Northampton brewery restores its war memorial plaques ahead of Remembrance Day unveiling

Two memorial plaques with the names of 47 men who worked in a Northampton brewery before they died in the First World War are to be restored in time for Armistice 100.

Friday, 2nd November 2018, 4:08 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd November 2018, 5:11 pm
The Northampton Brewery Company's memorial (left) and Phipps' plaque (right) both deteriorated over time. Restored versions will be unveiled on November 11

Like many large businesses, Phipps and their neighbours the Northampton Brewery Company saw many of their workers join up in 1914 and many more conscripted as the war raged on over the next four years.

Both companies put war memorial plaques up in their brewery buildings in 1919 to commemorate the 47 men who gave their lives for king and country in the Great War; 19 from Northampton Brewery Company and 28 from Phipps & Co.

When the Bridge Street Brewery was closed and demolished in 1974 the plaques were removed and taken up to the new offices of the Watney Mann Midland pub chain in Lodge Farm where it was run from for the next few decades.

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Three years ago, the Lodge Farm depot, which by then was being operated by Kuehne Nagel as a drinks depot without any link to the Phipps, Watney Mann's pub chain, was closed and all office staff laid off.

In the last week, one of the older retiring staff who had originally worked at Bridge Street called Phipps NBC and begged them to come and rescue the memorials before they were scrapped or lost forever.

Two Phipps directors retrieved the memorials from their resting place on an open-air grass verge and took them back to store them at 1884 Albion Brewery.

Years of protracted negotiations followed to secure the legal ownership of the memorials, which was only settled earlier this year in Phipps' favour.

This meant Phipps could not begin the work of restoration and so the plaques have not been seen by the public since they left Lodge Farm.

Happily, the weathered marble slabs are now getting the love and attention they deserve and with the addition of two new hardwood frames will be rededicated in a ceremony at the restored Albion Brewery at 5pm on Remembrance Sunday, 100 years since the end of the war they commemorate.

The ceremony will be conducted by father Oliver Coss of All Saints Church himself a regular drinker at the Albion Brewery Bar.

It will also be part of the town's official remembrance ceremony with other dignitaries in attendance from the council and brewing industry.

Chairman Jeremy Phipps will unveil the restored plaques, a living link with the founding family.