Crosswells Ltd.

Wine and Spirit Merchants, Bridge Parade, Bristol.

Walter Showell was born in Birmingham on 26 Sept. 1832, baptised at Birmingham St. Martin on 23 Oct. 1832, son of victualler Walter Showell and his wife Eliza Ann Breakspear of the Bull's Head, Price Street. Walter senior was also a shareholder of the Birmingham Botanical and Horticultural Society, he had married Eliza Ann, second daughter of the Breakspears of Poplar Cottage, Harbourne St. Peter, Staffordshire, on Thurs. 20 May 1830, but he sadly died age just 33 on Friday 27 Nov. 1835. The Bull's Head was sold on 3 Feb.1836. From that time it was occupied by another Showell, Thomas, and his wife Sarah and family. Thomas was secretary of the Birmingham Licenced Victuallers Protection Society. Thomas died in 1858 and the pub was sold again and it was then occupied by Mr. John Fulford as the Bull's Head Wine and Spirit Vaults.

At age 18 in 1851 Walter Showell is to be found as an apprentice to a Chemist, Charles Tonge in Birmingham Street, Oldbury, Warwickshire. On 2 May 1854 Walter married Sarah Cheshire Hartill, at Oldbury, registered at West Bromwich. The couple had at least 13 children, the eldest being Hannah Pitt Showell (b.1855), and the youngest Daisy (b.1876). There was a son, also called Walter, born in 1861, who took on the brewery, he married Eliza Shakespeare at Harborne on 28 Aug. 1884, but he had retired to Bournemouth by 1891. Its worth noting that Shakespeare & Hartill were a firm of solicitors in Oldbury during this period.

Walter Showell was also in partnership with Josiah Walton as Josiah Walton & Company, wholesale ale and porter merchants at the Rose & Crown, Loxells, Aston, Warwickshire. The partnership was dissolved 1 Jan. 1877.

In 1855 (Billing's directory) Walter was still a Chemist and Druggist, but had diversified into Groceries and a Bakery, he was a flour dealer and also sold Oils, Paints and Colours, in Birmingham Street, Oldbury.

From at least 1858 Walter Showell had a number of businesses. He was a licensed  Victualler at "The Stores" in connection with his wife Sarah Cheshire Hartill's family, (her father Joseph and mother Sarah owned the Victoria Flour Mill), as an advertisement from the Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 1 November 1860 page 2 testifies:

HARTILL and SHOWELL beg leave to inform
their Friends, the Trade, and the Public generally that they
have been appointed
Which they are In a position to supply
A supply of
Always in stock, and in splendid condition.

In the 1861 census Walter is still listed as an Ale and Porter Merchant. This is the case until 1865 where he appears to be a brewer, running the Victoria Brewery,

From the Birmingham Daily Post - Wednesday 23 July 1873 page 8: "SHOCKING OUTRAGE AT OLDBURY. On Tuesday night a horrible outrage was committed at Oldbury. A quarrel between three men employed at Mr Walter Showell's brewery terminated in two of them, named William Richards and William Oaks, both of Oldbury, putting third man, whose name is Martin Lang, of 16 Eel Street, into a tub. It is stated that whilst one of the men held Lang in the tub the other turned a tap from which scalding steam issued. Lang was scalded in a shocking manner, and the flesh came from his back in pieces. He was removed to his home, and eventually he was conveyed to the District Hospital at West Bromwich. Lang, it is reported, was under notice to leave Showell's employ, and the quarrel is attributed to some disagreement respecting their work. Richards and Oakes were taken into custody by Police-constables Firth and Lampitt, and further particulars will no doubt be elicited at the Magistrate's enquiry. All the men, it is said, were under the influence of drink." Lang soon died of his injuries and the culprits were committed for manslaughter.

In 1874 a huge new brewery was built by Walter Showell at Crosswells Road, Langley Springs near Oldbury.

From the Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 16 October 1874 page 1: "WALTER SHOWELL, CROSSWELLS BREWERY. LANGLEY, NEAR OLDBURY, Informs his Friends that be has COMPLETED his NEW PREMISES, and commenced Brewing therein. He takes this opportunity of thanking them for their favours, and of apologising to them for any inconvenience he may have caused them in delaying the execution of their orders; but as this arose entirely from the fact that his facilities for brewing were totally inadequate to meet the requirements of his rapidily-increasing business, he hopes that the greater accommodation he now enjoys will enable him to meet all demands upon him with promptitude and despatch.
The CROSSWELLS BREWERY adjoins the Langley Green Station on the Stourbridge Extension Line."

The company Walter Showell & Sons Ltd. was Registered March 1887 in order to acquire the Victoria Brewery and possibly to finance an additional brewery. In 1890 this company acquired the Brookfield Brewery of Sarah Marsland, and in 1896 a separate company arose called Showell's Stockport Brewery Ltd.

