Phipps NBC
Phipps NBC
Letters and Emails
Phipps NBC, The Albion Brewery, 54 Kingswell St. Northampton, NN1 1PR, UK
Andrew Grant of Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire has this very old and battered Phipps pub sign which shows the ravages of time and the weather to the original painting done on an aluminum sheet, the frame has also lost its upper section. However it still has a melancholy beauty to our eyes. The "Phipps House" typeface and wording means this is a pre Watney Mann era sign as after 1960 Bridge Street's signwriter had to use Watney's thicker typeface and just the word "Phipps"
I have recently come across you excellent website which is of great interest because of the strong connection between the village and Pickering Phipps the Brewery boss, Mayor and MP. We have a village website - link below – which highlights the Phipps influence and also the village pub ‘The Wooden Walls of Old England’ which was run by Phipps for many years. Would you mind if I included a link on the Collingtree website to your own site?

Many thanks Rod Sellers

Visit the only website dedicated to Collingtree Village and Parish

Hi Phipps,

Pictures attached of the 2 public houses I mentioned. The Vine Inn was in the High Street Irthlingborough, and I believe it closed in the 50's, but not certain. Stone Cross Inn (the building still exists, but is now a private house), was on the Wellingborough Road, just outside Irthlingborough, at the top of Ditchford Road.

Regards, Wayne O'Hara
Hello Phipps NBC

I don't make a habit of writing to companies about their products normally, but as a seasoned drinker of real ale and a member of CAMRA for over 20 years, I like to think I know a good pint when I see and taste one. I think the Diamond Ale is absolutely superb - a smashing balanced beer. I work behind the bar at The Red Lion, Litchborough, Northants - (which takes your beers on a regular basis) and it has received great praise from people who drink here and know beer. Congratulations - I hope it will appear on a regular basis in your list of ales.

Matthew Nobles Jun 5, 2012

Hello Phipps NBC

I hope you are well. I posted a letter and photo asking for info regarding the history of the Old Blue Boar when we first moved in nearly 3 years ago. I have just been given my first old photo of it which I proudly attach. The photograph came from one of the daughters of the last landlord, Louis Burridge. Incidentally one of Louis's other daughters is the mother of the world's No 1 golfer, Luke Donald.

Thanks again, Rob McNeish 18/6/12


My name is Nick West and I have collected British beer cans for the past 36 years. I currently have just over 7000 cans in my collection.

See recent article from Daily Mail.

For the past year I have been working on a composite list of every British beer can produced. I would love to have information and especially photos, of cans that your brewery has produced over the years. I also note with interest that one of your contacts had a Sportsman Ale cone top. I can also let you have photos of a Jumbo Stout cone top plus the box that it came in if you are interested?

I suspect that there may be other NBC cans out there somewhere and hopefully your readers may be able to assist me.

Kind Regards, Nick West16/2/12

Dear Phipps NBC

My grandmother (born Mary Bryan) married John Phipps of the brewing family but listed on my mother's marriage certificate as an iron moulder by trade. I never met him, but did meet his sister, Edith, who married a Harry Holmes – the owner of a stocking manufacturing company in Wigston. John and Mary Phipps produced two children – Johnny (who was probably born c.1900 – and an older sister, Elsie, my mother, whose birth was registered in 1897 at Wigston. This puts their marriage at before 1880.

John Phipps turned out to be an un-faithful husband and also drank heavily, with the result that Mary (his wife/my grandmother) left him at the beginning of World War I, taking with her my mother (Elsie), but not Johnny. She was unable to afford to take both children.. Johnny apparently was broken-hearted at being left with a father he did not like, and so ran away, gave a false age, and joined the Navy. He was lost when his ship – the “Black Prince” – sank, His death used to be on recorded in the Birmingham Hall of Memory.

My daughter Carolyn Cardy and her husband own and run the “Black Horse” pub at Cranham, in the Cotswolds, and I have been trying for some time to persuade her to stock Phipps’ beers. I heard today that you have been in touch with her, so there may be a happy ending.


Allan Sharples

Dear Phipps NBC

Attached is a photo of the Old Five Bells at Kingsthorpe, Northampton. My grandmother was a barmaid at the start of the 20th century and was noted as such on my mother's birth certificate in 1915, so I imagine the photo was taken then. I don't expect the woman in the picture is her - but I have a strong feeling that she worked there.

I was a Kingsthorpe boy and well recall summer evenings spent at the Five Bells in the 1950s. Where there is a car park now there was a huge beer garden with sheltered seating (with pokerwork if I recall correctly) and we could hear the sound of a crooner accompanied by a piano and snare drum in the back room. Looking at the photo I guess the row of houses at the back was cleared to make way for all that.

My father-in-law worked for Phipps as a mechanic and I had a short spell as a drayman in a very hot summer in the 1970s - though I was quickly relegated to the warehouse when they realised that as a vacationing student, I'd jumped the queue for this prized job. I think the last time I went to the 5 Bells was in the 1980s to see a friend of mine called Barry Lillis in a band called Coil, you might remember them. Happy days!

I'd better stop now - I'm sounding like an old git!

Alex Wood, Northampton


In your photo book of pubs, number 111, Royal Oak, is the Royal Oak, Horsefair Green, Stony Stratford, closed in 1961, and now a private house – mine

Thanks for your interesting web site, Tony Scott 25/10/2011


Hi There, I have just read your site about the N.B.C. company. I thought you might like these photos I took of one of the adverts for this product. I found it in my family’s home brewed pub “The Gypsies Tent” in Dudley. As I hadn't heard of this beer before I was pleased to be able to find your web site. I expect they might have bought your beer in when they stopped brewing their own.

The sign is glass with metal frame painted red and it looks as if there at one time a lamp was fitted behind the advert. Hope this is of interest to you.

I sold the property some 2 years ago -leaving many of the items that I didn't want in place. The Black Country Museum did quite well out of it as I gave them permission to strip out what they wanted. The bar fittings are now in their new pub and they had things like skirting boards, picture rails, doors etc. so the poor old place looked very sad. I try to picture it as it was in it's hey day.

