W & R Luker

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Luker Petersfield.jpg
Luker Petersfield labels.jpg

W & R Luker, College Street Brewery, Petersfield, Hampshire.

Luker & Co. Ltd of Southend leased the brewery from Robert Crafts in 1873. He had been listed 1852 to 1867.

Acquired by Strong & Co Ltd. with 7 houses in 1934. Demolished after fire.

Nicholas Redman writes:-

Thomas Bone is first mentioned in 1855 when he is listed as a maltster and brewer in College Street, probably at the north end where an 1859 map marks a malthouse. By 1867 he seems to have been succeeded by Andrew Gammon, brewer, grocer and dealer in foreign wines.

Also in College Street, Robert Crafts was developing his Steam Brewery to the north of the Red Lion Hotel. Crafts had owned the Red Lion, described as a "Family and Commercial Hotel and Posting House", since at least 1855. He acquired several other properties, including the Dolphin Hotel, another Family and Commercial Hotel just across the road from the Red Lion, and the Railway Hotel by the station. They were run by various members of the family. In 1859 for example, Robert was looking after the Red Lion and the Dolphin, while Emma Crafts was at the Railway.

The Red Lion is now a Whitbread Beefeater Restaurant, the Dolphin was demolished in 1960 having been a girls' school since 1919, and the Railway Hotel was demolished about 10 years ago.

In 1873 Crafts leased and then in 1880 sold the Steam Brewery and five tied houses to two brothers John and Robert Luker, from Southend in Essex, for £7,604-8-0. See Luker & Co. Ltd.

The new owners traded as Luker Brothers until 1877, then, following the death or departure of John, as Robert Luker. After Robert's death in 1897 or 1898 the business was run by executors of the estate until 1900 when a new business was formed with William and Robert Luker, styled W & R Luker.

The Lukers made several improvements and additions to the Steam Brewery. In 1890 they acquired from the Trustees of the Almshouse Charity of Thomas Antrobus the historic Antrobus's Almshouses, which were then absorbed into the premises. The Victoria County History published in 1908 refers to "the blocked stone-arched doorways of Antrobus's Almshouses, 1622 - now part of a brewery" .

Robert Luker purchased a couple more houses, one being the Market Inn in Petersfield in 1885. The full Luker estate consisted of, in Petersfield, the Red Lion Hotel, the Market Inn, the Railway Hotel, and the Good Intent. There was also an off-licence. Outside the town was the Jolly Drover, East Liss, the Queen's Head, Sheet, and the Harrow Inn at Steep. They also had a branch office and stores in King's Road, Haslemere.

In 1931 Robert Luker II died. With trading conditions becoming increasingly difficult the family sold the business on 12th February 1934 to Strong & Co Ltd of Romsey Ltd for £28,200.

Strongs closed the brewery and took out some of the plant, before selling it to H Filer, a cinema proprietor. Filer removed all the remaining fittings as part of a plan to demolish the building to make way for a new cinema.

The adjoining off-licence was retained by Strongs, as were the pubs, but the Haslemere stores were disposed of for £5,750.

In August 1934 a serious fire broke out in the empty brewery building, and the premises were largely destroyed. The Hampshire and Sussex News reporting what it called "Petersfield's Great Fire" described it as "a thrilling outbreak providing a grand spectacle for thousands of spectators".

In early September the ruins of the tower were pulled down level with the main building to make it safe.

No trace of the brewery now remains, and the site has disappeared under the town's one-way traffic system. The surviving brewery buildings, including the almshouses, were removed soon after the war. The off-licence lasted until the 1970s when it too was demolished.

The various outbuildings beside and behind the Red Lion today, which include a large building erected in 1822 as a Masonic Hall, were related to the Hotel rather than the now-vanished brewery.

An assortment of views of the brewery