Tottenham Lager Beer Brewery and Ice Factory

From London's Ghost Acres

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1881 to 1980


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Located in



Beer, ice

Used Raw Materials

Barley, water, hops, yeast

|1881 |1895 |Austro-Bavarian Lager Beer and Crystal Ice Company |-

|1896 |1903 |Imperial Lager Brewery Company |-

|1903 |1980 |Imperial Cold Stores Company |-

|1881 |1903 |Brewing Industry |-

|1903 |1980 |Cold Storage |-


Considered the first brewery in the United Kingdom to brew lager, the Austro-Bavarian Lager Beer Brewery began producing beer in 1881 but had completely ceased production by 1903. As the brewery had also been in the business of producing ice, the Imperial Cold Stores Company used the facility for cold storage of goods until the 1980s.

“What was the first purpose-built lager brewery in Britain? That would be the similarly-named Austro-Bavarian Lager Beer and Crystal Ice Company, in Tottenham, North London. The Austro-Bavarian Brewery, situated between Tottenham High Road and Portland Road, close to the junction with Pelham Road, opened in 1881, using proper bottom-fermenting brewing methods. There is very little known about the Austro-Bavarian: the man behind its was evidently called Leopold Seckendorff, but we don’t know how he raised money to build what, judging by an illustration from 1884, was a fair-sized operation (though the size that brewers made their buildings appear in their advertising materials and the size they really were are seldom the same). The British Library claims, on what evidence I don’t know, that it was staffed entirely with immigrant German-speakers and their English-born families, and it seems to have been backed solely with German capital. It had its own 450ft borehole for brewing water. We know that the brewery made four types of beer, in 1884, at least: Tottenham Lager, Tottenham Bock, Tottenham Munich and Tottenham Pilsen. The last two would be dark and light lagers respectively: my guess is that the first was a Vienna-style, solely because that’s the one well-known (at the time) sort not otherwise mentioned. Each kind cost three shillings and sixpence for a dozen pint bottles, when the standard take-home price for British beer was two shillings and sixpence a dozen bottles. According to The Lancet, reviewing the company’s products in 1884, the Pilsner was “a light table ale”, the Bock and Munich “are akin to porter and stout”. The Lancet also revealed that the beers were available on draught, “aerated by a force pump, which brings it to the tap.”The Lancet liked the idea of lager being available in Britain: “considering its lightness and excellence, we are glad to see its popularity increasing so rapidly.” However, the “peculiar flavour” of the beers, The Lancet said, “compared by some to garlic and by others to curry, is, we believe, generated by the manufacture, and is liked by those who are used to it.” Damned by this faint praise, perhaps, the Austro-Bavarian brewery was forced to reform as the Tottenham Lager Beer Brewery in 1886. Baedeker’s Guide to London in 1894 reported that “English-made Lager-beer is supplied in the Tottenham Lager Beer Hall, 395 Strand,” brewed, clearly, by the Tottenham brewery. An analysis that appears in the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry in June 1897 showed Tottenham Lager Beer at 4.52 per cent alcohol (by weight, probably), its Pilsener at 4.3 per cent and its Munich Beer at 4.92 per cent: “real” Munich lager, the Journal found, was between 3.7 and 3.93 per cent, generally, and Vienna lager was 3.89 per cent. However, in 1895 the brewery collapsed into liquidation, tens of thousands of pounds in debt. It rose again in February 1896 as the Imperial Lager Brewery, but closed finally in 1903. All the same, an operation called the Imperial Cold Stores Co seems to have run on the site until the 1980s, a last echo of Britain’s first purpose-built lager brewery.”