Falkirk Brewery (New)

Business: James Aitken and Co (Falkirk) Ltd

Location: Falkirk

Type: Brewery

The new Falkirk Brewery was established by James Aitken & Co on land across the road from the original brewery on Newmarket Street. The brewery was expanded in 1866 and 1878, and then reconstructed over the period 1898 to 1900 to a design by Peter Lyle Henderson.

Initially the brewery continued to bring in water from the nearby Bantaskine estate, first  by cart and then by pipes. However, in 1910 the first artesian well was sunk inside the brewery grounds to a depth of 518 feet. A second well was sunk in 1927 to a depth of 700 feet from which water was pumped at a rate of 100 gallons per minute.

Aitken’s bottling plant was one of the biggest that Alfred Barnard had seen when he visited the brewery in 1889 and he attributed the firm’s export success in part to the cleanliness of their bottling operations. A carbonating and bottling plant was purchased in 1910 and was completely modernised in 1938, with a canning line being added in the late 1950s.

By the 1960s the brewery employed over 200 workers and was producing thousands of barrels a week, while the bottling plant was capable of filling 1,200 dozen bottles an hour.

The brewery also had its own private railway sidings which was completed in 1900 on land acquired from the North British Railway, and which connected it to services via Grahamston Station.

The brewery was closed in 1966 when James Aiken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd was taken over by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd. Some of the brewing equipment was bought by Dudgeon & Co for use in the Belhaven Brewery, Dunbar. The site was sold to Falkirk Town Council in 1970 for £141,000 and the landmark 180 foot terracotta brick chimney was demolished by army engineers. The site is now occupied by an Asda supermarket.

Map of 1858 showing the layout of the new Falkirk Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2016

Active: 1850s - 1968

Address: Newmarket Street

Status: Demolished

Current Use: Supermarket

Architect: Peter Lyle Henderson

Then

Falkirk Brewery (New)
This picture shows the distinctive brewery chimney in the 1940s, looking from the east down Melville Street.
© John Hume, 2016

Now

The site is now occupied by a supermarket.

Other Sources of information

Archives

The University of Glasgow Archive Services holds a collection of papers relating to James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd. (Ref : AIT).

Books and periodicals

Gibb, F. The brewers and breweries of Stirlingshire. Stirling: Lomax Press, 2009.

James Aitken & Co. (Falkirk) Ltd. 200 years of progress. Falkirk: James Aitken & Co. (Falkirk) Ltd., 1940.