Brewery Restoration

The world of hook norton brewery

Brewery Restoration

Hook Norton Brewery Chimney Project                                                

In April 2014, the Brewery was awarded £90,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve & repair one of the Grade II listed chimneys attached to the main brewery building. The project, Hooked on Tradition: Accessing Hook Norton’s Brewery Heritage, also included a programme of activities and events to make improvements to the Museum and raise awareness of the Brewery heritage.

The work to repair and conserve the chimney began in the summer of 2014. Designing and building the scaffolding was particularly challenging due to the restricted access at the base of the chimney. The top half of the chimney had become fragile due to its age and original construction methods. Much of the mortar had been lost leaving the structure at risk. Large-scale coal burning up until the 1970s meant that the chimney had been exposed to acid-sulphur flue gases since their construction in the 1890s.

Ferrous metal hoops originally placed in the chimney to provide structural support had expanded due to corrosion. These hoops were typically used in industrial architecture of the mid-1800s. The expansion of the hoops had pushed the brickwork apart.

The work involved removing the brickwork down to the plinth approximately two thirds of the way up the chimney. The blue Fletton bricks were carefully removed and painstakingly cleaned so that they could be re-used where possible. The top third of the chimney was then rebuilt. The original stone capping at the top had been lost at some point previously and the chimney capping was partially rebuilt in the 1970s. During the project we found some old photographs which showed the stone capping so we were able to reinstate this, restoring the silhouette of the Victorian Tower Brewery and its two chimneys.  

The building work was carried out by Midland Building Services under instruction from Solid Structures. Midland employed an apprentice from the Blackbird Leys campus of Abingdon and Witney College. Unusually a volunteer brickwork student from Abingdon and Witney College also contributed to the work in the early stages. This was part of the HLF project and designed to offer work experience to students of the brickwork course.


Bricked up entrance   Before dismantling     Scaffolding                 Rusted ferrous ties     English Bond brickwork


Wire reinforcing         Decorative grating     Stone capping            Sun on capping          After conservation


Completed chimney  Flue post conservation Brewery after project

As part of the project a group of volunteers worked with Film Oxford to make a film about the Brewery, featuring the heritage of the site and the chimney. The volunteers, all local people who applied to take part, learned filming and editing techniques to produce a short film. The resulting film is an atmospheric journey through the present and past of Hook Norton Brewery.

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