Gartside's beer - a blast from the past

Date Released - 25/05/2017

THE recipe for a popular beer once brewed by Ashton’s Gartside’s brewery is being revived – with a little help from the people of Tameside.

Portland Basin Museum is working with artist Magnus Quaife to brew a beer made using the same recipe as Old Tom, a strong, dark ale which was popular until the brewery closed in the 1960s.

Magnus explained: “I’ve teamed up with a local brewer, Millstone, who will be helping me to make and bottle some beer to the original Gartside’s Old Tom recipe.

“As well as wanting to hear from anyone who might be able to shed some light on the ingredients, I would also love to hear from people who have memories of Gartside’s and its beers.”

The name of Gartside’s Old Tom is reputedly either a reference to Capt Thomas Gartside, a relative of John Gartside senior who founded the brewery, or the head horse-keeper, Thomas Bell, who served the company from 1876 until his death in 1907.

“This is a different beer from the Old Tom brewed today by Stockport’s Robinson’s brewery. I believe that if a recipe for the Gartside’s version is to be found it will be either at the National Brewery Museum Archives in Burton, or with the family of Mr Lucas, a former head brewer,” added Magnus.

The new brew will be called Old Thomas Bell, named after the brewery’s head horse-keeper.

As well as piecing together the recipe and brewing the beer, Magnus will be collecting stories from anyone who has memories of Gartside’s brewery and the drinks it produced. These will be included in a zine which will be published later in the year, at the same time as the revived beer is launched.

People are also invited to attend a series of free workshops at Portland Basin Museum, Ashton, where they can work with Magnus Quaife to create posters inspired by the area’s brewing history. Elements of the artwork will then be used to create labels for the new bottles of Old Tom.

Rachel Cornes, manager at Portland Basin Museum, said: “Gartside’s was one of the biggest brewers in the region and it employed a lot of people. There must be thousands of who remember the brewery or drank the beer.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to do something different here at the museum and to celebrate a part of Tameside’s past which was so significant in its heyday.”

Anyone who has memories of Gartside’s Brewery can get in touch with Portland Basin Museum on (0161) 343 2878 or via e-mail:

The workshops with Magnus Quaife will take place at Portland Basin from 11am to 3pm on Tuesday, June 27; Wednesday, July 12; Wednesday, August 2; and Wednesday, August 16.

More information is available at

The project is part of Meeting Point2, a year-long project led by contemporary art specialists Arts&Heritage. Leading UK and international artists have partnered with 10 museums in Yorkshire, the North West and the North East to produce new artworks inspired by the museums and their collections. Funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund, Meeting Point2 presents artworks in unexpected places and supports small and medium scale museums to commission artists, who will create a piece of work in response to the venue.

For more information about Meeting Point2, visit

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