My winter project is to try and build a "minature dolls house" replica of the Gipsies Tent but with the brewery as well it will be rather large. I have the original plans so that will help a lot.

Once again many thanks for your email Regards Pat, 13 September 2011

The Phipps NBC Bridge Street bottling lines


I worked over the summer of 1972, or maybe 1973, as a temporary worker on the bottling lines at Phipps. The brewery was still producing in those days, but not much. There were two bottle lines coming from the machine and I still remember the routine.

1) Half hour chucking cases with empty bottles onto the feeder to the bottle washing machine

2) Half hour watching the bottles come out of the bottle washing machine

3) Half hour watching the cleaned bottles coming out line 1 (we were supposed to pick out the bottles with mice or apple cores etc.)

4) Half hour watching the cleaned bottles coming out line 2

5) Watching empty crates being turned over to fill with full bottles ...

There was a weekly ration of beer at the time , 2 pints I think but I remember that occasionally "la part des anges" would occasionally end up in our hands.

I discovered the Phipps NBC IPA at the Royal Oak in Walgrave this summer, and thought it excellent.

All power to you in your revival of the Phipps NBC brand.

Cheers Peter Stockwell, 26 August 2011


Dear Phipps NBC

I live near The Ship in Oundle, love Phipps IPA - and that’s from a guy who worked at Batemans Brewery for many years!

David V Woods

Dear Phipps NBC

I had a pint of your IPA in the Ship in Oundle at lunchtime. It was very popular with the locals. I was chatting to Fred and Roger, Fred's in-law's parents used to work at the brewery. I then went on to have 4 more in the Falcon Inn, Fotheringhay. There haven't been many days in my life when I have had the supreme pleasure of sinking 5 pints of Phipps, the last time was probably 1963 but today made up for the enforced abstinence.

Regards Bob Ward, July 2011


Dear Phipps,

I'm write to you in the hope that you or some of your former employees could help my father trace an old army friend, Mr. Spokes, my father refers to him as Eddie

My father says that he worked at Phipps Brewery prior to joining the army for National Service. I believe that they served together around 1952.
My father's full name is Frederick John Martin but he is usually called John. He was a driver who spent time in Dorset and Gibraltar among other places. He believes that Mr. Spokes may have visited him after leaving the army, but received a less than helpful welcome from my father's step-mother. He lived near Colchester in Essex. I realise that it will be difficult to trace Mr. Spokes from this information but it is all I have and would appreciate any help. Please feel free to pass on this e-mail and my phone number to anyone who may be able to help. Thank you.

I notice that you have a letters page on your web site and wonder if placing the details on there would be helpful?

I look forward to hearing from you. Susan Collins


Another NBC picture has just surfaced from September 19, 1960. The writing in the diary is a little hard to read but this appears to be Mr R Hedon.

Kind Regards, Peter Clark, Chronicle and Echo

Hello All

Is the gentleman shown a head brewer with the surname Heron ie Pat’s father?, if it is Bob Hipwell will know. This is definitely the second and in the background the third of the stainless steel brewing kettles (D-BK2) in the North (NBC) brewery, which I’m sure Bob will confirm.

Nothing in particular to do with Red Barrel or DRB (Draught Red Barrel) as it was called. Having said that I’m sure many a barrel of Red Barrel has been brewed in these three kettles.

If my memory serves me, one of the kettles collapsed on turnout due to a stuck vacuum valve and I think it was (D-BK2). It was never the same after this event with creases showing in the metal after it had been repaired. No creases are showing so it pre-dates my arrival in Northampton in about 1966. Again Bob will confirm or deny.

Kindest regards, Peter Mauldon


The photo of the NBC I did not see in the paper, but the photo on my computer is certainly that of Robert Heron (Bob) who was the father of Pat Heron. I think as far as I can remember it is one of the stainless steel kettles that was used for Red Barrel production.

Regards John Clipston

Alaric - the photo is quite definitely Mr Heron (Pat's father) as Peter says. He was Head Brewer at the NBC at the same time as my father was Head Brewer at Phipps next door. In theory neither of them was allowed on the brewery premises of the other due to their commercial rivalry. In practice, they were good friends who both lived in the same road near Weston Favell and their houses were only 200 yards from each other! The plant shown has no connection with the Red Barrel plant which was merely a washing and filling plant for kegs.

Bob Hipwell.


I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed a pint of your IPA today in The White Swan Hotel in Market Harborough. Unfortunately, I was driving so I only had one. My favourite regular is TT Landlord but I'd love another of your IPAs now.

Thanks and keep up the good work
Paul Thompson 25/02/2011

Weston St. being turned into St Peter's Way.

The York Tavern would have stood about where the mechanical digger is

Hi There

I don't know if you could help me please. I am looking for an old photo of the York Tavern, Weston Street, Northampton, on the corner of York Place. There was another York Taven on York Rd but the pub we are looking for was actually on or near the site of the Phipps brewery. It was demolished in the 1950/60's for road development.

The wife feels 'sure' the pub was a Phipps/NBC outlet. Charles Henshaw (the wife's Grandad) was listed as Beer-keeper at the York Tavern in the 1871, 1881, and 1901 Census listings, he died in 1908.
They also ran an outdoor beer house/grocery store in York Place, Weston Street, Charles' 3rd wife Sarah who was only 39 in the 1911 census continued to run the business (probably till she retired-died 1947).

The wife has only vague memories of the area-mainly of the general store when visiting Granny. My sister came over to see us today, she was a 'jimmys ender,' so I showed her the picture of the nearby Wharfingers Arms and she named many of the old pubs in the area. I then dug out the old 1850 map of the pubs of Northampton, this clearly shows the Wharfinger Arms AND the York Tavern just along the road. The pub was definitely the York Tavern in the 1871 Census but may have changed its name or closed at a later date.

