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Caledonian Brewery
Its story
Beginnings of the brewery
The two co-founders George Lorimer
and Robert Clark met through golf at
the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society.
George had money and experience
as a merchant, and Robert had
experience as a brewery foreman.
As the two got to know each other,
they decided to set up business
together and establish a new
brewery.
Bruntsfield Links Golf Course, where the co-founders met
George Lorimer
George Lorimer was born in 1845 in Edinburgh and
was the eldest son to George and Margaret. George’s
father was a successful architect and builder,
holding esteemed positions in the city, most notably
as Dean of Guild.
George had a comfortable upbringing. His family had
servants and he boarded at the Grange House
School in Edinburgh. The school was for “Young
Gentlemen of the upper ranks”.
George Lorimer
George Lorimer
After leaving school, George moved to London to
work as a tea merchant. However in 1865, when
George was only 19 years old his father tragically died
at the age of 52.
His father had met his fate attempting to rescue
people from a massive fire which burnt down the
Theatre Royal.
Because of his father’s death, George moved back to
Edinburgh to support his family and look after his
father’s estate.
Damage to the Theatre Royal from the
fire which killed George’s father
Robert Clark
Robert had a humbler background than George. He was born in 1834 in Fearn,
Forfarshire to William and Janet. Growing up, his father William was an agricultural
labourer.
By the time Robert was 17, he had moved out with his old brother David to nearby
Kirriemuir and was a Brewer’s apprentice. By the time Robert married Sarah in 1858,
he had progressed to being a brewer foreman in Cupar.
When Robert Clark met George Lorimer, he was head brewer in Edinburgh at
Alexander Melvin of Boroughloch.
A prime site for brewing beer
Edinburgh was renowned for brewing beer. This
was for several reasons: its reputation, history
of brewing in Holyrood Abbey, and its excellent
underground water supply known as the
‘Charmed Circle’.
Like other breweries in Edinburgh, the new
brewery benefitted from the ‘Charmed Circle’,
sinking its own wells into the land.
The land chosen for the new brewery was also
ideal due its proximity to Slateford Road and the
then newly built Caledonian Railway line.
Using the money he had recently inherited his
father’s estate, George had bought the 2.3 acres
of land from the Earl of Shandon.
Map from 1877 showing the brewery
Timeline of the brewery
Lorimer & Clark Caledonian Brewery
established.
42nd brewery to open in Edinburgh.
George Lorimer marries Margaret.
1869
George's wife Margaret dies 6 weeks
after the birth of their second child.
1872
George gets married again to Maria.
Robert Clark dies from suspected
tuberculosis.
1874
A rail siding is built.
This is used to deliver grain and
transport the beer from the site.
1891
The original buildings were replaced
by a new brewery and maltings.
It was at the time that the distinctive
red brick chimney was built, reaching
130 ft.
1892
Timeline of the brewery
George Lorimer retires.
1918
Vaux Ltd acquires a majority
shareholding, which was a company
from the North East of England.
1919
George Lorimer dies.
1939
Vaux takes full ownership of the
brewery.
1947
Premises extended to increase
capacity.
1960s
Timeline of the brewery
Vaux announces its intention to close the
brewery. By this time, Vaux had moved most
of the production of the brewery’s renowned
‘Lorimer’s Best Scotch Ale’ to below the
border, with limited beer production
remaining at the original brewery.
1986
The brewery was bought out by a new
company, ‘Caledonian Brewing Co. Ltd’,
helped by significant support from the local
community.
1987
Fire causing damage to the malting buildings,
temporarily halting production.
1994
A further fire takes hold, requiring parts of the
brewery to be rebuilt.
1998
Timeline of the brewery
Scottish and Newcastle buys the brewery.
Shortly after, Heineken buys Scottish and
Newcastle.
2008
Heineken closes the brewery because it was
no longer efficient to run and an upgrade would
have been too expensive.
The brewery was the last of the original 42
breweries to close, marking the end of 250
years’ large-scale brewing in Edinburgh.
2022
Site is bought by Artisan Real Estate.
Plans announced to redevelop the site into
housing.
2023
Community consultation on redeveloping the
site underway.
