Henry Simonds (1785-1874) was born at Brewery House on Bridge Street, Reading, the 2nd son of William Blackall Simonds & Elizabeth May. He married Mary Goodman (?) in May 1811 and they had 4 children.

This fragile charcoal and chalk image was in the boardroom at the H&G Simonds offices on Bridge Street, then following demolition of that building in 1980, it was moved to the new Courage Boardroom in Staines, on the site of the old Ashby’s Brewery. It was kindly returned to the family when that office was closed in 2009.

Henry with his younger brother George Simonds (1794-1885) gave their initials to make H&G Simonds. When the original partnership was turned into a limited company in 1885 Henry became the first Chairman. He was described as a Brewer and Wine and Spirit Merchant.

He invested in Brunel’s ‘Great Western Railway’ project from its inception in 1833 when he became a member of ‘The London Committee’ raising funds. He was a Director in 1861 and certainly other years as well.  By 1840 the new wide guage line ran from Paddington to Farringdon Road with stops at Ealing, Hanwell, Southall, West Drayton, Slough, Maidenhead, Twyford, Reading, Pangbourne, Goring, Moulsford & Steventon. This also helped Simonds & Co to win contracts to provide the refreshment services at stations, for example documents at The National Archives show they took on Newbury station in 1863. Perhaps encouraged by the success of GWR, in 1845 he joined  provisional Committee of Oxford, Worcester & Wolverhampton Railway), and the formation of Cheltenham & Oxford Railway Company.

He lived his later years at ‘The Old Rectory’ [later Caversham Court] in Caversham.
Family folklore relates that he was a contemporary of William Gladstone at Eton becoming friends, but political adversaries.