Morland Brewery

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Morland was a brewery in Abingdon in the English county of Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire). They first brewed in West Ilsley in 1711. It was purchased and closed by Greene King in 2000; and production of the Morland beers was moved to their brewery in Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.

Morland Brewing
Location Westgate Street
Bury St. Edmunds
United Kingdom
Opened 1711
Owner(s) Greene King (2000)


West Ilsley in Berkshire was the original home of the Morland Brewery. A farmer, John Morland, set up a brewery in 1711, and the local ale and porter was sought after in London's public houses. During the 1860s, Morland acquired the Child family's Abbey Brewery in Abingdon and then the Eagle Brewery in the same town. The West Ilsley operation relocated to Abingdon in the 1880s. A malthouse attached to the brewery was demolished to provide the site for the new brewery.

Morland became a limited company, registered in 1885 as United-Breweries and the company's trademark became a pyramid of three beer barrels. In 1889, Morlands took over H. B. Saxby & Co of Stert Street, Abingdon and Field & Sons Brewery in Shillingford. On the end of each of Morland's barrel was the initial of the old breweries with whom they had amalgamated. All the breweries that Morlands closed still had their own name and trademark added to their own beer labels, even though all the beer was brewed in the Abingdon Brewery.

Soon afterwards, in 1890 Thomas Skurray at the age 22 was invited to join the Morlands business,where he developed great skills in scientific brewing after they acquired Field & son's Shillingford brewery near Wallingford Berks.Within 2 years at Morlands Thomas Skurray who was called Tom but to his contemporaries he was called TS. He was given a 50% pay rise,in the next 2 years he was in charge of the whole Brewery apart from the office work.In 1906 TS at the age of 38 was made a director of Morlands and later became Chairman until his death in 1938.Thomas Skurrays son Thomas Edward Deane Skurray was also a director of Morland & co Ltd and was a partner in company called Theobold & Skurray Architects with offices in London & 115 116 Broard street and Minster street in Reading above the Angel brewery of Fergusons.Theobold & Skurray did a lot of the design work for the Morlands pub estate. In 1909 Thomas Skurray and Mr A.W Preston who set up the first Account business in Oxford, were in talks about the Reading Breweries takeover Mr.Preston was on the Board of J.Dymore-Browns brewery.Thomas Skurray who had interests with brewing on the continent and his knowledge, coupled with an astute business brain, enabled the company to achieve considerable growth over the next fifty years. He could well be described as one of the early entrepreneurs of the brewing industry, and he was to serve as Chairman of the 'Brewers' Society' from 1928-30. Not only was he instrumental in building a new maltings in 1908,soft drinks factory in 1910 and a replacement brewhouse in 1912, but he had already developed a malt extract plant on the site of some old maltings which belonged to the Abbey brewery which morlands had also acquired in Abingdon from a cousin Miss Susan Morland who married John Spenlove who owned the Abbey brewery Here on this site on the corner of the vineyard in Abingdon, Thomas Skurray Built the Abbey Malt works(The Hordeuim factory) and In the first world war he set up a plant to convert used sugar waste in to a palatable 'honey'. He also invented and produced a brown bread and lemonade full of Vitamin C. Along with all this other business Thomas skurray became chairman of some big breweries up in Manchester.TS his wife promoted county Hostels Hotels ltd,a subsidiary of Reading & Abingon Brewery,and improving hotels along the from Virginia water to Henley Reading Abingdon all the way to the Wye Vally With good architecture, furnishing, and pictures. Thomas Skurray acquired both Henry Hewett's Brewery at Shurlock Row near Twyford, with a Mr H.B,Mole who was had over 40% of Dymore Browns Queens Rd brewery, with Thomas Skurray having the rest.They closed the Twford brewery of Hewett's and moved production to the Queens road brewery, after carfully having both breweries valued.Thomas Skurray approached the Morland Board about taking over the two breweries only to be told they was not sure about the deal, so Skurray already had the resores to go alone with mole, as Skurray had shares in Wilsons Brewery Mancester, and Peter Walkers Brewery, Thomas Skurray also had shares in the Gurnsey Brewery in which he made it a limited company in 1920, and the Registered office was 36 Ock street Abingdon Berks along with the Wantage Brewery.

