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The Manor Brewery was centred in buildings behind the Manor House, 121 High Street, land now (2018) occupied by Tesco Supermarket.
It seems that the origins of a brewery on this site were c1776, when Manor House was owned by Matthew Loder Smith. An advertisement in the Reading Mercury of Mon 29 Apr 1776 includes an an advert for the "Mansion House" to be let. The description includes "a large Brewhouse" as well as "Brewing Utensils". (See more under 121 High Street).
It is thought that a new purpose-built Manor Brewery was built on land at the rear of Manor House c1832-37 by John Brown, the then brewer.
Messrs Toms & Matthews, c1837-1847:
In 1837 John Brown sold the Manor Brewery by auction (see below). (John Brown, 'formerly of the Manor House, Hungerford' died in Jan 1849. The Reading Mercury of 3 Feb 1849 recorded "On the 26th ult., at Newbury, Berks, Mr John Brown, formerly of the Manor-house, Hungerford." and the Berkshire Chronicle on Sat 3 Feb 1849 wrote "Jan 26, at Newbury, aged 79, Mr John Brown, formerly of Hungerford").
Lot 2 was a ‘newly erected genteel freehold dwelling house situate in High Street … containing three sitting rooms and seven bedrooms’. This must have been no. 121, later identified in respect of John Brown and subsequent owners of the brewery as the Manor House. The description ‘newly erected’ probably refers to the major rebuilding work, especially at the back of the house, identified as probably completed during the Victorian period by Dr D H Stuart Boyd in his article in the Newbury Weekly News 18 March 1969.
The auction sale was advertised in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 13 Feb 1837:
"To Capitalists, Berks, Wilts and Hants. Eligible and extensive Brewery, Malthouses, Nineteen Inns and Public-houses, several Dwelling-houses & Lands.
To be sold by auction, by Mr Barnes, at the Three Swans Inn, Hungerford, on Friday the 10th of March 1837 at 11 o'clock in the forenoon(subject to such conditions as will be then produced), in Lots:-
Lot 1. A compact and most substantial Brewery, erected within the last five years, under the superintendence of the present Proprietor, who availed himself of the modern improvements in mechanical excellence to make the Plant as complete as possible.
The Brewery is admirably arranged in all respects and comprises a Tun-room, Hop-store, capacious Cellar, Counting-house, Cooperage, Grain-house, Stables, Wagon-shed, and every other suitable office.
The Plant consists of the usual requisites in an eighteen-quarter Brewery, and is in most excellent condition.
Also, a very comfortable Dwelling-House adjoining (was Manor House - HLP), large walled-in Gardens, Malthouse capable of wetting twelve quarters of barley, and about six Acres of rich Meadow Lands lying contiguous.
Also, a comfortable Dwelling-House near the Bridge (now 15 Bridge Street - HLP), with the walled-in Garden and Stables thereunto belonging, and a Malthouse adjoining, capable of wetting ten quarters of barley.
The above Property is situate in the imposing Market-town of Hungerford, in the county of Berks, and on the border of Wilts, nine miles from Newbury, ten from Marlborough, and immediately adjoining the Kennet and Avon Canal, thereby affording every facility for carriage to London, Bath, and Bristol.
Also the following Nineteen well-accustomed Inns and Public-Houses, and Premisesbelonging to the same, for the several Estates and Tenures of the Proprietor therein: "The Three Swans" Commercial Inn, and the Tap, Hungerford; "The Duke of Lancaster's Arms" Hungerford; "The Crown" Charnham Street; "The Pelican" Froxfield; "The Five Alls" Marlborough; "The Fleur-de-Lence" Marlborough; "The Sun" Broad Town; "The Old White Hart" Wantage; "The Pack Horse" Wantage; "The Bell" two Cottages, and about one acre of Land, Grove; "The George" Lambourn; "The Hind's Head", Lambourn; "The Sawyer's Arms", Lambourn; "The Bell" Aldbourne; "The Bell" Ramsbury"; "The Five Bells" Tangley; "King's Arms" Oxenwood; "The Sailor" Hoe Benham; and "The Swan" at Shefford.
