Bristol’s Lost Pubs

A Potted History.

Philip George was born in 1750 the eldest of two sons of William George, who was a freeman of the City of Bristol and owner of a successful distillery at No. 59 Baldwin Street. Philip joined the family firm and in 1788 purchased Ricketts’s Porter Brewery in Bath Street. Also purchased that year with the backing of six other Bristol Merchants were the premises of James Grimes, maltster and brewer at No.16 Tucker Street complete with adjoining warehouse and cooperage, these buildings became The Philip George Bristol Brewery.

The brewery produced far more than could be consumed in Bristol, bringing about a large export and country trade, on the 18th March 1789 it is recorded that as well as 100 barrels sent to Liverpool, 80 barrels of porter were shipped to Cork and 80 barrels to Waterford (Coals to Newcastle). To meet the demand for “Bristol Porter” larger premises were needed and on February 1790 the premises of Bayly’s at No.2 Counterslip were purchased for the sum of £1,500. In 1791 other premises were purchased from a Mr. Ellis for £400 and a Mr. Overton for £600. On June 29th 1791 two copper furnaces were bought from William Hale & Son, Coppersmiths of No.32 Welsh Back which remained in use at the brewery for well over a hundred years.

In 1816 the Georges’ and Ricketts’s breweries were amalgamated, and at Bath Street they continued to brew porter, strong beer and west india ale, which were advertised as being superior in quality to most breweries and inferior to none in the Kingdom. As well as being a successful businessman Philip George shared his father’s interest in the municipal life of the city and was elected as sheriff of the City of Bristol on three occasions, 1808, 1813 and 1815. Philip George died at his home in Berkeley Square, Clifton in 1828 at the age of 78.

In February 1888 Georges’ became incorporated under the name of “The Bristol Brewery Georges & Co. Ltd.” over the following years several local breweries were acquired by the company.

1889 James & Pierce, The Bedminster Brewery
1911 R. W. Miller & Company, The Stokes Croft Brewery
1912 Messrs. Hall & Sons, The Lodway Brewery at Pill
1918 John Arnold & Sons, The Wickwar Brewery
1919 The Welton (Somerset) Breweries Limited
1923 The Bath Brewery Company Limited
1926 Slade’s Brewery, Chippenham
1932 The Ashton Gate Brewery Company Limited
1956 Bristol United Breweries Limited

In 1919 the brewery was expanded with the purchase of premises on the Counterslip previously used as a granary by Messrs. Perry & Sons. 1919 also saw the acquisition of the Talbot Hotel on the corner of Bath Street and Victoria Street which was converted into the company’s offices. By 1932 the annual output of the brewery was about 250,000 barrels and the bottling plant had the capacity to produce 100,000 bottles of beer daily, one year’s supply of hops was the produce of 500 acres and the amount of barley used was 300,000 bushels which was about half the total amount produced in Somerset. Just before the war the company owned and controlled over 1000 public houses in Bristol and the west country. In 1961 the Bristol Brewery was taken over by Courage & Barclay Limited and was closed in 1999. Parts of the brewery complex have since been demolished and replaced with luxury flats.

Matthews’s Bristol Directory 1793 – 94 … The breweries of Bristol are numerous and extensive. Malt liquors are cheaper, finer and better here than in most other towns. Good ale is universally sold for 3d a quart, and Burton (a sort of strong beer) for 4d. There is a large porter brewery in Bath street, which succeeds well in rivalling London porter, and meets with great encouragment.

The Bristol Porter Brewery pictured here in 1816 was built around 1730 by John and Henry Hobhouse, nephews of wealthy merchant, Isaac Hobhouse (1685-1763). John and Henry were the sons of Isaac’s older brother Benjamin (1682-1749) and along with their cousin Thomas Jones, were executors of Isaac Hobhouse’s estate in 1763. Isaac wasn’t without charity – in his will he left a guinea apiece to “the poorest ancient widows of The Moy, at Minehead”; one hundred pounds to the new Bristol Infirmary and one hundred pounds to St Stephens Parish, Bristol. This information on the Hobhouses was kindly provided by Elizabeth Mills who is the Great Great Great Great Granddaughter of Thomas Jones.

Part of the brewery on the corner of Bath Street and Hawkins Lane, possibly the buildings purchased in 1790/91, all of which were demolished in August 1968. The car at the right of the picture is standing on the site of the Fourteen Stars Tavern pulled down in 1857.

Taken in 2001 from Castle Park. With the demolished brewery buildings now replaced with flats, this view of Bath Street is no longer available.