Sunderland beer lovers and ex-brewery workers invited to toast Vaux Breweries

Event organisers Richard Morgan, left, and Peter Heslop, right, with a giant inflatable Double Maxim bottle.
Event organisers Richard Morgan, left, and Peter Heslop, right, with a giant inflatable Double Maxim bottle.

Beer lovers and former brewery workers are invited to toast “an important part of Sunderland’s heritage” together.

An evening in honour of the city’s sadly missed Vaux Breweries takes place on Friday night with a host of memorabilia on display to spark memories.

Vaux's famous dray and horses in 1949.

Vaux's famous dray and horses in 1949.

Famous beers Double Maxim and Samson - saved for Sunderland by the Maxim Brewery - will also be on sale to quench thirsts as the conversations flow.

The event has been organised by Vaux enthusiasts Peter and Angelika Heslop, of Ryhope, and Richard Morgan, of Seaburn.

Together they have collected hundreds of pieces of Vaux memorabilia with flags, stained glass, beer trays and historic photographs among the items on show tomorrow.

Peter, 53, a warden with Sunderland Care and Support, said: “It is for former workers at the brewery and anyone with an interest in beer or the city’s past who wants to attend.

“We had a similar event last year which was fairly last minute and that attracted people from as far away as Scotland.

“So we are hoping that Friday will be even more successful and if so we may plan something bigger next year to mark 20 years since the brewery closed.”

Around 700 jobs were lost in July 1999 when time was called on nearly 200 years of production at the landmark city centre brewery.

With financiers down in the City of London advising the firm to concentrate on its estate of pubs and hotels, the name Vaux quickly disappeared with the business becoming Swallow Inns and Restaurants before a takeover by Whitbread Breweries.

Thankfully signature beers such as Double Maxim, Samson and Lambton’s were purchased by a team of ex-Vaux managers and are still produced today within the city’s boundaries at Rainton Bridge.

Former finance director Mark Anderson, now Maxim Brewery’s managing director, said: “We are happy to support events like this because people are increasingly looking back at Vaux with fondness.”

Peter thanked Maxim Brewery and Andrew Wayman, manager of the Chesters, Friday’s venue and a big Vaux pub in its day, for their help.

He also has a dream to ensure that the Vaux name is not forgotten, adding: “It would be lovely to have a statue of the brewery’s famous dray and horses perhaps looking out across to where they are building on the brewery site today.

“Vaux was a major employer in Sunderland, sponsored the football club, and is an important part of Sunderland’s heritage which should not be forgotten.”

The event takes place upstairs in the Chesters, in Chester Road, from 7pm.