The Three Brewers of Hinckley and District

Hinckley and District was the childhood home to three famous brewers, William Bass, William Butler and William Worthington.

William Bass (1717-1787)

William Bass was born in Castle End, Hinckley in 1717. The Bass Brewery was established in 1777 on High Street, Burton-upon-Trent.

william bass, bass brewery
Bass Brewery established in 1777.

1717 William Bass was born, he was the second son to William and Hannah Bass of Castle End (now Castle Street) in Hinckley, Leicestershire. William at the time ran a local plumbing and glazing business along with a small-holding in Hinckley.

1732 William was just 15 years old when his father died. William’s elder brother John succeeded his father’s business as a plumber and glazier, and William took on the running of the small-holding.

1754 William and John came together to establish a bi-directional carrier business that operated between Manchester and London.

1754 William took complete control of the carrier business as John wanted to stay in Hinckley concentrating on the original plumbing and glazing business that he had been left by his father.

1756 William married Mary Gibbons, she was the daughter of Michael Gibbons, an innkeeper and livery stable keeper at the Red Lion Inn in Holborn which was close the London depot his carrier business was delivering to. William and his wife Mary moved to Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, this was due to it being located at midpoint between Manchester and London. Burton-upon-Trent was becoming a growing industrial and commercial centre, it was also on a planned route of the Trent & Mersey Canal which would later be approved by Parliament in 1766.

William’s carrier business was going from strength to strength. Burton-upon-Trent had a strong presence in the manufacturing of felt hats and William started to deliver the felt hats along with spades, axes, screws as well as hardware for Thomas Thornewill’s works along New Street in Burton-upon-Trent and also for other manufacturers in the area, such as Richard Green.

The brewing industry at this time was growing in Burton-upon-Trent, William was shipping some of the casks of beer from the following: Joseph Clay, Henry Evans, Charles Leeson, Thomas Lovatt, William Musgrave and Samuel Sketchley.

1759 Michael Thomas, the first of two sons of William and Mary was born.

1765 William had become a well-established carrier proprietor, he was able to move his family from a modest house in Wetmore and leased a large house along High Street in Burton-upon-Trent.

1777 Now aged 60, William sold the carrier business to the Pickford family. With the funds from the sale, he purchased a substantial town house at 136 High Street in Burton-upon-Trent, which was built in 1750. The house was bought from Reverend John Hepworth and Nathaniel Dawson, who were customers of William’s carrier business. A brewery and malthouse was built on the adjoining land soon after.

The town house was advertised as follows:

A large capital, well-built and commodious Freehold Dwelling House on the East side of High Street.

Containing spacious hall, five large parlours, bed chamber, butler’s pantry on the lower floor; bed chambers on the second floor; attic storey.

Coach-house and stable for 8 horses, malt-house, brew-house, pigeon house, walled garden with fishponds.

Price £1,050

1777 The Bass Brewery was established.

1784 Until now the Bass Brewery were selling to the domestic market all over the United Kingdom, and now the brewery started to export to the Baltic ports in Russia (mainly Saint Petersburg) through the port of Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

2nd March 1787 William Died aged 70 and was buried locally in Burton-upon-Trent.

Both sons, Michael and William took over the Bass Brewery, with Michael taking on sole control later in 1795.

3rd June 2017 A Blue Plaque in the name of William Bass was unveiled along Castle Street in Hinckley, Leicestershire.