2024
References
‘1851 Census Record for Robert Clark’. Census 1851. Kirriemuir, Angus. 299/ 5/ 6. Page 6 of 15. Accessed 16 March 2024.
https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘1871 Census Record for Robert Clark’. Census 1871. Caledonian Brewery House, Parish of St Cuthbert’s, Royal Burgh of
Edinburgh. 685/1 110/ 1. Page 1 of 36. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Birth Record for George Lorimer’. Old Parish Registers Births. St Cuthberts. 685/ 2.Page 220 of 751. Date registered: 23 April
1875. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Birth Record for Robert Clark’. Old Parish Registers Births. Fearn. 287/ .Page 20 of 50. Date registered: 24 March 1834.
Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
Canmore. ‘Edinburgh, Slateford Road, Caledonian Brewery’. Accessed 27 March 2024. https://canmore.org.uk/event/1157964.
Cant, Malcolm. Edinburgh: Gorgie and Dalry. First Edition. Malcolm Cant Publications, 1995.
‘Death Record for George Lorimer (Senior)’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of St Andrew in the Burgh of Edinburgh. 685/2
24. Date registered: 17 January 1865. Accessed 30 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Death Record for Margaret Yetts Lorimer’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of Newington in the City of Edinburgh. 685/5 342.
Date registered: 13 April 1872. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Death Record for Robert Clark’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of St George in the City of Edinburgh. 685/1 686. Date
registered: 13 July 1874. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
Difford’s Guide. ‘History - Caledonian Brewery Company Limited’. Accessed 27 March 2024.
https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/855/caledonian-brewery-company-limited/history.
References
Difford’s Guide. ‘Location - Caledonian Brewery Company Limited’. Accessed 27 March 2024.
https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/855/caledonian-brewery-company-limited/location.
Flockhart, Gary. ‘It’s Last Orders as Edinburgh Brewery to Close after 150 Years’. The Scotsman, 26 May 2022.
https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=GBIB&u=ed_itw&id=GALE%7CA704968578&v=2.1&it=r&sid=bookmark-
GBIB&asid=aea8c3aa.&aty=sso%3A+shibboleth.
Hampson, Tim HampsonTim. ‘Caledonian Brewery’. In The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, 2013.
https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/acref/9780195367133.001.0001/acref-9780195367133-e-249.
Helen. ‘Grange House School Announces Its Opening’. Edinburgh footnotes, 17 July 2015.
https://edinburghfootnotes.co.uk/2015/07/17/grange-house-school-announces-its-opening/.
‘Marriage Record for George Lorimer and Margaret Yetts Taylor’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Newington in the City
of Edinburgh. 685/5 407. Date registered: 3 December 1869. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Marriage Record for George Lorimer and Maria McLullich’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Blythwood in the Burgh of
Glasgow. 644/6 230. Date registered: 19 June 1874. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Marriage Record for Sarah Souter and Robert Clark’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Brechin in the County of Forfar.
275/ 38. Date registered: 11 December 1858. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/.
‘Newsletter February 2013’. British Guild Of Beer Writers, February 2013. https://www.beerguild.co.uk.
Nikkie, Thatcher. ‘A Deep Dive into the Caledonian Brewery’s Past’. The Morning Advertiser, 30 May 2022.
https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2022/05/30/When-did-the-Caledonian-Brewery-first-open.
References
‘Ordnance Survey, OS Six-Inch to the Mile, 1st Ed., Edinburghshire, Sheet 6 - Ordnance Survey Six-Inch 1st Edition,
Scotland, 1843-1882’. Accessed 1 April 2024. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74426706.
The Caledonian Mercury. ‘Total Destruction of the Theatre-Royal by Fire’. 14 January 1865.
The Illustrated London News. ‘The Late Mr. George Lorimer, of Edinburgh’. 28 January 1865.
Urban Realm. ‘Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery to Host 170 Homes : December 2023 : News : Architecture in Profile
the Building Environment in Scotland’. Accessed 27 March 2024.
https://www.urbanrealm.com/news/10805/Edinburgh%27s_Caledonian_Brewery_to_host_170_homes.html.

