Joule’s Brewery

I’m returning, today, to that canal trip in 1975. Back then it was still possible to see how industry had grown up by the canal because in the early nineteenth century, canals had been the main transport arteries.

Joule’s Brewery, at Stone in Staffordshire, was certainly canal-side. The canal in question was the one that linked the east and west coasts of England – the Trent and Mersey Canal.

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There is the brewery, or more correctly a warehouse, forming one bank of the canal. We can see pleasure craft lined up in the distance on the left bank.

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And there’s the sign telling us that this was where Joule’s Stone Ales were produced and stored. Not everyone likes industrial buildings but some are wonderful. I particularly like the gentle curve, to fit the canal, that this building has.

The business opened on this site in the 1780s. The canal had opened in 1777 so clearly Francis Joule was quick to see the benefits of a canal-side business. The brewery was bought out by a large company in the 1970s. They promptly closed it and demolished much of Joule’s old brewery. That canal-side warehouse survived, however.

As an aside, another member of the same Joule family was James Prescott Joule. He became a leading physicist and the standard unit of energy, the joule, is named after him because of the time he spent researching heat and mechanical energy.

As a second aside, most of the English canal network is far from industrial. Canals wind their way through gentle rolling countryside, for the most part and are attractive scenically.

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There’s a gentle, reflective scene on the same trip near Tixall Broad where the canal widens out into a lake. This was done, probably, to keep a landowner happy. This is actually on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal but is only about ten miles from Stone.

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