Meux's Brewery Co Ltd was a London brewery owned by Sir Henry Meux. Established in 1764 the company was a major supplier of porter in the area. The company had several breweries around London and was eventually sold off in 1961.
Owners and mergers
Sir Henry Meux, 1st Baronet had been a partner in Reid, Meux & Co, who operated from the Griffin Brewery in Clerkenwell Road. After a dispute in 1807, Sir Henry left the firm and purchased the Horse Shoe Brewery, located on the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, which had been established in 1764. The horseshoe became part of the Meux identity and was incorporated into their logo. Ownership of the brewery passed to Sir Henry's son, Sir Henry Meux, 2nd Baronet.
Dudley Marjoribanks, 1st Baron Tweedmouth was the chairman for many years in the 19th century. In 1921, the Thorne Brothers brewery of Nine Elms Lane was also acquired by Meux, and the company brewed there for 43 years. In 1956, Meux's Brewery merged with Friary, Holroyd and Healy's Breweries Limited based in Guildford, Surrey, to form Friary Meux Limited. They went into liquidation in November 1961 and were acquired by Allied Breweries. The Horseshoe Brewery ceased to brew in 1964, although the Friary Brewery continued until 1969. The Friary Meux brand was later revived by Allied until they sold their brewing interests to Carlsberg-Tetley in 1997.
By the end of the 18th century, large vats were commonplace in London's porter breweries. A report of 1790 describes how, in 1785, Meux's Brewery on Liquor-pond-street could store about 35,000 barrels of beer; one vat held "four thousand five hundred barrels of wholesome liquor". By 1790 the same business contained a specimen 60 feet in diameter and 23 feet tall, which held about 10,000 barrels. An even larger vat was installed in 1795, 25 feet tall, and with a capacity of about 20,000 barrels.
This trend, of building ever larger vats, came to an end on Monday 17 October 1814. At Henry Meux's Horse Shoe brewery in St Giles in the Fields, corroded hoops on a large vat prompted the sudden release of about 7,600 barrels of porter. The resulting torrent caused severe damage to the brewery's walls and was powerful enough to cause several heavy wooden beams to collapse. The flood's severity was exacerbated by the landscape, which was generally flat. The brewery was located in a densely populated and tightly packed area of squalid housing (known as "the rookery"). Many of these houses had cellars. To save themselves from the rising tide of alcohol, some of the occupants were forced to climb on furniture. Several adjoining houses were severely damaged, and eight people killed.[nb 1]
The accident cost the brewery about £23,000, although it petitioned Parliament for about £7,250 in Excise drawback, saving it from bankruptcy. The brewery was demolished in 1922; the Dominion Theatre now occupies the site. The adjacent brewery tap, built on a grand scale as a combined pub and restaurant, survived in other uses until 2004.
- Known drowning fatalities
- A contemporary report describes several fatalities; a woman and her daughter, the latter carried "through a partition" and "dashed to pieces"; a female servant in the local Tavistock Arms pub suffocated. The names given are Ann Saville, about 35 years old; Eleanor Cooper, between 15 and 16 years old, servant to Mr Hawse at the Tavistock Arms; Hannah Barnfield, four-and-a-half years old; Mrs Butler, her daughter, grand daughter, and three others, names unknown. Three brewery workers were rescued. One person was dug out alive, two brothers were severely injured. Several people were reported missing.
- The Brewing Industry - a Guide to Historical Records, Lesley Richmond & Alison Turton, Manchester University Press, 1990. p.223
- The Brewery History Society. "Questions and Answers". Accessed 11 March 2007.
- Hornsey 2003, pp. 449–450
- Hornsey 2003, p. 450
- Dreadful Accident (9345), The Times, hosted at infotrac.galegroup.com, 19 October 1814, p. 3 Unknown parameter
-  The Times, 19 October 1814