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Ale and Hearty - A social and agricultural history of Brewing in Lewes, East Sussex. A heritage photo book celebrating a tale of ale!
22 backers pledged £496 to help bring this project to life.

About

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£496

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The book

"Wine is but single broth, ale is meat, drink, and a cloth." - 16th century English proverb.

To design and print 300-500 copies of this bright A5 30-40 page book with vintage colour images, chronicling and detailing the lost brewing history of Lewes, East Sussex, a county town which once hosted nine breweries and is now home only to one - Harveys Brewery, a respected Sussex brewery.

It will contain extracts from oral histories we have recorded with local brewers, hop pickers, draymen, and historians to bring this heritage to life and show personal memories of the changing face of microbrewing and ale production in the Lewes area.

It will also showcase 19th century photographic images recently unearthed of hop picking in Sussex from the East Sussex County Council Libraries Service - Hastings reference library, which have now been digitised from the original glass plates.

As well as collating and contextualising existing material, it will bring together new images, text and memories to really vitalise this history. We will also be adding a section aimed at educational support for local schools related to the industrial and agricultural wealth of the area.

There are significant benefits of a hard copy book for this project - It will encourage accessibility for all to explore and learn about this fascinatingly rich heritage. This book will be the first of its kind to bring together such images with personal testimony in this format - unique heritage captured. It should be noted too that this book will become an important addition to local libraries, archives, schools.

This forms part of a wider project from arts and heritage organisation Strike a Light, which started in January 2013 and lasts for 12 months.

What is the wider Ale and Hearty project about?

The Ale and Hearty project focuses on the history of brewing in Lewes and its related industrial and agricultural links from the 18th Century to the present day, a period of some 200 years. It focuses on the community of Lewes; working life in relation to Breweries, agricultural workers and rural life and trades. It also links in with abstinence and religious culture locally at the time, as well as a clear relation between trades and society through social clubs.

Breweries, a history

The Lewes breweries also made ginger beer, a non-alcoholic drink popular with young people and teetotallers. ‘Lewes is famous for having its own brewer, Harvey’s, which has been open since 1790 and still continues to make beer today. Still run by the Harvey family, the brewery is the last of the town’s original 19th Century breweries’. These breweries were the Southdown Brewery, Lyells, Beards Brewery, Harvey’s, Verralls, Ballards, and the Bear Yard Brewery. This book will document these dynasties and record their importance locally.

Brewing originated as an everyday domestic activity needed to produce a liquid that was most people’s staple drink 'small beer'. In the medieval era, brewing on the largest scale was carried out in monasteries such as in Lewes Priory. By the 18th century the more formal, purpose-built brewhouse had become an integral part of the offices typically found at the large country house. Country house breweries (such as Beards Brewery), were still being built in the mid 19th century, and this type of brewing carried on regularly until the early years of the 20th century. In addition, Lewes was famous for the production of ginger beer, a non-alcoholic beverage popular with young people and teetotallers.

This industry was created by a robust rural agricultural trade, that of growing hops, barley and brewing malt, locally in 'The Maltings' building (now East Sussex Record Office). Lewes wasn't an important industrial centre, its inhabitants being largely concerned with agriculture. But the vogue of Lewes as a residential and marketing centre made brewing a profitable industry and led to the establishment of a good many breweries and inns. Of these in 1765 the chief were The Star and The White Hart, but the White Horse, Dog, White Lion, Ship, Castle, Dolphin, Crown, and Lewes Arms.

Related industry resulting from this trade locally included Blacksmith trades, Coopers, Malthouse workers, coppersmiths, brewery engineers, brewery architects, and local agricultural workers. This, therefore focuses on lifestyle, social history, architecture and the industrial revolution, where there was a clear relation between trades and society with work beanos, social clubs and trades unions surrounding this.There is a strong affection for local brewing shown through CAMRA membership, regional beer and ale festivals and a side effect of membership of the towns many Bonfire societies who all have ‘home’ pubs for meetings and tradition’s sake.

