Many boaters will be familiar with this building that lines the banks of the Trent & Mersey Canal in Stone. For those that don't know it, it's the rear of the old John Joule and Sons Brewery - a famous family brewer that brewed in Stone for over 200 years until being taken over and closed by Bass in 1974. A great number of these regional brewing firms were being taken over and closed down at the time but Joule's was a particularly sad loss and its closure lead to the first protest march by the infant Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).
Now Joule's is back from the dead! Not in Stone, but in Market Drayton, where a brand new brewery has been constructed to brew the famous Joule's Pale Ale to the original recipe. But why Market Drayton you may ask - surely the whole point of a local brewery is that it is "local" and Market Drayton is several days away from Stone on the far side of the (misnamed) "Four" Counties Ring!
Well by water maybe, but by road it's a mere 18 miles and, crucially, the town has a source of water that is as near as dammit the same as Stone's and after all, beer is 95% water!
The people behind the new venture are obviously enthusiasts and as well as acquiring the original recipe for the beer have obtained the rights to use the Joule's name and branding, including the red cross trademark seen above. The brewery itself, however, is of a modern style with large windows that allow the patrons of the adjacent brewery tap to enjoy a pint of Pale Ale whilst watching the next one being brewed.
Unusually for a small brewer they are building up an estate of tied pubs, which are being refurbished (or "restored" as the company prefers to say) to a very high standard. Most of them were once owned by the original John Joules & Son's brewery and I was recently fortunate to stumble across the Glebe in Stoke (opposite the church, not far from the bottom lock) on its opening night. No pictures of the ceiling for Sarah of Chertsey I'm afraid, but the inside is every bit as traditional and welcoming as it looks from outside:
So, good luck to Joules! The revival is being well-received locally if press reports are anything to go by. There are two Joule's pubs in Market Drayton - although the Lord Hill has yet to have the restoration treatment - and another further along the Shroppie at Cheswardine, with others reachable by canal at Leek, Whitchurch and Burton-on-Trent. A considerable investment of money - and love - has gone into the venture and it deserves to succeed. I'll certainly be doing my best to assist!!