Trussing The Cooper At Truman’s Brewery
Cooperage in Spital St
More than a quarter century has passed since the Truman brewery closed in Brick Lane in 1989 and it is hard now to imagine the teeming life of the place that sustained itself over three centuries of brewing on this site. But thanks to the British Pathe archive of news footage, I was permitted a startling glimpse of the lively community that was once here. Trussing the Cooper records a traditional apprentice’s initiation ritual of humiliation in 1954. The apprentice, Gordon Wright of Bromley in Kent, is put in a barrel, covered with all kinds of filth and rolled around until he emerges coated in grime to be presented with a pint of ale, now a fully fledged cooper. It is a powerful cinematic cameo with a gleeful Dionysiac energy that cuts across the intervening half century, thrusting us into the joyful heart of their world. Whatever else was going on, these people certainly knew how to make their own fun – but I am glad I was not the one in the barrel. To his eternal credit, Gordon takes it all in great spirit. Maybe he had a couple of pints already to give him some Dutch courage?
The former Truman’s Cooperage
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