I’d be grateful for any information or help in tracking this pub down from any of your contributors.
Many Thanks, Alex Hunt

In relation to the old pictures of the wagons that the brewery used to
have, I seem to remember that they also had an Allchin wagon sometime
in the late 1890's. We are in the process of restoring a William
Allchin 10 tonne steam roller, the only one of its kind, built in 1899
in Northampton at The Globe Works in Northampton.

The Northampton & Lamport Railway Preservation Society now have the
roller The roller’s history can be seen at

Thank you

Sharon Skinner



I am looking into the history of my area and where I live.This is Kingsley Road, Northampton. My previous house was built about 1896 I think and was built by a consortium which included P Phipps as a member. I had old indentures to confirm this. Although I ave no indentures or anything with relation to my current house, I think this could also possibly have a connection. Our house was one of the earliest at 1883.

Old photographs of Kingsley Road, previous name Gypy lane / road) are so difficult and very hard to come by but it is quite possible that there may be some somewhere. If you could pass my enquiry on I would be so grateful as it would be amazing to see some imagery or hear some knowledge of our area direct from somebody first hand!!!!

Thank you in advance, Jay Wolfe

Paul Doyle wrote,

I was reading through your website which I thoroughly enjoyed.I especially liked the photos of old pubs. Have you any information on the where exactly the Kingsley Arms was? I would love to know.

Many Thanks, Paul, born Kingsley, Northampton

Jenny Lewis replied,

I can't be sure but possibly the Kingsley Arms could have been situated in Oliver street, half way down on the right hand side ( coming from Kingsley Park Terrace ) opposite the service road entrance. I am just going by building shape. This building is currently undergoing refurbishment

Kind Regards, Jenny Lewis, Jay Wolfe Metalwork Ltd, Shop4Tanks, Kingsley, Northampton


Hello Phipps NBC,

My grandfather, Percy Baseley (usually called Charles or Charlie) was an employee of Phipps in the accounts office from 1931 until retirement in 1979 with a 6 year break during WW2. He also played for the cricket team and I still have his old cap.
He passed away in the spring of 2009 but would've been very proud and pleased to know that Phipps beer was being brewed again. At the end when Bridge Street closed and he was moved to a distribution warehouse for Grand Metropolitan he really couldn't wait for retirement, he loved working at the bridge street brewery. One of his best friends, Mark Bennett, also worked in the accounts office as well, and one of the customers was my great grandfather, J.J. Rudd who owned an off license. There is a photo of my grandfather and I think Mark Bennett receiving clocks back about 1978 for 45 years of service. My mother has it somewhere, the clock (a Westminister chime) is still in our possession my sister down in Bristol still has it with the engraving.
I too am glad Phipps is brewing again, I live in the pacific Northwest of the US where I am proud to say we have a lot of small craft brewers making real ale, and I am glad that England is doing the same thing. Since it would seem unlikely that Phipps will be available in the US I look forward to trying the beer next time I am in England.


Jonathan Rudd


Dear Phipps NBC,

Well done! I tried my first pint of Red Star recently at the Pheasant in Keyston. It was a terrific beer and can’t wait to try the IPA. I am a Northampton born 50 year old, so missed the original product and delighted that you have been able to revive it.

Regarding the Phipps take-over of Campbell Praed, Wellingborough in 1954, some of the old guys around Wellingborough still hold resentment of the take-over of a good brewery and product. Read the reports of the extraordinary shareholder meeting of the time. If you hold the brand licence, would not it be a great idea to try to recreate a Praeds beer for Wellingborough area.

It would be also great to get your beers along with the other local breweries into the University Campus Sites if they have bars. Some have real ale groups. They can be weaned off high alcohol lager with no taste to lower alcohol beer with much more taste and distinction.

Anyway, I look forward to my next visit to sample some more Phipps-NBC products and I will take like-minded friends to share the experience!

Regards, Alan Harris, Earls Barton.

Morning Peter,
Having consulted with John Clipston, Peter Mauldon, Bob Hipwell and Mike Henson their notes on these pictures are:

The location is the former NBC North Brewery, these are the coppers, generic terms for giant kettles that boil the brewing liquor at the start of the process that ends with beer. These coppers were actually relatively modern stainless steel items and one of the smaller ones behind the group in the first photo is now at Hall and Woodhouse in Blandford Forum.

In the first Photo, on the left hand side of the balcony the man in the light grey suit is Mike Duncomb, Maltster of the Brewey, The white coated man on the top landing is a Brewer called Niel Binney. Niel moved to Scotland working for Watneys in the old Dryborough Brewery. He died of a heart attack some years later around 1975. On the next floor down, walking up the stairs next to the pipe is Bill Urquhart the second brewer, later Head Brewer and founder of Litchborough Ales. On the lower floor in the brown smock with bald patch on head is the North Brewey foreman Eric Phipps,

In the second Photo, looking at the front row left to right (ignoring the younger men by the banister). First Jeffery Ballard of Vickers Finings, third from left Niell Binney and the fourth next to him looks like Bob Pritchard who developed the Tom Caxton home brew kit for Messrs Edme. The location is the hopback beneath the three kettles at NBC.

Regards Alaric


You may be interested in the attached pictures which show Danish Rotarians at Phipps, September 1, 1967.

Cheers Peter Clarke

Assistant Editor

Chronicle & Echo

Dear Phipps NBC

You could have knocked me down with a feather when I walked into The Plough in Greetham and found them supplying Phipps IPA, indeed it took 3 pints to convince me. I've spread the word among my many drinking mates in the Midlands and I'm sure they will be as delighted as I am to see a favourite brew revived.

Hope all goes well for you both
Very best wishes

Pete Jackson

Dear Alaric

Thank you for sending me the bottles of Ratliffe's Stout which arrived safely yesterday. I am not a stout drinker but as a brewer one had to taste everything and anything that came out of the brewery and I must say they were first rate. You've produced an excellent stout of the old school variety, a style that pre dates the use of too much sugar as with Mackeson. Given that, it is good to hear that Ratliffe's is being received well at the bar and credit must go to you and Tony for the successful revival.

