At one time, Chesterfield had three breweries, making it the second largest brewing town in Derbyshire. It was all thanks to the fine quality of water which runs beneath the town, they say. That’s why The Brampton Brewery had wells bored directly below their brew house, and in its heyday owned 142 pubs in our area and was capable of producing more than two hundred thousand pints a week!
“Many old documents refer to Chesterfield’s fine ale,” says author and amateur historian John Hirst, having revised and reworked his popular booklet on the legendary local brewery.
Over the last forty years, John’s ongoing research has yielded enough information for no less than five self-published booklets on local brewing history. John has been able to expand upon much of the information contained within his original Brampton Brewery booklet, published in 2011, ensuring that it remains an essential guide for anyone intrigued by Chesterfield’s beer brewing heritage.
“Much of the information came from the local library … newspaper reports and Trade Directories. I have also seen Brampton documents that are kept in the brewing archives,“ John informs us.
The history of the Brampton Brewery has a fair few twists and turns, and as a business has overcome many a challenge to be where it is today. From turn of the century legislation changes to wartime rationing, to battling the inferno which destroyed the original brew house, it becomes evident that the history of this much-loved brewery is about far more than providing refreshing beverages.
To commemorate one hundred years since the end of the First World War, there is an added chapter detailing the six brewery employees who lost their lives during the conflict. The Brampton Brewery story is intertwined with that of Chesterfield, of Derbyshire and beyond, and John’s revised booklet does a great job of showcasing this.
If there is one key piece of information which called for a revised edition, it is a document which challenges the date the brewery was established. A newspaper advert in 1852 declares, ‘the brewery has officially started brewing’, thirteen years later than previously believed.
“Anyone who knows the story is reluctant to listen to me trying to change it! That’s why I’ve put so much time in to making sure it’s correct,” says John.
So, whether you’re a real ale aficionado, interested in local history, or simply a curious consumer of Brampton Brewery’s finest, John’s history of the Brampton Brewery is a perfect addition to your book collection.
The Brampton Brewery: The Story of the Original Brewery Co Ltd booklet is available to purchase at the Brampton Brewery Beer Cellar, Chesterfield Museum and Chesterfield Visitor Information Centre, priced at £4.