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History of the brewery by Victoria Elliott

  • 2. Beginnings of the brewery The two co-founders George Lorimer and Robert Clark met through golf at the Bruntsfield Links Golfing Society. George had money and experience as a merchant, and Robert had experience as a brewery foreman. As the two got to know each other, they decided to set up business together and establish a new brewery. Bruntsfield Links Golf Course, where the co-founders met
  • 3. George Lorimer George Lorimer was born in 1845 in Edinburgh and was the eldest son to George and Margaret. George’s father was a successful architect and builder, holding esteemed positions in the city, most notably as Dean of Guild. George had a comfortable upbringing. His family had servants and he boarded at the Grange House School in Edinburgh. The school was for “Young Gentlemen of the upper ranks”. George Lorimer
  • 4. George Lorimer After leaving school, George moved to London to work as a tea merchant. However in 1865, when George was only 19 years old his father tragically died at the age of 52. His father had met his fate attempting to rescue people from a massive fire which burnt down the Theatre Royal. Because of his father’s death, George moved back to Edinburgh to support his family and look after his father’s estate. Damage to the Theatre Royal from the fire which killed George’s father
  • 5. Robert Clark Robert had a humbler background than George. He was born in 1834 in Fearn, Forfarshire to William and Janet. Growing up, his father William was an agricultural labourer. By the time Robert was 17, he had moved out with his old brother David to nearby Kirriemuir and was a Brewer’s apprentice. By the time Robert married Sarah in 1858, he had progressed to being a brewer foreman in Cupar. When Robert Clark met George Lorimer, he was head brewer in Edinburgh at Alexander Melvin of Boroughloch.
  • 6. A prime site for brewing beer Edinburgh was renowned for brewing beer. This was for several reasons: its reputation, history of brewing in Holyrood Abbey, and its excellent underground water supply known as the ‘Charmed Circle’. Like other breweries in Edinburgh, the new brewery benefitted from the ‘Charmed Circle’, sinking its own wells into the land. The land chosen for the new brewery was also ideal due its proximity to Slateford Road and the then newly built Caledonian Railway line. Using the money he had recently inherited his father’s estate, George had bought the 2.3 acres of land from the Earl of Shandon. Map from 1877 showing the brewery
  • 7. Timeline of the brewery Lorimer & Clark Caledonian Brewery established. 42nd brewery to open in Edinburgh. George Lorimer marries Margaret. 1869 George's wife Margaret dies 6 weeks after the birth of their second child. 1872 George gets married again to Maria. Robert Clark dies from suspected tuberculosis. 1874 A rail siding is built. This is used to deliver grain and transport the beer from the site. 1891 The original buildings were replaced by a new brewery and maltings. It was at the time that the distinctive red brick chimney was built, reaching 130 ft. 1892
  • 8. Timeline of the brewery George Lorimer retires. 1918 Vaux Ltd acquires a majority shareholding, which was a company from the North East of England. 1919 George Lorimer dies. 1939 Vaux takes full ownership of the brewery. 1947 Premises extended to increase capacity. 1960s
  • 9. Timeline of the brewery Vaux announces its intention to close the brewery. By this time, Vaux had moved most of the production of the brewery’s renowned ‘Lorimer’s Best Scotch Ale’ to below the border, with limited beer production remaining at the original brewery. 1986 The brewery was bought out by a new company, ‘Caledonian Brewing Co. Ltd’, helped by significant support from the local community. 1987 Fire causing damage to the malting buildings, temporarily halting production. 1994 A further fire takes hold, requiring parts of the brewery to be rebuilt. 1998
  • 10. Timeline of the brewery Scottish and Newcastle buys the brewery. Shortly after, Heineken buys Scottish and Newcastle. 2008 Heineken closes the brewery because it was no longer efficient to run and an upgrade would have been too expensive. The brewery was the last of the original 42 breweries to close, marking the end of 250 years’ large-scale brewing in Edinburgh. 2022 Site is bought by Artisan Real Estate. Plans announced to redevelop the site into housing. 2023 Community consultation on redeveloping the site underway. 2024
