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Quaife, M., 2019.

Thomas Bell Ale

Output Type:Exhibition
Venue:Portland Basin Museum
Number of Works:600

The project is part of the Meeting Point2 project led by Arts&Heritage. It supports ten new contemporary art installations at museums across the North East, North West and Yorkshire during 2017. Meeting Point2 is funded by Arts Council England Museum Resilience Fund.

Portland Basin Museum worked with artist Magnus Quaife to uncover the old beer recipe Old Tom, a strong dark ale which was popular until Ashton under Lyne's famous Gartside brewery closed down in the 1960s.

Magnus Quaife explains: "I held workshops at the museum where members of the public shared their memories of Gartside's. The stories and memories which people told me helped to inspire a zine which presents the story of Gartside's.

"Despite talking to many people who remember the brewery and its beers, mystery still surrounds the exact ingredients of Old Tom and one theory is that the recipe was hidden away by a former head brewer in the 1960s."

Magnus unveiled the zine he produced at a special event in Portland Basin Museum's recreated 1920s pub. Guests included local brewer Jon Hunt, of Millstone Brewery, who worked with the artist to brew a new, limited edition beer called Thomas Bell Ale, based on what is known of the recipe for Old Tom.

The name of Gartside's Old Tom is reputedly either a reference to Captain Thomas Gartside, a relative of John Gartside senior who founded the brewery, or the head horse keeper Mr Thomas Bell who served the company from 1876 until his death in 1907.

The new brew is called Old Thomas Bell, named after the brewery's head horse keeper. A limited number of the Thomas Bell Ale bottles are available, each of which are numbered. "The beer that is bottled for the museum launch will be numbered in the same manner as a limited edition print, therefore visitors have the choice of whether to open it and try it or to keep the artwork intact," explained Magnus.

The Gartside's event took place at Portland Basin Museum on Thursday 19 October from 6-8pm. Further events will be taking place between 2017 - 2018.