Bonded warehouses have always been a vital part of the freight and trade industry, and showed particularly useful attributes to storing goods during the 17th-18thcentury. Trade and retailing boomed as domestic workers produced more products and discovered more materials. In 1686 alone, £1 millionworth of goods were importedto London.Increased imports meant more storage required, and with the increase of alcohol and tobacco post-World War II, bonded warehouses could provide the benefit of storage without tax. Some of these very warehouses are just down the road without us even realising, so I thought I’d give a little shoutout to some of the spaces that were once poignant to the trading industry.

Bristol

Between 1905 and 1919, A, B and C* Bond warehouses were constructed on Bristol’s Floating Harbour. These warehouses were famously red-brick built, and were used for the storage of tobacco, which was a thriving product at the time. The tobacco was kept in bonded warehouses until duties had been paid. In present day, these bonded warehouse buildings are now listed buildings. One is used as a Life Skills learning centre for children.

Stourbridge

Located near the centre of Stourbridge, this bonded warehouse was built in 1779 and was a two-storey brick edifice. This bonded warehouse held taxable goods, such as tea, spirits and tobacco until the importer paid the duty required. The warehouse was highly secure, fitted with barred windows and doors. Eventually, this warehouse was renovated by Stourbridge Navigation Trust, and the building is now houses and offices.

Newcastle

Seeming to be a bonded warehouse hub, Newcastle provides more than one bonded warehouse, and two of them have been converted into contemporary restaurants. One of the two is based in Sunderland, and was constructed in 1830. Limited information remains about the bonded warehouses, however being situated right on the River Tyne and not far from the coast, it is likely that goods such as tea and tobacco may have been stored here.

York

Used as a bonded warehouse in the 1875, this historic building was closed due to its severe floods in November 2000. York’s bonded warehouse was used for trade and storage, however it is reported that there was a rapid decline in commercial traffic and trade along the River Ouse after World War II. Soon after, the area was redeveloped into a pub, restaurant and music venue until its flood in 2000.

Scotland

A and B bonded warehouses were built in 1892 in Markinch (Fife), and were shortly taken over by whiskey distillery company, Haig & Company in 1894. The warehouse was used in 1938 to store 1.5 million gallons of whiskey, along with bottling facilities for over 1.25 million cases per year. As the business grew, exports of the product were taken over to the United States. The premises eventually closed in 1984.

Rachel Jefferies, Editor, FORWARDER magazine