William Garton was born in 1832 in Bath, where his father had a small brewery.

When his father died, his mother and his elder brother Charles carried on running the brewery. William was still attending Bath Grammar School but he joined them when he left.

By the 1850s, Charles had started his own brewery in Bristol.

The Garton family were pioneers of using sugars in brewing and experimented with invert sugar, also called saccharum, taking a patent out in 1859 in Charles’ name. Invert sugar was readily fermentable and when the yeast was presented with it, fermentation would start rapidly resulting in a stable finished beer.

Southampton brewery.

Southampton brewery.

William also discovered and developed a method of treating brewing liquors to resemble those of Burton on Trent, adding sulphate in the form of gypsum to the water to bring out the flavour of the hops.

Burton on Trent had several very successful breweries, due to the chemical composition of the local water.

The brothers were also credited with devising the dropping system in which fermentation was carried out in one vessel and then dropped to another to complete the process, leaving behind most of the yeast. The system is still operated at Wychwood for the Brakspears beers.

William began experimenting with other improved methods of brewing to produce lighter, German-style beers.

Coopers, East Street.

Coopers, East Street.

When he came to Southampton in the late 1860s, he set up Garton, Hill & Co in partnership with Thomas Hill, an agent for many of the large shipping lines.

They built an invert sugar works in the Docks, and a brewery, The Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Co Ltd.

The picture of the brewery shows the boiler house (left foreground), engine house (centre left), and stove and retort house (centre and centre right). In the right foreground is the corner of a lodging house for the workers, most of whom lived on site.

William’s business was closely associated with Charles’ Bristol brewery which had an office and stores in Southampton from 1865.

The stated aim was to brew light palatable, bright and stable ales of low alcoholic strength.

Despite the name, these were not like German lagers. An advert showed they were making “India Pale Ale, mild and strong ales, and amber ale”.

Itchen brewery.

Itchen brewery.

When they outgrew the site in Southampton, the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery moved to Shepton Mallett in 1882, and the invert sugar works moved to Battersea.

But the Garton family continued to have a local connection.

In 1989 they acquired John Bell and Son’s Itchen brewery in Woolston, situated north-west of the railway station. Following a disastrous fire it was sold on to Crowley & Co, of which William was a Director.

They also bought Cooper & Co of East Street in 1867, closed it and transferred brewing to the Brewery at Woolston.

The following year, the adjacent High Street Brewery of Vincent & Elliott was taken over, and also closed. A brewery at York Buildings was built in 1900 within the curtilage of both the East Street and High Street breweries.

Eventually the business merged with Manbré, to become Manbré & Garton.

The Southampton site was closed, while the London plant by Hammersmith Bridge carried on until 1974, when it merged with Tate and Lyle.

William lived at Roseland, a large house near Portsmouth Road in Woolston.

His wealth allowed him to pursue many philanthropic causes including supporting the Royal South Hants Hospital where a ward was named in his honour.

He died in 1905 and in his obituary it was stated that “to no one man does modern brewing owe more to than William Garton”. Garton Road in Woolston was named after him.

His son Richard joined the firm and became a pioneer in the manufacture of liquid glucose.

He was the Director of several companies including Manbre and Garton, and Garton, Sons and Co.

A well-known philanthropist, he was knighted in 1908 and obtained a GBE in 1918.

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Jack Wilson is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .