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Old Truman Brewery

Old Truman Brewery

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The Old Truman Brewery is the former Black Eagle brewery
A brewery is a dedicated building for the making of beer, though beer can be made at home, and has been for much of beer's history. A company which makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company....

 complex located around Brick Lane
Brick Lane
Brick Lane is a street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London. It runs from Swanfield Street in the northern part of Bethnal Green, crosses Bethnal Green Road, passes through Spitalfields and is linked to Whitechapel High Street to the south by the short stretch of...

 in the Spitalfields
Spitalfields is a former parish in the borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to many markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, founded in the 17th century, Sunday...

 area, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is a London borough to the east of the City of London and north of the River Thames. It is in the eastern part of London and covers much of the traditional East End. It also includes much of the redeveloped Docklands region of London, including West India Docks...

. It was established by the brewers Truman's
Truman's Beer
Truman's Beer was once East London's most famous brewery and one of the largest brewers in the world at the end of the 19th Century.Founded around 1666, the original brew house was established on a plot of land next to what is now Brick Lane in London, E1....

 which subsequently became Truman, Hanbury and Buxton. The former Brewery buildings, warehouses and yards were redeveloped by The Zeloof Partnership and now house over 250 businesses, ranging from cultural venues to art galleries, restaurants, and retail shops.

The Director's House and former Brew House are listed buildings.


The site's first associations with brewing
Brewing is the production of beer through steeping a starch source in water and then fermenting with yeast. Brewing has taken place since around the 6th millennium BCE, and archeological evidence suggests that this technique was used in ancient Egypt...

 can be traced back to 1666 when a Joseph Truman is recorded as joining William Bucknall's Brewhouse in Brick Lane. Truman subsequently became manager in 1697, and through his family's efforts - not least those of Sir Benjamin Truman
Benjamin Truman
Sir Benjamin Truman was a notable English entrepreneur and brewer during the 18th century. He is notable for the expansion of the Truman Brewery in the Spitalfields area of east London.-Biography:...

 (who joined the firm in 1722) - the business expanded rapidly over the following 200 years. The Black Eagle Brewery was constructed in the early 18th century (c.1724) and eventually employed over 1000 people, becoming the largest brewery in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and the second biggest in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


In the mid-18th century Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 immigrants introduced a new beverage made from fermented hops
Hop (plant)
Humulus, Hop, is a small genus of flowering plants native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The female flowers of H. lupulus are known as hops, and are used as a culinary flavoring and stabilizer, especially in the brewing of beer...

, which proved very popular. Initially, Truman's imported hops from Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, but Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 farmers were soon encouraged to grow hops to help the brewery meet growing demand.

Sir Benjamin died in March 1780 and, without a son to take on the business, it passed to his grandsons. In 1789, the brewery was taken over by Sampson Hanbury (Hanbury had been a partner since 1780; the Truman family became 'sleeping partners'). Hanbury's nephew, Thomas Fowell Buxton
Thomas Fowell Buxton
Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, 1st Baronet was an English Member of Parliament, brewer, abolitionist and social reformer....

, joined the company in 1808, improved the brewing process, converted the works to steam power and, with the rapid expansion and improvement of Britain's road and rail transport networks, the Black Eagle label soon became famous across Britain (by 1835, when Buxton took over the business upon Hanbury's death, the brewery was producing some 200000 barrels (31,797.5 m³) of porter
Porter (beer)
Porter is a dark-coloured style of beer. The history and development of stout and porter are intertwined. The name was first used in the 18th century from its popularity with the street and river porters of London. It is generally brewed with dark malts...

 a year).

The Brick Lane brewery – now known as Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co – took on new partners in 1816, the Pryor brothers (the company's owners were renowned for their good treatment of their workers - providing free schooling – and for their support of abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

). The affluence of these brewers was also noted in fiction: in Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

David Copperfield
David Copperfield (novel)
The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery , commonly referred to as David Copperfield, is the eighth novel by Charles Dickens, first published as a novel in 1850. Like most of his works, it originally appeared in serial...

(1850), Mrs Micawber makes specific reference to Messrs Truman, Hanbury and Buxton):
... I have long felt the brewing business to be particularly adapted to Mr Micawber. Look at Barclay and Perkins! Look at Truman, Hanbury, and Buxton! It is on that extensive footing that Mr Micawber, I know from my own knowledge of him, is calculated to shine; and the profits, I am told, are e-NOR—mous! But if Mr Micawber cannot get into those firms—which decline to answer his letters, when he offers his services even in an inferior capacity—what is the use of dwelling upon that idea? (Chapter 28)

However, the company also faced competition from breweries based outside London – notably in Burton upon Trent
Burton upon Trent
Burton upon Trent, also known as Burton-on-Trent or simply Burton, is a town straddling the River Trent in the east of Staffordshire, England. Its associated adjective is "Burtonian"....

, where the water was particularly suitable for brewing – and in 1873 the company acquired a brewery (Phillips) in Burton and began to build a major new brewery, named the Black Eagle after the original London site.

In 1888, Truman, Hanbury, Buxton & Co became a public company with shareholders, but the balance of production was now shifting to Burton. The Brick Lane facility remained active through a take-over by the Grand Metropolitan
Grand Metropolitan
Grand Metropolitan plc is a former United Kingdom-based company operating hotels, holiday centres, entertainment centres, public houses and casinos...

 Group in 1971 and a merger with Watney Mann in 1972, but it was in terminal decline. It eventually closed in 1988.

However, the old brewery buildings still stand in Brick Lane, where they have become home to an arts and events centre and various fashionable shops and bars.
The Old Truman Brewery today is a unique microcosm, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Business and leisure come together on the sensitively regenerated 11 acres (44,515.5 m²) site that is now home to restaurants, bars, shops, creative businesses, events spaces, offices, workshops and two weekly fashion markets.http://www.sundayupmarket.co.uk. This self-contained creative resource is open for many activities. The brewery is likely to undergo significant changes in the next few years, as part of the Tower Hamlets Council City Fringe Area Action Plan.

The Old Truman Brewery was the location for the second Summer of Sonic
Summer of Sonic
The Summer of Sonic is an annual convention focusing on all aspects relating to the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. The event was created in 2006 by computer game journalist and Sonic fan site owner Svend Joscelyne , as the collaborative creation during July and August of a celebratory website in...

event, a convention for Sonic the Hedgehog fans, which took place on the 29th of August 2009.

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