Thomas Dutton and Duttons Brewery

by Gordon Hartley
In 1799 Dutton's brewery was established  by Thomas Dutton and his son William. The land on which it was situated at Salford had been demised by the Vicar of Blackburn in 1797 to Robert Bannister. It is believed that the Duttons leased the land from him. The business was known as Thomas Dutton and Son. In 1802 Bannister he sold some of the land on which the brewery and a dwelling stood to Samuel Hilton. In 1807 George Haworth entered into partnership with the Duttons. Hilton then resold the land to the partners in Duttons.
Thomas Dutton died in 1815 and the business was carried on by his son William. When he died intestate in 1827, the business passed to his son Thomas who was a minor at the time. Thus the firm was taken over by trustees. In 1853 John Tattersall who had married Esther, William's daughter, was taken into partnership by Thomas Dutton.
In 1871 Thomas died, leaving his estate to his sisters, Mary Dutton and Betsy Pickop. His share in Thomas Dutton and Son was acquired by John Tattersall, making him the sole owner.In 1872 he took his brother William of Milnthorpe into partnership. The name of the firm was changed to Dutton & Co. William did not take an active part in the management until his brother's death in 1878,when he became sole proprietor.
In 1889 control was handed over to William Tattersall's son-in-law George Whiteley. In 1896 William Tattersall died and his daughter, the wife of George Whiteley inherited the business. The business became a limited company three months after William's death.
In the 1920's, small breweries had had their day and Duttons started to acquire other local breweries. In 1928, the Blackburn Brewery Co. Ltd. was purchased. This company had previously taken over Horsfall's Brewery of Brierfield and Crabtree's Brewery of Clitheroe.
In 1929 Duttons acquired John Mercer Ltd. of Adlington. In 1936 they took control of Kirkstall Brewery of Leeds.
Further takeovers and name changes occurred over the years. In 1938 after a reflotation, the name changed to Dutton's Lancashire and Yorkshire Brewery Corporation Ltd.In 1947 the company purchased the share capital of Jonas Alexander & Sons of Kendal.
In 1963 Dutton opened offices on High Street. Soon after Whitbreads acquired Duttons.1978 saw the last beer brewed by Duttons. Demolition of the brewery followed in 1986.

The site is now occupied by Morrison's supermarket.

Duttons Chr​​onology

Chronological notes

1779 20th September. The Vicar of Blackburn demised a plot of land Robert Bannister, on part of which the Salford Brewery ( Dutton's) was built.

1799. Thomas Dutton & his son William established the firm as Thomas Dutton & Son in Bow Street Blackburn.

1802 22nd July. Robert Bannister sold his interest in the land to Samuel Hilton.

1807 21st September. George Haworth entered into partnership with Thomas & William Dutton.

1807 30th September. Samuel Hilton sold the land occupied by the brewery to the three partners.

1815 10th June. Thomas Dutton died.

1827 15th September. William Dutton died intestate, and the business passed to his son Thomas, a minor.

1842 13th October. John Tattersall married Esther Dutton daughter of the late William Dutton.

1853 1st January. Thomas Dutton took his brother-in-law, John Tattersall, into partnership.


1871 21st August. Thomas Dutton died, leaving his estate in trust for his sisters Mary Dutton and Mrs Betsey Pickop.

1872 John Tattersall took his brother, William Tattersall, of Milnthorpe, into partnership.

1876 5th April. John Tattersall purchased the interest in the brewery of the late Thomas Dutton.

1878 21st September. John Tattersall died, leaving the residue of his including the brewery, to his brother, William Tattersall.

1889 William Tattersall handed over control of the brewery to his son-in-law George Whiteley.

1896 15th November. William Tattersall died, and the brewery was left to his daughter, Mrs George Whiteley.


1897 23rd November. Company refloated  by a London syndicate under the name of Dutton's Blackburn Brewery Ltd.

1928 15th July. Purchase of the Blackburn Brewery Co. which incorporated Crabtree's Brewery Clitheroe, & Horsfall's Brewery Brierfield, Blackburn.

1928 10th October. Reflotation of Dutton's Blackburn Brewery Ltd.

1929 28th March. Purchase of John Mercer Ltd., of Adlington.

1936 5th July. Control purchased of Kirkstall Brewery Co Ltd. and of its subsidiaries, Albion Brewery (Leeds) Ltd. and Willow Brewery Co. Ltd.

1937 20th January. The Clifton Arms (Lytham) Ltd. purchased.

1937 15th November. Flotation of Dutton's Lancashire & Yorkshire Property Corporation Ltd.

1938 11th November. Richard Seed & Co. Ltd. of Radcliffe purchased.

1938 5th December. Reflotation of Dutton's Lancashire & Yorkshire Brewery Corporation Ltd.

1947 1st April. Purchase of share capital of Jonas Alexander & Son Ltd., of Kendal.   


1961 A new Rolls-Royce car with the registration plate of OBJ 1,was supplied to Managing Director Clifford Brown.

1963 September.  Dutton's office block on High Street, Blackburn opened.

1964 Whitbreads acquired Dutton's Brewery.

1978 Duttons brewed its last beer in Blackburn.

1986 Office block on High Street, Blackburn was demolished.

Morrison’s supermarket now stands on the site where Dutton’s brewery once stood.

Dutt​ons Residences 

The Dutton’s residence and brewery on Bow Street Blackburn .

According to Baines Directory of 1824 William Dutton was living at 3, Bow Street, and was described a brewer. William and his father Thomas set up the brewery in 1799.
Thomas Dutton was born in Clitheroe around 1750. His son William was born in June 1780. A daughter Martha was born in November 1782.
Ivy Bank, 1, West Park Road, Blackburn. Thomas Dutton had this house built around 1870. 
 The close-up photograph shows the ornate doorway.


