Ansells Brewery I

Aston, Birmingham, UK

Rebuilt 1957

The Disappointed Tourist: Ansells Brewery I, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

During World War I, a duty was placed on beer: Prime Minister Lloyd George famously said, “We are fighting Germany, Austria and Drink, and the greatest of these foes is Drink.” During World War II, the Ansells’ cellars served as air raid shelters. On the roof my grandfather, a cooper and fireman, did air raid duty being always impressed by the search lights and the noise of the anti-aircraft guns and attacking Luftwaffe planes.  David H.

The one that springs to mind connected to Dad would be Ansell’s brewery cellars, in Aston. He was taken down there as a boy during the war (his Dad worked there) and wrote down his experiences, saying it was actually a lot of fun. He was born in 1931 so he wouldn’t have had a clear sense of real danger, I think. Karen H.

Ansells Brewery was founded in 1857 by Joseph Ansell, a hop merchant and maltster at Aston Cross on the site of several artesian wells that provided the distinctive taste of Ansells,“the better beer.” A new bottling plant and stores were constructed in 1900 using the architects and consulting engineers Inskipp & MacKenzie. Expansions on the site were ongoing as the beer found a very ready acceptance. By the 1930s work started on a new brewery building that was finally completed in 1958, which closed in 1981. This painting is based on a print titled: “Messrs. Ansell’s Brewery Ltd., New Tun Rooms, Yeast Rooms & Cellars, Aston Brewery, Birmingham. 15th October 1906,” so it’s probably a bit different from Ansells as it was during World War II. I also painted the newer building because it was submitted also.