John Furze & Co

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Furze Whitechapel.jpg
White Swan, 363 High Road, Tottenham N17

John Furze & Co, St George Brewery, 33-35 Commercial Road, Whitechapel, London E1

Acquired by Taylor, Walker & Co. Ltd in 1901 and was closed. The premises became a depot of Johnny Walker of Kilmarnock until at least 1949. Buildings still standing and in various industrial uses.

The family were also brewers in Devon: see Furze & Co. Ltd (Devon).


To add to the above the family Furze originally came from the village of Uffculme in Devon, where they owned and operated a brewing and malting house from approximately 1838 until 1903, when they then turned to cider making. The brewery still stands to this day, but is now empty.

It was sold around 1903 to Dart & Co. It was owned by William A Furze who then passed it on to his son, another William Furze, who was associated with the St Georges Brewery Furzes, and in fact a number of the Furze family left Uffculme in the 1850s to set up a new life in the Whitechapel area of London and to work in the family brewery of St Georges. The remainder of the family stayed in Uffculme, Devon, to maintain the brewery there, and to expand the Culm Valley railway of which they were the main shareholders.

A branch of the family also had a brewery in Newcastle at New Bridge Street, but there is no information on this brewery (although any would be most welcome!). Since those heady days the Furze family have gone from owning breweries to being greengrocers and now lorry drivers, but they still enjoy doing our family history research with all its twists and turns.

From the Brewery History Society Newsletter Number 64

The brewery owner, John Nokes Furze, was born in 1817 in the parish of St Dunstan in the West, London. His father, also called John, was a boot and shoe maker with social pretensions.

Some background deeds: 1837 1) a). Sarah Chevalier, Bell Yard, Liberty of Rolls, Middx., sp. b). John Gloyne, Bunhill Row, St. Luke , Middx., gent. c). Helen Chevalier, Bell Yard., Middx., sp. 2). John Furze, Fleet St., City, boot and shoe maker. Marriage settlement.

Administration William Nokes, formerly Fleet St late 11 Cleveland Row, St James gent

1837 Probate of will Benjamin Chevalier, Bell Yard, Temple Bar, Middx., fishing rod and tackle maker

1859 Charles Bowman, Leman St., Middx., sugar refiner; John Frederick Bowman, Leman St., Middx. 2. Catherine Elizabeth Clarke, Leyton, Essex., sp. 3. Benjamin Cotton, formerly Leytonstone, Essex, then Gloucester Terrace, Regents Park, now Twickenham, Middx., esq. 4. John Furze, Addison Road, Kensington, Middx., brewer. Schedule of deeds, 1808-1837.

Furze the younger had an enquiring and scientific mind as by 1841 he was already working as a brewer (1841 census) and in 1843 he gave a very well received paper ‘Observations on fermentation’ to the Chemical Society. This article was later published in the Philosophical Magazine and related a description and analysis of Furze’s own experiments into the technique of fermenting beer within a closed tank. He was also a member of the Royal Microscopical Society, serving as both a councillor and auditor during the 1850s. Furze married Mary Hodgson in 1844 at Islington parish church and the two had eight children, several of whom followed John into the brewing industry. The Furzes created a formidable brewing dynasty as John’s brother, William, founded a substantial brewery at Uffculme, Devon in 1858 and another branch of the family had a brewery at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The final records of activity at St George’s Brewery refer to the public demonstration given by the embryonic Sterax Company Limited. The ‘Sterax process’ was intended to remove the need for the time-consuming steaming and scrubbing of used beer casks by injecting a wax compound into the interior of the cask which formed an impermeable layer around the timber thus decreasing the likelihood of contamination of the beer. One of the directors of Sterax – Reginald Norton Hincks – was listed as being from St George’s Brewery when the company was floated on the stock market (The Standard 21 March 1900), and it is probable that Hincks was a brewery engineer. Despite the adoption of the Sterax process by brewing giants such as Allsopp’s, Furze and Co. was declared bankrupt in 1909 (London Gazette 19 February 1909).

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