Deaths of the Duttons

 Blackburn Times 2nd September 1871 page 4, col 5
Blackburn Times 6th June 1885
Blackburn Times 20th June 1891 page 6, col 3
 jPage 42.jpg
​Picture of the grave of Thomas Dutton.
GRAVE C/E. A 19-20

Thomas Dutton son of William and Betty Dutton, died 27th August aged 52. Place of death: Ivy Bank, Blackburn.

Mary Dutton died 1st June 1885.

Mrs Betsey Pickop died June 1891.

Mary and Betsey also died at the residence of Ivy Bank, 1 West Park Road, Blackburn.
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This sign was on a building on Whalley Banks, King Street Blackburn.

Another well known sign was the neon O.B.J. sign. OBJ stood for "Oh be Joyful" and was a strong bottled beer.
Two Dutton's public houses where the OBJ sign could be seen were the Lord Nelson on the corner of Penny Street and Salford Blackburn, and the New Inn at Rishton.
Just one of a range of beer mats produced by Duttons to advertise their beers.

The Autobiography of Michael Walmsley: Dutton's Blackburn Brewery​

The first hint for me that there was a family link to the brewery was on my birth certificate of 22nd July 1943. It stated my father was Herbert Walmsley, Lance Corporal, 7381729, Royal Army Medical Corps (Brewery salesman).

But let me begin at the very beginning (a very good place to start) and introduce you to his father. Leonard Walmsley was born at 27 Hope street, Blackburn in 1886. His first job was as a potato dealers carter, but, by 1911, he was shown as a lorry driver for the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway at Blackburn station. By 1916, he had graduated to being a chauffeur and motor mechanic and here his links with Dutton's began. In 1917, he is a “chauffeur – non domestic”. By this time, he is married and lives at 16 Hope street.

Around 1920, he seems to have been offered the job as manager of Fylde Direct mineral waters – probably a Dutton's organisation (see note) – but this involved a move to St Annes and the 1921 census shows him in digs with wife and son and employed as such. In 1924 he would commission the building of his home just across the road from Fylde Direct on St. David's Road South.

Companies House regretfully do not have details of Fylde Direct Mineral Waters, just the following – company reference 135270 – name changed to Premier Bottling company and dissolved in 1976. I assume Dutton's were the launchers or simply shareholders of this limited company but more information is needed.

The function of the company was to supply and refill soda syphons; supplying them to local outlets. Soda syphons were a familiar sight on the bars of most hostelries where customers helped themselves. Each syphon carried a deposit of 5 shillings (25p).

My grandfather ran the business from his home across the road​ for many years up to his death in 1950 .

I have a view, possibly wrong, and would welcome more information, that Dutton's were either a major shareholder in the company, had taken over the company and may even have floated it in 1913. The answer may lie in the library in St. Annes and their archive copies of The St. Annes Express. Any volunteers to do research of 1913 and 1976 copies?! Or even in the Blackburn equivalent?

And so, we move on to my father Herbert. He was born at 16 Hope street, Blackburn on 17th ​April 1917. When he left school, around 1930, he seems to have been employed by Dutton's as a junior salesman. He was living in St. Annes at the time and was an active member of the St John's Ambulance. In the 1939 Register, he is recorded as “salesman – mineral water”, so, he was working for his Dad as a Dutton's employee. In 1941, he signed up with the Army Medical Corps and saw service in Europe and in Norway, after the cease fire.

After relegation to army reserve, Dutton's offered him and my mother, the tenancy of the Dutton's Off licence and public house at 161 Lytham Road , Blackpool. The building is still there with the tall arch of the delivery bay still in evidence. The public bar was quite small. The upstairs accommodation was quite spacious. We lived there from 15th October 1946 until March 1947. A short appointment indeed but the brewery had better things lined up for him.

Dutton's offered my father the tenancy of the Park Road Inn in Preston (sadly now gone) and the family took up residence there in March 1947. The inn was a typical domestic ale house frequented mostly by men. Beer was the main commodity. There were living quarters above the pub. There was a typical beer cellar accessed by a steep staircase with the smell of beer barrels percolating upwards!

It was this staircase that led to my Father's death. One day, he fell from top to bottom and had to be taken to Preston Royal. It was there that he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and was transferred to a specialist cancer hospital in Crosby where he died a painful death on 3rd November 1948. He had been tenant of the Park Road Inn for just18 months. Family memories were always that the tumour was as a result of the fall but my view is that it was the tumour that caused the fall. I was just 5 years old​ when he died and do not remember him. My family never talked about him, and, for both my mum and my gran, it was a trauma that would take years to heal.

My widowed mother was still a Dutton's employee and she was offered a transfer back to St. Annes -  she had taken up residence with her mother-in-law, Nancy, opposite Fylde Direct in St. David's Road South. She was put on the staff of the St. Anne​s Hotel in St. Annes square in 1949 and finished up as manageress of the hotel off-licence and order office which was housed in a small property next to the hotel. The site is now the home of Iceland.

The order office was a thriving business, taking orders from the many hotels and boarding houses in town. Off sales were good with shelves stacked with the usual Dutton's beers, wines and spirits. And, there was a lively trade in soda syphons! She worked there until around 1960 – presumably when the St. Annes hotel was sold. She received a Dutton's pension for the rest of her life.

And so ends my family connections to Duttons. Cheers! The directors of the brewery were quick to acknowledge the deaths of my father and grandfather and even sent flowers to my mother on Herbert's death. Oh Be Joyful…….!

With thanks to Michael Walmsley for sharing his memories of his family's connections to Dutton's.
Published March 2022