The whole of the Malting and Brewing Properrty is in thorough repair, and a large and increasing business may be carried on. The Inns and Public-houses being within an easy distance and accessible by good Roads, it would form a most desirable Investment for a Capitalist or a small Joint Stock Company. The situation is excellent, being surrounded by the best markets for purchasing Barley, and by a judicious application of a small capital, it is confidently believed, that, in a very few years, a large fortune might be acquired; indeed, the locality and peculiar advantages of this desirable Property would enable a purchaser to make it one of the best Malting and Brewing Establishments in the West of England.
Lot 2. All that newly-erected, genteel Freehold Dwelling-House, situate in the High-street, Hungerford, with all requisite out-offices, and containing three sitting-rooms, kitchen, and seven bed-rooms, in the occupation of Mr Brown.
Lot 3. All that compact Dwelling-house and Shop, very desirably situate in High-street, Hungerford, adjoining Lot 2, in the occupation of Mrs Hillary, grocer, with Garden and requisite Outbuildings.
Should the valuable Property comprised in Lot 1 not be sold together, it will, for the convenience of purchasers, be put up to competetion in Lots.
For tickets to view the Brewery, apply to the Solicitors or Auctioneer; and, to view the other property, to the respective tenants."
It seems that the successful buyers were Messrs Toms and John Matthews.
1841: In 1841 John Matthews was part owner of the Manor Brewery. The census records him living in the High Street.
The Manor Brewery was offered for sale by Auction in April 1846. The Salisbury and Winchester Journal of Sat 21 Mar 1846 advertised: "Hungerford Brewery, Maltings, Inns, Public-houses & other Premises. Messrs Shuttleworth and Sons are directed by the Trustees to Sell by Auction, at the Auction Mart, on Friday April 24 at twelve - An extensive Freehold Property comprising the Hungerford Brewery, an establishment of many years' standing, and at present conducted under the firm of Messrs Toms and Matthews, Ale and Porter Brewers, well situate in the centre of the town of Hungerford, in the county of Berks, combining all the necessary buildings and arrangements for an extensive Business, and possessing, with valuable localities, the advantage of water carriage by the Kennet and Avon Canal, and the rapid approximation of the Branch Railway from Basingstoke; also the ancient Manor-House, a spacious Residence, adapted for a Managing Partner, having good Gardens and Paddocks of Meadow Land attached. A commodious Dwelling-house and out-buildings adjoining; a convenient detached Dwelling-house, with a Malting and numerous Offices, situate at the foot of the Canal-bridge, in the town of Hungeford; and the following Inns and Public-houses, in the Counties of Wilts, Berks and Hants:- The Three Swans, High Street, Hungerford; the Swan Inn, Shefford; the Pack Horse, Wantage; The Bell, in the hamlet of Grave; the Five Alls, in the Lower-marsh, and the Nelson, in St Mary's, Marlborough; the Black Horse, Broad Hinton; and the Five Bells, Tangley.
The respective Premises may be viewed, with permission of the respective tenants and occupiers; and particulars obtained, 14 days previous to the Sale, at the Bear, Hungerford; the Hotel, Marlborough; the Bear....."
