Springfield Brewery, Wolverhampton [2008]

Initial scoping for the S106 public art plan for the redevelopment of the former brewery site. Partnering David Patten in collaboration with Howl Associates.

site drawing

Initial desk based research into site, site visits and interviews with ex – brewery workers aided in the development of a report titled 'Label and Crown'.


George Clarke

Underbacks (copper trays), spar arms, rotates round, copper house (into the coppers), ale deck, rolled into there, 80, 140, Queen Mary, fermenting vessels, come from the coppers, pumped from the fridges, small rounds, right to the top, through the presses, extract, cold room, ferments from the top, knocking it back, skim it off, Shire horses, crust forms on the top, paddle, seven days a week, 81 hours £2 2s 11d, Three Star, Black Satin. that's 1958, bottling store, five pence farthing an hour, the maltings, laid out on the floors, the malters, up the yard, conveyor belt up to the mill, doesn't crush it it cracks it, down in the mash tuns, well water, tipped, dumped, boiler men, 'para flow' top job, fridge man, lot of plates, 'feeder tanks', regulate it, brew consisted of 300 barrels or 280, you get that going into there, buckets, break your bloody arm, 60 pound of yeast, two of them to a vessel, placed outside the vessel, beat it up, mix it all up, froth on top, next day, racking area (down in the cellar), pumice stone, temperature control, two days, send it to the cellars, could kill you in two minutes, check for gas CO2, you had to have a ladder, one chap fell in one while it was fermenting, over reached himself, foot marks all up there, I've just seen Cyril on the stairs, some queer things, brew seven days a week, bleeding queer noises, bleach it, steam through all the pipes, you could go up anywhere, May Day, kids lined all the streets, Shires, brasses, up all bloody night doing the horses, forwarding office, explain things, millionaires from Wolverhampton, picture of a field, hay cart, depicts something that will never be lost from that brewery, picture, quite a big one, like a field.

Irene Lloyd.( widow of Bill Lloyd)

At 14, allowed smackers, take a bucket in as they went through the gates, when they came out they'd collect the bottle with the smackers in, he'd only got a bike, with the bottle in the carrier, smacker is a drink of beer, most disappointed and heart broken, taking it home to his mum, the first bottle of smackers.

Mike and Geoff Barnes

1956, no metal casks just wooden casks, there was no metal, six year apprentice, cask wash, all the empties came back, lie on their belly, up onto the loading deck, wagons backed up there, coopers, rolled them around the cobbles in a barrel, Springfield Cooper Trust, over a fire, when he's put in the barrel it was red hot, really hot, covers his hands with his jumper, throw all old stale beer and rubbish over them, trussing, all the directors came down, rolled all the way, tipped out, menu, staves shaved off, proper community, practical jokes, biggest rogues, fermenting room, burnt away, all timber, gloves up to here, window, put boards in, get a ladder, spade, knock the middle in, no bathing allowed, give him a bottle of beer, sludge of yeast, push it down the hole, push the bottoms, rope, two lads either side, 16, 17 foot down, turned his oxygen off, and he's down the bottom, catching his head on the 'temperators' [?], take a cooper making the barrels on the back of the wagon, going back to the '40s, supplied about a third of Wolverhampton, line all the vessels with copper, used to brew Sunday Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday, Wednesday was cleaning day, soaked in acid, scrubbed, boiled, forward steamed, backward steamed, sample of the water, two chimneys, just a wall now, under his dad, new corduroy trousers, held him over the fire, singed his trousers, took his shoes off him, clogs, union, social club, good community spirit, one big family, never a dull moment, pitched, stays in there for a week, racking, rolled out, stayed in the cellar never moved for a week, hoist, mill on the top, mash tuns on the second floor, smell, beautiful smell, gloves, filled them with all the dregs, football in the yard, full of casks, five or six high, twenty a-side, roughest football match, mass of bodies and blood every lunchtime, Sludge Guts, sort them into barrels, hogs, firkins, settle, knock out the plug, smacker 'ole, special brew for the boys, the gate, three pints a day.

Derek Wiggins

smacker 'ole, checks for your beer, Percy bouncing off the wall, bottling stores, war memorial, deck, crates and barrels, lift at the front, keeping the plant going, thousands of bottles of beer, greasers monkeys and oilers, labelling, cone, conveyor system, wooden bridges, a dozen pints weight a hundredweight, six at a time, kids left school at 14 and started at 14, stack them eight high, bloody murder, gantry, wind it up, climbing over, 1948/1950, proper arch, malt by train, cigarette in the sun, not an arch, hoist, on back to front, sidings, stop the rain off, mash tuns, all painted Butler's Brewery, canal, stables, big horses, Coldstream Guards, horses dressed up, football, cricket, sports ground, Blackman Jefferies, light torches, put in the plugs, flywheel, polish the brass, (flywheel) as big as this room, up towards engineers' workshop, cooperage, hand tools, down tools, stopped you watching them, never heard of a cooper out of work, barrel washing machine, Butler Magazine, once a month, welfare bloke, on the lathe, courtyard back, two and six a week, conversation on the toilet, baby on the floor, cushy number, you don't count the greasers, bottling store boiler, pump the water in, a bit slack, hit it, fitter's mate, clock, right facing as you went in, ACDC, buzzbars, 110 volts.

Dennis Groves

1956, September 24th, late the first day, carpenter, bike, first job, stand behind us but don't get in our way, spanners, four pound in weight, pumped it up, copper truss, four bowls on a stand, plug in the bottom, number 9 copper the biggest one we had, float, copper house roof, four-story spiral staircase, dipping number 2 copper, number 7 door, the last brew ever brewed at the brewery, that was bitter, number 1 copper, labels and crowns, red and white, forty barrel brew, gaffers past and present, two millionaires, him and me used to run the Brewhouse, sign, from number 6 mash tun number 1 copper emptied into number 4 back into number 1 into number 2 hot back, quarter inch thick on the bottoms, stairs to the roof, whatever was above the mash tuns has gone, sparge, tap on the outside, pull the plug out, half an hour off the boil, pulleys, the old two rails, graphs and steam controls, tanks, mash tuns number 5 number 3 number 1 other side 2 4 and 6 to the right, casting, cast the copper (empty), offcial brewing lingo, number 9 was the big one, sugar pipe, gravity, take a sample, turn the heat off, open the door, take your cap off, check the pumps, so much water on the plates, put the cap on, wait for a couple of seconds, start again, cast the coppers into the hot backs, Simon Hill, clock, clock onto the street, tanker Jack, clock, stopped, flats, brewery clock's right, landmark, bottling stores, 4.56 always clocked out at four minutes to five, Saturday, chimney, Staffordshire knot, sack truck, 80 year old, squeeze it off the bottom, when I say push you push, 320 barrels, brewer brewer...and these two, football in the cold stores (for the hops), down to God knows where, the things we used to do, all in a line, seven brews a day, sugar room, clean the chute out, went down to nothing, 6 to 2: 2 to 10: 10 to 6, start the brews at 4 o'clock, continuous sequence, stacked up, two blokes could pick a bag of malt up between them, stick, yellow line, bag against the wall, plonk it on, 265 bag loads, a pocket of hops, Kent, hereford, snap it, tree falling on you, dispersal of gravity, stacking them on the top, part and parcel of the job, clean, bucket of caustic soda, get it all stirred up, pull your ladder out, morning bloke, afternoon bloke, polish it up, boiler beds, three-way policeman one filling one boiling one emptying.