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George Bateman

George BatemanIn 1874 my wife Suzanna and I decided to sell our farm in the nearby village of Friskney and rent a small brewery in Wainfleet. For £505-10s (equivalent to £30,000 in today's terms) we purchased the brewery equipment from Edwin Crowe and a year later, with some financial difficulty, we bought out the lease for £800.

Apart from the beer that Suzanna would brew in our kitchen in Friskney, while baking the bread for us to consume after a hard day on the land, neither of us had very much knowledge on either brewing or the business of running a brewery.

Fortunately Edwin Crowe passed on all he knew before he retired. His brewer was not ready for retirement and despite being blind, some say from excess drink (not that I am one to spread rumours), stayed with us for several more years.

The brewer, unfortunately I cannot remember his name but for now we will call him Mr. Maltshovel, had an acute sense of smell and taste, hardly surprising after all the years of practice his taste buds had had. He would check the temperature by sticking his elbow into the fermenting vessel.

The original brewery was based just by the railway, however in 1880 I decided we had enough money to buy a Georgian house that had come on the market about 200 yards away, Salem House. Suzanna and I moved in and built a brewery in the coach houses. We not only brewed beer but also bottled whisky, rum and gin. Suzanna also went back to baking bread, which we sold with the beer to supplement our income.

Fortunately Suzanna was a very good cook. On Fair Day, which was held twice a year, the farmers would come to Salem House to pay for the beer their workers had consumed during the previous six months. It was very common for this payment not to be in cash, but in meat and potatoes. Once payment had been made, we would invite the farmers into our kitchen for a massive feast. This tradition continued until 1930.

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