It seems the auction failed to find a buyer, as everything was repeated with an auction on Fri 22 May 1846. The Berkshire Chronicle of Sat 16 May 1846 advertised: "Hungerford Brewery, Maltings, Inns, Public-houses and other Premises. Messrs Shuttleworth and Sons are directed by the Mortgagee to peremptorily Sell by Auction, at the Mart, in London, on Friday May 22 at 12,twelve in One Lot, an extensive Freehold Property comprising the Hungerford Brewery, an establishment of many years' standing, and at present conducted under the firm of Messrs Toms and Matthews, ale and porter brewers, well situate in the centre of the town of Hungerford, in the County of Berks, combining all the necessary buildings and arrangements for an extensive business, and possessing, with valuable localities, the advantage of water carriage by the Kennet and Avon Canal, and the rapid approximation of the branch railway from Basingstoke; also the ancient manor-house, a spacious residence, adapted for a managing partner, having good gardens and paddocks of meadow land attached. A commodious dwelling-house and out-buildings adjoining; a convenient detached dwelling-house, with a malting and numerous offices, situate at the foot of the canal bridge, in the town of Hungeford; and the following inns and public houses, in the Counties of Wilts, Berks and Hants - The Three Swans, High-street, Hungerford; the Swan Inn, Shefford; The Bell, in the hamlet of Grave; the Five Alls, in the Lower Marsh, and the Nelson, in St Mary's, Marlborough; the Black Horse, Broad Hinton; and the Five Bells, Tangley.
The respective premises may be viewed, with permission of the respective tenants and occupiers; and particulars obtained, 14 days previous to the sale, at the Bear, Hungerford; the Hotel, Marlborough; the Bear, Wantage; of Messrs Crowder and ..."
In 1846-47, Messrs Toms & Matthews became bankrupt. Lambourn Brewery was auctioned on 21 May 1847 (see Berkshire Chronicle, Sat 15 May 1847).
The much larger business and properties in Hungerford were also advertised for sale by auction in the Berkshire Chronicle, Sat 15 May 1847: "Hungerford, Hinton and Lambourn, Berks and Wilts. Valuable Freehold & Leasehold Messuages or Dwelling Houses, Land & premises. Mr Barnes has received instructions from the Assignees of Messrs Toms and Matthews Bankrupts, to Offer for Public Competition at the Three Swans Inn, Hungerford, on Tuesday the 15th of June next, at Two for Three o'clock in the Afternoon, (subject to such Conditionsas shall be then produced), the following very desirable Freehold and Leasehold Property, in Lots:-
Lot 1. A Modern-built Messuage or Dwelling House, eligibly situate on the East side of High-street, Hungerford, Berks, late the residence of Mr John Matthews, containing comvenient drawing room and spacious dining room, visitors and servants entrance halls, kitchen, scullery, butler's pantry, and numerous domestic offices on the ground floor, with capital underground wine and beer cellars, two excellent bed chambers, and dressing room on the first floor, and three good attics above. A spacious and highly productive walled in Garden, stocked with the choicest fruit trees, lies immediately behind the house, beyond which are two very convenient Paddocks,containing together about 1a 0r 13p, with stabling, loose boxes and cow houses.
The above Property is Freehold, and offers a desirable opportunity for a family requiring a genteel and comfortable residence. Immediate possession may be had.
Attached to the House are valuable Common rights of Pasturage on the Hungerford Down and Freeman's Marsh, and of Angling in the River Kennet. There is also a Pew in Hungerford Church. The Tithes are low, and the Property is subject to a small Quite-rent, payable to the Lords of the Manor of Hungerford. The Fixtures to be taken at a valuation.
Lot 2. A valuable Leasehold Property situate at Hinton.....
Lot 3. A Messuage or Dwelling House and Shop, with convenient Yard and outbuildings behind, situate about the centre of the High-street, Hungerford, commanding a frontage to the street of upwards of 36 feet, in the occupation of Mr B Coxhead, at the yearly rent of £30 per annum. A Pew in Hungerford Church, and rights of Common and Fishery belong to the above House and Shop.
Also, a Piece of valuable Land, containing about 1a 3r 2p now used as Garden Allotments, situate in the Tithing of Sanden Fee, and close to the Town of Hungerford with Two Cottages erected thereon, the whole let to respectable tenants, and producing a yearly rental of about £12.
The above Lot is held on Lease from the Supervisors and Poor of the Almshouses of John Isbury, of Lambourn, for two lives now aged respectively 51 and 22 years, and the life of the longest liver of them subject to a Quit-rent of £3 10s per annum.
Also, by direction of the Mortgagee, under a power of sale..
