Horse Shoe Brewery, London, c. 1800
The London Beer Flood
was an accident at Meux & Co's Horse Shoe Brewery
, London, on 17 October 1814. It took place when one of the 22-foot-tall (6.7 m) wooden vats of fermenting porter
burst. The pressure of the escaping liquid dislodged the valve of another vessel and destroyed several large barrels: between 128,000 and 323,000 imperial gallons (580,000–1,470,000 L; 154,000–388,000 US gal) of beer were released in total.
The resulting wave of porter destroyed the back wall of the brewery and swept into an area of slum dwellings known as the St Giles rookery
. Eight people were killed, five of them mourners at the wake
being held by an Irish family for a two-year-old boy. The coroner's inquest
returned a verdict that the eight had lost their lives "casually, accidentally and by misfortune". The brewery was nearly bankrupted by the event; it avoided collapse after a rebate from HM Excise
on the lost beer. The brewing industry gradually stopped using large wooden vats after the accident. The brewery moved in 1921, and the Dominion Theatre
is now where the brewery used to stand. Meux & Co went into liquidation in 1961. (Full article...