PARSONS’ PORTER – 6.2% STOUT PORTER
New beer out today!
His image is depicted on a commemorative Irish silver 15 Euro coin.
A memorial to him, in red terracotta stands opposite Fenwick on Blackett Street in Newcastle City Centre, disguises a Metro ventilation shaft, and goes largely unnoticed by passers by; yet his main invention affected every aspect of modern life and went into production on Tyneside.
Far more should be known and shared about this Irish adopted son of Tyneside…
Childhood: Birr County, Offaly Ireland
Education: Trinity College Dublin & St John’s College Cambridge
Employment: Apprentice engineer with W. G. Armstrong in Newcastle, Kitsons in Leeds working on rocket-powered torpedoes.
1884: Headed up Electrical Equipment Development at Clarke Chapman and Co. Tyneside
1884: Invented and patented the Steam Turbine and utilized it to power an electrical generator also to his design
1889: Founded C.A. Parsons & Co. and The Newcastle and District Electric Lighting Co (DisCo).
1890: Forth Banks Power Station opened, first power station to run entirely on steam turbines and turbo alternator machinery built by DisCo, at Forth Banks behind Newcastle Central Station.
1894: Applied for a patent for “propelling a vessel by means of steam turbine, which turbine actuates the propeller or paddle shaft directly or through gearing”
1894: Formed The Marine Steam Turbine Co. In order to construct Turbinia (his ship now housed in the Discovery Museum, Newcastle)
1897: Turbinia upset Royal Naval plans when she was sailed at speed through the Navy’s fleet during the Diamond Jubilee Fleet Review, Portsmouth. Pursuit by the fastest naval ships was hopeless as they couldn’t match her pace (an incredible top speed of over 34 knots).
1897: Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Co. Established and went on to produce turbines for several Navy Destroyers, and passenger vessels including The Titanic
1898: Elected to The Royal Society
1914: Parsons’ daughter Rachel Parsons became a Director of Parsons Marine Turbine Co. and oversaw the recruitment and development of women in industry to help in the war effort (the life story of Rachel Parsons is also extraordinary and well worth looking up). The company produced steam turbines, dynamos, alternators, compressors, pumps and search light reflectors throughout this period
1931: Charles Algernon Parsons died, a memorial service was held in Westminster Abbey
Parsons’ legacy, through his invention and his companies continued…
1945 and World War II production included: Naval and merchant vessel turbine propulsion equipment, guns, radar, and research work for the Ministry of Supply and the armed services.
1946: C A Parsons and Co. produced the first experimental gas turbines and in 1947 the first industrial gas turbine.
1955: C A Parsons involved in the design of Nuclear Power “furnaces” and gained the largest shareholding in the Nuclear Power Plant Co. Ltd., the first nuclear power consortium to be formed in the UK which resulted in 6 nuclear power stations in England and 1 in Scotland using Parsons turbo generators.
1967: C A Parsons supplied turbo generators for Ferrybridge C power station.
1968: C A Parsons merged with A Reyrolle & Co. to form Reyrolle Parsons
1977: Reyrolle Parsons merged with Clarke Chapman & Co. to form Northern Engineering Industries (NEI) Parsons retained its identity as NEI Parsons.
1980s: NEIs major competitor GEC was allegedly aided in gaining contracts, particularly overseas by the Thatcher government in its early years in return for support by their Chairman Lord Weinstock. At home orders such as Sizewell B power station were also awarded to GEC in preference to NEI. A lack of orders for coal fired power stations, and the efficiency and longevity of nuclear power stations put NEI into difficulties. NEI merged with Rolls Royce plc in 1989 to become Rolls Royce Industrial Power Group.
1990s: The recession in the early 90s saw a change of direction by the Rolls Royce Industrial Power Group board of directors in a late effort to reduce their exposure to the power industry; eventually leading to the closing of Parsons Research and Development section and its turbine workshops, against best advice by some existing Parsons Directors at the time. The site in Heaton Newcastle upon Tyne having lead the world in power generation and with unrivalled reputation for steam turbine manufacturing, engineering apprenticeships and turbine generator research and development, now amounted to a set of fabrication shops. A shadow of its former self, it was bought by the Siemens electrical conglomerate in 1997.
The eventual sad demise of North East engineering, invention and excellence should not cast a shadow on the genius works and legacy of Charles Algernon Parsons, and at Firebrick Brewery we raise a symbolic toast to him in the shape of our Parsons’ Stout Porter.
Stout Porters in the 19C were a common drink, stout meant strong or dark, the opposite being a lean beer. It was later during successive world wars when grain rationing reduced beer % ABV that Stout Porters dropped from 6% ABV or more, to around 4% ABV, kept their colour and became Stouts. Porters and Stout Porters dropped out of fashion, until they were revived as simply “Porters” by the American craft beer movement in the 1970s.
Our Stout Porter at 6% ABV is brewed following historical tradition; using large volumes of graded brown malts created at different roasting times, NOT with a small amount of black patent malt added to more productive base malt, which was the cost saving preference of brewers to produce porters after grain was taxed heavily following the Napoleonic wars!
Consequently it has a very complex character with coffee, biscuit, light chocolate, rum and raisin from the grains; and earthy and spicy notes from the hops.