Vaux Breweries

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Vaux Breweries
Industry Brewing
Fate Acquired
Successor Whitbread
Founded 1806
Defunct 2000
Headquarters Sunderland, UK
Key people
Sir Paul Nicholson (Chairman)
Frank Nicholson (CEO)

Vaux Breweries was a major brewer based in Sunderland, England. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Commer delivery truck displaying Vaux livery


The company was founded in 1806 by Cuthbert Vaux (1779-1850),[1] producing several popular brands including Maxim, Double Maxim, and Sunderland. For nearly 200 years it was a major employer in the city.[2]

In 1972, the company bought the Sheffield-based Wards Brewing Company, which it retained as a separate subsidiary.[3] In 1981, it attempted to establish a foothold in the U.S. with the purchase of the New York-based family-owned Fred Koch Brewery.[4]

By the 1990s, the Vaux Group had expanded into hotels. Despite the brewing business being profitable and an offer to buy it having been received from management, in March 1999 the Board accepted the advice of the Corporate Financier, BT Alex. Brown, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, and decided to close both breweries.[3] This caused Chairman Sir Paul Nicholson, who disagreed with the closure decision, to resign.[5] The company changed its name to Swallow Group plc, and in July sold its tenanted pub estate to a client of the corporate financier, concentrating on Swallow Hotels business and incorporating the former Vaux-managed pub estate under the Swallow Inns & Restaurants brand.[6] The company was taken over by Whitbread in 2000, following which most of the hotels were rebranded as Marriott and the larger pubs were brought under other national brands, such as Brewers Fayre.[7] Later, 10 hotels unsuitable for Marriott conversions were sold off, forming the nucleus of the current Swallow Hotels chain.[8]

In 2000, two former Vaux directors and the former head brewer formed the Double Maxim Beer Company, buying the beer brands and recipes. They resurrected the former Samson and Double Maxim lines.[9] The Sunderland brewery was later vacated and the buildings were demolished for redevelopment.[10]

Cuthbert Vaux's grandson Ernest Vaux (1865-1925) became a popular World War I lieutenant-colonel, and with Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell he founded the first Boy Scout troop in the world.

Former brands[edit]

Former beer brands of Vaux include:

  • Vaux Regal, a strong 'scotch' type ale.
  • Gold Tankard
  • Silver Tankard
  • Samson bitter
  • Double Maxim
  • Single Maxim
  • Bottled Red Label Ale (sweet stout) & Golden Ale (high alcohol content)
  • Sunderland Draught Bitter
  • Lorimers Scotch
  • Norseman Lager
  • Frisk Lager
  • Scorpion Lager
  • How's Your Father, a light, golden, cask conditioned ale sold in summer.
  • Moonlight Mouse, an autumn cask conditioned ale
  • Waggledance, a cask conditioned honey ale, sold to Youngs when Vaux ceased brewing
  • Lambtons, an ale named after the Lambton family.
  • Fighting Hares (Bottled Ale)

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Vaux Brewery at Wearside Online
  3. ^ a b Vaux Breweries close BBC News, 2 July 1999
  4. ^ "Vaux buying U.S. brewery," The Glasgow Herald - Jun 11, 1981.
  5. ^ Chairman lifts lid on deal which closed Vaux BBC News, 9 June 2003
  6. ^ Swallow sells £127.5m tenanted pubs This is money, 28 June 1999
  7. ^ Whitbread set to offer £550m for Swallow Hotels chain The Independent, 22 November 1999
  8. ^ Swallow Group a year after collapse into insolvency Caterer search, 23 August 2007
  9. ^ Delight as brewers turn back the clock Northern Echo, 1 November 2008
  10. ^ Vaux P ... ast and present BBC Wear, 9 October 2008