Brewing in Bristol

Although breweries in Bristol have been mentioned on some of my other pages, this page was started because of an email I received from M. Wilkes in February 2011. They wrote...

I've been researching my family tree and hope that someone can answer a question for me. My 2x Great Uncle moved to Bristol from Frome in the 1870's. He spent his working life as a Brewery Clerk, most likely for the same company. His homes were Raglan Road, Wolseley Road (1881-1892) then Longfield Road until his death in 1940. Does anyone know which Brewery would be the most likely one for him to be working at, given his living area?

My reply was...

Longfield, Raglan and Wolseley Roads are in the Bishopston area of Bristol, so presumably he would have worked in that area. The closest breweries in that area were J. & T. Usher in Horfield Road and R. W. Miller & Co. Pale Ale Brewery of 48 Stokes Croft. Of those the more likely would be Ushers.

Usher's were in existence since at least 1856 in Horfield Road and had another premises at the New City Brewery in River Street. They were registered in March 1889 and merged with and Bristol United Breweries Ltd. in 1897 but closed in 1898.

R. W. Miller & Co. Pale Ale Brewery of 48 Stokes Croft, were registered in December 1893. They were acquired by Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd. in 1911 along with 48 public houses.

Brewing may not be the oldest profession but it can't be far behind and over the years Bristol has had a quite a few of them. The illustrious Yeamans family were one of the city's first documented brewers. John Yeamans owned Bristol's largest brewery in 1640. It was much later sold to the Saunders family, who ran it for a hundred years. It eventually became the Georges' and then the Courage Brewery.

There were dozens of breweries in the city at the time. One of them was near Bristol Bridge and in 1702 this one was owned by the Mayor, Sir John Hawkins. In 1730, it was bought by wealthy slave merchant Isaac Hobhouse whose sons, John and Henry, created the Porter Brewery.

The Porter Brewery was in turn sold to Philip George in 1788. He along with six other Bristol merchants bought a malthouse in Tucker Street and set up as The Philip George Bristol Brewery.

An advertisement in a 1794 edition of Felix Farley's Journal says:

P. George, Bristol Porter and Beer Company will deliver in barrels and half barrels their Porter to all towns and villages within five miles of the City and is sold at Fourpence per Quart.

With so many breweries in Bristol alone competition was fierce and the company sent representatives to Ireland to sell the porter and 60,000 barrels a year were eventually sold there. By the beginning of the 19th century George's brewery was acquiring other small brewery businesses and a brewery war began: it was of course won by George's, who in 1878 bought 70 licensed houses as well.

In 1861, 32 breweries were producing 4,103 barrels of beer. In 1880, the number of breweries was down to 21 but they were producing 14,501 barrels.

In 1878, George's went public and within five years their shares had brought in nearly six and a half million pounds, enough to wipe out many of their smaller competitors. By 1900, there was only one big local rival left, Bristol United Breweries. Between them they had a near monopoly. In 1950, Bristol United Brewery owned 11 city centre pubs whilst Bristol Brewery George & Co. owned 37. The two companies merged in 1952.

In 1961, the firm amalgamated with Courage's, who in 1972 were taken over by Imperial. They in turn were taken over by the Hanson Trust, who sold Courage's in 1986 to the Elders IXL group. The brewery was closed in 2000 and demolition and redevelopment started soon after.

Samuel Allsopp & Sons

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at 26, Bath Street

Sir John Arnott & Co.

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at 6, Prince Street

Ashton Gate Brewery, Bedminster

The company was registered in 1865 to acquire the business of the late Thomas Baynton. The name changed to Hardwick & Co. Ltd. in 1868 but reverted back to the original title in 1883. In 1911, the defunct Bonds Bristol Brewery, Redcross Brewery in Lawford Street, was bought by the Ashton Gate Brewery. At its height, the brewery was producing six beers and owned approximately 150 pubs. The brewery was bought by Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd. in 1931 and was closed in 1933. A local architect, George Ferguson, bought the premises in 2003, with the idea of putting the building back to its original purpose and since 2005 has been the home of The Bristol Beer Factory.

Ashton Gate Brewery - 1904

Ashton Gate Brewery in 1904
Image from Bristol Beer Factory

Ratcliff Bass & Lim. Gretton

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at 6, 7 & 8 Quay Head

Thomas Baynton

Bought by Ashton Gate Brewery in 1865.

Bedminster Bridge Brewery

A trade card of 1807 gives Grace & Mann as the owners of Bedminster Bridge Brewery. James & Pierce were given as the owners in 1856 directories and Kelly's Directory of 1883.

Bishop and Butt Ltd.

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at Redcliffe Mead Brewery. One of the breweries that were amalgamated in 1888 to form Bristol United Breweries.

