The once handsome, but now neglected-looking, three-storey, seven-bay building opposite the former Mechanics Institute (now Revolucion da Cuba) is still signed as the Wardwick, but currently (2019) closed. It was originally built as a townhouse in the early 1700s, but later became the offices for a brewery built on the gardens to the rear.
At the time of the Great War, the brewery was run by Altons and Co. Ltd, one of Derby’s major breweries. It was big enough to serve around 150 tied houses, but pubs were smaller and more numerous 100 years ago.
Altons had been taken over by Strettons Derby Brewery Ltd in 1903 but continued to be run as a largely separate concern from Strettons, which brewed at a site on the Ashbourne Road (DWWIPP-4). As described in other Wonders in this series, WWI had a major effect on Strettons and Altons and Derby’s other major brewer, Offilers.
The interior of the pub (at the time of its closure) retained many of the features apparent in the above illustration. Also worth a look is an interesting plaque outside the pub on the wall next to the entrance. This shows the height of the flood of 1842 when the Markeaton Brook overflowed its banks. The brook now runs in a culvert under The Strand.
By the end of the war, the brewing industry was changing. Many of the smaller pubs owned by the Derby breweries had been declared redundant and closed by the authorities.
Altons stopped brewing four years after the war. The brewery site is now occupied by the Telephone Exchange on Colyear Street opposite the corner of the wasteland that was Duckworth Square (abandoned in 2003 and subsequently demolished). Strettons and Altons were taken over by Allsopp and Sons Ltd in 1927, which later merged with Ind Coope Ltd, which was in turn swallowed up into Allied Breweries. The latter is now part of the international Carlsberg Group, which has an annual turnover of about £7 billion.
The Wardwick Tavern was opened by Allsopps in 1969, when the offices were closed. It was one of ‘the’ places to be in the 1970s and 1980s. But its fortunes have fluctuated in more recent years, not least after it was renamed ‘The Wick’. It is currently owned by Greene King, which runs 2,900 pubs, restaurants and hotels.
The Wardwick is currently (2019) closed. Should it re-open, hopefully with the original features retained, details of its opening hours and facilities will be found using the CAMRA Good Beer Guide app, which can be obtained free of charge (basic version) at https://gbgapp.camra.org.uk/ , or (free of charge) from WhatPub https://whatpub.com/ .
This Wonder is one of a series of thirteen researched by the Derby World War One Pubs Project (DWWIPP). In describing the wonders, we also develop an underlying narrative on how the war lastingly affected pubs and the brewing industry, and society itself. For this reason, it may be preferable to read them in sequence, DWWIPP-1 to DWWIPP-13.
The thirteen wonders in this series and other stories featuring the effects of WWI on pubs and breweries can be found in a special Armistice Centenary Edition of Derby CAMRA’s magazine, Derby Drinker. It, and the current edition, can be downloaded free of charge at https://derby.camra.org.uk/derby-drinker/DerbyDrinker/DerbyDrinker_WW1special.pdf . You can also download an ‘Ale Trail’ leaflet featuring the thirteen Wonders in this series from https://derby.camra.org.uk/
The DWWIPP team are grateful for the support and encouragement of many organizations and individuals, in particular to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and all National Lottery players, for the funding; the Derby Branch CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale); the Derby Local Studies and Family History Library; and the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery (Wonders of the Peak).
Images may be subject to copyright.