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The Origins of The Scottish Brewing Archive Association

In 1977 Professors Anna MacLeod and Geoff Palmer of Heriot-Watt University sat reflecting, over a few beers, on the number of breweries in Scotland that had closed, been taken over, merged or were otherwise in decline. They realised that, unless something was done rapidly, an enormous amount of material, records, artefacts, documents, recipes, and all sorts of other ephemera would be lost forever.

And so in 1981 the Scottish Brewing Archive (SBA) was formed, originally within the Brewing School in Chambers Street in Edinburgh, and largely under the auspices of the librarian, Mr Alex Anderson. It was set up with the help of the Manpower Services Commission, with sponsorship from most of the major breweries in Scotland, and donations from individuals who became loyal and enthusiastic Friends of the Scottish Brewing Archive.

The SBA was able to appoint an archivist and published its first newsletter in February 1982 and was officially opened by Sir William McEwan Younger Bt. on the 5th March 1982 in Chambers Street to coincide with the weekend of the Heriot Watt Former Brewing Students Association Dinner. 

Ian Donnachie, the much respected Professor of History with the Open University and author of ‘A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland’, said “There is no point in collecting together historical records, books or periodicals, if they are not to be used.” The SBA was registered as a charity in 1985.