google10fa0980c6101c7f.html The Many Faces of Death: The Brew To Die For, UK

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The stories mentioned on this site are of real deaths (famous or otherwise), and may contain graphic pics, text and/or videos. This site is NOT for the squeamish or Faint of Heart! You have been warned.

Strange as their stories may be, they were flesh and blood once, and were loved by people who knew them. Let's respect the deaths of those who have been mentioned....

Monday, August 8, 2011

0 The Brew To Die For, UK

1814: London Beer Flood, 9 people were killed (some drowned, some died from injuries, and one succumbed to alcohol poisoning) when 323,000 imperial gallons (1,468,000L) of beer in the Meux and Company Brewery burst out of their vats and gushed into the streets.




Meux's Brewery Co Ltd, established in 1764, was a London brewery owned by Sir Henry Meux. Meux, like many modern brewers, bought out smaller breweries - one such being the Horse Shoe Brewery (founded by a Mr Blackburn, and famous for its 'black beer'), located on the junction of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street, London.   Atop the Horse Shoe stood several large vats of beer. The largest was the porter vat - a 22-foot-high monstrosity that held over 600,000 litres of beer, in turn held together by a total of 29 large iron hoops.

The London Beer Flood occurred on 17 October 1814 in the parish of St. Giles, London, England.  The  huge 
vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The resulting noise was apparently heard as far away as five miles!  The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenaged employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer.


Back at the brewery, one man managed to save his brother from going under the vast wave, but as the tide receded the true damage could be discovered. The beer tsunami left nine people dead; many had drowned (like Mary Mulvey and her 3-year-old son Thomas), others were swept away in the flood and died of the injuries they sustained (two young children: Hannah Banfield, 4, and Sarah Bates, 3), and the final victim actually succumbed some days later of alcohol poisoning - such was his heroic attempt to stem the tide by drinking as much beer as he humanly could.

Because of the poverty of the area, relatives of the drowned took to exhibiting their families' corpses in their homes and charging a fee for viewing. In one house, though, too many people crowded in and the floor gave out, plunging them all into a cellar half full of beer. This morbid exhibition moved locations, attracting more customers - and eventually the police, who closed the doors on the horrible circus. Later, the funerals of the dead were paid for by the St Giles population, coins left on their coffins. The stench of the beer apparently lasted for months, and after the initial excitement, many found both their homes and livelihoods swept away with the flood.

The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible. The company found it difficult to cope with the financial implications of the disaster, with a significant loss of sales made worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. They made a successful application to Parliament reclaiming the duty which allowed them to continue trading.

The brewery was demolished in 1922, and today, the
Dominion Theatre occupies a part of the site of the former brewery.


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