Beaufoy Road, SW11

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The Beaufoy family were the owners of the largest vinegar brewery in the world, which was based in South Lambeth. Originally from Evesham, in Worcestershire, the firm was founded by Mark Beaufoy, who began his career apprenticed at a gin distillers. The making of booze sat uneasy with his values as a Quaker and in the early 18thCentury he decided to learn how to malt vinegar, moving for a while to Holland where he learned the art of brewing it in the Continental style. At the time vinegar was a much sought after commodity used for preserving foods before refrigeration. The company grew and passed from father to sons. In 1812 the firm moved its factory to Lambeth. Over the years the Beaufoys moved into different areas producing cordials, raisin wine (a by-product of their vinegar), and milling. However, they remained concerned about their fellow man. One of the descendants also named Mark Beaufoy became MP for Kennington, and supported not only the reduction of the working day but also the introduction of the eight-hour day; the latter he introduced into his own works explaining: “All the work I now paid was for good work; previously a large percentage was for bad work.” In 1881 he chaired a meeting at which the Waifs and Strays Home was founded, based at St Anne’s, South Lambeth, it was to grow into what is today the Children’s Society. By the start of the 20thCentury the boom in vinegar production was coming to an end and the firm merged with a rival brand Sarson’s. Slowly the works at Lambeth were run down and the last bottles of Beaufoy vinegar appeared on the shelves sometime around 1961. The site closed for good in the 1970s.

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