William Aitchison acquired the Kerfield Brewery from the estate of William Ker, his father-in-law, in 1810, and in 1813 expanded his business by buying a distillery in Tranent. He traded as Aitchison & Co, with premises in Edinburgh, Leith and Dalkeith which offered 'Peebles ale and porter' and 'superior malt whisky'.
Amongst the beers produced by the company were Peebles Best Double, Peebles Double, and Peebles Double-Double.
In 1826 he obtained permission from the Dean of Guilds in Edinburgh to renovate and extend a building he owned off the South Back of the Canongate, which was to become the Canongate Brewery. By then his son John had become involved in the business, and when they relocated the brewing operations to Peebles to Edinburgh in 1828 they established the partnership of John Aitchison & Co. Aitchison & Co continued to trade as a retail outlet for the new company's beer, and whisky.
William died in 1835 and control of the business passed to his son John.
Active: 1810 - 1828
The Kerfield Brewery lay to the north of Kerfield House, and was associated with a maltings and a mill. The buildings were mainly demolished after William Aitchison established the Canongate Brewery in Edinburgh in 1828.
The Canongate Brewery was one of a number of breweries on the South Back of Canongate. The site was recently cleared and is now occupied by a development belonging to Edinburgh University.
Edinburgh City Archives holds petitions from William Aitchison to the Honourable Lord Dean of Guilds on the 21st and 29th December 1826. (Ref : Dean of Guilds Plan MYBIN C4).
Books and periodicals
Chambers, W. A history of Peebleshire. Edinburgh: William and Robert Chambers, 1864.
Hundey, I. Privileged Scot, Canadian invader, and Australian convict: the story of James Milne Aitchison. Australian Canadian Studies, 29(1-2), 2011, pp.49-81.