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Tyne and Wear HER(1600): Houghton-le-Spring, Durham Road, Old Brewery - Details

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The Old Brewery building in Houghton



Houghton-le-Spring, Durham Road, Old Brewery




Brewing and Malting Site


Early Modern


Extant Building

A fine four storey stone building. Built circa 1874. An unusually large structure to be built of magnesian limestone. Brick and sandstone dressings, Welsh slate roof. Brick segmental-headed door and window openings, projecting stone cills. Some particular features of interest are the projecting gabled wooden grain elevator, and the segmental brick heads to the window openings. 2-storey section (former kiln). A wind vane projects from the third floor to the roof. No fittings of interest survive within the building, though the interior retains its original timber floors and joists supported on cast iron columns {1}. Built for Robinson's, the brewers. Paul Lanagan - the brewery was founded by the Robinson family in 1754 and was known as 'The City'. Thomas Robinson, brewer, died in 1804 and is buried in St. Michael's and All Angels churchyard. In 1814 his son J. Robinson died aged 18. Nine months before his death he had fallen into a vat of hot wort (the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky). In 1827 George Robinson is listed in the Gazette for Durham & Northumberland as a 'Brewers and Maltsters' on Durham Road, Houghton-le-Spring. George Robinson died in 1843. In 1851 Elizabeth Robinson is listed in Hagar & Co Directory as brewers and maltsters. She lived at Quality Hill with her sons Thomas William Usherwood Robinson (churchwarden) and Abbot Robinson. In 1861 Thomas lived at the brewery with his wife Margaret, their children and five servants. In 1874 parts of the brewery were rebuilt. In 1881 Thomas and his family lived in Hatfield House [now Imperial Buildings]. He was a brewer and employed 18 men. Thomas died in 1888. In 1894 Robinson Bros (Brewery) Ltd was registered. In 1909 the nrewhouse was destroyed by fire. In 1910 the brewery was rebuilt by Gateshead architect James William Fraser. It was a five storey red brick warehouse. In 1914 the managing directors of the 'maltsters, brewers and wine and spirit merchants' were listed as Avery Norman Robinson (Thomas' son) and John James Stokoe. In 1921 the brewery was taken over by Vaux and James Calder & Co Ltd of Alloa. It was put up for sale five months later. At this time the brewey had 63 tied public houses. The brewery closed in 1925. During the Second World War the brewery was used as emergency kitchens. For a while the building was occupied by Roughts (skin merchants). The brewery building was listed in 1971. In 1972 the wooden grain hoist and malt kiln were still in-situ. The interior floor tiles, supported on a metal framework, were preforated to allow warm air through from the heat source below. The Imperial Garage stood in the grounds. In 1976 the brewery was converted into a nightclub (Aries, Bird's Nest Club, Inn Cognito, Rafters). The club closed in 1989/90. In 1992 the building caught fire. In 1995 it was auctioned off. In 1999 the burnt out shell was converted by McCarrick Homes into 27 apartments. The complex is called The Old Brewery. LISTED GRADE 2




<< HER 1600 >> Tyne and Wear Industrial Monuments Trust, The Old Brewery, Houghton-le-Spring; I. Ayris & S.M. Linsley, 1994, A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Tyne and Wear, p 66; Dept. of National Heritage, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, 07/30; Paul Lanagan, 2012, Robinson Bros. Brewery,; Lynn F Pearson, 1999, British Breweries: An Architectural History; Brian Bennison, 2004, The Brewers & Breweries of North-Eastern England: A Historical Guide; Richmond & Turton, 1990, The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records;

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