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150 Years of Brewing

Since the birth of Moorhouse's in Burnley, Lancashire in 1865

Moorhouse’s has long and rich history with many a twist and turn along the way! Check out the key milestones in our timeline below or sit back and take in the complete history.

Every beer has a story

Ours is just a little longer


  • 1865

    William Moorhouse founded Moorhouse's in Burnley, producing mineral waters.

  • 1870

    William built his own premises for the thriving business. Terrace houses for workers' families and stables for the horses were added.

  • 1905

    William dies and his oldest son Thomas takes over.

  • 1904

    Thomas is injured by an exploding bottle and later dies of his injuries.

  • 1904

    Thomas’s younger brother takes over and develops the Hop Bitters Old Kent Mild, Old Peter Stout and Old Boss Bitter.

  • Did you know?

    Low in alcohol at less than 2%, the Hop Bitters were deemed ‘non-intoxicated liquors’ and sold in Temperance bars across the North West. Old Boss Bitter won two exhibition awards.

  • 1978

    After many years, the last remaining family member Tom Fawcett sells up. Real ale lover Michael Ryan takes the reins and develops Moorhouse’s first alcoholic beer, Premier Bitter.

  • 1979

    The business changes hands four times in two years, barely selling 10 barrels of beer a week.

  • 1982

    Alan Hutchinson, owner of a chain of hotels, bingo halls and night clubs buys the company. Pendle Witches Brew is born. Sales increase to 25 barrels a week.

  • 1985

    Mr Hutchinson dies unexpectedly. Apollo Leisure buy his business empire but have no interest in the brewery. Workers are given redundancy notices.

  • 1985

    Businessman William Parkinson tries a pint of Pendle Witches Brew and the rest is history! Within seven days he has bought the business, saving it from extinction.

  • 1995

    A new warehouse / distribution depot is built to keep up with increased demand.

  • 1998

    Black Cat wins Gold at the Brewing Industry International Awards and given Gold in its class by CAMRA at the Champion Beer of Britain Awards.

  • 2004

    Premier Bitter wins Gold at the Brewing Industry International Awards. Pride of Pendle wins Gold and Champion Cask Ale.

  • 2009

    Work begins on huge expansion of brewery and visitors centre.

  • 2011

    A new brewery is completed increasing capacity 10-fold with state of the art computer controlled facility.

  • 2015

    Winners of the Burnley Business Awards 2015 Long Standing Contribution Award to acknowledge Moorhouses ongoing contribution to Burnley.

Back where it all began

Moorhouse’s Brewery was established in 1865 by William Moorhouse, a Burnley man who took great pride in his town and his craft.

He built his own brewery premises in 1870, and nearly 150 years later, Moorhouse’s is still on the same historic site, in the shadow of Lancashire’s famed Pendle Hill.

The brewery belonged to the Moorhouse family for generations. After the last remaining family member sold up, the business had a swift series of owners who for various reasons were unable to make it work, until sadly in 1982 it was faced with extinction.

Brewery workers had already been given their redundancy notices when Manchester businessman, William Parkinson, first tried a pint of Pendle Witches Brew one legendary lunchtime. Being from Burnley himself and intrigued by the Pendle connection he asked about Moorhouse’s at the bar. On hearing of the company’s imminent closure, Mr. Parkinson made some enquiries… and within just seven days he was the proud new owner of Moorhouse’s, bringing it back from the brink.

We have embraced the traditions and values established by the Moorhouses all those years ago, whilst bringing significant investment and innovation, installing a new brew plant in 1988 and a new warehouse in 1995. The brewery has gone from strength to strength and our beers are now on sale nationwide.


Moorhouse’s have two warm and welcoming pubs: The Pendle Witch in Atherton and The Rising Sun in Blacko.

We also supply beers to around 300 Free Trade outlets and enjoy national distribution through a comprehensive wholesale network.

Today you can buy Moorhouse’s bottled beers in Morrisons, Tesco and Booths and as far away as the USA, Canada, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden and Cyprus.

Find your nearest Moorhouse's retailer

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