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.

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