Mortlake Brewery

Image: (Wikipedia): “Fuller’s Brewery is an English brewery based in Chiswick, West London, founded in 1845 and having been a family-run regional brewery until January 2019, when the brewing division of Fuller, Smith & Turner PLC was sold to Japanese international beverage giant Asahi.

John Fuller’s Griffin Brewery dates from 1816; in 1845, his son, John Bird Fuller, was joined by Henry Smith and John Turner.

Following the sale of the brewery, Fuller, Smith & Turner still own and operate over 380 pubs, inns, and hotels across the south of England.”

From the website of the Barnes and Mortlake History Society:

“According to the manor court rolls, commercial brewing in Mortlake began during the eighteenth century. The rolls for 1765 mention two small breweries adjacent to each other, but in separate ownership, occupying about two acres. They were on either side of the back lane (Thames Street), a cartway leading to the Town Dock. On the north or river side was the smaller of the two owned by James Weatherstone, an inn-keeper and maltster. On the south side was the larger belonging to William Richmond, a short cut to it being via a narrow alley running down from the High Street, known as Brewhouse Lane. From Thames Street another narrow way named Pembroke Alley ran north towards the river. By 1780 Richmond’s brewery had been taken over by John Prior, owner of two local inns and a makings at Strand on the Green.

In 1807 Weatherstone and an associate named Halford extended his premises northwards to the river by acquiring land with a riverside frontage of 104ft, described as being “an excellent situation for a brewery, maltings or any other building requiring river transport”. With this acquisition went Mortlake’s last chance of a purely residential riverside.

Weatherstone and Halford took over Prior’s business in 1811, and the two small breweries became one. The business passed through various hands until 1852, when the land was sold to 32-year-old Charles John Phillips, who was funded by his father, a coal and corn merchant. A partnership between Phillips and 21-year-old James Wigan, shortly bought out the whole business. At that time the brewery was half way down the list of London breweries for output, using around 5,000 quarters of malt per annum as against Barclay’s 108,000 quarters.

The next ten years were spent buying up property on adjacent sites – Phillips also bought two local inns, the Ship and the Bull. Prosperity came to the firm via lucrative government contracts for supplying beer to the British army in India (India Pale Ale), and possibly to troops in the Crimean War. By then the brewery was the largest employer of labour in the district, but lack of space was becoming a problem and a drawback was that Thames Street, ran through the heart of it: the street was the only public cartway to the river, with cottages and businesses on either side. The problem was overcome in 1865 by Phillips’ acquisition of the freehold of all the land on the riverside for £2,350, and he then proceeded to close off the smaller rights of way to the towpath. The closure of Pembroke Alley prior to the purchase of the freehold met with little resistance, but the initial attempts to close Thames Street and Brewhouse Lane were met by loud public protests. A prolonged and bitter battle between the brewers and the people of Mortlake ended in victory for the brewers. Phillips’ promise to widen Bull’s Alley into a cartway (and to contribute £200 to the parish poor fund) swayed Mortlake Vestry in his favour and the closure went ahead.

In 1865, a tithe barn, a docking house, a shop with stable, a slaughterhouse, lofts and a blacksmith’s workshop were bought jointly by the partners and demolished. The new brewery included a long, high brick wall fronting Mortlake High Street on which the initials P & W were carved into stone roundels beside the legend Mortlake Brewery, 1869. They can be seen on the same wall today.

The Phillips and Wigan partnership ended in 1877. Phillips remained as the sole owner and Wigan bought Hawkes’ Brewery at Bishops Stortford, though he continued to live in Mortlake. With Wigan gone, Phillips’ sons joined what was now the family business and when their father retired in 1889 they sold out to Watneys, staying on as directors. A takeover by Watneys in 1898 resulted in the firm becoming Watney, Combe, Reid and Co. Charles Phillips died in 1901.

Since the turn of the 20th century the brewery developed westward. In 1903 an eight-storey maltings was erected by the riverside on the eastern corner of Ship Lane.

