Just 3 structures remain from the Brewery era:
In 1895, as part of their Fire Insurance system, Goad published a series of small maps that, now merged together, clearly show the then location and extent of the Brewery buildings, clustered on each side of Bridge Street.
A clip from the 1899 panorama showing the Stables & Maltings on Fobney Street
This fabulous aerial view is from 1970, so well before demolition started
Alongside the Kennet, have had a chequered history since the rest of the Brewery buildings were demolished in 1980.
Please fill me in on any more details if you know them?
This image from 1979
There was a devastating fire in 1991, reported locally -HERE-
It was a Loch Fyne restaurant from 1999 to February 2018 leaving the building vacant. Here in 2018.
The Goad plan above shows Maltings 1 & 2 on Bright Street & Fobney Street in 1895. The only part remaining is the left hand side of No 1, the furnace room.
This faded date stone on Number 3 Malting shows that it was added in 1899, just to the East of 1 & 2.
This lovely image turned up for sale in 2020. It was tagged; ”The Maltings at Simonds Brewery in Bridge Street, Reading. c.1905 Gordon Collier.’
I have highlighted where the 1905 image was taken on this image of Malthouse no 1 from 1979, just before the bulk of the Brewery buildings were demolshed
How did they operate?
Here are the recollections of Graham Turner, whose father Jesse Turner worked there and lived on Bright Street.
The memory I have of living under the shadow of the Simonds Malting’s in Bright Street was a great part of my childhood and provided my father’s livelihood. I visited all the Malthouses with my father in the 1960’s and although I did not understand the brewing processes, I remember the operations that happened in these buildings.
The barley was brought to the Malthouses by steam train along the Coley Branch Line into the coal yards and across Fobney Street finishing in the Malting’s yard. The sacks of barley were then hoisted to the top of a building on a winch. I remember the sack bursting through the trap door, which would close on gravity after it had cleared the opening.
There were large water tanks in the roof for the barley washing process. The Malthouse that is there today shows a barley wash room on the left and the furnace room on the right, the barley was laid out on a hollow mesh floor at the top of the building above the furnace, to the depth of 1ft or 300mm. The whole width of the room had large rotating sails with a chain mechanism which brought them from one side of the room to the other. They were similar to the mechanism on the front of a combine harvester. The furnace at the bottom of the building supplied heat to this room and the mechanism kept the barley at an even temperature. The frightening thing I remember about that room was if anyone found themselves locked in, there was no way of escaping serious injury.
Trap doors were opened on all floors so the barley could be shovelled right down through to the lowest floor first and was spread out to a height again of about 1ft or 300 mm., when that was filled the next one would receive the same process, until all floors were filled. My fathers job was to carry out these operations and rake the barley on the drying floors daily to keep an even temperature. The shovels and large triangular tine rakes were made of wood to prevent a fire from the fumes of the barley and a thermometer was inserted to check the temperature of the grain. The temperature was regularly checked by the foreman Jock Hunter whose family also lived in the cottage by the side of the Malting’s. These two sections remain today as flats. [October 2020]
Here are Thomas Jewell [left] with Jesse Turner [right] in the 1960’s
Malt house 1 1979
Malthouse 3 1979
Malthouse 3 1979 with Marshalling Yards
Malting 1, the furnace & drying rooms, looking down Bright Street, c1965
This is Fobney Street view also 1970’s. The railway lines from the Coley branch line into the MaIting’s yard can still be seen today.
Fobney St looking West, 1979.
Malthouse no1 survived more or less intact till 2000 when, just after its redevopment began, another devastating fire left only the shell standing:
However the redevelopment into flats was completed in 2002 with 4 flats on the 2nd floor, a restaurant on the 1st floor, and some retail units on the ground floor.
In 2005/6 the 1st floors were turned into 8 further flats when window openings were added.
The 1905 photo above was taken at the main entrance, still shown here. Looking back at the plan drawing, this is just the left hand section of Maltouse 1.
On the left, the grain washing areas and the right the furnace rooms..
Seven Bridges House
Rear views in 2015 & in 1979 during the Brewery demolition phase
The Prince of Wales leaving 19 Castle Street in 1926 following his tour of the Brewery
1839 Yorke’s Directory (RL) notes 19 Bridge St is premises of Abraham Armstrong, plumber painter & glazier. This entry is repeated in the 1842 Snare’s Directory.
1859 Macauley’s Directory shows Henry Knapp Busbell, wholesale & retail dealer in lamps, oil tec.
It first shows on a map of Reading in 1853 & may have been built as the home of Thomas Sowden whose brewery was on the other side of Bridge Street and which was taken over by Simonds in the 1850’s.
In the 1870’s Smith’s Directory shows it was Mrs. Strong’s Seminary & later her Ladies School.
In the 1880’s and ’90s it may have been the home of John Edwin Stevens whose corn merchant’s premises were the two shops just to the North.
In the early 1900’s it was the Friendly Society’s Assembly Rooms.
On 11 November 1921 It was opened by Mr F.A. Simonds and for almost 40 years was the Brewery Social Club. Originally the club had a bar, billiards room, darts room and function suite, but as the canteen expanded the other facilities were forced out so that eventually only the bar remained.
In July 1961 19 Bridge Street was renamed Seven Bridges House & re-opened as the Brewery reception centre for the training of licensees and entertainment of visitors. There was a bar and dining room and below that a demonstration cellar, which also contained a working model of the brewery, that is now housed at the Windsor & Eton Brewery. The building also housed the Executive Dining Room.
In 1960 the Social Club was moved to Castle Street & the grand opening was reported in the Hop Leaf News: -HERE- It closed soon after the brewery moved to Worton Grange and re-opened very briefly in 1994 as ‘The Brewery Tap’ with a micro brewery connected to Shepherd Neame. After a long period vacant it was converted for residential use.
The basement housed a function room, where there was a working model of the brewery. This is now on display at the Windsor & Eton brewery on Duke Street, Windsor.
This building should not be confused with another Seven Bridges House which was previously the name used for No 2 Southampton Street, then home of a distant Simonds relative, George Higgs (1781-1860) Mayor of Reading in 1826. Another common error attributes this house to Sir John Soane who designed the Brewery – it is not his work. SEE HERE
Much of the building’s history is from a planning application of 2015 (no 151619 LBC & 151620) ; -HERE-