I also enjoyed looking through the information you sent me on Ratliffe's old brewery. I'm afraid I can't remember the building itself but I do remember the big fire at Tuck's opposite as well as popping into the King Billy now and again

Keep up the good work

Pat Heron, NBC and Phipps NBC brewer

Blandford Forum, June 2010
Pat Heron outside his local, The Dolphin, Blandford Forum
Hi Alaric,

I don't think I sent you this family photo, taken on April 11th 2010, it shows two of Richard Ratliffe's grandchildren, Anthony Thomas Ratliffe and his sister, Penelope Ann Griffiths, opening the first bottle of the Celebrated Stout in Ratliffe hands for many years. Now that Will and Rose have also tasted theirs we all agree it is really good, as did their cousins in England (Penny's children),

So many thanks to you for bringing a piece of our family history back to life!

Janet Ratliffe

I have just been informed of the relaunch of Ratliffe's Celebrated Stout by cousins in the UK.

This is very exciting news for me as my husband, William, is the great-great grandson of Thomas Ratliffe (or is it perhaps great-great-great). In fact it is because my husband's father is currently visiting the UK that a cousin noted it and informed us. Needless to say they will be on the lookout for a pint or two during their travels.

I'm pretty sure that our family line goes from Thomas to Richard to Thomas William to Tony (my father in law) and his sister Penny (3 daughters) and then my husband Will and his sister Katy. Penny and her family are in the UK, my husbands family emigrated to Canada 40+ years ago. Hopefully that is correct.

Thanks for sending the bottles out to us in Canada. Will just asked if I'd let you know that we've tasted the Stout and no I guess I hadn't. We shared our first bottles with good friends on Wednesday evening. I'm not sure if you heard from Mum (Janet), but they enjoyed a Ratliffes Stout on Sunday -- Dad's birthday. I hope she took photos to share. Today we took it out with us on a hike out in Kananaskis Country - a provincial park area just south and east of Banff, about an hour west of Calgary, here's some photos.

Thank you,

Rose Ratliffe,

Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Good afternoon,

I have inherited from my late father an un-opened can of "Sportsman's Ale" made by The Northampton Brewery Company (NBC). It is a cone top can with a crown cap, and someone has scratched on the can in two places the date 1938.

I tried to take a picture of the back of the can with all the small print on but with no luck but the picture of the front was more successful. Just not visible on the side of the can next to the horseman is a fisherman, hope it is of interest. Any other info you could supply me with would be interesting.

Keith Burrows

I love the stout on the handpump at Rushden Station. It stands up with all the better stouts which they serve there. It can't be bad having three of your ales on over the last week.

Happy Christmas and New Year, Russell Sturgeon

Hello Phipps NBC

I originally come from Rushden but now live in Suffolk and this year I managed to get to the Norwich beer festival on several occasions. Of all the beer there I must say that the Phipps IPA stood out as one of the best at the festival, and that was also the opinion of a couple of other chaps whom I work with.

Absolutely fantastic mate! Well done.

I am currently in the process of trying to set up a brewing operation at a local pub down here in Leiston along with the pub manager. Hopefully in the new year we will have a 2 barrel plant installed. We have been currently experimenting with various brews on a small scale and so far the reception from guinea pig drinkers is excellent. So, if you ever get to sample a Daft Monk beer you will be glad to know that it has Rushden heritage (the manager is from Felmersham so near enough!) although this will be brewed with Suffolk malt and hops.

Keep up the good work, Mark Chamberlain
click image to download

Dear Phipps NBC

Thanks for sending the bottle of Ratliffe's Celebrated Stout, which was a pleasant surprise. The stout is by far the best bottle of new Phipps-NBC beer that I have sampled and in my opinion it should be a real winner.

It arrived last Saturday and I let it stand for about 36 hours to acclimatise and opened it before dinner this evening. I can't remember what RCS tasted like in the 1950s so I had to assess it as a 4.3% ABV bottled stout in its own right and my findings are: First and foremost the beer is true to type with a perfect balance between sweetness and bittering. Nicely carbonated, good head formation and retention, clean fresh aroma, appetising initial taste and best of all, a splendid aftertaste.

Don't tinker with it. Just keep it as it is and confidently enter it into the next brewers exhibition because its worthy of a top award. If the judges fail to give it a sparkling gong they should be retired to another planet! If I had bought that bottle from a retail outlet I would soon return for another.

Please convey my enthusiasm for the product and congratulations to Tony Davis and all others concerned with its creation. Well done! If you want to use any of my comments for feedback reports or general publicity, then feel free to do so. Finally I loved the presentation, the right amount of attractive eye catching labelling and also inclusion of the little Rats. Now there 'hangs a tail or two' .

Regards, Tom Whapples, P. Phipps brewery engineer, 1950 to 56
Alaric - many thanks for e-mails and photo of my father, A. J. Hipwell, during his time as Head Brewer. With him in the 'dropping room' is, I think, the brewery foreman R. (Dick) Collier. Note: the fermenting system at Phipps was to 'drop' the brew immediately after fermentation to a collecting vessel (slate squares) where the yeast was skimmed off. The fermenting and collecting rooms were fully air-conditioned i.e. both temperature and humidity controlled.
Very many thanks for the bottles safely received this morning.. I shall look forward to opening them!

Regards, Bob Hipwell, former Phipps NBC brewer.
Dear Phipps NBC

A few years ago I purchased an old English print from an antique dealer in Howick, South Africa. It was framed and behind glass. The work was unusually heavy for a work on paper, but I did not give it any further thought. I packed the print into my suitcase and flew back to Cape Town.

