A Cornish brewery has reinstated its old steam hooter once again – after a break of 20 years.
Rather than marking the changing of shifts at St Austell Brewery, the shrill siren is now being used to signal that hot drinks and biscuits are available. It sounds every day at 10am.
Similar steam hooters were once common at factories and mines in all towns across Cornwall.
A spokesman for the brewery said that, from the turn of the 20th century until the year 2000, the hooter was a regular reminder of the passing of the time across the brewery, marking shift changes and brewing patterns.
He said: “One of the first actions of our chief executive James Staughton when he became managing director in 2000 was to axe the hooter as he, like many, believed the hooter to be an outdated system of controlling and dictating work patterns.
“So, for nearly 20 years, the hooter has fallen silent, except for annual outings on Remembrance Day, blowing at 11am on Armistice Day in recognition of those who gave their lives in service of their country across the years.
“However, across those 20 years, we’ve received numerous laments from local townspeople who missed the old hooter, claiming they used to run their day by it and the nostalgia that has built up across the years has finally given cause to reflect on the situation.”
James added: “Despite many requests for its return, we wanted as much water to have passed under the bridge as possible so that it wouldn’t be taken as an instigator of working shifts or a call to work. I think nearly 20 years is enough and we hope that the townsfolk who have missed the hooter will enjoy its return as a reminder of bygone days and we are sure that it will not prove a distraction to others.”
“The hooter now blows once daily but not as a reminder of work patterns, rather as a ‘call to crib’, for people to come together socially for a hot drink, a biscuit and a chat should they wish to and if they have the time.”