Report - - The Robert Cain Brewery, Liverpool - June 2015 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Robert Cain Brewery, Liverpool - June 2015


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The Robert Cain Brewery, Liverpool.

A spur of the moment visit with Speed, and a satisfying end to an already productive day.


The history:

The Cains brewery was founded by Irishman Robert Cain in 1858 when he bought an established brewery. Cain had begun his brewing career aged 24 when he purchased a pub and brewed his own ales. Within 25 years of founding his brewery, Cain had established 200 pubs, including the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, the Vines and the Central Commercial Hotel, which are currently listed as being of architectural merit. His personal mansion had each window arch inscribed with his monogram. In 1887 construction began on a second brewery.

In 1921, 14 years after Cain's death, the Cains brewery merged with Peter Walker and Co of Warrington, becoming Walker Cains. Then in 1923 the original Stanhope Street Brewery was sold to Higsons, who continued to brew Cains ales. In 1985, Higsons was bought by Boddingtons of Manchester. Five years later Boddingtons opted to concentrate on pub ownership and sold all its breweries to Whitbread, at which point the Stanhope Street site was closed.

The Stanhope site with its modern canning lines had been heavily invested in under Boddingtons' ownership and appeared an attractive asset. It was acquired by the previous owners of Gee Bee Soft Drinks who had sold that business to Princes. The new owners re-established the business under the Robert Cain brand but most of their production was focused on production for supermarkets. Viewing Cains as a route into the UK market, Faxe Bryggeri A/S (now Royal Unibrew) acquired the company and invested in its ales and local pubs. Unlike its larger competitor Carlsberg, Faxe failed to crack the UK market and put Cains up for sale in 2002. It was acquired by the Dusanj brothers; the first Asian owners of a British brewery. At the time it had a turnover of £30 million.

A reverse takeover of AIM-listed pub operator Honeycombe Leisure plc was agreed by the company's board in June 2007, giving Cains access to Honeycombe's 109 outlets and their stock market listing. The company was renamed Cains Beer Company PLC. On 7 August 2008 the company was placed in administration due to unpaid tax and other debts amounting to £38 million. Negotiations with its bank failed to reach a conclusion that would have avoided administration. The brewery and eight original pubs have since bought back by the Dusanj brothers for £103,750. As the Dusanji family holds the freehold to the site and control the terms of any lease for brewery operation, no other buyer could be found.

In April 2013, Cains announced it would be ending contract brewing and supermarket beers in the summer and announced a redevelopment of the site for leisure and housing with a small craft brewery established to continue the Cains ales. However, In May 2013, Cains announced it had ceased brewing altogether and would seek a contract brewer for its ales until its craft brewery was built in the proposed redevelopment. 38 staff were made redundant. In the same month, Liverpool CAMRA reported that Cains was down to an estate of three pubs – the Brewery Tap, Dr Duncan's and The Dispensary.

Liverpool City Council granted planning permission for what was to become known as the Cains Brewery Village in November 2013. This was described as a tourism, leisure and retail attraction. The first phase is expected to be completed by summer 2016. The million square foot site will include a 94-bedroom hotel, cinema, bistro bar, restaurants and an open-plan retail hall for artisan food producers.

In January 2014, Cains was reported to have arranged for small quantities of its beers to be contract-brewed for export and sale in its small pub estate. The contract brewery was not cited.

This is up there as one of my favourite explores so far this year, not so much because of the place (whilst admittedly it is a stunning building it's a little stripped for my liking), but because of the absurdity of the explore itself.

After Winnington we hopped over the river to Liverpool to check on a couple of leads, not really expecting to actually get in anywhere. Pulling up outside the brewery, it became apparent that it was still being used for something - the car park was full, people were milling about everywhere and every few minutes a minibus full of teenagers would rock up. Naturally this warranted further investigation, and so we decided that we would wander through the front gates and that if someone challenged us, so be it. As it happens no one did, and we soon found ourselves in a courtyard next to the offices where an open door beckoned. Well it would have been rude not to, right?


Unfortunately said door only led into the above bar area (picture pilfered from Speeds report). A spiral staircase did lead up to the offices, but halfway up we began to hear that distinctive cackling and bitchiness that you only really get from groups of middle-aged women who work in admin. Not wanting to burst into a live office we decided to fob that off, although a sign saying 'to production office' did give us a clue as to what was going on. Back in the courtyard, we tried an open roller shutter and found ourselves in the costume department for what was obviously a fairly large-scale film or TV production. Cue twenty seconds later, when we waltzed through a flimsy curtain and straight into the damp, fetid and stinking brewery building. Mmmm!


As always the first port of call was the gorgeous brewery tower:





Up in the lofts, a little workshop with stunning glazed brickwork and the remains of a gas lamp:




Moving into the brewery proper:



To be fair, whilst it was absurdly easy to get into the brewery, once you were in getting around was a bit more of a challenge. The place is a litany of locked doors and secret rooms, and to get into the fermenting rooms we had no choice but to climb in from the floors below.



It was interesting to see some of the original blue panes of glass remained in the windows. I believe this was to keep UV light out of the fermenting vessels?







Brewing hall:


And adjacent to this, a beautiful tiled hall:




There was lots to see in the basements, including some rather nice generator sets, but unfortunately I was sans tripod so no photos of these.



There's plenty more to see here if you're willing to put in the work, but unfortunately we found ourselves locked in as filming wound up for the day and so that distracted us somewhat. I won't go into details about the escape but I will say that as they go, it was a good one!


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28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Epic place and report :thumb must get my ass over there to do this, getting time is the issue :violin


Mr Reality Hacker
28DL Full Member
Bloody awesome. Lovely looking place. I have to say aint never been locked in anywhere bet that was an experience . great report


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Thats really cool, I like this a lot.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
I ponder what room has the tube/shaft that drops down to the underground lake under the brewery

A diver has been down there many many years ago and so it must be a least human shoulder width

I would love to see the actual capped top of it

Very interesting linky but sadly some links don't work now


This information might help to explain one or two points;
In sinking a borehole for groundwater extraction, the yield is dependant on the rate at which the water can move through the strata. Overpumping will lower the level in the bore, until the pump starts to cavitate, resulting in shutdown, until the water level has risen again. The creation of an underground chamber would provide a much larger quantity of water to abstract and would provide a vastly increased exposed rock face for water to permeate through, increasing the yield. The driving of headings off this chamber(infiltration galleries) further increases inflow. This is what I think that the set-up is at Cains, to cater for abstracting large quantities of water at a time.
In my past life, I have been involved with this subject and have seen the above in action.

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