On my arrival I had to find out that the airline company had thrown my luggage around to such an extend that the glass of the print was broken. Being a painting restorer, I dissembled the unit in order to replace the broken glass. I loosened a wooden back board to find a wad of paper. Lifting the paper out of the frame I saw that its use was to protect a sheet of metal. When I carefully lifted the sheet and turned it around I found to my delight a perfectly preserved enamelled sign depicting the old Ratliffe & Jeffery Brewery. I made a new frame which was more suitable for the period when the sign was made and hung in up in our kitchen.

Looking at it every day I got very intrigued about the works history and started to search on the internet about the brewery's origin. This morning I was lucky and found, besides a host of information on the history of the Celebrated Stout, - you. Being born in Bavaria, I do have a strong affinity to beer and would like to congratulate you on the relaunch of the tastes of the past.

I attach two photos of the enamelled sign and would be very interested to know what you think of my little treasure.

All the best and kind regards Thomas Rebok
I was interested to find the very full and informative section on your website about the history of the brewery. I live in Denton village and am currently researching the village history and have set up a website at I am keen to include a section on pubs. Denton once had 3 pubs - The White Hart, Quart Pot and Red Lion.

The White Hart ceased to trade well over a hundred years ago and any history is difficult to trace.

The Quart Pot on Bedford Road was a Phipps Pub and that became a private house sometime in the 1950's. I have traced the publicans from 1841 to 1940 but am having difficulty in filling in a few gaps with dates. I have Hilda Church as Publican in 1940 and believe that Frederick 'Mackie' Hollowell was the publican when the pub ceased to trade but am looking for any more information you may have in your archives. I have a photo of a group of men with a trophy outside the pub - attached and publican Mackie is 4th left front row.

When he left he went to the other Denton Pub, the Red Lion, which was also a Phipps pub which became a Manns house and Mackie and wife Lil, ran the Red Lion for 32 years until 1984 and when they retired the Red Lion was sold at auction to Charles Wells who still own it.

I wonder if your records have any more information or pictures which I could incorporate into the website -

John Brownridge

If you can help John contact him via the website above


Hello Phipps NBC

I found your fantastic website today and was amazed to see my old dad Len Warren sitting in the picture of The Old Quart Pot at Denton, he's the first one on the front row left. Norman and Ena Osborne kept the pub when I was a little girl, Norman is the chap on the other end of the row. Ena didn't have any children of her own and I was a bit special to her as a little girl. Her cherry pop and crisps were a bit special to me too!

Dad was one of many Warrens that enjoyed a pint of Phipps' beer. My family were landlords in Northampton and Iwondered if you could tell me whether the Rifleman's Arms in Lawrence st, The Bicycle and the Maltsters Arms in St James road were Phipps' pubs. These were all kept by Warren family members and also the White Hart at Thrapston.

I must try a drop of IPA myself although being a small female I might only manage a half. Many thanks for the memories.

 Gill Parris, 4/3/12
The Sun, Braybrooke in 1911

The letter attached may be of interest for your archives. They relate to documents about the closure of the Sun Inn, Braybrooke. One of them gives the actual date of closure.

Regards Lindsay Holliman
Chopper in front of an old Phipps and Ratliffe's sign at the Merchants Inn, Rugby

Chopper ( from Oysterband ) wrote;

During May and June of this year I was involved in a very enjoyable musical walking tour with John Jones and the Reluctant Ramblers. Yes, we played a show every night and walked to the next venue the following day, usually walking 6 to 8 hours a day.

Starting in Hay-on-Wye we strode through the Welsh Marches and then up through the Midlands, ending up at Oysterband's Big Session Festival in Leicester. There was thirst to be slaked and we sampled a lot of fine ale on the way. When we got to the festival we were greeted by our former sound engineer and record producer Alaric Neville who was presenting his Phipps IPA and Red Star, he even gave us our own barrel for the dressing room!

I can honestly say that after two weeks of sampling some of the best real ale in the country, I would rank Phipps in my top 3, along with Doom Bar and Mad Goose.

P.S. can we have another barrel next year?

Just found your very interesting site via a search engine. We have just moved house, and are now at a house which was a pub called the Blue Boar Inn, at BAINTON, Lincolnshire until 1964, when it was sold by Phipps Northampton Brewery Company to I believe the publican at the time Louis Burridge, as a private house. I'm told it was a pub for a century or so. I wondered if you would have any information on the pub which I am interested in researching, or suggestions where I should look for information.

I have attached a photograph of the Blue Boar as it is today.

Many thanks, Rob Mc Neish

On your website I noticed a message from a ROB McNEISH asking for information on the house that he has just purchased. It was the old BLUE BOAR in Bainton, once one of your pubs and now a private house. I have just discovered that my great great aunt AMY MANN was once the publican there. Certainly in 1881 when she was a widow aged 63 yrs.

I couldn´t find another way to contact you and do hope you will pass this information on to Rob McNeish.

Regards Kate Sutton 11/09/2011

Ray Wake provided some classic photos below and the story of F H Clarke seen below.

The Clarke's were key coopers for Phipps/NBC for three generations.
Phipps Sunday fishing club
During the war Mr Clarke was a Firewatcher, stationed on top of Phipps Brewery most nights
Jim Baucut, Fred Garrett,Bert Shipperley,?,Guy Phipps Walker,Chip Jervis, F H Clarke,Harold Palmer and Alf Crouch.

Mr Clarke served Phipps/NBC for all his working life some 44 years. Towards the end of his time, as the brewery moved to metal kegs, he maintained the old stock of wooden barrels finally being made redundant.. Coopering was a key job in the brewery and is an all but lost craft today.
Above is a picture of “The George”, a photo taken in the fifties, but I have no idea where it is except possibly somewhere round Aylesbury or Marlow as that’s where we used to live about then. Any feedback would be appreciated.

Regards, Kim Martin
Phipps owned the Thorneycroft Steam truck circa 1900 and entered into many local events. This picture was taken in May 1966 at Stamford Hall home of Lord and Lady Braye. Mr J E Matthews and Mr J Brown shown. Dorothy is still about today, the oldest road going steam vehicle in Britain
Phipps Thursday Cricket Team 1922 / 1923
Hi guys just thought I’d say I love you’re your website and I love your beer, well done keep up the good work.

