Hook Norton through the ages

The world of hook norton brewery

independent family owned brewery

Throughout the brewery’s history there have been many people involved in the strategic development of the brewery and in its day to day running. The board has, at times, had significant additional input from people outside the family, but the thread of family involvement has been continuous to the present day.

 

independent family owned brewery

John Harris

1824 - 1887

John Harris, originally a farmer, moved to Hook Norton in 1849, purchasing a farm of 52 acres in part of the village known as Scotland End. Included in the sale of the farm was a malthouse, which was already supplying village brewers with malt. At this time, there were many small time brewers in the village and John Harris started to supply them with hops as well. Although it is thought that he had been brewing his own beer for some time, his commercial brewing appears to have started in 1856. Over the next thirty years, the brewery steadily increased in size with sales expanding both locally and further afield, combined with the start of the pub estate. He died in 1887.

independent family owned brewery
independent family owned brewery

John Henry Harris

1861 - 1934

In his will, John Harris set up a trust to run the business, rather than leaving it outright to his son John Henry, although his reasons for this are not clear. John Henry was involved in the business, and in fact became the longest serving family member in the brewery, but he did not take a leading role and may have been content to work under John Harris’ nephews Walter Bowl and Alban Clarke who had been trained up to manage the business

independent family owned brewery
independent family owned brewery

Alban Clarke

1858 - 1917

Alban Clarke was John Harris’ nephew and, in later years, married John’s eldest daughter. He had been a Manager at the brewery since the 1860s and it was he who was to play a leading part in the future of the brewery. Alban Clarke was instrumental in the building of the new brewery as it is today, raising nearly £20,000 to pay for the work. In 1913 Alban took a step back to become working director in charge of brewing but it was still a great shock to the Brewery and to the village when he died suddenly whilst out cycling on a fishing trip in March 1917.

independent family owned brewery
independent family owned brewery

Bill Clarke

1904 - 1982

As Bill Clarke was only 13 at the time of his father’s death, it would be some years before he could take his place in the family firm. In 1928 however, he did enter the brewery working in a number of different positions under Managing Director Percy Flick and he took his place on the board in 1934. Due to changes in family shareholdings, Bill oversaw the introduction of another backer into the business in the form of the Gilchrist family who owned the Burtonwood Brewery at Warrington. This proved to be a good partnership with the two families developing a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

independent family owned brewery
independent family owned brewery

David Clarke

1941 - 2004

As a young boy, David grew up in and around Hook Norton but like others before him he went to another brewery (in this case, the Gilchrist’s Burtonwood brewery) to learn his trade. After fifteen months he returned to Hook Norton in 1960 to work under his father’s guidance and in 1981 he succeeded his father as Managing Director.

independent family owned brewery
independent family owned brewery

James Clarke

1971 - 2017

James Clarke joined the family business in 1991 and became Head Brewer in 1998. Upon the death of his father in 2004, James followed in his family’s tradition and became Managing Director, a position that he continues to hold. In 2012 James became Managing Director (Brewing). This has allowed James to return to the position of Head Brewer as well as retaining his involvement in the overall management of the business.

independent family owned brewery