Morland's growth continued with the acquisition of:

  • The Abbey Brewery Abingdon Berkshire.
  • H.B Saxbys stert street Brewery Abingdon Berkshire 1889.
  • T.H.Field & sons Shillingford Brewery near Wallingford Berkshire 1890.
  • W.H Ferguson & Sons' Angel Brewery of Broad Street, Reading in 1899.
  • The Wantage Brewery 1927.Back street Wantage Berkshire in 1928.
  • The Rockwell Brewery in Wantage Berkshire 1928 This came with the aquisation of Belcher & Habgoods who had taken them over.
  • JAS Dymore-Brown & Sons of Queens Road, Reading in 1927.
  • Henry Hewett & Co of Great Martins Brewery Shurlock Row Twford near Maidenhead in 1927.
  • Justin & Brinns Castle Street Brewey Reading Berkshire.
  • The Tower Steam Brewery, owned by Messrs Belcher and Habgood, was purchased in 1928 together with their public houses in and around Abingdon.Formerly Thomas & John Mattew Townsends Tower Brewery who sold the brewery to Messers Belcher & Habgood who had a Brewery and wine & Spirits business in farringdon Berkshire.

The Tower Brewery building of Belcher & Habgoods were used as a garage and vehicle repair centre by Morlands up until the 1990s (also the home of the Royal British Legion, Abingdon),who tookmover Morlands own sports club until 1987. Morlands then sold the site to the Vale of White Horse district council for the development of the Tower Close Housing Estate.

In 1944 Morland became a public limited company and all the previous brewery names were dropped. Morland was now known as Morland and Co Ltd, later Morland and Co plc. The exception was Ferguson's Ltd, which was retained for the wine and spirits business. The distribution depot in Ock Street moved into a new large warehouse in Abingdon which was formerly owned and operated by Bass-Charrington Brewery, which cost £1.5 million. Greene King brewery acquired Morland in 2000.

Morland buildings[edit]

Brewery buildings[edit]

A lot of the brewery buildings are still standing. The old joiners shop and paint store, malthouse cottages, and the big Malthouse which became Morlands offices and stores. Also area office and store of Bell Amusements Ltd, a fruit machine company Morlands took over from Northampton. In the middle of the old Malthouse cottages was an old stable which Mr A. J. Steel would use as his studio in which he painted new inn and pub signs.

Ock-lea which was the Brewers House and home of the Morland family in 1861 when they took over the Eagle Brewery from a bankrupt William Belcher. The Auction was held opposite the brewery in the old Cock & Tree pub. Jim Dymore-Brown, Head Brewer, lived in a very large wooden house behind the old brewery which had to be demolished when Morlands built a large air-conditioned draught beer warehouse.

Public houses and restaurants[edit]

In 1991, Morland and Co plc purchased 101 public houses from Courage Ltd and a further 100 were added two years later from Whitbread. More purchases were made in the mid 1990s, and also a number of restaurants nationwide. Morland opened their own restaurants called Artist Fayer. All these extra pubs placed enormous strain on all sections of the business particularly distribution, which was now required to deliver to a very much enlarged area.


Bottle of Old Speckled Hen (MG Anniversary Brew)
Tanner's Jack ale, named after the leather tankards popular in the 18th century

Old Speckled Hen[edit]

Old Speckled Hen was first brewed by Morlands of Abingdon in 1979. MG cars celebrated the 50th anniversary of their move to Abingdon, from Edmund Road in Cowley. They asked Morland to brew a special commemorative beer for the occasion, for which they would suggest the name and they would design the bottle label. The name chosen was Old Speckled Hen which took its name from a car which was brought to Abingdon, when the factory moved.

The car was called the MG Featherweight Fabric Saloon made from cellulosed fabric stretched over a wooden frame and was black speckled with gold. It became the factory's demonstration model and general runabout and as it chugged about the factory people would say "There guz the owd speckl'd un".

The original beer label bore the MG colours of cream and brown. The bottle dressing was finished with a green foil capsule, which matched the background colour of the borough of Abingdon arms. The beer was an amber colour and brewed at a gravity of 1050 to denote 50 years (i.e. 1929 – 1979) of production of MG cars in Abingdon.


Morland Original, Old Speckled Hen, Hen's Tooth and Tanner's Jack are all still brewed by Greene King of Bury St Edmunds under Morland's Brewing.


External links[edit]