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 Butler (1843-1907)

William Butler was born at New Buildings, Hinckley during 1843. The Mitchells & Butlers Brewery was established in 1898, at Cape Hill in Smethwick, Birmingham.

william butler, mitchells and butlers brewery
Mitchells & Butlers Brewery established in 1898.

13th March 1843 William was born in a house (no longer standing) at 40 New Buildings in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The house was rented by his mother and father, Robert and Mary Ann Butler for 2/- a week. His father was a stocking maker and shirt maker.

William spent his childhood years in and around Hinckley.

1858 William now aged 16 moved from Hinckley to live in Birmingham, to a house owned by the elderly Thomas Beckett and Phoebe Sillitoe. The house was along Broad Street close to The Crown Inn. His first job was as a hairdresser's assistant in St. Martin's Place, and he supplemented his income as an evening barman at The Crown Inn.

19th February 1866 He married Mary Ewing, of Dumbarton, Scotland at Carrs Lane Chapel in Birmingham. The William Butler and Co. Ltd. was founded when William acquired the London Works Tavern along Grove Lane, serving beers to thirsty factory workers in Smethwick.

14th December 1866 William and Marys first child, William Waters, was born.

17th August 1870 Henry Alexander was born, the second child and son of William and Mary.

1876 He went in partnership with George Owen who was his brother-in-law, together they established a new commercial brewery that was named ‘Crown Brewery’. The brewery was built on the site of the old Crown Inn in Broad Street, Birmingham, where they produced up to 5,000 barrels of beer a week.

26th June 1876 Clara was born, the third child and first daughter of William and Mary.

26th March 1878 Albert Edward was born, the fourth child and third son of William and Mary.

1881 William solely carried on with the business as a wholesale brewer and solely took on the ownership of premises at Broad Street and King Edward’s Place in Birmingham.

19th September 1885 Nellie was born, the fifth child and second daughter of William and Mary.

1898 William amalgamated his business with Henry Mitchell’s Brewery ‘Henry Mitchell & Co.’ of Oldbury Road in Smethwick, Birmingham which consisted of over 200 public houses. The ‘Mitchells & Butlers Ltd.’ Brewery was established and moved to the seven-acre site at Cape Hill in Smethwick, Birmingham, which had better facilities and also included a water supply from its artesian well. The merger would become one of the greatest commercial undertakings within the Midlands.

1899 Further expansion to the business as Vulcan Brewery of Alfred Homer Ltd., along Tower Road, Aston, Birmingham was purchased.

29th November 1899 Williams wife Mary died, she was buried in a vault at Key Hill Cemetery in Birmingham.

1900 J. Evans Brewery Ltd., in Perry Barr, Birmingham was acquired resulting in expanding the business further.

1900 As a result of the success of Mitchells & Butlers Ltd., the seven-acre site at Cape Hill was enlarged to 60 acres. This would be further enlarged in 1914 to 90 acres and the company would employ more than a 1,000 people.

1904 During the early part of the year, William’s father Robert died aged 96, at the time he was living at 2 London Road Terrace in Hinckley. Robert was buried with his wife Mary Ann at St. Catherine’s Churchyard in Burbage, close to Hinckley. On his tombstone is inscribed, ‘He lived to be the oldest inhabitant of his native town.

24th August 1907 William died aged 64 at Elmdon, Selly Park, Birmingham.

28th August 1907 William was so well liked by all classes of the community, crowds of people lined the whole length of the streets of the route his cortege would take. The route started at William’s home at Elmdon to Key Hill Cemetery in Hockley, Birmingham. He was laid to rest in the same vault as his wife.

29th August 1907 It was estimated that 10,000 people visited Key Hill Cemetery to mark their respect. There were hundreds of floral tributes that had been sent by relatives and friends to show their respect and condolences.

William Butler was known for his support of charities, he always took in Friendly Societies. He was a Trustee for a number of Trade and Money Clubs. William was selected to lay the Foundation Stone at the Foresters’ Convalescent Home at Clent, Worcestershire.

3rd June 2017 A Blue Plaque in the name of William Butler was unveiled at The Greyhound, New Buildings in Hinckley, Leicestershire.

birth place of william butler
36-38 New Buildings is thought to be the cottage where William Butler was born in 1843. Photo taken by Hinckley Times in 1983.