  • 11. References ‘1851 Census Record for Robert Clark’. Census 1851. Kirriemuir, Angus. 299/ 5/ 6. Page 6 of 15. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘1871 Census Record for Robert Clark’. Census 1871. Caledonian Brewery House, Parish of St Cuthbert’s, Royal Burgh of Edinburgh. 685/1 110/ 1. Page 1 of 36. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Birth Record for George Lorimer’. Old Parish Registers Births. St Cuthberts. 685/ 2.Page 220 of 751. Date registered: 23 April 1875. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Birth Record for Robert Clark’. Old Parish Registers Births. Fearn. 287/ .Page 20 of 50. Date registered: 24 March 1834. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. Canmore. ‘Edinburgh, Slateford Road, Caledonian Brewery’. Accessed 27 March 2024. https://canmore.org.uk/event/1157964. Cant, Malcolm. Edinburgh: Gorgie and Dalry. First Edition. Malcolm Cant Publications, 1995. ‘Death Record for George Lorimer (Senior)’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of St Andrew in the Burgh of Edinburgh. 685/2 24. Date registered: 17 January 1865. Accessed 30 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Death Record for Margaret Yetts Lorimer’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of Newington in the City of Edinburgh. 685/5 342. Date registered: 13 April 1872. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Death Record for Robert Clark’. Statutory Registers Deaths. District of St George in the City of Edinburgh. 685/1 686. Date registered: 13 July 1874. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. Difford’s Guide. ‘History - Caledonian Brewery Company Limited’. Accessed 27 March 2024. https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/855/caledonian-brewery-company-limited/history.
  • 12. References Difford’s Guide. ‘Location - Caledonian Brewery Company Limited’. Accessed 27 March 2024. https://www.diffordsguide.com/producers/855/caledonian-brewery-company-limited/location. Flockhart, Gary. ‘It’s Last Orders as Edinburgh Brewery to Close after 150 Years’. The Scotsman, 26 May 2022. https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?p=GBIB&u=ed_itw&id=GALE%7CA704968578&v=2.1&it=r&sid=bookmark- GBIB&asid=aea8c3aa.&aty=sso%3A+shibboleth. Hampson, Tim HampsonTim. ‘Caledonian Brewery’. In The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press, 2013. https://www.oxfordreference.com/display/10.1093/acref/9780195367133.001.0001/acref-9780195367133-e-249. Helen. ‘Grange House School Announces Its Opening’. Edinburgh footnotes, 17 July 2015. https://edinburghfootnotes.co.uk/2015/07/17/grange-house-school-announces-its-opening/. ‘Marriage Record for George Lorimer and Margaret Yetts Taylor’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Newington in the City of Edinburgh. 685/5 407. Date registered: 3 December 1869. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Marriage Record for George Lorimer and Maria McLullich’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Blythwood in the Burgh of Glasgow. 644/6 230. Date registered: 19 June 1874. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Marriage Record for Sarah Souter and Robert Clark’. Statutory Registers Marriages. District of Brechin in the County of Forfar. 275/ 38. Date registered: 11 December 1858. Accessed 16 March 2024. https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/. ‘Newsletter February 2013’. British Guild Of Beer Writers, February 2013. https://www.beerguild.co.uk. Nikkie, Thatcher. ‘A Deep Dive into the Caledonian Brewery’s Past’. The Morning Advertiser, 30 May 2022. https://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Article/2022/05/30/When-did-the-Caledonian-Brewery-first-open.
  • 13. References ‘Ordnance Survey, OS Six-Inch to the Mile, 1st Ed., Edinburghshire, Sheet 6 - Ordnance Survey Six-Inch 1st Edition, Scotland, 1843-1882’. Accessed 1 April 2024. https://maps.nls.uk/view/74426706. The Caledonian Mercury. ‘Total Destruction of the Theatre-Royal by Fire’. 14 January 1865. The Illustrated London News. ‘The Late Mr. George Lorimer, of Edinburgh’. 28 January 1865. Urban Realm. ‘Edinburgh’s Caledonian Brewery to Host 170 Homes : December 2023 : News : Architecture in Profile the Building Environment in Scotland’. Accessed 27 March 2024. https://www.urbanrealm.com/news/10805/Edinburgh%27s_Caledonian_Brewery_to_host_170_homes.html.