Roy at Hoggleys Brewery.
Found your website today. Please find this picture, not the best as I only had a Brownie 127 when I took it. It is the Wheatsheaf at Ailsworth Peterborough and I lived opposite and in the place for twenty odd years. It was an old NBC house which went on to Phipps NBC .

When I was aged 9 or 10 I would collect my uncle's beer on Sundays after Sunday School. My cousin, who was a year older than me, and I would take the empty Bison Brown bottles up to the pub and collect two, sometimes four, pint bottles. We would then put them in a bag and walk the 200 yards back to her house with them. We had done this for a few years but we only went to a nearer pub, but that closed and we were then sent on the long trek to the Wheatsheaf. My uncle would always complain about NBC beers but the bottles were still empty by the following Sunday . The land lord in those days was Jim Fox and he ran the place with his widowed daughter until his death. It was the only pub in the joined villages of Castor and Ailesworth which had an underground cellar, the flood plane of the Nene valley made it almost impossible to create cellars. There had been six pubs in the village, there are now to three, The Wheatsheaf closed a few years ago and a house now stand on the car park.

Regards Dennis, now living in Devon

Robin Seward wrote;

I was interested to read about the re-introduction of Phipps I.P.A. My paternal grandfather (A.G. Seward) was Head Brewer at Phipps & Co. and my father (W.G. Seward) was also on the brewing staff. He would often take me on a tour of the brewery which invariably ended up in the sample cellar. Unfortunately I was too young to sample the amber liquid !
The Seward family home at 4 Harborough Rd Kingsthorpe, next to the Cock Inn. The house was owned by P.Phipps and Robin's father was born there. A company employee tended the garden for his family. The photo was hand tinted by Robin's mother for an Xmas card

In late 1973, early 74, I was in between jobs, so I took on a temporary job at Watney-Manns in Bridge St. on the production line, filling metal casks with the days brew. My stay there was no more than about 4 months, and of course the working day was very much just that, on the production line. I was introduced to Bill Urquhart, who knew my father and I remember that us workers were entitled to a free pint or two per day. Some time in that period demolition had started on the main Phipps building, and during a lunch break I entered the building, and found my way to the brewing staff office, whereupon I found my father's handwritten (brewing student) notebooks, dated in the mid 1920's. He had passed away in 1966, so naturally I took one noteboook as a souvenir. I was at the Bridge St. site until the final day.

My main memories of Phipps are the brewer's office, the sample cellar and those fabulous mash tuns! What a glorious smell! There was one curious structural oddity in the Phipps building, between the office accommodation and the brewing plant - a long set of well worn wooden stairs, that upon descending them you appeared to going upwards! Some sort of optical illusion going on but it was very odd.
Robin today with his father's collection of Phipps barrels. Two have been made in to coal buckets, the large one is now a cocktail cabinet, converted by Phipps's own coopers at Bridge Street in the 60s

I have some Phipps memorabilia, including 5 oak casks of various sizes, some of which were made into "special" items by the brewery coopers for sale to the staff. One of these is a miniature oak sherry barrel with a brass tap, complete with an oak stand. I also have 3 unopened bottles of Phipps beer - Stingo No.10, No. 10 Strong Ale and a bottle of Coronation Ale. The paper label of the Coronation ale bottle hasn't survived (this label was pasted over the Phipp's "logo", which was printed onto the glass.) The crown cork caps of all 3 bottles are in a poor condition, but I would never open them, not even for old times sake.
Robin Seward, in the centre with beard, on the last day of brewing

Looking at the group photo, the most likely contender to be me, is the top row, 4th from the left. (I think that I was sporting a beard at the time.) I remember a few faces in the group, in particular the man on the extreme left of the top row. He had a glorious head of long hair, tied in a pony tail whilst working. Some of the "old boys" gave him a few odd looks now and again!

Good luck with the I.P.A. project, I shall look forward to sampling it in due course. Also, I think that the web-site is excellent.

Tom Whapples wrote:

Leaving school on a Friday in July 1950 I started an apprenticeship the following Monday in the engineers shop at Phipps. I was the youngest of 3 trainees and our tuition included a day plus 2 evenings a week at Northampton College of Technology.

Most employees were confined to their workplace but I was fortunate to have the freedom to work wherever needed. I did jobs in every department and soon got to know the brewery complex in depth including the two maltings and the Cattle Market Transport & Estates Department.

Whilst I was at Phipps there was little contact with the NBC other than collaboration by management over wholesale beer prices and wages to maintain parity. I do recall that the NBC directors then were Ballion, Page, Watkins and Heron. When my wife and I were courting we often called at the Malt Shovel Tavern where I used to enjoy NBC's draught PA. It was darker than Phipps PA and somewhat nutty and I preferred it to Phipps’s.

In my opinion IPA was the best of Phipps running beers and most important, was equally good in draught and bottled form. My wife and I first lived in an idyllic setting in Church Way Weston Favell and my local was The Bold Dragoon, where I regularly enjoyed Phipps IPA in the company of Mr Milner. By then he had become Phipps head brewer and I was an industrial engineer at British Timken. Milner loved his IPA and always savoured and drank it in a half-pint nonic glass! I don’t remember him drinking anything else.
In its heyday Phipps provided employment and nourishment, consistently demonstrating brewing excellence thus setting standards for others to benchmark. Its loyal following extended from the Midlands to the coast of East Anglia and their products quenched the thirsts of holidaymakers from Grimsby to Clacton on Sea. Its beers fuelled elation and also drowned the sorrows of spectators at the County Ground, Franklins Gardens and cheered revellers at the Salon Ballroom. Phipps IPA was especially welcomed by troops in India and other Colonies and its beers followed armies in two world wars and greeted them home again.

