Fernandes & Co

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N L Fernandes & Co, Old Bridge Brewery, Doncaster Road, Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Founded 1850 by J L Fernandes. Brewery and 42 public houses offered for auction 1st October 1919 and were acquired by John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Co. Ltd. and for sale February 1923.

List of N L Fernandes & Co. pubs

David Lloyd Parry writes:-

Fernandes Bridge, so called in earlier times, spanning the Calder and Hebble Navigation, commemorates a remarkable man, Jose Luis Fernandes. The S ending to the name denotes a Portuguese, not a Spanish, surname.

Jose Luis Fernandes was born in Oporto in 1790, grandson of the Marquis de Tavora. In 1804 it became necessary, for some reason not readily ascertainable, that the male members of the family should flee Portugal. Before this time, a traveller in Portugal, Jeremiah Todd Naylor, agent on behalf of Messrs. John and Jeremy Naylor, cloth merchants of Wakefield, had made contact with Jose Luis Fernandes, who returned to Wakefield with Naylor. Here he was found employment in Naylor’s offices, but he quickly rose above that relatively humble calling. Indeed, Jose Luis made rapid progress both socially and in affluence. He became a friend of Charles Waterton (1782 - 1865) of Walton Hall near Wakefield, the famous traveller and conservationist. At the age of 18, Jose Luis married Martha, daughter of Richard Nowell of Warrengate, Wakefield, owner of the Soke Mills, Wakefield, Horbury and Newmillerdam. In 1819 Nowell’s interests passed to Jose Luis. It was a very considerable business, as all corn in the surrounding areas was milled by Fernandes. He lived at this time at Craven House, Westgate Common, Wakefield. By 1820 Jose Luis was describing himself also as a wine and spirit merchant though still deeply engaged in corn milling.

Naturalised in 1820, Jose Luis moved to the larger Belle Field House and later to Belle Vue Park. By the 1830s he was seriously into civic affairs - Commissioner of Streets, Governor of charities, Tax Commissioner, captain of cavalry. and keen Tory, freemason and supporter of the Church of England, though raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

Then in the 1840s most of Jose Luis’ businesses declined and collapsed. Coal, cloth and milling all underwent steep decline, and with debts of £42,000, Jose Luis mysteriously disappeared. Later he is known to have moved to Stonebridge House, Horbury. Years later he was gradually rehabilitated and began to reappear in local political life. Then Fate took another twist. In 1861 his refusal to give evidence in the Wakefield Parliamentary bribery case, led to a six months sentence. A rebel to the end, Jose Luis died at Horbury, aged 78. He left his sons to guide the brewery founded, in his name, in 1850.

The eldest son, Nowell Luis Fernandes was the moving force in the brewery’s progress. He lived at Bridge Cottage close to the premises. He and his brother, called Jose Luis Fernandes after the paterfamilias (don’t worry, this gets even more complicated) were the joint owners of the brewery when it became a private limited company in 1881, when 28 tied houses were already owned.

More scions of this growing family appeared at this point. Charles Walker Luis Fernandes, brewer of Crofton near Wakefield and Guy David Luis Fernandes both joined the business, while Charles Bathurst Luis Fernandes, solicitor of Fernandes and Greaves, Wakefield, would, no doubt, be the moving force in the company’s conveyances. George Walker Luis Fernandes was solicitor’s clerk to the above. I do not possess the genealogical expertise nor the patience to work out all these relationships, but it is clear why Fernandes & Company remained a family-owned business. The name of Walker appearing in some cases leaves one wondering if there might have been intermarriage with the owners of Walker’s Crown Brewery, also in Wakefield. Perhaps more interesting is Guy David Luis Fernandes who left Wakefield for Burnley to marry the daughter of John Hargreaves and later became the owner of the Old Brewery in that town. He died in 1916 and the company was acquired in 1918 by Grimshaw’s of Burnley, with 23 pubs.

The acquisition of tied property, which is the common currency of most brewery companies, continued after 1881. By the end of World War 1 some 50 pubs had been tied. A few had been shed in the interim. Then, in January 1920, an offer was made on behalf of John Smith’s Tadcaster Brewery Ltd. for the business and accepted. Signing the transaction were:-

  • Henry Walker Luis Fernandes
  • Charles Walker Luis Fernandes
  • George Walker Luis Fernandes
  • Ramsden Walker Luis Fernandes

The tied estate of 70 years worth of business was impressive.