What to expect from new Vaux film that celebrates legacy of Sunderland's lost brewery
Vaux was once inextricably linked to Sunderland: its distinctive smell filled the air, its horses clip clopped around the streets delivering Samson, Lambtons, Double Maxim and more and its 9,000sq ft brewery dominated the skyline.
Today, Tuesday, July 2, marks 20 years since those towering brewery gates closed for the final time, with the crushing loss of 600 jobs, and 162 years of history. But the legacy of this family-run business lives on in people’s passion for the iconic brand and the friendships formed at a company which genuinely cared for its staff.
Now that passion has been immortalised on the big screen by local production company Lonely Tower Film and Media. They’ve teamed up with Maxim Brewery, the Rainton Bridge-based brewery born from the ashes of Vaux, to produce A Passion for Vaux - Sunderland's Lost Brewery, an hour-long film which honours Vaux and the people who made it a company unlike any other.
Ahead of the film going on sale to the public on Wednesday, July 3, I was invited along to a preview screening along with the stars of the film: former Vaux workers, from draymen to master brewers and the women who worked in the offices.
They recall fondly tales of working for a company which became an extended family, of that unmistakable smell, of the day the warehouse wall collapsed and giving the horses a monthly run along Roker Beach.
One of the biggest characters to feature is Frank Nicholson, the managing director of the company’s brewing arm who was on first name terms with all the employees. Such was his love for the brewery and its people that he fought against its closure and, as the last person to leave the site, planted a poignant kiss on the sign.
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“We really did love Sunderland til we died,” he says recalling the announcement the brewery, which despite being profitable, would close in 1999 after the firm's board followed guidance from London financiers who wanted to focus on the business’s hotels.
*The DVD, priced £13.99, is available from Wednesday, July 3, on Amazon, and from the Winter Gardens shop.