James Aitken and Co (Falkirk) Ltd

James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd was incorporated in June 1900 (company no. SC4558), to acquire the business of James Aitken & Co, at the Falkirk Brewery.

It had an authorised share capital of £150,000 (about £16.5 million in today's money), and the first chairman was James Heugh Aitken.

The company made a number of acquisitions and investments which included: Thomas Ireland’s North Port Brewery, Brechin; George Storey & Co’s Rothbury Brewery; and T.Y. Paterson & Co Ltd, Edinburgh. The company also took a minority interest in Duncan & Dalglish Ltd of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and made a small investment in the Border Brewery of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Aitken’s reputation for the quality of its beer was such that it was recommended as an exemplar brewer for managers running clubs, etc., for servicemen. At the London International Brewers' Exhibition in 1921 the company won the Cup and Gold Medal, the highest awards at the exhibition, for the best beer of original gravity of 1039 and under.

Although it survived the challenges of the First and Second World Wars, the company was eventually taken over by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd in September 1960. The brewery was closed in 1966, and the company was dissolved in 1968.

The company's trademark was a large red letter 'A' and it successfully contested an allegation by Bass that this represented a "colourable imitation" of Bass’s red triangle.

Amongst the beers produced by the company were: 90/- Ale, Brown Ale, Brussels Stout, Coronation Ale, Export Ale, Falkirk Ale, Famous Stout, Heavy Ale, Imperial Bitter Ale, Imperial Mild Ale, Milk Stout, Scotch Ale, Sparkling Ale, Stout, Strong Ale, Superior Heavy Ale, Victory Ale, and Wee Strong Ale.

Trademark of James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd
Trademark of James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd
© Forbes Gibb, 2016

Location: Falkirk

Active: 1900 - 1968

Status: Dissolved

Breweries and other buildings

The Falkirk Brewery, which had been rebuilt between 1898 and 1900, closed in 1966. The site was cleared in the 1970s and is now occupied by a supermarket.

The last visible link with the past is the company's former general offices above the New Market Bar in Lint Riggs.

Aitken’s also had facilities outside of Falkirk including the Mains Maltings in Linlithgow, and stores and offices on Keppochill Road, Glasgow.


Map of 1944 showing the layout of the new Falkirk Brewery
Map of 1944 showing the layout of the new Falkirk Brewery
© National Library of Scotland, 2016


We have a number of images related to James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd, but would welcome any other information or images linked to the company.

Other Sources of information


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

Books and periodicals

Donnachie, I. A history of the brewing industry in Scotland. Edinburgh: John Donald Publishers, 1979.

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.