The Greystones Distillery - Sheffield April 1939

"It is the best stuff in England, I've have sold gallons in my time"

Whilst I was researching another article for the web-site I came across the following report in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph and Daily Independent dated 1st April 1939. I was unaware that Sheffield had a distillery of note on the eve of the Second World war but according to it's proprietor and sole owner Mr Lockett it was "the best stuff (whiskey) in England, I've have sold gallons in my time." In fact he went on to say "that it is the best stuff on the market" "I made it and I know what is in it". In fact he claimed that the whiskey had profound medicinal properties especially for children. "It's wonderful stuff, and when my kids are ill, I give it to them"

And what is more he had also diversified into the distilling of brandy but as it was April and "it was the  wrong time of the year" for production and so he did not have any supplies available.

But as with many things in life there was a divergence of opinion. Mr Lockett's opinion of the efficacy of his whiskey was not shared by Mr J L Willis,who took Mr Lockett to task on a number of matters, the first of which was that it was an absolutely "foul concoction" Secondly that it had be distilled in two petrol drums and , aged by the use of caramel solution and finally tapped off for immediate sale and consumption. Mr Willis further argued that whiskey must be matured for a minimum of three years in a warehouse before it can be sold and must meet strict standards of hygiene. Sadly Mr Lockett's whiskey met none of these standards. In fact the reasons why he failed to meet these standards is that his whole operation was illegal. He had no licence and no "proper place" as he put it.

Mr Willis called Mr Lockett a "menace to the community" and remarked that anyone who drank the spirit in large quantities would "injure their sanity".(Mr Lockett's actions seem to back this observation up)

But two things surprised me about the case. One that the house were the still was located was on Stainton Road which is near Endcliffe Park, one of Sheffield's more leafy parts, and secondly the fine that was imposed. 350 in total was the equivalent of approximately 18500 in today's money. Now how Mr Lockett, who had been unemployed for sometime and who was using the proceeds to get "the kiddies some clothes," was going to pay that amount in not clear. It is far in excess of what was imposed by the Rotherham magistrates five years earlier. The only thing I can think of is that they set it deliberately high knowing that he could not pay, and so he would be imprisoned for non-payment.

Sources

Sheffield Daily Telegraph and Daily Independent dated 1st April 1939

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This page was last updated on 31/01/12 12:08