Early transport by horse drawn drays was severely limited. The horses could deliver barrels a maximum radius from a Brewery of only around 12 miles in a day. This determined the catchment area of each brewery or later distribution depot. Longer distances had to be covered by canal or by train. Rapidly improving means of transport was a key driving factor in the early consolidation of Breweries. The last working horse drawn dray was retired from its remaining ceremonial role in 1960. Even in 1959, transport remained so limited that H&G Simonds still ran 4 Breweries in its South West England region.

The Simonds Dray Horses were always Greys.

Here are a few images from the archives that graphically display the dramatic change in our transport infrastructure over 100 years. Please do share with me other archives you may find out there:

This lovely clip from the Reading Standard of 1986 was contributed by a visitor to the site:

As was this clip of the Drays on parade in 1958. George Thomson & Alfred Hunt are the drivers.

Here is a later clip from 1996, about the ERP fleet and its characters!


And some archived images:


It is interesting to note the vehicle registration plates mostly show the letters ‘*DP’ meaning they were first registered in Reading. The 3 letter + 3 number combination plate was abandoned in 1963 when available options started to run out.