Harry Bateman – Managing Director, second generation

I joined the brewery after leaving school in 1894 and took over the business in 1919. My father, George, died in 1921. The 1920s and ‘30s were very depressed times for beer because of the strict drinking regulations imposed during the First World War, not to mention the severe taxes.

At one point, there was such a slump in beer sales that I had to lay off my entire workforce. It was an unfortunate day indeed. Ultimately, I was so upset at seeing them wandering around Wainfleet with nothing to do that I invited them back and was resolute to find them work at Batemans. I decided I had no choice but to increase the size of the Brewery. So, I bought the buildings across the lane from Salem House and installed a bottling plant.


With these newly purchased buildings, there was also a windmill, which had been used for grinding corn for bread and horse feed. Unfortunately, the sails were in desperate need of repair, so I decided it was cheaper to remove them. Little did I realise then what a landmark the windmill would become for Batemans Brewery.

For my 21st birthday, my father had given me a pub. In the 1920s, we decided to start purchasing some more. Despite money being difficult, which seems to be the story of our lives so far, I acquired a group of pubs that everybody else thought was worthless.

An auctioneer friend from Boston decided I had gone completely mad and said I should give up brewing and join him, especially as I had a family to support. My parents had taught me many things, but one of the finest principles they instilled in me was never to give up.

In 1927, my first son, George, was born. The best way I knew how to celebrate this day was to buy somewhere that would be able to sell Batemans beer. So, I decided to purchase the Vine Hotel in Skegness. Skegness was becoming a prosperous seaside town, and it seemed prudent to open another hotel there. So, we built the County Hotel on the site where Billy Butlin once had a skittle alley. In 1935, my three children – Helen, George and John – helped to lay the foundation stone.

The best way I knew how to celebrate my son’s birth was to buy somewhere that would be able to sell Batemans beer.


Business was still tough. But Billy Butlin decided to build his first holiday camp in Skegness, including some bars. On a few occasions, I had shared a few pints of Batemans beer with Billy, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Because of that, he decided to give us the licence for these bars.

Then, during the Second World War, the camp became a naval station known as HMS Royal Arthur. Of course, that meant we continued to supply plenty of beer.

In 1947, to my great relief, a proper mains water system was introduced into Wainfleet. The water was pumped by hand from the River Haven, which runs next to the Brewery. We’d always found this water to be beneficial to the balanced flavour of our beers. But it became so polluted we decided it wasn’t a good idea to continue using it (which meant that we had to bring fresh water by lorry from the nearest suitable supply, seven miles away). The mains water was a blessing.

By 1948, the Batemans estate had grown to 68 pubs. Two years later, in 1950, I was delighted that my son George – later affectionately known by the team as ‘Mr George’ – decided to join me in the Brewery, all in good time, to help with those pubs.


Read Mr George’s story