In the spring of 1985, it wasn't just the 'Slalom' lager which was brewing at Workington's brewery. Trouble was also brewing, as the workforce of the Ladies Walk premises and former manufacturer of 'John Peel' ales were told that Matthew Brown was going to be taken over by William Youngers. It was felt at the time that the writing was on the wall for the brewery (how right that feeling turned out to be!), and that the distinctive tangy smell of hops, familiar to generations of St. John's School pupils - amongst many other townsfolk - would waft over Workington no more.
The Right-Honourable Dale Campbell-Savours M.P., was drafted in to lead a demonstration by furious brewery workers and public-house patrons, who - accustomed to the tastes of 'Matty's Light', 'Matty's Bitter' (both brewed in Blackburn) and 'Slalom' lager (brewed in Workington) - feared that the takeover would lead to job-cuts, closure, and an irreversible change of taste in the local drinking establishments.
The protest was held in St. John's Precinct, that 1960's 'modern' architectural monstrosity - built to a design known as 'bomb-shelter chic', and designed to wipe any vestiges of individuality from the commercial heart of this once thriving industrial town. The linkable picture (above, left), shows Dale Campbell-Savours leading the protest outside the Workington Co-operative superstore, built on the site of the former Jane St. Co-op following demolition in 1968/69.
Take a look at the pictures below. Are you one of those present? I would be interested to hear from you if you were! All pictures (except the telephone boxes) are links to larger images.
|QUIET SUNDAY||MORE CROWD||POW SREET MARCH|
Irrespective of whether drinking habits ever changed as a result of the demise of Matthew Brown's beers, it is sad to relate that the takeover ultimately meant closure of the historic Workington brewery. It was kept on for a while as a warehouse, but is keenly awaiting the developers as it slides into dereliction. Part of the brewery office complex is now a night-club.
St. John's Precinct is no more. Built over the period 1969 - 1971 and demolished in 2004, the precinct replaced St. John's Infants and Junior School, the Drill-Hall, the old Jane Street Co-op, The Swimming Baths, the Primitive Methodist Church, the Central Hotel, and many homes, shops and businesses on Edkin Street, John Street, Jane Street and Thompson Street; well-established buildings which had stood since the 19th Century. St. John's Precinct was constructed, occupied and demolished over a mere Thirty-Five years; nearly One-and-One-half generations. Let us hope the proposed new designs for Workington's commercial hub fare a little better.
BELOW: A trio of 'K8' telephone kiosks on parade at the Pow Street end of (what was) John Street. Note the old dial instruments within. The 'K8' pattern was designed by Bruce Martin, as a result of a competition in 1965 by the GPO. Two-Thousand new telephone boxes were required to replace Sir Giles Gilbert-Scott's 'K6' boxes, and were to meet the requirements of local authorities with modern town centres.
This particular type of telephone box was made up of only Fifty parts - unlike the 'K6' box (probably the most familiar telephone kiosk), which was made up of Four Hundred.
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