Access may be restricted to documents less than 30 years old
Immediate source of acquisition:
Records of DAVENPORT'S BREWERY and related companies, deposited by Messrs Greenall Whitley p.l.c
Administrative / biographical background:
The first record of the Davenport family in the brewing trade is that of Robert Davenport in 1829, a brewer at 120 Brearley St, Hockley. He also had premises in Pritchett St and eventually owned several public houses. His son Robert moved into Bath Row in 1852 and the business was gradually centralised there. In 1867 John Davenport and Sons was registered at that address as "Maltsters, Hop Merchants, and makers of Pale and Brown Malt for brewing bitter ales and porter". The firm was incorporated as a limited company on 17th November 1896.
Davenports bought the old Bath House, from which the Row took its name, converted the mansion into offices and built over the gardens. The biggest change to the company came when Baron John Davenport began the 'Beer at Home' service in 1904. This expanded rapidly and a distribution network was set up all over the country. A separate company, Davenports CB Ltd, was set up to deal with the bottled beer and home delivery service, while John Davenport and Sons Ltd continued to run the brewery and the licensed houses.
During the war years the home delivery business suffered, due to the rationing of brewing materials and fuel for transport, but after the war Davenports made full use of television for advertising and the business prospered again.
Dare's brewery was purchased in 1962 to strengthen the public house side of the business, and their land allowed Davenports to negotiate with the City Council for the site of St Thomas's School on the corner of Granville Street and Bath Row. The company's main garage was built there in 1970.
From the 1st October 1974 Davenports CB Ltd and John Davenport and Sons Brewing Ltd ceased to operate independently and instead traded collectively as Davenports Brewery Ltd.
Davenports Brewery continued to expand and by 1985 they owned 123 pubs, cash and carry outlets and off licenses, and supplied more than 600 free trade accounts in Birmingham and the Midlands. During this time home deliveries played a decreasing role in the company until, in that year, the operation was sold to an independent firm. In 1986 an agreed merger took place between Davenports Brewery Ltd and Greenall Whitley plc, and the Bath Row site was progressively decommissioned over the next few years.