Amey's Brewery Ltd

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Amey's Brewery Ltd, Borough Brewery, Frenchmens Road, Petersfield, Hampshire.

Founded by Thomas Amey 1875 who built the brewery in 1883. Registered 1946.

Acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1951 with 20 public houses and 12 off-licences and brewing ceased. Brickwoods Ltd of Portsmouth took over in February 1952.

Some of the buildings are still standing.

Nicholas Redman writes:-

Thomas Amey was a dairy farmer and a manufacturer of condensed milk of some means. His business was based at Borough Farm and Rushes Farm in Petersfield, West Mark Farm in Sheet, and later at another farm at Buriton.

Some time between 1875 and 1880 Amey established a brewery at the south end of Frenchman's Road and next to the main London to Portsmouth railway line. In fact he had his own private siding with barley supplies, among other commodities, being brought in by rail.

Taking its name from the area (Borough Farm, Borough Hill), the brewery was called Borough Brewery. In 1895 it was trading as Thomas Amey; in 1898 as E Amey (when his daughter Elizabeth took over); and by 1903 as Thomas Amey again. It was not registered as a limited company, Amey's Brewery Ltd, until 1941.

Thomas Amey steadily increased the number of outlets in his estate, acquiring for example the Bell in Petersfield in 1886 (rebuilt by Elizabeth Amey in 1904), and the Trooper at Froxfield in 1901. He had agencies in Petersfield High Street and in Broad Street, Alresford. Eventually Amey's had 20 pubs.

Many were local, for example at Petersfield, Rake, Froxfield, and West Meon (where the New Inn later became the Thomas Lord); and farther afield, at South Hayling, Guildford and Crawley. Amey's even had a pub in London, the Hole in The Wall, Mepham Street by Waterloo Station, where their cider was a particularly popular and profitable line.

Steam transport was used for local deliveries in the 1920s and the 1930s. The Foden steam wagons were eventually sold in 1942.

There were also 11 off-licences located from Havant to Winchester, several cottages and houses, and a malthouse in Meonstoke. Amey's cask beers included XX mild, XXX strong mild, light bitter, pale ale, stout (Good pick-me-up), oatmeal stout (most nourishing), and double stout (very strong). Their bottled beer range included dinner ale, dark old English stout, oatmeal stout, Swallow stout, and the delightfully named Petersfield Peter and Petersfield Peter's Sister.

Amey's found trading conditions difficult in the period after the Second World War. In May 1951 contact was established with London brewers Whitbread & Co. Ltd, and by the end of June the sale of the brewery had been agreed.

The Borough Brewery continued to supply the Amey houses "for an initial period", but by October 1951 draught beer was being supplied by Brakspear & Sons Ltd of Henley on Thames. This arrangement continued until February 1952 when Brickwoods Ltd of Portsmouth took over.

From July 1951 Whitbread's bottled beers were being supplied to all Amey houses. In September Stowells took over the delivery of wines and spirits both to the pubs and to the off-licences at Petersfield, Alresford and Portsmouth. The Amey directors, John Chalcraft, Charles Flood and Archie Kelsey resigned in 1952.

By then equipment had been removed from the brewery making it less suitable for the store of draught beer, and in March 1952 the Whitbread Bottling Stores Department bought the brewery, excluding the private house, West End House, (a very early example of concrete construction), for £6,000, for the storage of crates. This arrangement continued for a number of years.

Today the brewery site is a small industrial estate. Some of the buildings still stand, including a large two storey one next to the railway. Many of the old Amey houses are still trading, though in most cases without visible sign of their origins. One exception is the Prince of Wales at Hammer which still has Amey's coloured glass in a window. Otherwise the memory of Petersfield's Borough Brewery lives on only among those who can still recall drinking its beers.

Author's Note

I am very grateful to Mrs Mary Ray, President of the Petersfield Area Historical Society for all her kind assistance to me in the preparation of this article.