17th October 1814:- The London Beer Flood

The London Beer Flood occurred on 17 October 1814 in the parish of St. Giles, London, England. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a 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 wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenaged employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.

The manor house of Toten Hall - From a View pu...

A street scene in St. Giles the year before the flood. Image via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

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. Eight people drowned in the flood (some drowned, some died from injuries, and one succumbed to alcohol poisoning).

Edited copy of Image:The Brewer designed and e...

16th century brewery. Image via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

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.

View of the "We Will Rock You" displ...

Dominion Theatre. Image via Wikipedia (Click for larger view)

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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16 Responses to 17th October 1814:- The London Beer Flood

  1. Texasjune says:

    I love history presented this way!

  2. How fascinating! An Act of God? How about a faulty vat? Times have certainly changed.

  3. Kymbo says:

    If that happened in Australia we would have a national day of mourning…for the beer.
    Once at a family gathering a pressurized keg shot the tap out and beer sprayed high into the air, by brother-in-law selflessly threw himself under the torrent to prevent anyone getting any of it…on them!

  4. travelrat says:

    At least one guy died happy. He got out twice to go to the toilet! 😀

  5. souldipper says:

    Did they report the number of people who drowned – weighed down by carrying buckets of beer?

  6. Selma says:

    I shouldn’t laugh I suppose, especially as people drowned, but I actually know some people now who dream of beer in the streets. It’s quite incredible that it happened when you think about it. What a way to go!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Selma,
      Every now and then especially at a party or barbie, someone will bring up about what it would be like, now you can tell them, well it did happen once. 🙂

  7. dearrosie says:

    Wow! I thought you were going to tell us how drunk everyone became. That’s very sad to think of people drowning in beer.

  8. Nobody ‘succumbed to alcohol poisoning’.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Martyn Cornell,
      Sorry I didn’t get to your comment sooner, I have been on a break from blogging and only now got your e-mail.
      That is so true, no alcohol poisoning at all. 😀
      Thank You so much for taking the time to come to my blog and commenting, I will definitely drop by your blog when I come back from my break, see you soon. 🙂

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