My association with Phipps ended when I was called up for National Service in the RAF in 1956 and I soon realized how good my training had been because I was singled out for challenging tasks beyond my trade description. If I had served a graduate apprenticeship at the renowned B.T.H Company Rugby, I wouldn’t have received a better start to my career.

Regards Tom 
Paul O'Callahan has passed this unopened bottle of Phipps NBC Stingo No. 10 to us

used to work in a couple of pubs in the 'city' near the Tower of London & ran a pub for a few years on the Isle of Man. I ended up accumulating bric-a-brac for the pub from 'junk' shops, gifts from customers & one or two items acquired when Scottish & Newcastle refurbished pubs in central London. All I can tell you about the Phipps's bottle is a regular in my pub on the Isle of Man gave it to me. He was a scouser who had lived on the island for years but he had family links with the Northampton area. The bottle is in good condition and the only sign of age is the '10'of 'Stingo no 10' on the cap has disappeared due to a bit of rust.

I think it's great you are reviving some of the Phipps NBC brews. I've often wondered what the beers of these taken over breweries tasted like. One of the 2 regular bitters I served on the Isle of Man was Castletown, brewed by Bushys, which was a copy of the old Castletown brewery beer but there was limits to how accurate they could get it because Castletown had there own water supply & the type of malt they used isn't grown any more!

Regards Paul O'Callahan
We often went to Kettering where real ale was obtainable easily. Cross's Brewery in Lower St. had been taken over around 1938 by Marstons so their five houses, including the Three Cranes at Cransley and the Lilacs at Isham (where the towel never went up whilst Sandy was the landlord - just locked the door and closed the curtains!) still shone ! This was the closest Marstons got to Northampton. Also the George Hotel at Kettering had the wonderfully smooth Bass on draught - almost unbeatable as it was Bass and Marston's Pedigree that were the only beers produced using the Union System. Wells was obtainable at Wellingborough in 3 pubs but that was the sum total there (Prince of Wales, The Star and the one in Mill Road). When Wells tried to force the landlord of the Star to go to fizz he bought his own handpumps, had adaptors made for the new casks and carried on selling real ale - as he'd gone to so much trouble we made certain we supported him.

I was weaned on Phipps IPA and was really annoyed when it was replaced by the ghastly Red Barrel and Starlight, "girl guides water" as it was described at the time. I tried the Starlight and, having had my throat scorched by gas, said to my landlord at the Royal Oak in Cogenhoe “I’m sorry John, I can’t drink this”. It was over ten years before I set foot in my local again.

At one time Northampton was a real ale desert until the Saddlers Arms in Bridge St. came on again with their "Traditional” again and the Garibaldi in Bailiff St. came on with M&B. I vividly recall crossing Bridge Street having had a few Davenports Traditional and wandered down Angel Street - and couldn't feel the road at all

Real Ale almost disappeared around Northampton but we eventually won the fight and now its available in most pubs. Lets hope the new Phipps IPA lives up to the pre-1968 original, I still have my NBC-starred pot so I'm all ready.

All best wishes and Good luck. Ian Lyman

Many moons ago I worked for Phipps NBC in the newly formed managed house department

In the Watney days, the gods were in London and the ghosts in Northampton. One day out of the blue a large box arrived in our office which turned out to be a safe. I thought to myself what in G's name is going on as we had neither money nor documents anywhere near us. Some few days later a packet of white gloves arrived, we thought the ghosts had gone quite mad. Then came another box. On opening it we saw it was a calculator, the first in the offices costing more than a rep's Ford Anglia car (an Anita) So rare nobody was allowed to use it for a least a year, far too precious for us mere mortals.

In 1970 we were all called together for the purpose of meeting God. I had to have 7 pubs painted on the road side between the station and the brewery, new signs, flowers and everything so we looked smart! No thought to the budget, cut down elsewhere, no thought to roofs, central heating, hot and cold water or inside loos. We were the rich department! The meeting was to tell us the Northampton site of 35 acres or so was no longer valuable to the company. From a transport view point it was better to pour money into Dryborough's, Brighton and Wilsons. (that was an island site) and Norwich than to redevelop Northampton. At this point I decided life in Northamptonshire was not for me. Carlsberg arrived and effect was to smash up Phipps NBC, rather like Northamptonshire skittles.


Howard Sumner-Fergusson
Le Pech
Saux 46800
Lot, France

John Clipston wrote:

I was an employee of Phipps & Co on leaving National Service in 1954 as an office junior. I worked in all departments until finally being Brewery Clerk in charge of Customs & Excise. I then transferred to Carlsberg in 1973 part time but still worked for Grand Metropolitan which part owned the new brewery on Bridge Street

I was a Phipps man and I always thought their beers were better than NBC. The head brewer then was Mr. Milner, up the road at NBC was Mr. Miller. When we merged in 1957 they both became joint head brewers and some of the brews were merged too. NBC had Jumbo Stout and Phipps had Ratliffe’s which was sweeter and smoother. I remember them knocking a hole in the wall between us and NBC, we called it the tunnel of love. There was also a pipe-line built to get water from our wells to the North brewery.

The best beer we brewed was Phipps IPA and I never understood why we dropped that in favour of the Watney and Manns alternatives, economics I suppose. Back then we had our own Coopers shop for the wooden barrels but that was done away with and by the late 60s, everything came out in metal barrels. It wasn’t just bitter beer we brewed, we had our own Stein lager before Carlsberg. They put a great big dinosaur on the roof of the brewery to advertise Stein, I don’t know what the connection was but it caught the eye.

Watney Mann trained me up to be a beer taster, I went on a 3 day course in London. We tasted for strength and had a scale of -1 to +2. If a brew was too strong we’d add cutting Liquor to get the gravity down.

Although I was in the office, during the big strike in 1969, it was all hands to the pump and I got to pitch in at the brew house and shoveled out the mash tuns after brewing. The union convener at this time was Bill Morris, now Sir Bill.

Not long after this we heard that the brewery would close. Milner had retired and Miller moved on so Bill Urquhart was the head brewer then with Guy Phipps-Walker taking over as Chairman, he was a real gentleman.

