Thomas Francis Adams

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Adams Halstead (1).jpg
Courtesy Roy Denison

Thomas Francis Adams, Halstead Brewery, Trinity Street, Halstead, Essex.

Founded 1859 by Charles Stanton Gray of the Chelmsford brewery and was acquired by Adams in 1876. See Gray & Sons Ltd.

Acquired by Isherwood, Foster & Stacey Ltd, then a subsidiary of Fremlins Ltd, June 1939 with 46 public houses.

Now mainly demolished but the “Bung” chapel, maltings and offices are extant.

List of T F Adams public houses


From ESSEX BREWERS - The Malting and Hop Industries of the County by Ian P Peaty 1992 now out of print ISBN 978 1 873966 02 4

Thomas Adams married Mary Norris in 1852, she bore him two sons, Edgar Tarry and Percy, born in 1852 and 1858. Thomas Francis Adams commenced his brewing career in 1850 at the age of 28, at the City of London Brewery Co. Ltd, Hourglass Brewery in Upper Thames Street, London. Wishing to find a brewery for his family's future, he visited the Halstead Brewery on 1st January, 1876, which was in the ownership of Charles Stanton Gray, the Chelmsford brewer, who had built the Halstead Brewery in 1859. On 5th July of 1876, the contract of sale to T. F. Adams was signed. Two years later the Halstead Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed with Thomas's help, the engine with its twelve man crew being based at the brewery. On the 14th February, 1883, "The little brewery was bought (White Horse)", this probably refers to the public house of that name at Ridgewell. Thomas's youngest son, Percy, later a Colonel, was born at Peckham on 5th April, 1858, and died on 8th January, 1932.

In 1898, the Sheering Hall Brewery, Shalford, was purchased from Thomas Brunwin, who remained as the brewer but was also the local agent for Adams and Sons ales.

In 1914, the company received a Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition, the range of beers being XX Ale, XXX Ale, B. A. Bitter Ale, Brown Ale and Dinner Ale.

The company had two of its own maltings, at Mount Hill, to the rear of the Three Pigeons public house, and in Parsonage Street, Halstead. Just adjacent to the Trinity House in Tidings Hill, was situated the firm's mineral water business, trading as A T Canning, who were later at No. 27 High Street, Halstead. In 1878, Thomas Adams died and Edgar and Leroy Adams continued the business. When the brewery was built in 1859, a steam engine built by Hunts of Earls Colne was installed, and this was to last in use for nearly one hundred years. There were two Cornish coal fired boilers, the brewing vats had a capacity of 100,000 gallons; casks in trade were estimated at between 3-4,000. The brewery was a typical four storey tower block, with a lucarne on the third floor. To the rear of the yard was a stable block, with opposite it the bottling store and cart shed which was later made into the Joiner's Shop. To the front of this block was the two storey brick and flint malthouse with brewery offices fronting Tidings Hill.

Across from the yard entrance was the Adams family house, and to the rear of this building was the loading bank, coal bay, well, and ticket office. These areas were spanned by a roof connecting the bottling store with the brew house, and this roof was surmounted by a clock. The Local Authority purchased the site in 1965, re-siting the clock in the town park in 1976. The brew house and covered yard were demolished with the Adams house now used as Council Offices, the stables also in use by the Authority. At a lower level, The "Bung Chapel" as it is locally known, built in 1883, is now the Halstead and District Historical Society Museum. This was used also as a reading room for employees.

Edgar was licensed as a Lay Preacher at Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Beason, and Percy was organist and choir master. The Font, Heredes Pillars of the Arch and Cherub over were originally from the Church of All Hallows the Great, Thomas Street, London which was demolished in 1896. This church stood next door to the City of London Brewery Co. Ltd, which was part of the Old Hourglass Brewery where Thomas Adams had worked. Edgar also followed his father's profession, entering the City of London Brewery in 1869 on leaving school at the age of seventeen. Mary Adams died at the age of 64, in 1890, and this led to the rebuilding of the Brewery Chapel in 1902 in its present form.

As part of this rebuilding, incised bricks with the initials of the family may still be discerned, also similarly located on the malthouse near the yard entrance.

In the momentous year of 1939, the Adam's Brewery was sold on 17th April to Isherwood, Foster & Stacey Ltd. of Maidstone, Kent, who leased it to Fremlins Ltd., when that company took over the former.

In 1939, there were six staff, three in the maltings, thirteen in the Brewery and eight building repair staff. There were three dray lorries with three drivers and one mate, with one bottler and one bottle washer. The brewer was Mr R. W. Davis, aged 24. Included in the purchase price of £80,000 of which Mr Adams took £20,000 in Debenture Stock, were 46 tied houses within a 12 mile radius, of these 27 had full licensee, 15 beer only licensees and 4 off-licenses. Mr Adams retained the Brewery Chapel and adjacent cottage, also the Mineral Water business, he also had a contract to continue to supply malt. The brewery tap house was The Essex Arms.


An assortment of images of the brewery