Lot 4. A Freehold Messuage or DwellingHouse, situate in the Market Town of Lambourn...
Lot 5. A very convenient Messuage or Dwelling House (now Bridge House, 131 High Street - HLP), situate on the East side of High-street, Hungerford aforesaid, contining breakfast and sitting room facing the garden, dining room, and library, spacious entrance hall, butler's pantry, two kitchens, underground cellars, larders, and excellent offices on the ground floor, drawing room, and five good bed rooms, dressing room, and patent water closet on the first floor, and two commodious attics above; excellent coach house and harnes room, 3 stall stable, and two loose boxes; spacious and highly productive Garden, with greenhouse and woodhouse, and a small Paddock containing 1s 37p adjoining.
Also a truly valuable Close of Meadow or Pasture Land, containing about 3a 0r 32p, lying immediately behind the above premises, and only divided by an occupation road.
The above Property is at present in the occupation of Mr H Astley, Solicitor, and may truly be said to be one of the most convenient houses in the town, and is peculiarly adapted for a private residence.
There are valuable Common rights also belonging to this Lot, and a Pew in Hungerford Church. The Fixtures to be taken at a valuation.
For permission to view the above premises apply to the respective Tenants, and for further particulars to the Official Assignee, William Bell Esq., 3 Coleman-street Buildings, Moorgate-street; Mr John Bishop, 14 Lincoln's Inn Files, London; Mr H E Astley, Solicitor, or to the Auctioneer, Hungerford, Berks."
The Platt family, 1847-1898:
The Platt family was a large one (see more about them under The Priory).
John Platt (born 1811) had (in the 1841 census) been living at what is now Willow Lodge, 14 Bridge Street. He was recorded as "Brewer, employing 20 men", and using the adjacent malthouse.
He bought the Manor Brewery, along with Manor House and the other properties sold in the auction in 1847. His name is recorded in the 1847 Commoners' List as owner and occupant of Manor House.
The Kelly Directory of the same year records him as "brewer, maltster, wine, spirit and hop merchant".
In the 1851 census, he is recorded as aged 40, a brewer and spirit merchant, employing four men. His family were his wife Theodora (aged 38), and their children John junior (aged 9), Elizabeth (aged 7) and Henry (aged 5).
John Platt was an effective businessman, and by 1861 he is recorded in the census as aged 50 years, with 290 acres, employing 9 men and 3 boys.
The large brewery building came to supply many of the towns inns and alehouses.
At some stage, Mr B Farmer became a partner. The Berkshire Chronicle of Sat 31 Jan 1880 records "Sudden death of Mr B Farmer. - On Monday last a telegram was received in Hungerford to the effect that Mr B Farmer had suddenly died on that morning. Mr Farmer was formerly a partner in the firm of Platt and Farmer in the Hungerford Brewery. His death will be regretter by his circle of acquaintances."
In 1883 the Manor Brewery was taken over by John Platt senior's son John Platt junior. [Kenneth R. Goodley, "Berkshire Breweries of the 19th Century", 1975 – copy in pamphlets collection at BRO].
John Platt senior died in October 1890 (as reported in the Reading Mercury on Sat 25 oct 1890).
John Platt junior decided to sell the Manor Brewery in 1893 and, as a result, it was no longer possible to accommodate the fire engine on the site.
(Note that George Platt is occupant in 1896, but by 1903, Kelly Directory states that George Platt lived in The Priory, High Street (sic!).)
The South Berks Brewery, 1898:
In 1898, John Platt & Son, The Manor Brewery, was sold to the South Berks Brewery Co. Ltd. of Newbury. (Atlas Brewery Co – Hawkins & Parfitt – name changed to S. Berks Brewery Co in April 1913). [See Kennett R. Goodby 1975 – copy in pamphlets collection at BRO].
