Monday, March 05, 2012

Benskins the Hertfordshire brewer

On my way to Watford Met on Saturday I passed through St Albans. I came across this ghost sign on the front of a house in the shadow on the Abbey. It looks as though it has not been a pub for some time.

I remember that when I was a little boy in Hemel Hempstead many of the pubs were owned by Benskins. It turns out that this Watford brewer was at one time the biggest in Hertfordshire, but an article in Brewery History documents its demise:
By the mid-1950s, Benskins had 636 pubs and hotels, and 16 off-licences. But there were bigger fish about looking to expand and on 6th February 1957 rumours started of a take-over bid for the Watford company. The next day the identity of the bidder was revealed - Ind Coope & Allsopp of Romford and Burton. On 13th March the bid was officially accepted and Benskins became part of (what was then) the biggest brewing concern in Britain, with over 4.000 pubs. 
The Watford brewery kept on brewing, though as the 1960s wore on the Benskins name slowly began to vanish from the pubs, Eventually Benkins Bitter was replaced by Ind Coope Superdraught in about 1970, and the brewery was finally closed with the minimum of fuss in 1972. It was demolished seven years later.
The Benskins name was later revived, but the beer was not brewed in Hertfordshire.

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