This is a subject rich in potential archive material which reflects national as well as local trends. It gives a profound insight to the changes in society from the time of the industrial revolution to the present day. This book will support and facilitate the archival and contextualisation of material related to the social history of brewing. Archival material includes existing photos, business ledgers and records, deeds of title, written text and contracts available at East Sussex Record Office, Sussex Past and Access to Archives.

In terms of official recognition of heritage, Harvey's Brewery is a Grade II* listed building. Harveys Brewery in Lewes is the oldest brewery in Sussex, dating back to 1790 and is a key partner in this project. Its rich heritage is passionately carried through to the present day. Beard's Brewery is a Grade II listed building, and Beard's Brewery Store is also a Grade II listed property in Lewes. In addition the Old Brewery House is Grade II listed. East Sussex Record Office, a partnership organisation for this project is based in The Maltings building in Lewes, itself a Grade II listed building. This project would link these buildings together, celebrating this industrial architecture.

Aims

To create and celebrate a shared record of brewing history in Lewes

To bring alive a sense of shared ownership, pride and identity about local historic and cultural heritage to the wider Lewes community

To provide opportunities to creatively share knowledge, skills and experience across generations

To celebrate and record 'lost' heritage skills from brewery life and agriculture

To show the impact of agriculture on brewing and industry and vice versa

To document, disseminate and archive oral skills and traditions from older people so that they are recorded for perpetuity, valued and not lost, specifically in rural areas.

To encourage learning around alcohol awareness for young people

To encourage the local community to participate in their heritage through reminiscence activities, photographic collections and exhibitions

To generate life-long learning in an accessible and participatory way

To generate and gather new archive material for East Sussex Record Office and Lewes Library for learning and community engagement

To provide a creative and accessible educational resource which can be used by future young people

To enhance and contextualise the archival records on Lewes brewing history at East Sussex Record Office to increase accessibility to the collections at a local; and national level through exhibition, information dissemination, and additional material.

Risks and challenges

All content for this book has been collated already or is in the process of being collected, so the costs requested through Kickstarter are to cover production of the book only. This means that assuming we can raise the small amount of funding requested, the book will be able to be printed by early to mid January 2014 ready for dissemination by January 25th 2014.

We have a dedicated freelancer (Dr Sam Carroll) in an already funded post who is about to start working on this part of the project which gives 4 months to compile and collate all the information, text and photos for this book prior to design and print so we don't forsee any challenges in this aspect.

The wider Ale and Hearty project from Strike a Light has a strong Steering Group of six professionals, including the Chief Executive of Harveys Brewery which meets monthly and is there specifically to advise on the project and support it, so should any unforeseen issues arise, there are a great level of knowledgeable people to tackle them.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    An invite to the Ale and Hearty project celebration on 18th January 2014 with film showing, ale tasting, competition prizes, and exhibition, and an acknowledgement on our organisation website

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £20 or more About $25

    An invite to the Ale and Hearty project celebration on 18th January 2014 with film showing, ale tasting and exhibition, a set of 6 bespoke project postcards, an acknowledgement in the book, and on our organisation website.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £30 or more About $38

    An invite to the Ale and Hearty project celebration on 18th January 2014 with film showing, ale tasting and exhibition, a copy of the Tale of Ale film, a copy of the Ale and Hearty Book, a set of 6 bespoke project postcards, an acknowledgement in the book, and on our organisation website.

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £50 or more About $64

    An invite to the Ale and Hearty project celebration in January 2014, a copy of the Ale and Hearty book, an edition of our specially created 18 minute short film recording memories of brewing in East Sussex, a set of 6 bespoke project postcards, a copy of all Ale and Hearty oral history recordings about this theme, an acknowledgement in the book, and on our organisation website. Plus a surprise gift!

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Funding period

- (30 days)