After 200 years of brewing, it was time to say goodbye to a large Oxford employer in the 1990s.

Morrells Brewery shut for good in 1998.

In July 1998, the Oxford Mail reported that Morrells' workers arrived at the St Thomas' Street brewery knowing that time was about to be called on 200 years of brewing.

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For some, Oxford without a brewery was just about as unimaginable as Carfax without its tower. But any real hope of survival had already gone.

Weeks of rumour about the future of the historic brewery and its 132 pubs had been followed by the unedifying sight of one of the city's most famous families tearing itself apart in public.


Any doubts about the bitterness of the feud were removed when brewery boss Charles Eld found himself being escorted from the building last month.

Bicester Advertiser: The Princess of Wales visits Summertown in 1990The Princess of Wales visits Summertown in 1990

By the time the 'grand old lady' of the Morrells family, Margie Eld, quit as a director after 54 years, many had already concluded that the brewery was in its death throes.

Her words as she left the Lion brewery were not designed to bring any cheer. "I am convinced that the new management intends to sell all the assets of the business as quickly as possible and to make all employees redundant," she said at the time.

For many years the main source of power was a water wheel driven by a stream passing under St Thomas' Street.

Over-production in the beer industry had seen a wave of brewery closures all over the country that year.

Morrell's was thought to be under particular pressure from its aggressive competitor just down the road, Morland, riding high on the back of its Old Speckled Hen brand.

After it closed down, The Lion Brewery was developed into 79 luxury apartments in 2002 but historic features, including the brewery gates, were retained.

The 1990s was also a decade when buses were still allowed in Cornmarket, Lady Diana visited Oxford.

Oxford United also won promotion in 1995/96 to the Football League First Division. 


Bicester Advertiser: The Morrell\'s Brewery main gate in 1994

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Bicester Advertiser: The U's celebrate promotion in 1996