Brewing in Blackburn and Darwen
Brewing was the most important support industry of them all. Beer was needed in large quantities to keep the mill workers happy, especially in the early days when the hours were punitive and recreational opportunities limited.
Brewing was at one time a cottage industry. It was a commonplace domestic skill and people would no more have thought of buying beer than they would of buying bread, or apple pies or oatcakes. And as a domestic skill it was practised by women. Factory work was not compatible with these time consuming skills and they became specialised activities.
Inns and alehouses became the centres of brewing activity. Again in the early days it was an activity associated with women. 'Ale-wives' such as Eleanor Rummynge and Mother Louise were well known. Brewhouses operated on a small scale and most were also ale-houses.
Just as cotton weaving and spinning ceased to be done on a small scale and became a factory process, so brewing began to be carried out on a larger and larger scale. Specialisation, mass production and improved communications via road and rail heralded the advent of the major brewers.