow-fronted wine office, typical of rebuilt Kemp Town Brewery pubs of this period.

In late-1930 an extension to the opposite, west side was built, again by Denman & Son. The pub remained in existence until some several years ago. I must have jogged past it on numerous occasions in the late 1980s but there was no reason for it to draw my attention at that time. The colour photograph shows the new flats standing on the site today. The rear gable wall of the first Victorian house in Princes Terrace (right edge of today's view) is presumably that just visible on the right edge of the James Gray photograph.