The brewery began expanding into South Wales and offices of Crosswells Limited opened at 11 Penarth Road, Cardiff around 1892 and the Bristol wine merchants office of Crosswells Ltd. at 5 Bridge Parade from around 1892 to 1897. The story of the Wales interests emerged during a court case at the time of the winding up of Crosswells Limited in 1901:

From the Birmingham Mail - Thursday 6 June 1901 page 3: "THE CLAIM FOR COMMISSION AGAINST BREWERS. Today in the the King’s Bench Division, Mr. Justice Channell, sitting without a jury, resumed the hearing of the case of Gunn v. Showells Brewery Company, Limited, and others. Mr. John E. Gunn, a commission agent, sought to recover £8,875. alleged to be due on a commission note, dated December 9, 1896, for having introduced to the defendant company certain brewery and public house properties, including the Caerphilly Brewery in South Wales, which were meant be carried on Crosswells Limited, a subsidiary company. Defendants denied having given authority for the issuing of the note, or that the properties were bought by them through the intervention of the plaintiff.—Mr. Hugo Young, K.C., for the defendants, resumed his opening statement, and went through a lengthy correspondence with the object of showing that Mr. Charles Showell never consented to the purchase of the Caerphilly property, and that all he consented do 'was to allow' plaintiff to float company to take it over. He said that instead of being a purchaser Mr. Showell was the vendor Crosswells, Limited, to the company.—Mr. John Young, a director of Crosswells, Limited, said he gave plaintiff a list of properties, in which the Caerphilly property was included. Plaintiff also mentioned other houses to witness. It was for Crosswells, Limited. that the house was purchased.—Mr. Charles Showell, chairman of Showells Brewery Company, Limited, and also chairman of Crosswells, Limited said the latter company was now in voluntary liquidation for the winding up of the company owing to the sale of its property. Crosswells, Limited, was treated Showell's Company as a customer, and a balance sheet was made out every year. Witness gave the history of Crosswells, Limited. which was meant to deal with the South Wales business, and was a part of the defendant company. Witness said that when the plaintiff produced the commission note he repudiated it, as did Mr. Hurmann and others.—The hearing was again adjourned." The judge found for Gunn at the subsequent hearing and dismissed the appeal.

From Ports of the Bristol Channel -1897: "CROSSWELLS, LIMITED, ALE, PORTER, WINE AND SPIRIT MERCHANTS, BREWERY STORES, 11, PENARTH ROAD, CARDIFF; AND AT 1, BISHOP-GATE PARADE, COMMERCIAL ROAD, NEWPORT (MON.); ALSO 5, BRISTOL BRIDGE, BRISTOL.— THE prosperous organisation recently established in Cardiff, under the title of Crosswells, Limited, presents a representative example of those modern concerns the aim of which is to provide the licensed trade with ale, porter, wines and spirits, on such liberal terms as are available to a company controlling exceptional and unrestricted resources. The firm provide for the trade exclusively, sending out liquors of unchallengable purity and excellence and in first-rate condition. To attain these results the utmost care is necessarily adopted in the arrangement of the valuable bottling facilities possessed by the firm, and a visit to their spacious stores and accessories at Penarth Road makes apparent to the observer sufficient impressions of complete appointment to endorse the claim to noteworthiness with which Messrs. Crosswells, Limited, are now accredited. The entire space of one extensive warehouse is reserved for bottling, while another warehouse encloses the firm’s immense collection of bottled beers, stored preparatory to consignment. The operations of the firm are largely favoured by the accommodation afforded by the spacious yard in which the buildings are located, and two additional warehouses are appropriated to the storage of beers in cask. Further space is afforded in the large room adjoining the firm’s offices on the first floor of the main building, and a loft is reserved for bottled beers. The hayloft, cart-shed, and stabling indicate the provision made for a large delivery service, and the entire arrangements of the establishment tend to convey the fact that, though a recent acquisition to the trade and industry of Cardiff, the business of Messrs. Crosswells is already in a condition of splendid development. The firm have also extensive establishments at Newport and Bristol, the respective addresses of which are given above. While supplying those noted ales of which the famous Bass takes precedence, the firm are extensive purveyors of Guinness's stout, and through them the popularity of the celebrated Showell’s ales has been largely forwarded in this neighbourhood, as well as over the still widely extending area of business which Messrs. Crosswells’s commercial operations cover. These ales—the productions of Messrs. Walter Showell & Sons, Limited, of the Crosswells Brewery at Oldbury—are largely sent out to the private trade. They include India pale and bitter ales, also mild ales and stouts; and few brewings have more permanently established themselves in public taste and appreciativeness than those to which Messrs. Crosswells, Limited, devote special consideration. The transactions of this company during its brief existence denote a rapid progress creditable to the principles adopted by its promoters, and the ability which has been brought to bear upon its management. The secretarial duties are undertaken by Mr. C. Handcock, who watches the interest of the company with discrimination; and the direction of the concern altogether manifests those features of capable enterprise in which its continued success and its greater importance in the commerce of Cardiff are already forestalled."

Walter Showell died on 31 July 1901 at Stourton Hall, Kinver.

Crosswells Limited was liquidated in 1901, Showells Stockport Brewery Ltd. was acquired by Walker & Homfrays Ltd in 1910 and Showells Brewery Co. Ltd. was acquired by Allsopp & Sons Ltd in 1914 with 194 tied houses.

4 Gallon Stoneware Flagon Crosswells1.jpgCrosswells2.jpg
Impressed:  CROSSWELLS LIMITED / BRISTOL (in oval), WINE & SPIRIT / MERCHANTS (in centre).

Potter:  Unknown.

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