Bonds Bristol Brewery, Redcross Brewery, Lawford Street

Was listed in the Kelly's directory of 1883. The brewery was registered October 1890. Closed in 1904 it was bought by Ashton Gate Brewery Co. Ltd. in 1911.

Bowley and Bristow

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at St. Paul's Brewery, Victoria and Bishop Streets. One of the breweries that were amalgamated in 1888 to form Bristol United Breweries.

Bristol United Breweries Limited, Lewins Mead

Bristol United Breweries was formed in 1888 from the amalgamation of Bowley and Bristow, St. Paul's Brewery, Bishop and Butt Ltd., Redcliffe Mead Brewery, J. H. Lockley and Sons, Lewins Mead Brewery, M. Reynolds & Company and the Imperial Brewery of Bedminster. The company was incorporated on 24th July 1889. Around 1890 a new malting building was built for them in Gas Ferry Road by George Morgan Gosling & Richard Robert Wilkins, trading as "Wilkins & Gosling".

The brewery took over Daniel Sykes and Co. Ltd., Redcliffe Brewery, Redcliffe Street, which was established in 1753, in 1897; the Oakhill Brewery, Ashwick, in 1925; and the Charlton Brewery, Shepton Mallet, in 1937.

Bristol United Breweries Limited merged with Bristol Brewery Georges in 1956 along with 600 tied houses. Georges' was taken over by Courage, Barclay and Simonds in 1961. Bristol United Breweries went into voluntary liquidation in 1962. The premises were used as a sugar factory until 1966.

Carter & Brown

A early 19th century trade card gives them as the owners of Royal York Cresent Brewery, Clifton.

Colman & Reynolds

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at the Imperial Brewery at North Street, Bedminster

Fry, Ball & Co.

In 1807, were the owners of the Porter and Strong Beer Brewery. See Porter and Strong Beer Brewery

Charles Garton Brewery, Easton Road, Lawrence Hill

An early 19th century trade card shows a brewery at Lawence Hill being owned by Walter Williams but I do not know if this is the same brewery that was later owned by charles Garton. In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at the Lawrence Hill address and 1, Baldwin Street. The brewery was acquired by the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery Co. Ltd. of Shepton Mallet in 1898. Anglo-Bavarian was formed in 1864 and closed in 1920. Garton's used a double drop fermentation system (see Zythophile) but instead of dropping the beer from the large initial fermentation tuns into pontos to continue the fermentation in the same room the beer was dropped into a lower fermenting or cleansing room.

Georges & Co. Ltd., Bristol Brewery, Bath Street

Bristol Brewery George's & Co Ltd was founded in 1788 when Philip George, the son of a distiller of Baldwin Street, and his partners bought two brewing premises, in Bath Street (on the opposite side of the river from Castle Park and later the home of Courages') and Tucker Street, St.Thomas's. The Tucker Street brewery was owned by James Grimes who had bought the premises from John Willes, his wife Frances and their son John Freke Willes 11 years earlier, on 13 October 1777.

The Bath Street brewery, which ceased brewing in 1999 (as Courages'), was known as Rickett's Porter Brewery, while Tucker Street became The Philip George Bristol Brewery The two breweries were amalgamated in 1816 and were registered in February 1888. It was acquired by Courage, Barclay & Co. Ltd. in 1961 along with 1,459 tied houses. Courages' closed in 1999 and the site is being redeveloped.

Gibbings Brothers

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 were listed at the St. Michaels' Hill Brewery.

Grace & Mann

A trade card of 1807 gives them as the owners of Bedminster Bridge Brewery.

Grace & Mann trade card

Grace & Mann 1807 trade card showing their Bedminster Bridge Brewery
Image from Bristol Trade Cards by John Winstone, Reece Winstone Publishing, 1993

James Grimes

Bought premises in Tucker Street from John Willes, his wife Frances and their son John Freke Willes on 13 October 1777 and started a brewery. This was bought by Georges' in 1788. The brewery was amalgamated with Rickett's Porter Brewery in 1816.

Conveyance from Willes to Grimes

Indenture of sale of the premises from the Willeses to James Grimes
Image from Bristol Past - which has a translation of this document

G. G. Gullick

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 was listed at a brewery in Newfoundland Street.

Hardwick & Co. Ltd.

After Thomas Baynton's brewery was bought by the Ashton Gate Brewery in 1865 the name was changed to Hardwick & Co. Ltd. in 1868 but reverted back to Hardwick & Co. Ltd. in 1883.

Harvey & Co.

In the Kelly's directory of 1883 was listed at a brewery at 48, Stokes Croft.

Imperial Brewery, North Street, Bedminster

Listed in the Kelly's Directory of 1883 as being owned by Colman & Reynolds. One of the breweries that were amalgamated in 1888 to form Bristol United Breweries.

Breweries - Page 2

This page created 5th March 2011, last modified 7th March 2011