Skip to main content

Badger Beers - More than 200 years


Hall & Woodhouse have been brewing beers in the heart of Dorset for more than 200 years.

Charles Hall began brewing in Ansty in 1777 and came to Blandford in 1883 when the business acquired Hector’s Brewery located on the banks of the River Stour. Established in the 1780s, it was named after John Hector who ran the business from 1827 to 1879. Sadly in August 1900, Hector’s Brewery was burned down. Such was the conflagration that villagers travelled into Blandford to view the spectacle. A local newspaper reported that the watching crowd was most orderly and all that went missing were just a few apples from Mr Woodhouse’s orchard. In October 1900, a new brewery completed its first brew. Hector’s Brewery was remembered many years later when a special ‘Hector’s Ale’ was produced.

While the ‘Badger’ has been the company’s hallmark for many years there was a dispute over its use with a Yorkshire mineral manufacturer. The dispute was resolved finally when Hall & Woodhouse made a payment of fifty two pounds & ten shillings (£52.50).

Horse transport was used for beer deliveries until three steam traction engines were acquired named ‘Badger’, ‘Fox’ and ‘Hare’. For town deliveries, horses continued to be used for some time. The business was one of the first in Blandford to have a telephone installed. They were given the number ‘Blandford 9’, a facility that cost seven pounds ten shillings per annum (£7.50)

To celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, John Woodhouse brewed a special Coronation Ale. It was so strong it was closer to a barley wine. Saturday 13th May 1953, saw a large group of staff and friends gather at 6.30am at Blandford station to join a chartered train to travel to London to view the Coronation decorations. Each employee was given three shillings (15p) to buy refreshments. This became the first and highly popular Hall & Woodhouse Annual Outing which continued for many years.

In 1977, Hall & Woodhouse celebrated 200 years of brewing and again produced a celebration ale. Reflecting the culture of the time, male staff were presented with a limited edition blue glazed Poole Pottery tankard with the trademark ‘Badger’. While female employees were given a set of six table placemats which featured scenes from the brewery’s history. That year, Badger Beers produced their first house journal ‘Hops & Pops.’

Badger Beers continue to be brewed today and probably the company’s greatest achievement has been to survive for more than two centuries. This is unlike many other local breweries such as Eldridge Pope in Dorchester and Devenish & John Groves of Weymouth.

(Illustrations: Steam Foden Steam Wagon 'Fox' with drivers Charlie Foyle & Ephraim Harris source Hall & Woodhouse 1777-1977: Brewery Outing rail ticket - credit Diana Clark)


Popular posts from this blog

True Lovers Knot - a Tragic Tale

True Lovers Knot public house describes itself as a traditional  inn set in a picturesque Dorset valley in Tarrant Keynston. Yet, this historical hostelry is said to have gained its name from a particularly tragic tale and still to be haunted by a distressed former publican. This publican’s son met and fell in love with the daughter of the local squire. Because the young lad was not from the gentry they decided to keep their relationship secret from her father. Unfortunately, a stable hand saw the two young lovers together and told her father. Set firmly against this friendship the squire made plans to send his daughter away from the district. Not able to face up to life without her boyfriend, the young girl decided to commit suicide and hanged herself from a tree in the village. So upset was the publican’s son of hearing of his girlfriend’s death he too hanged himself from the same tree. The Tarrant Keynston publican had, himself lost his wife at child birth and now losing his son b

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the

Chimney Sweep Tragedy

Crown Hotel, Blandford is reckoned to be one of Dorset’s oldest hostelries. Yet its most tragic day, during a long history, must surely be when a young chimney sweep lost his life. The chimney sweep, who was just a child, suffocated and was burnt to death in a Crown Hotel chimney which had been alight a little while before. ‘His cries were dreadful and no-one could give assistance. Part of the chimney was taken down before he was got out.’ (Salisbury & Winchester Gazette 27th March 1780) The lad had gone up one chimney and attempting to go down another had become stuck. At the time children were used to climb up chimneys to clean out soot deposits. With hands and knees, they would shimmy up narrow dark flue spaces packed thick with soot and debris. After the 1731 Great Fire of Blandford it was realised that it was important to sweep chimneys regularly while many rebuilt houses had narrower ones. Smaller chimneys and complicated flues were a potential death trap for children. The sw