Extracts taken from the Mitchells and Butlers centenary ale presentation box 1879-1978
Henry Mitchell was fortunate to be the son of a brewer: his father also named Henry, was the landlord of the Crown Inn in Oldbury Road, Smethwick, and as was the practice in the 19th century, also brewed his own beer in buildings in the rear of the building. His son took a keen interest in brewing, and when his father decided to retire from the business in 1861, Henry took over the Crown and its brewery,
William Butler came from Hinkley in Leicestershire, and when only 16, decided to make a success in a growing city. With just half a D in his pocket, he left his apprenticeship and walked to Birmingham. He soon worked in the Crown, Broad Street, and in 1866, took over the license at the London Works Tavern, Smethwick. Ten years later he moved back to the crown but this time as licensee and brewer.
Both men - quite independently - a considerable reputation for their products and during the second half of the 19th century expanded till they were supplying other houses with their beers.
Henry Mitchell decided to expand further: he laid plans for his new brewery in Cape Hill in 1878 and just 1 year later, in July 1879,the first brew was completed.
In the 1880's when the company first offered shares to the public, 271 employees were working at Cape Hill, Brewing some 90,000 barrels each year.
At the same time William Butler's Broad Street enterprise was also prospering. Continual building and rebuilding work enlarged his brewery and Inn beyond recognition. When more expansion was needed, it was logical that the 2 leading breweries should join forces. They did in 1898, creating Mitchells and Butlers at the Cape Hill Brewery.
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