BEER is to be brewed commercially in Abingdon for the first time in a decade.

A new brewery, Loose Cannon, is due to pour its first pints in May – the first beer to be produced in the town since the closure of the Morland brewery in 2000.

Brewer Will Laithwaite, 28, whose family run the Laithwaites wine business, has been preparing for six years to set up his own microbrewery, choosing to open it in Abingdon because of its rich brewing history.

He said: “Abingdon is a town which has had its brewing tradition taken away.

“Morland was a famous old brewery, and I have always been a big fan of its Old Speckled Hen.

“In the past, every town would have its own brewery, but we have lost a lot of that heritage.

“When you open a new brewery like this, people in the community begin to take some ownership of it.

“If they go to visit friends, they can take a bottle of beer with them, and say that it is from their home town.”

The new brewery, in an industrial unit in Suffolk Way, is close to where Morland used to brew in Ock Street.

Workmen are currently installing the plumbing for the new 15-barrel plant, which will be able to produce more than 20,000 pints a week.

Mr Laithwaite will then carry out a series of trial brews using the new equipment, to perfect a new 4.1 per cent bitter for the town – provisionally named Abingdon Bridge.

He wants to sell his draft beer in pubs across Oxfordshire, and will bottle brews for sale in off licenses, specialist shops and at the brewery itself.

He said: “I really want to focus on the shop and get local people to come in to see the brewery in action and buy beer.”

Local Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) activist Johanne Green said: “It will be really good to have this in our town. It is very good that brewing has survived in Abingdon, and hopefully we can expect something good from Loose Cannon.”

Mr Laithwaite served a three-year apprenticeship at the Rebellion Brewery, in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, before setting up his new business with schoolfriend Caleb Taylor, 27.

His venture is named after his rugby-playing nickname.

His parents Tony and Barbara Laithwaite run the UK’s biggest mail order wine company, while brother Henry, 29, is a winemaker in Bordeaux.


BREWING has been carried out commercially in Abingdon for centuries, including at the abbey prior to dissolution in 1538.

Morland Brewery, founded in West Ilsley by farmer John Morland in 1711, moved all operations to the town by 1880.

By 1928, Morland owned four breweries in the town – the Abbey Brewery in Thames Street, the Eagle Brewery and the Tower Steam Brewery in Ock Street and the Stert Street brewery.

A new brewhouse was built in Ock Street in 1912, and the firm continued to buy up other breweries and pubs in the following decades.

In 1999, Greene King completing a £219m takeover of Morland and its 400 pubs. The beers and their names survive, but the brewery has been converted to flats.