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The Heavitree Brewery

Church Street

Page added 3rd February 2015

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Map showing position of the breweryAnother name that is synonymous with brewing in Exeter, the Heavitree Brewery can be traced back to 1790 when John Wolland founded a brewery. Thomas Buller Wolland's father and great uncle had been maltsters in premises opposite the site of the brewery.

A bill of sale from 1828 shows Wollander purchasing 36 bushells of malt, and 28 lbs (pounds weight) of hops for a total price of £17 14 shillings. Wollander's sister, Elizabeth married the iron merchant, Thomas R Baker. In 1837 Baker sold his business and became a partner with Wollander in the brewery. However, Baker died within a few months–Wollander handed the business over to his sister, although he continued to run it for another few years with Elizabeth Baker as the owner. By 1850 he is described as a gentleman and Elizabeth as a brewer.

It is thought that the brewery moved to the opposite side of Church Street in 1842, and is thought to have been still thatched until 1847, when a fire occurred after a furnace over heated.

In 1860 it became Baker & Son, when Elizabeth's son Robert joined the firm. In 1861, the brewery employed nine workers, eighteen in 1871 and by 1881, twenty-three. Steady, but not spectacular progress. At his mother's death at the age of 84 in 1889. Robert Baker formed the Heavitree Brewery Ltd, to realise his assets on 7 February 1890. He remained on the board of the new company and also became active in local politics, until his death in 1911.

As soon as the Heavitree Brewery was formed, the board started to expand by acquiring public houses. The first was the Horse and Groom - Heavitree, on the corner of Church Street and Fore Street, Heavitree.

The Finch Eagle Brewery was purchased on 19 November 1892.

The Windsor Brewery

They also purchased in 1898/9, the rival brewery, Crowson & Son, for £20,000. It was known as the Windsor Brewery, and located off North Street, Heavitree. It was ounded in 1860 by Essex born William Crowson, who also owned the Windsor Inn. From 1862 it was run by Alger and Crowson–in 1866 it was Crowson and Smith. The latter partnership only lasted a year when William Crowson became the sole owner of the brewery.

After Crowson's death in 1885, the business was run by his widow and son. After the acquisition by the Heavitree Brewery, they continued to brew from the premises until 1902, and in 1907 the brewery was finally closed. The Windsor Castle public house was continued to be run by Crowson's widow and son.

Heavitree beer matsThe Heavitree Brewery sunk a well in 1903 to ensure continuity of supply at a time when the mains was not so efficient as today.

More acquisitions were made in the early 20th Century, including W S Pinsent and Sons from Newton Abbot in 1920, Richard Brock Ferris' Dawlish Brewery in 1926, along with their 26 pubs, and Bartlett & Company's Warfleet Brewery in Dartmouth in 1927.

Internal theft

Mr E W Gall was appointed as Company Secretary and General Manager in 1916. John Parnell Tucker, owned the maltsters, Edwin Tucker & Sons Ltd, who were owed a considerable amount of money by the Heavitree Brewery, by 1922. Tucker persuaded the brewery's chairman to allow him inspect the accounts. It became clear that someone was stealing from the company–when the losses were announced, the company, Mr E W Gall mysteriously disappeared, and after an investigation, it was discovered he had absconded to Canada. He was returned by the authorities, found guilty of embezzling the money, and sentenced to three years penal servitude and an accomplice to twelve months imprisonment. John Parnell Tucker became a major shareholder in the brewery, and on 21 January 1927, Chairman of the company.

Brewing continued until April 1970, when it became the last in Exeter to stop production of beer. After it was taken over by Whitbread, they changed to leasing and operating public houses. The old brewery building was demolished in 1980, and replaced with the appropriately named Maltings retirement flats. The only building remaining from the old brewing business is the cooperage in Sivell Place, which is now a residential property. Many of the original coopers tools have ended up in Smokey Joes, a Plymouth pub.

The company became the Heavitree Brewery PLC., in 1981. It is still operating from Trood House in Matford undera new company known as Heavitree Inns Ltd, formed in 1992. They now manage a range of public houses in the south west, including the Horse and Groom and the Prospect Inn, Topsham.

Sources - The Land of Bill Brewer, Express & Echo, Financial Times, Morning Advertiser, Trewman's Exeter Flying Post, Izacke, the Exe Island and the City Brewery by Pring, Jenkins and Hoker histories, Heavitree by Hazel Harvey, Ordnance Survey map 1876, Carl Mortimer and lastly, Steve Coombes

The front of the brewery in Church Street.

The front of the brewery in Church Street. Photo courtesy of the Heavitree Brewery.

The brewery behind Heavitree Church.

The brewery can be glimpsed behind Heavitree St Michael's Church.

A Heavitree Brewery delivery van

A Heavitree Brewery delivery van.

The Heavtree Brewery shop in Fore Street

The Heavtree Brewery shop in Fore Street. Photo courtesy of the Heavitree Brewery.

An early poster for the Heavitree Brewery

An early poster for the Heavitree Brewery. Photo courtesy of the Heavitree Brewery.

The Horse and Groom

The Horse and Groom in Heavitree was the first house to be purchased by the brewery in 1891. Photo courtesy of the Heavitree Brewery.

Exeter houses managed by Heavitree Inns
The Clifton Inn, Clifton Road, Newtown
The Heart of Oak, Pinhoe
Henry’s Bar, Mount Pleasant Road
Horse and Groom, Heavitree
The Kings, Cowick Street
The Locomotive Inn, New North Road
The New Inn, Alphington

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