Celebrating 150th anniversary of Batemans Brewery

The Georgian Salem Bridge Mill stands proudly on the tree-lined horizon in Wainfleet – a reminder of the history behind the 150th anniversary of Bateman’s Brewery which is celebrated this year.

From the outside the changes that have secured the survival of the fiercely independent, family-owned company are not obvious amongst the historic charm of the site close to the town’s railway station.

However, in spite of the 32 community Lincolnshire pubs flying the flag of the brand – and 20 others across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Humberside and Yorkshire – much of the sales are now online.

Batemans was founded in 1874 by George Bateman, a local farmer who sold his farm in nearby Friskney in order to rent the brewery.

He bought the brewery equipment for £505 10s (roughly equivalent to £30,000 today) and a year later he bought the lease for £800.

Before he retired, Edwin Crowe, from whom Bateman had bought his equipment, passed on his knowledge of the craft to George and his wife Suzanna, who had had a little experience of home brewing.

Neil Hutchinson, IT Services manager at Bateman’s, has seen the changes unfold in the 35 years he has worked there.

"When I joined there were two receptionists takking orders on A4 sheets and I imported them on to a computer.

"Things have changed a lot since Mr George and his wife, Suzanna, started the business but the company has survived by staying ahead of the game and today our biggest business is ordering online and through our app.”

This has especially been true since the Covid pandemic when the Survival, Revival and Development plan was instigated. “I was one of the five members of staff fortunate enough to keep working through the pandemic through online orders and click and collect,” Neil explained.

“It proved really popular, especially the cick and collect as people were pleased to get out and speak to someone – distanced of course.

"No two days are the same – that’s the joy of working for a family business. One day you could be labelling bottles and it’s all hands to the pump.”

During the anniversary year the five generations of the Batemans’ brewing family will be celebrated with the launch of a new Five Generations 5G beer.

Stuart and Jaclyn Bateman are the present guardians of the Batemans brewing legacy, with Stuart and wife’s Rachael’s children Harri and Ed preparing to carry on the family tradition.

The brewer of 10,000 hectolitres of craft beer per year, Batemans has not only survived Covid, two World Wars and the keg beer revolution, but also a family dispute and hostile approaches that very nearly saw the business broken up and sold.

As part of the celebrations, carrying new branding along with the new cask beer, Five Generation (5G) 4.2% ABV beer brewed with only English hops; Harlequin, Fuggles and Olicana and local malts, there will be a year of celebrations including a Limited Edition bottled beer; ‘Tradition with Ambition’, a 7.8% beer which was brewed over 10 years ago and has been maturing in bottle.

There is also a new celebratory sparkling wine, 5G Blanquette de Limoux, which has been specially sourced from France, to add to the Batemans’ wine merchant’s, Ridlingtons, range.

Batemans head brewer, Buster Grant, is recommissioning the Victorian Brewhouse which has not been used for over 20 years. It is planned that the Victorian Brewhouse will be used to brew recipes from the archives and for collaboration brews with Blue Monkey and Buxton Brewery, who celebrating their 15th year anniversary.

Buster, who has been a brewer since 2,000, is a relatively new member of the team. “When I saw the opportunity I jumped at the chance,” he said. “It is a great honour to work for this family-run business with such a magnificent history. I consider myself a custodian with many brewers before me and many to come.”

Joey Leeman, one of 27 long-serving members of staff, has been working at Batemans for 44 years.

“Two days before I left school, I still had no job so I took a chance coming here and asking for work,” recalled Joey. “Three months later Mr George had taken me in with a full-time position, and that was over 40 years ago.

“What I’ve got now is thanks to George, really. This job has provided for me. It got my son through university, I’ve got my mortgage – I’ve got a nice steady lifestyle.

"There were times when other jobs tried to tempt me away, but I never left – and lots of those places have now gone under.

“I’ve always tried to follow the values of the company; Batemans has really strong family values. From day one I had dozens of father figures including Mr George – it never felt like I had ‘bosses’ so much as mentors and trainers.

“He was a gentleman, really. In the mid-80s it was a difficult time, and we didn’t know whether we’d still have employment, but he fought for us to keep our jobs, and we’re still here today.”

Batemans Brewery Managing Director Stuart Bateman said: “Brewing is the backbone of our business and we are looking forward to brewing new beers and collaborating with other breweries. We are exceptionally pleased of all we have achieved over the last 150 years and look forward to celebrating our past, but also in taking this opportunity to shout about our new achievements, from our new and modern branding to our fresh approach, which will set Batemans on a solid footing for another 150 years.”

Batemans Marketing Director Jaclyn Bateman said: “We are very proud of our past and looking forward to continuing our success. Tradition with Ambition perfectly sums up Batemans’ ethos and will be a theme running throughout our marketing this year.”

The celebrations will be in association with the charities, LIVES and Derbyshire Miners Skegness Children’s Home.