A big thank you to the Mole's for looking after us so well in Goring by Sea and sharing their stories. Father and son were both in the brewing trade, Roy started at the Mortlake Brewery in 1940 as a 15 year-old and son, Simon, worked at Mortlake from 1978 until moving to Fuller's in 1995.
Roy's wife, Elizabeth, kept the team fed and watered throughout and we are now privy to the recipe for her boiled fruit cake (and yes, we may have tried some too!)
A glorious day and more interviews with former Young's employees. Throughout the project we have found that many brewery workers would spend their whole careers with just one brewery and this seems to be particularly true of Fuller's and Young's employees. Today we interviewed some people who came to Young's after spending much of their career elsewhere and it's clear that their time at Young's was very special. Derek Prentice began his career at Trumans in Brick Lane in the 1960s when beer production was still very much done in the old ways. It's a fascianting and evocative story and well worth having a listen to the whole interview on the interviews page when it goes up.
We also had the opportunity to run a reminiscence session with the workers in the sunny stable yard. The team were asking questions of the former workers and getting into some deep conversations. And there was beer on tap to oil the vocal chords, of course!
With more interviews taking place at the Griffin Brewery, some of our interviewees brought some photos along for us to see and make copies to use in the film. Here is a small selection of those brought along by Brendan Bray who started out at Fuller's as a Brewing Room Boy and stayed for 48 years!
More interviews have taken place at the Griffin Brewery.
A packed day in the Tun Room at the Griffin Brewery began with a look at 'What is Oral History?' We looked at the benefits and challenges of oral history collection and uses, at how our own preconceptions can cloud our own responses. We then moved on to look at ethical considerations in the collection and use of people's reminiscences.
This was followed by learning interviewing skills and techniques to elicit the best interviews possible and then got hands-on with the recording equipment.
We discussed the themes we wanted to cover in the interviews as a group then split up into smaller groups to develop them. We came back as a group to develop them even further.
We concluded the day with further practice of interviewing and using the recorders together.
Martyn Cornell, beer historian, gave the team a specially designed workshop looking at the history of the three breweries we are studying entitled: Ales from the Riverbank - which elicited a chuckle from those old enough to understand the reference!
The workshop was very informative and Martyn took questions from the group which added to everyone's knowledge.
The group was also treated to the very entertaining reminiscences of Chris Hooper who began working at Fuller's in 1975 and is still there today. She told us of how family-orientated the staff were with often three generations of a family working there at any one time! She believes this was mainly due to all the staff being local people from Chiswick and only when rents and property prices started to price working people out of the area did things begin to change.
The group were again able to ask Chris their own questions and the whole day was an excellent learning experience.
We are looking for 16 volunteers to get involved in this exciting new project which will record and preserve the working lives of London’s brewery workers. With funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Unite, this project will explore this important part of London’s history. You will receive training and support to conduct oral history interviews with old and retired workers from three major London breweries, The Ram in Wandsworth, The Stag in Mortlake, and The Griffin in Chiswick. These were major employers along the Thames and all but the Griffin are now closed. You will form part of a team supported by digital:works to go on to meet and record interviews with various older and retired workers from the three breweries. These will include a full range of workers, many who worked at the breweries for decades, and many with long family histories working in the industry. They will include master brewers, draymen, coopers, smellers, people in bottling plants and more.
We will be working with local archives in Richmond, Wandsworth and Chiswick as well as accessing the archives of Watney's, Young's and Fuller's.
These recordings will be given to local archives and Digital-works will be filming the interviews to make an oral history based documentary that will be shared widely, online, on TV, and at community history groups across the UK.
Some volunteer expenses will be covered.
Find out more about the project and history here.
Places are limited so please contact us asap to find out more and book your place.
Matthew Rosenberg: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07949 107 023
digital:works have been running oral history projects across London that connect Londoners new and old with the history of the city. We provide high quality and fun training to all volunteers. To find out more about us please visit our website at: www.digital-works.co.uk