Whitbread's Brewery - Incorporating the Brewer's Art
A VIEW OF THE EAST END OF THE BREWERY Engraving by W. Ward after G. Garrard, 1792 WHITBREADS BREWERY IN the year 1734 the widow of a Bedfordshire farmer sent her young son up to London to be apprenticed to a brewer and to make a position for himself in life. That was the first step towards the founding of one of those great family businesses on which so much of Britains prosperity has been built. For the fourteen-year-old apprentice was Samuel Whitbread, the originator of a firm that has grown and prospered for more than two centuries and is known to-day all the world over. Samuel Whitbread was the seventh of eight children and the youngest of five sons. He was born at Cardington, near Bedford, on August 30th, 1720, of old English yeoman stock that could trace its ancestry back to the Whitbreads, or, in the Anglo-French form of the name that seems to have been alternatively used, the Blaunpaynes of the thirteenth century. Young Samuels grand-father had fought for Cromwell in the Civil War and had served as Receiver-General and Justice of the Peace for Bedfordshire and one of his aunts married the father of John Howard, the great prison reformer. That marriage, as will be seen later, had an important effect on Samuel Whitbreads future, for little John Howard, left motherless at an early age, was sent by his father to be brought up on a farm he owned at Cardington. There his play- mates were the Whitbread children who were near neighbours, and he and Samuel became lifelong friends. Another famous man of Bedford with whom the Whitbread family had associations was John Bunyan. In the early records of Cardington Church the name of Whitbread is to be found next to that of Bunyan in a list of admitted members. Samuel Whitbread himself, although a staunch member of the Church of England, gave tangible proof of his admiration for the author of The Pilgrims Progress. He contributed to the funds of the Bunyan Meeting House and bequeathed it an endowment of 500, the interest on which was to be distributed in bread to the poor of that Meeting between Michaelmas and Christmas each year. Moreover, when Bunyans pulpit Bible came to be sold at a London book auction, Whitbread bid for it and obtained it for twenty guineas. But this is leaping ahead from the year in which young Samuel found himself in the strange world of London. The London he learned to know was the London of George It and George 111, the London of Pope, Dr. Johnson, Goldsmith and David Garrick, of Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds, of Handels Oratorios...
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