Leicestershire TR Group - only there for the beer
A group of 16 people met up at Martin and Sue's for coffee and cake before setting off for the National Brewery Museum in Burton-on-Trent, where we met another 10 people who had made their own way there. Three couples even braved the cold weather to travel in their TRs (although we did notice one roof up!)
The Museum occupies some of the old buildings of Bass, who were a large employer in the town, but no longer brew beer there. The guided tour took nearly two hours, which went by very quickly as there was so much to take in. As expected, we did learn all about the brewing process over the years, but there was so much more. At one time, the whole town of Burton was devoted to brewing, with numerous factories spread all over the town. They say that if you didn't work there, then at least one member of your family did. In fact, when the employees were treated to a (paid!) day at the seaside, 17 trains had to be chartered to get all 11,000 workers to Blackpool!
We also saw the shire horses, the old dray carts and carriages, and company vehicles, including their own fire engine and a Fordson tractor, which took over beer deliveries when all the shire horses were commandeered by the army for service in the 1st World War. As most of the horses didn't come back, motorised transport became the norm.
Burton beer was exported all over the world, including India, to the British forces there in the Empire days. In fact, India Pale Ale (IPA) was developed especially for the country, as the previous heavier ales did not tolerate the long sea journey, and went off before they got there. But the lighter IPA was ideal. The fact that it is still available in pubs today is partly due to British soldiers returning to England and requesting it in the pubs at home. Burton obliged by providing it.
We just skimmed the surface of the history of Burton in those 2 hours, but it was a fascinating insight into the life of the town, and the thousands of people employed in the industry over many years. It would be well worth another visit.
We finished off the trip with a meal in the Carvery restaurant – very generous portions of meat and fresh vegetables. At the start of the tour, we were all given tokens to exchange for 3 samples of beer, 1/3 pint each, which were the perfect accompaniment to our meal.