Released by Oxford Rail, back in February 2021 , their OR76TK2006 Graham’s Golden Lager No113 12 Ton Tank wagon was a bit of impulse buy due to its branding and the fact that I feel their 12T tank wagon is one of Oxford Rail’s best models to date. Little did I realise at the time that a wagon of a Scottish larger brewer would have an interesting Southampton, and by association Canute Road Quay, connection…
In 1927 a new beer was brewed in Arrol’s Lager brewery in Alloa, Graham’s Golden Lager. This was produced on behalf of Allsopp’s of Burton, following the moving their lager plant to Arrol’s in 1921.
Being sucessful, and as now Arrol’s were brewing all Allsopps lagers, Allsopp’s took a controlling interest in Arrol’s in 1930, prior to their 1934 merger with Ind Coope. Arrol’s was completely bought out in 1951 and the brewery converted to a lager-only plant.
Arrol’s of Alloa appeared to have a number of branded rail mounted tanker wagons that included the example as model by Oxford Rail.
In 1959, Graham’s Golden Lager was rebranded as Skol, though for a while it was branded Graham’s Skol Lager. It became the main lager of Ind Coope and later the whole Allied Breweries Group.
…So where does this fit in with Southampton…
…following posting the picture left, on my layout thread on RMweb, Pete Cottrel kindly related the story that the Southampton branch of the Wine Merchants business of the Eldridge Pope Brewery was bombed in 1940 and that buried in the rubble were several intact crates of bottled Graham’s Golden Lager.
They weren’t actually near the docks but in Above Bar Street, in the area that is now Guildhall Square, no rail connection though, it was in the heart of the Old Town, inside the medieval walls.
In 2005 while doing trial excavations on the site the crates were discovered with a JCB bucket that broke several of the bottles. The Eldridge Pope brewery and bottling plant were at Dorchester, so bulk lager could have been sent there. However Cooper’s Brewery in Southampton had a bottling plant and had ceased actual brewing due to war damage, so it could in theory have bottled Graham’s Golden Lager post war.
The find was also reported on the BBC website:
Archaeologists’ intoxicating find, by David Fuller BBC News June, 2005
Archaeologists searching for remains of a city’s medieval past have made an intoxicating discovery, a cache of World War II beer.
The hundred-or-so bottles of lager buried beneath Southampton’s Guildhall Square were still capable of developing a head when they were opened. It is thought they had been stored in the cellar of an off-licence which was destroyed in the Blitz. The routine dig was to study the site before a new arts centre was built.
Pete Cottrell, the dig leader, was hoping to find evidence of a medieval leper hospital known to have been in the area. He said the bottles were in very good condition, but the liquid inside was not. “I think you’d be very ill if you drank that, it’s absolutely rank.”
Some of the bottles have now been handed to the city’s museum, while the rest has been reburied.
I thought this was a fasinating story emanating from a simple impulse buy and a picture, and was worth sharing (even as a real ale drinker), I hope this little diversion from the normal is of interest…