Meeting Point2: Portland Basin Museum

Original Gartside’s beer to be recreated with help from the people of Tameside
Portland Basin Museum, Ashton under Lyne

The recipe for a popular beer once brewed by Ashton under Lyne’s famous Gartside’s brewery is being resurrected – with a little help from the people of Tameside.

Portland Basin Museum is working together 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 down in the 1960s.

Artist Magnus Quaife explained: “I’ve teamed up with a local brewer, Millstone, who will be helping me to make and bottle some beer made 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 original Old Tom 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 Captain Thomas Gartside, a relative of John Gartside senior who founded the brewery, or the head horse keeper Mr 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,” said 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 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 local people who remember the brewery or drank their 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 to share can get in touch with Portland Basin Museum on (0161) 343 2878 or via email on portland.basin@tameside.gov.uk.

The workshops with Magnus Quaife will take place at Portland Basin Museum from 11am to 3pm on 27 June, 12 July, 2 August and 16 August. Check the museum website for more details – www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/education.

The project is part of Meeting Point2, a year-long project led by contemporary art agency 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 www.artsandheritage.org.uk

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