Born- Cocking in Sussex, 1731
died- Newhaven, Sussex, 14 May 1785 aged 54.
Tipper was born in Cocking, West Sussex, in 1731 and by the age of 30 was living in Newhaven and brewing beer. His brewery was close to the river, just south of where the Bridge Inn is now situated. His beers earned a great reputation said to be due to brackish water used in the brewing. Dickens mentions it in Martin Chuzzlewit.
Old Stingo - was his best beer, which was called 'Newhaven Tipper'. Old Stingo was a generic term for strong beer.
Once Old Stingo was served to the guests at Compton Place in Eastbourne and a couple of hours after the ladies had retired to bed, the servants had to be sent out into the grounds of the mansion to retrieve unconscious guests and drag them to the nearby stables where at least they could sleep off their drunkenness under cover.
Every September Thomas Tipper would travel across East Sussex during the hop harvest presumably to buy the core material for his trade. He was also a local exciseman, an amateur lawyer, surgeon and even a musician.
Luckily Thomas Turner kept an account of his life in a diary between 1754 and 1765. He was not only friends with Tipper but also something of a drinker too. Indeed he regularly visited Tipper at Newhaven. On one occasion he left East Hoathly at 5am in order to breakfast with Tipper. The two men inspected the new Lunette Battery built to protect the entrance to Newhaven Harbour and returned to Tippers home for a lunch which contsisted of boiled leg of lamb, lobster, white cabbage and green salad followed by a gooseberry pie and hot baked rice pudding.
On 29th May, 1763, Tipper and Turner went to Seaford where they had tea which cost 6d. The two men had to pay a penny each for the ferry across the Ouse at Newhaven. The fact that there was no bridge across the river until Lewes must have irked Tipper because he was one of the driving forces to replace the ferry with a bridge. Trustees for the bridge met at his pub, the New Inn.
On Thursday 23rd December 1784 the bridge opened. It was originally a toll bridge, so presumably Tipper eventually got back some of his investment. As the Ouse was busy with traffic the bridge had to be raised to allow sailing ships to pass. It was a bascule bridge, similar in design to Tower Bridge and was designed by John Plaw of London.
Thomas Tipper died on the 14th May, 1795, aged 54 years, his bridge, beer and brains all deemed to be worthy of inclusion on his gravestone. His bridge stood for a century but unfortunately a few years ago his tombstone was damaged, however in 1993 it was listed and may it stand for many years to come.
Kevin Gordon an epitaph of bridges and beer
Brewery founded by Thomas Tipper. Acquired by Thomas Stone around 1839, and Robert Towner became his partner in 1855. The brewery was purchased by the Towner family in 1886, and sold by Charles William Towner, 124 Old Shoreham Road, Portslade, to the Rock Brewery, in April 1922. The Rock Brewery seems to have leased the premises from 1911
St Michaels, Newhaven - from a postcard used 1920
To the Memory of Thomas Tipper
who departed this life May 14th 1785. Aged 54 years.
Reader, with kind regard this grave survey
Nor needless pass where Tipper's ashes lay
Honest he was, ingenious, blunt and kind
And dared do what few do, speak his mind
Philosophy and History he knew
Was versed in Physick and Surgery too
The best Old Stingo he brewed and sold
Nor did one knavish thing to get his Gold
He played through life a varied comic part
And knew immortal Hudibras by heart
Reader, in real truth such was the man
Be better, wiser, laugh more if you can