Thomas Salt and Co
The brewery was founded in 1774 as Joseph Clay and son by Joseph Clay, described in The "British Directory" of 1791 as one of the famous "nine common brewers of Burton-on-Trent." Joseph Clay came originally from Merrybower, near Derby. When Clay died in 1800, his son Joseph took over and also acquired the Leeson brewery. Joseph Clay junior then opened one of the first banks in Burton, and delegated the brewery management to his maltster, Thomas Salt. He sold out to Salt just before the Napoleonic Blockade of Russia and the Baltic, which led to a dramatic decline in beer exports. Burton brewers had exported large quantities of beer to the Baltic, importing in exchange timber and iron to make the barrels.
Thomas Salt later worked Clay's brewery as part of his own brewery at 119 High Street, Burton. In 1804 Thomas Salt passed his share in the company to his son, Thomas Salt the Younger. After Thomas Salt the Younger died in 1813, the brewery was managed chiefly by his son Thomas Fosbrooke Salt, under the name Salt and Co. In 1853 Henry Wardle joined Salt in the business and in due course Salt's sons Edmund and William also became directors. Henry George Tomlinson, who had joined the company as its chemist also joined the board. When pale ale became popular, Salts like other Burton firms responded to the public's changed tastes and Salt's IPA became particularly well-known. The company’s workforce grew from 194 in 1861 to 400 in 1888 making it one of the major breweries in Burton behind Bass, Worthington, and Samuel Allsopp & Sons.
After Henry Wardle died in 1892, the company became a public limited company. In as era of expansion in the 1890s, the company took over John Bell and the Anchor Brewery. By the end of the century the company had tied houses as far away as Cheltenham and Gloucester. In the difficult trading conditions in the first decade of the 20th century, Salts were by 1906 unable to pay interest on shares and tried to effect a merger with Allsopps and the Burton Brewery Company. This was opposed by some of the debenture holders, and the company went into receivership in 1907. The company was restructured financially by depriving the Directors of almost all the value of their holdings, but survived until 1927, when it was taken over by Bass for £1,177,773.
- 'Burton-upon-Trent: Economic history', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9: Burton-upon-Trent (2003), pp. 53-84. Date accessed: 02 May 2012
- The London Gazette Issue 15681 page 289, 6 Mar 1804
- The Advertiser (Adelaide) Saturday 6 January 1906
- Sydney Morning Herald 11 June 1906
- Financial Times, 7 June 1907
- The Glasgow Herald, Aug 13 1927