Tenterden Brewery Co. Ltd

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Tenterden Vine Inn.jpg

Tenterden Brewery Co. Ltd, Vine Brewery, Station Road (formerly known as Brewery Lane), Tenterden, Kent.

Founded 1745 and was bought by Obadiah Edwards 1872 who had previously brewed at Tunbridge Wells.

Registered as above 1922.

Acquired by Jude, Hanbury & Co. Ltd. February 1923 with 10 tied houses and was closed.

List of Tenterden Brewery Co. Ltd pubs

THE TENTERDEN BREWERY by F E Edwards

Built 1745 (approx.). Demolished 1925

This history was written in 1930 by Frederick Edwards who was the last owner of the Tenterden Brewery. The Editor is grateful to his grand-daughter, Penelope Bone for her kind permission to reproduced it. The Editor is also grateful to David Neal for his assistance in obtaining this article.

It has often been in my mind to write a history of Tenterden Brewery as far as it is known. It may be interesting to many in the future, and not quite lost as is the history of the many old mill ponds around Tenterden, the dams of which still exist. It would be interesting to know what they were actually used for, whether for the cloth making industry which flourished around that district during and before Queen Elizabeth's reign, or for milling purposes only.

Edwards.jpg

The brewery was first built in the middle of the eighteenth century, and a considerable business was evidently carried on by Isaac and Faithfull Cloake until approx. 1821. Isaac Cloake was buried on Ebony Chapel bank where his head stone can be seen. Old John Hook who lived in the village on the left hand side of brewery lane (Station Road) just below the brewery, could remember his funeral (even if he did not attend it) having worked (as a boy ) in the brewery under Mr. Cloake. I have heard him say that one of Mr. Cloake's wagons was used as a hearse, and all the bearers were given a new smock frock, and on arriving at the public house at Reading Street, The White Heart and Lamb, each man was given a quart of beer and bread and cheese. I can just remember one old man, who worked for my father, when he bought the brewery in 1872, named Richard Reynolds, who worked for Mr. Cloake, and who actually attended the funeral. I have understood that Richard Reynolds worked in the brewery all his life. His headstone can be seen in Tenterden Churchyard, on the left hand side as you enter the main gate.

T. and F. Cloake also issued a token known as the Tenterden Halfpenny on one side of which was the words " Tenterden Halfpenny" with a shield in the middle with barrels and sheaves of barley quartered on it and the year of issue and on the other a drawing of a horse and dray loaded with barrels, with a part of the brewery as a backing and underneath the words "To cheer our hearts". There are several of these coins still in existence.

After Mr. Cloake's death the brewery was sold to a Mr. Shepherd (1820 approx.) who added considerably to the old building, including a new section on the north side, with furnace for the copper and shaft about sixty feet high, and outside cast iron water tank. He also built a new wing on the east side, parallel with Coombe Lane and some malt stores, divided into four large bins on the top storey and beer store on the ground floor.

After Mr. Shepherd, Mr. William Curtess(?) had the business, and then Mr. R.C.M.Young. In 1872 it was bought by my father Mr. O. Edwards, who was then keeping the Grosvenor Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, and who had built a small brewery in Goods Station Road, Tunbridge Wells. This brewery was afterwards carried on by my uncles, Thomas Edwards and William Edwards, who lived in and owned the Old Fellows Arms, close to the brewery. This business was sold about 1898-l900.

The water supply for the Tenterden Brewery was obtained from three wells, two about three feet in diameter and one about six feet. The water was good brewing water, fairly hard and the supply generally prolific. In normal times they would pump three to four thousand gallons a day. In 1893 the water supply was added to by Mr. O. Edwards, a well being dug at the bottom of Coombe Lane and a wind pump erected. Later on an oil engine was added to it. The pipe (1 1/2") was laid up Coombe Lane and taken right to the supply tank. This water was rather softer than the brewery supply. The water supplied by the Cranbrook Water Co. at the time was not a good brewing water.

The power for driving the masher, malt mill and pumps was by horse power, up to 1874 when Mr. O. Edwards installed a four h.p. steam engine. The spur wheel of the horse-driven wheel was about fifteen feet in diameter. The pinion wheels of the drive wheels of the different machines being slipped in as required. Cogs were fitted under the big wheel and the engine drove it by a small spur wheel. The chimney was blown down in a great gale around 1882. The new one was built about 15 feet short of the old one. During a terrific thunderstorm on the night of 2nd September, 1889, the chimney and ventilator was struck by lightning. A lot of damage was done by this storm, many buildings were struck by lightning in South Kent. The local constable, P.C. Divall, was knocked down by it in Tenterden High Street. Goods Hill Oast, Woodside stable and hop poles standing in the hop gardens were struck.

During the 1890's nearly all the plant and machinery was renewed and the old wheel demolished, and new belts and pulley wheels installed. A new steam boiler, locomotive type, was put in. In 1900 this was replaced by a Cornish boiler (22 feet x 70). In 1906, a new engine was installed, a 9 h.p. nominal marshall make. In 1898 the whole of the premises, brewery, stables and the Vine public house, were fitted with electric light. Dynamo had an output of 40 amps, 60 volts, while the Accumulator had an output of 20 amps, 56 volts.

Mr. O. Edwards died on 18th March, 1905 and the brewery was then carried on by his sons Henry Edwards, Robert Edwards and Frederick Edwards.

When the Cornish boiler was installed a new shaft was built 62 feet high, and the old copper shaft pulled down, and the boiling done by steam with a Worsams patent heater. A new copper 64 barrels was put in, about 1909 with a new hop back.

The brewery was now doing a considerable business having stores at Robertsbridge, Ashford and Old Romney.

The houses belonging to the brewery were:-

  • The Vine, Tenterden
  • The Black Horse, Tenterden
  • Gardeners Arms, Tenterden
  • Plough, Tenterden
  • New Inn, Tenterden
  • The Crown, Cranbrook
  • The Bull, Rolvenden
  • The Swan, Wye
  • The Volunteer, Ashford
  • The Rose and Crown, Old Romney
  • The King's Head, Shadowhurst
  • William the Conqueror, Rye Harbour
  • The Castleton Oak, Biddenden

A good trade was also done with several free houses, and the beer trade was considered very good, and therefore large private sales were done. A good quality beer was then sold at 1/-(one shilling) per gallon (1050 O.G.). A stronger beer (1070 O.G.) at 1/6 per gallon. Porter and Stout at the same prices. Lighter beers were also sold at 6d-8d and 9d per gallon. A considerable trade was also done in wines and spirits. At the commencement of the Second World War the company had 50 to 60 Hogshead of whisky, alone, in bond.

The terrific taxation imposed on beer during the War killed the small brewers' trade. The tax before the war was 7/9d a barrel. This was raised to £5 and then reduced after the war to £4. The Government being influenced by the increasing demands of prohibition.