James Maclay

James Maclay founded his brewing firm in 1836, having gained experience of the business at John H. Syme's Hutton Park Brewery.

He leased the Mills Brewery until 1875, when he moved into his newly built Thistle Brewery.

He died just a month later, and was succeeded by his two sons, James and John, who traded as the partnership of J. & J. Maclay.

Location: Alloa

Active: 1836 - 1875

Status: Transferred

Breweries and other buildings

The Thistle Brewery was established by James Maclay in 1875 in the East Vennel.

It passed through the hands of a number of owners until it was finally acquired by the Matthew family in 1991. It remained operational until 1999, when its closure brought a long history of brewing in Alloa to an end.

Part of the Thistle Brewery survives in Mill Road as a pub called, appropriately, the Old Brewery.


Map of 1863 showing the Mills Brewery
Map of 1863 showing the Mills Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2015


We do not currently hold any images of items related to James Maclay, and would welcome any information or images related to his business.

Other Sources of information


The University of Glasgow Archive Services holds papers in its Scottish Brewing Archive from 1824-1993 (Ref : GB 1127 M).

Books and periodicals

Anon. Brewery for sale. Glasgow Herald, 5th January 1875.

Anon. The late Mr James Maclay, brewer. Falkirk Herald, 18th December 1875.

McMaster, C. Alloa Ale: a history of the brewing industry in Alloa. Edinburgh: Alloa Brewery Company, 1985.