The Faringdon and Vale of the White Horse Gazette of Sat 15 Oct 1898 recorded: "The old-established Brewery, carried on for so many years past by Messrs Platt and Son, with its numerous licenced houses, situate over a country which extends from the confines of the lands recently purchased by the War Office, in Wiltshire, to villages in the neighbourhood of Faringdon, has been sold - through the hegotiation of Messrs Ferris and Puckridge, of Milton, Wilts (who, with Messrs Jotcham and Son as solicitors, acted for Messrs Platt) - to Messrs Black, Hawkins and Parfitt - the South Berks Brewery Company Ltd. - and this purchase must undoubtedly strngthen the Company's already strong position. It is rather a point of interest that the property carried with it the "Old Manor House" at Hungerford, which is said to have been the residence of that famous old-world fox-hunter, Mr Ward, when he hunted what was then the Craven country, which is thought to have reached nearly from Reading to Bristol"
In 1901 George Edmund Platt, now aged 33, completed his fourth and final year as the constable of the town and manor, and in that year he and his family moved out of the Manor House to live at the south-east end of the town, at The Priory. The move marked the end of a 70-year-long association between Hungerford Manor House and The Three Swans.
It was also a time when rationalisation of brewing capacity was inevitable. The Manor Brewery was closed sometime shortly after 1902, the year of the last-reported employees’ annual day-trip to Southampton. The company retained an office in High Street, and George Edmund Platt continued as the firm’s district manager for many years to follow. He was reputed to have a chair at The Three Swans dedicated for his exclusive use.
While continuing to work for the brewery he also became a founding director of the Hungerford Sanitary Laundry Company, which was set up in the redundant Manor Brewery buildings in 1908.
The 1915 Kelly's Directory includes "the South Berks Brewery Co Ltd (George Platt, district Manager); brewers, maltsters and wine & spirit merchants, High Street, and at Newbury and Reading".
In Oct 1920 the South Berks was taken over by H & G Simonds of 32 Bridge Street Reading.
In 1960, Simonds was taken over by Courage Barclay & Co of London. [Info in T/S booklet by Alan Gull, 22 Stonefield Drive, Stoneclough, Radcliffe, M/C M26 9HA]
The Manor Brewery closed, c1900-1908:
Following the sale of the Manor Brewery to the South Berks Brewery in 1898, it seems that brewing in Hungerford was soon stopped.
A mention is made in the Reading Mercury of Sat 12 Jan 1901 of a sad occurence: "A man named Cox, aged 37, who was employed by the South Berks Brewery Company, went to work on Monday, but his employer, Mr Platt, noticing how ill he looked, oredered him to be taken home. Unfortunately, the deceased would not call in medical aid, and on Tuesday, after a few hours' illness, death intervened." Mr Platt had been appointed Manager at the brewery after the purchase by South Berks.
A further entry in the Reading Mercury, this time on Sat 18 May 1901, recorded that "Mr G Platt, of the South Berks Brewery, has privately purchased The Priory, lately occupied by Mr Goulter. The Hungerford people will be glad to know that Mr Platt will continue to be a resident in the town."
By c1908, the large brewery building, which had been built in c1832-1837, became used for the Hungerford Sanitary Laundry Co. Ltd.
Some of the buildings were used by the James family millers for the production of feeding stuff and seeds during the First World War. In 1918 the main focus was on Game food manufacture, and the business moved to the newly built Great Western Mills in Church Street in 1932.
The laundry closed in December 1966 after several changes of ownership, having been renamed The Rose of Hungerford Laundry in the 1950s.
Somerfield supermarket and car-park was built on the site in 1999, changing to Tesco Supermarket in April 2009.
- South Berks Brewery Daimler delivery wagon, c1908.
- The Hungerford Sanitary Laundry, c1920
- "The Brewery" inscription and gate hinge on the railway buttress, Jan 1979.
- The old brewery, March 1981.
- Old Brewery building, Jun 1997
- Old Brewery building, Jul 1998
- Loheat, Jul 1998
I am grateful to Will Swales who kindly sent much material on this topic in 2018 - HLP.