Birmingham Industry

M&B Cape Hill Brewery – Smethwick

Mitchell's and Butler's Cape Hill Brewery

Mitchell's and Butler's Cape Hill Brewery

Opening in 1881, Henry Mitchell took over his father’s pub, the Crown Inn in Smethwick, and, as did a large number of landlords during the period, set about constructing a small brewery adjoining the premises. In 1877, Mitchell began constructing the Cape Hill brewery which was completed in 1879 and became a joint venture with prominent local brewer William Butler in 1898 with a merging of their respective companies to form Mitchel’s and Butler’s.

The brewery went from strength to strength acquiring a large number of pubs, hotels and other breweries. Merging with Bass in 1961, the company had operated around 4,000 pubs and with its merger with Charrington United in 1969, inherited a further 5,000. The brewery enjoyed its own internal railway, linked to the long-gone Harborne Railway (read more on the brewery’s railway on the sister site Rail Around Birmingham HERE), had extensive stabling for its horse-drawn delivery duties, a thriving social club, cricket and bowling teams and had entertained such showbiz luminaries as Laurel & Hardy over the years!

However, legislation during the 1980s limited the number of pubs breweries could own leading to a mass sell-off of properties and unsuccessful foreign outings and a failed take over of Carlsberg-Tetley spelt a downturn for the company resulting in the selling-off of its brewing arm to Belgium Interbrew Group. The final takeover was by American giants Coors who, within a matter of months from taking over, announced that the brewery would be closing on December 6th 2002. As of my visit in March 2005, the site demolition was well underway and Persimmon Homes had obtained permission from Sandwell Council to build 650 new homes on the site.

Discussion

7 comments for “M&B Cape Hill Brewery – Smethwick”

  1. hi do you have any moor photos of cape hill brewery i woz one of the machine drivers on that site on it bout two years love to have a few photos

    Posted by wayne foley | November 23, 2010, 4:50 pm
  2. Attn: andy doherty
    I’ve been in touch before (several years ago). I’m researching a book on M & B which is nearing completion and would like to include pictures 1 and 3 from this article.
    Can you contact me and say whether you are prepared to let me do this. Obviously I would acknowledge your copyright.
    Best wishes

    Mark Young

    Posted by mark young | February 5, 2011, 3:37 pm
  3. Hello Andy
    I’m looking for some large scale maps with the brewery railway on and have had no luck thus far. Any ideas much appreciated.
    Best wishes

    Mark Young

    Posted by mark young | February 22, 2011, 8:42 am
  4. hi i am wondering if you still brew ,family ale,albrit,nutbrown,cape ale,export,and if so where can we buy them in the birmingham era.

    Posted by john churchill | March 10, 2011, 1:38 pm
  5. I’m not anything to do with MB Brewery I’m afraid John, the website just covers places around Birmingham that are/were of interest to me.

    Posted by Andy Doherty | March 10, 2011, 3:06 pm
  6. dear sirs i have been tying to get an email from the tollgate pub in coventry for the disgusting meal that my friends and family had from your establishment will somebody please explain to me why you no longer want our custom ????

    Posted by a.mcdade | June 20, 2011, 3:39 pm
  7. Think you may be posting to the wrong place for making complaints about a pub I’m afraid.

    Posted by Andy Doherty | June 25, 2011, 2:14 pm

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