19th-century beer bottles discovered in a secret hideout

by Shirley Williams
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Archaeologists have found out a treasure from the past, a stash of 600 beer bottles from the 19th century. The brewing history of the Victorian Era was discovered under the old cellar staircase in Leeds, England. The bottles found beneath the remains of the Scarborough Castle Inn, in the cellar of the former Tetley Brewery, had a dangerous concentration of lead in it.


  • The Scarborough Castle Inn does not exist anymore, but it has left a variety of thirst quenchers. 
  • WYAS (West Yorkshire Archaeological Services) discovered the hidden cellar in February.
  • They excavated the old Tetley Brewery site of the Victorian era, in the Leeds city center.
  • According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the ground of the old cellar was under process to construct a residential neighborhood before the bottles were found from the ground.
  • The place is redeveloping into a sustainable, vibrant, and connected neighborhood.
  • However, the process is on hold due to the excavation of the cellars from the Georgian and Victorian era.
  • The excavation helped in getting the right image of the life and work of the people between the late medieval period to the present day.
  • According to David Williams, a senior project manager for Archaeological Services WYAS, the bottles discovered were dated to the 1880s.
  • A variety of brands of the bottles stacked in the cellar were found, but most of them were labeled as “J.E. Richardson of Leeds.”
  • The beer bottles were first considered to be ginger beers, but the reality was a whole lot stronger than that.
  • According to the study, the bottle had a low content of alcohol and 3% ABV along with 5.07 pH. Also, every liter of the drink had approx—0.13 milligrams of lead.

How was the content poisonous?

The lead piping is likely to be the culprit of turning the alcohol poisonous. It came in contact with the water supply of the brewer, making it deadly. The beer buyers became sick and weak because of the toxic metal lead. It caused irreversible damage to the internal organs of the consumers.

About Tetley Brewery

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According to Joshua, the legendary Tetley Brewery started its operation in 1822 and was demolished in 2012. However, the products of the brewery are now the property of Carlsbery’s production. Its beautiful art building was completed in 1931 and is now the home to the arts center in Leeds, England. It was the largest brewery in entire Northern England. The annual production of the beer reached 171,500 barrels by 1875.

Winding up

The 600 beer bottles only revealed a small part of the story of the Victorian era; however, it demonstrated the unusual nature of the people of Leeds in the past. The construction work on the excavation land is paused for sometimes, and it is reported that the bottles would be displayed for the educational purpose in the future.

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