At the end of the 19th century, it certainly was not the Brotherhood that was feared by the local pubs; rather it was legislative changes that made life difficult for the smaller brewers and their pubs and this included the McKenna empire and the George & Dragon. First, the 1880 Inland Revenue Act ‘required brewers to pay tax on their raw materials, irrespective of the amount of beer they actually produced. As a result of this, ‘many small, less-efficient breweries and home-brew pubs found they could not compete with their bigger neighbours and sold out’. And later, ‘more Manchester breweries, hit by increased taxation and further loss of outlets under the Compensation Act of 1904, closed’.
Whatever the reason, after over 80 years and three generations in the brewery and inn-keeping trade, the McKenna family sold their entire estate to Salford brewers Walker & Homfray in 190574. Their half century ownership of the George & Dragon had come to an end, and for the next 80 years the George & Dragon would be in the hands of one or other of the big brewers, only to be rescued from their clutches by a tiny jazz organisation and its offspring charity, current owners Inner City Music.
The music would now be top of the agenda.
74Neil Richardson, Introduction to ‘Manchester Breweries of times gone by,’ by Alan Gall