During the 1960s Watneys maintained its role as the leading local employer with 1,400 on the payroll. Further expansion westward in the early 1970s took the brewery west of Ship Lane destroying several small alleyways, streets and a paddock in the process. Expansion did not mean more jobs – use of modern technology brought a steady decline in the workforce, so that by 1986 the total number was 400, including management and office personnel.

In 1995 Anheuser Busch, the American based brewing giant, took a lease on the old Watney’s Mortlake brewery, producing Budweiser until the closure of the site in 2015.”

Mike Brown writes at the Journal of the Brewery History Society Online:

“Mortlake Brewery

This is said to have been founded by John Morgan in 1487. This would make it the site with the longest continuous brewing operation in the country! There are Phillips links with a family of this name in later years.

In the early C19 it was owned by Topham & Kempson, trading as the Star Brewery, coincidentally the same name used for Wapping. John Kempson was a solicitor.

…around this time John Phillips was a corn and coal merchant of Wilton Place, Knightsbridge. He was later joined by his sons Thomas and Charles (born around 1820).

Then in 1846 Charles [John] Phillips was at the Star brewery, previously Halford & Topham, as a result of the death of John Kempson.

In 1852 James Wigan took a half share. Wigan, from a family of hop merchants (b.1832), studied brewing at James Young & Dudley and at Neville Reid & Co at Windsor. NB a “Wiggins” family was at the Stag Brewery Pimlico in 1785. James and Charles each put up £15,000 to buy out the owner George Streater Kempson. Charles was living at The Cedars next to the brewery. They also bought the following:

The Ship, Mortlake

The Bull, East Sheen

In 1855 Phillips & Wigan were listed at 9/10 Howley Place, Belvedere Road, Westminster to 1868 and later bought the Elephant Brewery, George Street, Portman Square. They held lucrative contracts for supplying beer to the Army in India. In 1867 CJ Phillips was Chairman of the Country Brewers Society, surprisingly he was also president of the Birmingham Retail Brewers Association.

In 1872 it was trading as Phillips & Wigan, but in 1876 Wigan bought Hawkes & Co of Bishops Stortford, in association with his son James Lewis Wigan and one of his nephews. Wigan is said to have journeyed around the world to explore the possibilities of establishing breweries overseas. He made commitments in New York, Johannesburg and Melbourne apparently without consulting Charles. However, given that several other members of the Phillips family were active in the US around this time (e.g. James Henry’s children born in US), I think this unlikely. With the ending of the partnership Charles took his sons Charles James and Herbert into the business. Hence, for 1876-1889 the business traded as Phillips & Co. It was also shown at 65 George Street, Portman Square and 153 Grosvenor Road, Pimlico.

The 1881 census for The Cedars shows Charles J age 60 born Hanover Square. His son CJ Phillips aged 28 and also a brewer, was a visitor with the Chaplin family at S Luffenham Hall. CJ sen retired around this time and a new business More, Phillips & Co was formed.

In 1889 Phillips & Co Mortlake was merged/bought by Watneys of the Stag Brewery, Pimlico. J and Herbert Edward both joined the Watney Board after the take-over. In July 1898 Charles James Phillips jun was the MD, but apparently lost his active role as part of a management clearout, after the formation of Watney Combe Reid.

Charles John Phillips of the Mortlake Brewery died aged 81, 21st July 1901. His sons: Charles James Phillips at Mortlake and deputy chairman in 1904 (1891 also Director of Bartholomews in Rochester US) and Herbert Edward Phillips of 21 Chesham Place.

In 1908 Charles James Phillips Esq DL JP was living at Old Dalby Hall, Melton Mowbray and 1 Eaton Sq London. In January 1925 CJ Phillips resigned as deputy chairman of Watneys and was succeeded by Sir Richard Garton; however, he retained seat on the board until 1927. On 14th October 1930 Charles James Phillips former Managing Director and Deputy Chairman died aged 78 at Old Dalby Hall.”

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