A true homecoming for Joule’s in the crown

A Staffordshire brewery has returned to its original home after 50 years, selling beer first made by Augustinian monks behind what is arguably one of the world’s most unusual brand logos.

After a major renovation project to breathe new life into the historic Crown Wharf in the market town of Stone, Joule’s Brewery has opened its flagship Brewery Tap at the canal side venue – with a community theatre and heritage centre set to follow.

Originally scheduled to open in 2020, work on the regeneration project was delayed due to the pandemic but the Crown Wharf taphouse – Joule’s first new-build Tap – finally opened its doors in July.

As part of the £3.5m project, Joule’s also created a shell building for the first new build theatre in Staffordshire for nearly a quarter of a century and a shell building for a heritage centre aimed at showcasing the town and its rich history, both free to their respective users.

Final fundraising and design work is now underway to fit out the Crown Wharf Theatre, which will be able to seat up to 200 people in an octagonal auditorium with a striking central vaulted ceiling (www.crownwharftheatre.org.uk), while the town’s former fire house, at the entrance to Crown Wharf, is set to become the heritage centre.

For Joule’s, its return to Stone is a ‘coming home’ story. The brewery can trace its roots back to the 18th century when it set up in Stone, alongside the Trent and Mersey canal, where beer has been brewed since the 16th century.

In its heyday, with giant warehousing along the Stone Canal Wharf, Joule’s became the first English beer to be exported to the US and its ale was notably recorded as stock on the Titanic on the 10th April 1912. It also has an intriguing tale behind its logo.

When Augustine monks first brewed beer in Stone, they marked each barrel with a red cross to identify its superior qualities. John Joule adopted this sign for his ales and registered the trademark in 1867, making it the world’s sixth oldest beer trademark.

The Red Cross, of course, was later adopted as the international symbol for aid, but Joule’s has the unique right to use the symbol commercially. Out of respect, Joule’s flanks the mark with ‘Trade Mark’ and never depicts the brand on a white dray.

Standing in the shadow of the original Joule’s Brewery on Crown Street, the new flagship pub’s design reflects canal side architecture, taking inspiration from the old Joule’s warehouse next door, while the whole development aims to connect the heritage of the canal, the town and the brewery. Joule’s has also launched ‘Stone Ale’ one of its ancient trademarks, to mark the opening of the complex (www.joulesbrewery.co.uk).

This latest pub development builds on Staffordshire’s already well-established reputation for brewing and beer.

Thirty miles east of Stone lies Burton upon Trent, known worldwide as the home of pale ale brewing. Today’s visitors to Burton can learn more about how this market town earned its worldwide reputation at the National Brewery Centre, which also hosts Britain’s largest brewing collection (www.nationalbrewerycentre.co.uk).

For more information about visiting, and staying in, Staffordshire, see www.enjoystaffordshire.com