NBHT wins prestigious grant for virtual network of brewery archives

The National Brewery Heritage Trust (NBHT) has been awarded a grant of £10,500 by the Brewers’ Research and Education Fund (BREF) to create a linked online archive for the UK brewing and pub industry. By providing online access to some of the nation’s most important brewing archives, the project aims to promote a greater understanding of the history of British breweries and pubs.

Most breweries and pub companies hold archival collections, which chart their development over the decades, and in some cases, centuries. Official documents, diaries, ledgers and photographs all help bring to life the fascinating story of brewing and beer drinking in Britain. In bringing together the archives of Britain’s oldest breweries and pub companies, this project will create a single point of access to an enormous range of unique historical materials. The resource will provide a valuable tool for historians, researchers, educationalists, writers, brewing enthusiasts, and members of the public.

The BREF is a major grants fund for the brewing industry which supports relevant scientific research and education. Grants are awarded by the Brewers’ Company, which acts as sole Trustee, based on the recommendations of a committee of representatives appointed by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), Institute for Brewing and Distilling (IBD), as well as the Trustee. The grant of £10,500 will be paid in annual instalments to the NBHT over the next three years.

This project will build on the successes of the National Brewery Centre Online Archives (www.nbcarchives.co.uk) launched in July 2020, which was also supported by an award from the BREF. The Online Archives provides free access to an ever-developing treasure trove of artefacts and documents.

In preparation for the grant proposal earlier this year, the NBHT collaborated with Shepherd Neame Ltd., Britain’s oldest extant brewing company with a rich history of at least 400 years, to establish some basic principles of cooperation and standardisation. Starting with Shepherd Neame, the NBHT will work with partner companies to develop common terminology and cataloguing practices to facilitate easy navigation between archives. With funding secured for the next three years, the NBHT is now looking to recruit a small cohort of partner companies to make the vision a reality.

Harry White, Chair of the National Brewing Heritage Trust, comments:

“Archival collections have fascinating stories to tell. By bringing together brewing and pub companies from across the UK, the linked archive facility will provide easy access to an enormous volume of information, chronicling the history of beer from grain to glass.

“Historic documents and artefacts provide valuable insight into the positive impact beer has had on Britain’s social and economic development over many centuries.”

Michael O’Dwyer, Clerk to the Brewers’ Company, adds:

“The brewing industry has a rich and vibrant history which represents an important part of the social, cultural and economic story of our country, but is too often hidden or inaccessible. The Brewers’ Company, through the BREF, is excited to be supporting this project which will take simple measures to make archival treasure troves available to inform and educate a much wider audience.”

More information is available at nationalbreweryheritagetrust.co.uk

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