Some of the younger brewery workers transferred to Carlsberg in 1972-73 but a lot of the older men stayed on to the end helped by some younger fixed term contract workers. By this time I had moved over to Carlsberg but I recognise many of the faces in the last day's brewing picture; John Welsh, a brewer and John Hensman the chief engineer, and still stay in touch with some; Roger Wright from the brew house, the only man to blow up a yeast press, and Mick Leatherland, the sugarman who once left a valve open filling the floor with sugar and the building with wasps,

These days I’m still active in the bowling world and I go to annual Carlsberg reunions.
John and Susan Clipston today
John with other Phipps men on a tour of Guiness, Dublin

Peter Mauldon wrote:

I was employed as 3rd Brewer at Phipps South Brewery in 1966 and was perhaps the only brewer in those days who managed to gain acceptance in the sample rooms of both the North & South Breweries. This was nothing to do with my personality, it was just that I was accepted as an outsider and knew no better. The relationship at that time between the two breweries can only be described (in the nicest possible way) as feudal! I remained at the brewery until 1973 when I moved to brew in London. I was fortunate to spend 7 happy years in Northampton at Phipps NBC.

On Bill Urquhart's St. Helena adventure, I was the idiot back in the UK who on receipt of a telex (No telephone, fax, or internet) had to find second hand brewing plant from somewhere then get it shipped via Bristol to St Helena together with instructions on how I thought it might be assembled. The real problem was that the ship in question (The St Helena who I think still does this job) used to leave Bristol at six week intervals, thus mistakes were unforgiveable. Having got the brewery up and running Bill went back a year or two later and set up a bottling line. It has since closed down and in all probability now rests at the bottom of the Atlantic.

A bit about Phipps IPA. This was a cask conditioned bitter with an enormous following, and you would have described it as a drinkable beer! Whilst I was at Phipps I used to return in the winter months to my rural Suffolk to go shooting, I was also in receipt of a company beer allowance which I took with me, the custom being that all members brought along some beer which went into a community pot. Invariably the Phipps IPA was finished first. Particularly interesting as all the drinkers except me were out of the Phipps area.

I don’t remember any particular oddities but what I do remember and which I think was significant, was the use of a liquor (water) that came from a deep bore hole at the top of Victotia Promenade somewhere near to Northampton General. The peculiar point about this water was that you don’t get very good hop utilization, thus you have to use more hops per given barrel brewed. On the other side of the coin the beer drinks in a softer manner which may well have been its secret.

As to the water from Victoria Promenade, I’m sure Carlsberg did not come to Northampton because of the water. Water quality in terms of its salts content is a vital element in the brewing of any beer, just alter Calcium, Sodium, Sulphate, Chloride, Nitrate etc level in the brewing water and the flavour will be changed. On the other side of the coin it is easy and cheap to demineralise any water and add back those salts that are desirable for any particular beer.

I must congratulate you on the website I’ve spent an hour browsing this morning and its brought back some happy memories. I don’t think I have any memorabilia, I only have some pleasant memories.

Trevor Davies wrote:

I was brought up in Little Brington and my father had a regular delivery of Phipps IPA. All these years later we have 7 or 8 crates in good condition. We plan to use most of them in our kitchen. One crate we have out is Oct 63 but there are several others..

I imagine he would have had them delivered from the Saracens Head (still in Brington) as I don't recall the brewery delivering, he was just a private customer. What came next? Horrors, there was a red barrel thing with a pressurised dispenser from Watney's I presume.

Well, it is certainly good to hear that Phipps is going to be available again, good luck in your re-launch. I now live near Hook Norton and I expect you know their beer. Somehow they came through without being taken over by anyone: I suspect because no one knew they were there. If you haven't done the HN brewery tour, I can recommend it.

Hi, I had my first pint of Phipps IPA in the Admiral Hornblower on Sunday. OUTSTANDING!!! Is all I can say. Manythanks for reviving this superb beer.

Regards Paul Nichols, 11-08-09
Andrew Stretton wrote:

Just thought this may be of interest. I bought this crate at a car boot sale in Hampshire for storing my albums in. It is in very good condition, I googled the name and found your superb site.
The Barleycorn trip boat tied up by the brewery wharf, decked out in Phipps Brewery livery. Sent in by Jim Payler

Jim Payler wrote:

Competition, or was it animosity, existed between the two brewers before amalgamation. Both pubs here in Blisworth were owned by Phipps but my father was a NBC driver and his mate I believe, was Bert Battison from Brafield. I seem to remember they used Morris Commercial lorries with Duralium fittings for lightness, his vehicle was no 17 garaged nightly at
Weston St., using pigs and ropes for cellar work. They were given a daily beer allowance which he bought home for my grandfather as Dad preferred tea. He obtained cases of Stingo for one of the Towcester doctors. The children of employees were given a party at Christmas at the Plough Hotel. 

Other names I recollect were Brab. Baillon who lived at Canal house at Blisworth Arm, one of his activities was the Barleycorn trip boat. The boat was owned by Phipps NBC and Brab ran what we would now call booze cruises, whenever they cast off, they could start drinking.

Dave Blaygrove wrote:

I think the Northampton breweries gave up using boats for beer transport before the 1st World War. They invested in steam lorries for this, which, like the boats, enabled them to supply pubs much further afield than a horse dray could readily travel, but also meant that they weren't tied to canalside pubs.

I know for example that Phipps Brewery had the Admiral Nelson at Braunston as a tied house in the 19th Century and that they also supplied pubs such as "the Boat" at Stoke and "the Bridge" at Fenny Stratford. So far as malt and grain was concerned, this lasted longer, but I believe the Depression of the 1920s/30s caused them to look at road-borne sources. I am pretty certain that the trade had ceased by the beginning of the 2nd World War.

On the main line Guinness was carried from Park Royal to Birmingham until 1947, while milling grain was carried down the Arm to Wellingborough until April 1969.
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