Sydney Wells & Sons

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S Wells Kegworth.jpg

Sydney Wells & Sons, Market Square, Kegworth, Leicestershire.

In 1846 John Wells of Humberstone Gate in Leicester, was a porter and ale dealer, spirit and corn merchant and victualler at the Fountain on Humberstone Gate. In 1848 Sidney Wells was listed as a maltster and brewer in Kegworth, probably at the site previously used by the Cranes. In 1870, he was advertising as a mild, strong, pale ale and porter brewer and maltster at the Brewery, Market Place.

James Burgess was shown as the Leicester agent in 1870-77, at their depot, 57 Humberstone Gate. Although this was listed in Friedrich’s Gazetteer (F2717), there is no evidence that commercial brewing took place at Leicester, other than possibly for the Fountain in earlier years. The address in 1896 seems to be shown as No 67, with Jas F Burgess as the agent. In 1925, it was sold to an Arthur Hawkes. The location is now a shop.

In 1877, Wells formed the Kegworth Brewery Company, which in 1891 was trading as Sydney Wells & Sons, Kegworth Brewery. The sons were Sidney Bowley and Ernest Edward, with the family home being the Lodge.

The Brewers’ Journal for 1885 recorded a meeting of the Leicester & Rutland Brewers Association on 30th May at the Bell Hotel, Leicester. In the chair was W Everard, whilst S Wells (Kegworth) was the vice-chairman. The meeting discussed a resolution against the proposed increase in duty of 1s per barrel.

The 1892 directory lists a John Hall as a clerk at a brewery, but it does not state whether this was at Wells or elsewhere. In 1895 the business was listed simply as Kegworth Brewery. They were supplying the Crown in 1906, when it was closed for compensation of £1,000. In 1913 it was shown as Wells, Sidney & Sons, with a telephone number 7! (F2307) In December 1919, a Selkirk Wells became the manager at Worthington & Co. Ltd's brewery in Burton and the following year joined the Board. That year, the Sidney Wells brewery was offered to Worthington & Co. Ltd at a price of £80,000; however, it is not clear whether there was any connection between the new Board member at Worthington and the chance to buy the Kegworth brewery.

After considerable discussion, the Worthington & Co. Ltd Board decided that the price was too high, but stated that they were open to negotiation.

In 1925,Offiler's Brewery Ltd also turned down the business. However, in the November, Worthington & Co. Ltd decided to purchase, paying £30,000 on 1st October, with the balance in December. The estate of 34 freehold properties, included 9 pubs in Kegworth, 13 in nearby villages, and 2 at Leicester, where they also had two off-licences. In addition, they owned the Windmill at Gotham in Nottinghamshire.

On 26th May 1926, the brewery premises were sold for £1,750 to HR Hopewell Esq. The Kegworth brewery was only demolished in recent years. Worthington & Co. Ltd also set out a programme of repairs and rebuilding for the estate.

  • Horse & Groom, Kegworth £517 alterations
  • Navigation £3,100 rebuild
  • Spinney Hill, Bower, Leicester £278 alterations
  • Dew Drop £330 alterations
  • Dog & Gun, Mount Sorrel £300 alterations
  • Spade Tree, Newton Burgoland £500 alterations

The Britannia at Kegworth was sold to the Council for £1,000, to allow the road to be widened, although it was planned to be replaced by a new pub. The Old Flying Horse in the town centre was also rebuilt.

List of Sydney Wells & Sons Pubs

An assortment of images of the brewery