Monday, 17 October 2016

Forthcoming Publication: Brewing in West Sussex

Everything has gone quiet on this blog for the past two months because I've been focused on finishing this, my second book with Amberley Publishing of Stroud, Gloucestershire. It will be 96 pages with 180 images and probably available in February 2017.

It's not yet on the publisher's website but details can be found here and elsewhere.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Once a ‘House’ of Repute in Sussex: The Queens Park Tavern (now Hanover), Brighton

As the Queens Park Tavern, this first appears in the 1855 street directory under licensee Robert Coe at what was then Reservoir Road. The reservoir lies off Islingword Road and is visible from the Constant Service pub, which is named after the former reservoir owners, the Brighton, Hove and Preston Constant Service Water Company. 

On 3rd February 1859, Robert Coe’s widow, Emily, took out a premises lease on the Queens Park Tavern with local brewer William Hallett. By 1866 the licensee is William Emerson whose directory listing of 1871 combines the Tavern with a Dairy and makes reference to the Queen’s Park Cricket Ground, adjacent at the south west prior to the construction of housing north of the park in the late 1890s. On 30th October 1874, Emerson filed his bankruptcy order. In the 1881 census (image below), the landlord is George Shepherd, originally from Beeding, Sussex, and recorded as a widower at the age of just 29. He runs the tavern with his 14-year-old sister Kate as barmaid and a live-in servant of the same age, Jane Tucknott. 

The brewery established by Hallett eventually became the Kemp Town Brewery, who in 1927 modernised the Tavern to plans by Denman & Son. This was partly in response to the increase in the neighbouring population following the construction a few years earlier of the adjacent council estate. The landlord of the time was George Frederick Chapman, who had been there since before the First World War and who was no doubt desirous of the extra custom that the new estate and modernising of the pub would bring. It was intended to construct a commodious refreshment room catering for parties, along the north side elevation in Down Terrace, but this idea was withdrawn. Instead, the existing portico entrance with stepped parapet was provided. This led, via an inner vestibule, to an Entrance Saloon served by its own section of counter, and a separate Saloon Bar at the north-west corner. The three pedimented doorways along the Queens Park Road elevation gave access to a Bottle and Jug Department, Private Bar and, at the south corner, a Public Bar that was further enlarged in 1930. A billiard room was retained at the rear. 

The interior was eventually opened up and altered, probably during work in the early to mid-1970s, but the 1927 exterior remains intact, which is essentially a neo-Georgian brick façade affixed to a Victorian building. The supporting pillars of portico are tiled in triglyph decoration, each bearing a monogram, the date of construction in the first instance, the KTB initials of the brewery in the second. Two dolphins, the emblem of the brewery, entwine within a mosaic surround on the marble entrance floor. The frieze would have originally spelt out the name of the brewery in its livery colours of blue and gold. 

The tavern subsequently became a Charrington house. It was earmarked for demolition in 2000 but the plans to erect twelve townhouses on the site came to nothing. Its present name is after the Hanover area of the city, on the edge of which it sits, and was bestowed relatively recently by current operator Indigo Leisure.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Once a "House" of Repute in Sussex: The Brighton Tavern, Brighton

Beer retailer John Brown was operating in 1848 from what was then 100 Gloucester Lane, Brighton. The pub name first appears in 1877 when 45 year old William Pelling was the licensee with his wife Sarah. Its eventual owners, the Kemp Town Brewery, became evangelists for the cause of ‘public house improvement’ and in 1936/7 the premises were rebuilt and expanded to absorb the confectioners at No. 99. The shop area became a new Public Bar and what had hitherto been the public bar became a Private Bar. Both were entered through a newly built central lobby, which also gave access on the immediate left to a small Bottle and Jug. It was given a brick re-fronting in somewhat austere neo-Georgian style and has since suffered externally no more than the loss of its stepped parapet.

It is a rare example of a modernised Kemp Town Brewery house not designed by J. L. Denman - the architect was F. W. Pearcy. The black and white photograph of the original pub in the 'before and after' collage below is courtesy of the James Gray Collection. 

Although the tavern was most recently refurbished c. 2000, enough of the interwar interior work survives for CAMRA to consider the pub of regional heritage importance. Of the two left-side doors in the central entrance, the one still in use would have originally led to the Bottle and Jug: the seat has since been removed and a replacement counter top inserted. The old Public Bar retains a good brick fireplace, field panelled dados and curved counter with tiered and fluted bar back. The counter front in the old Private Bar is also original but its top and the basic back shelving are post-war. The toilets at the rear have been upgraded since I keeled over in the gents thirty years ago after starting the night on the home brew. They now provide a passage from one bar to the other that was not previously possible except via the ladies. The pub is popular with the LGBT community. 


Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Post & Telegraph in Print Again in Brighton

I'm in the latest (summer 2016) issue of Wetherspoon News, pictured with my book, Brighton Pubs, in the Post & Telegraph, North Street, Brighton.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Once a House of Repute in Sussex: The Egremont Hotel, Worthing

The Egremont name is most likely in honour of the Earl of Egremont; the family coat of arms, featuring three lion heads and a chevron, can be found on the outside of the building. George Greenfield built both the Egremont pub and the originally adjoining ten-quarter tower brewery in Warwick Road, in 1835/6. First known as the Egremont Brewery, it became the Worthing Steam Brewery upon being acquired by Walter Greenfield in 1870. When Harry Chapman took over in 1880, he renamed it the Tower Brewery. Chapman sold the business in 1920 to Ernest Adams. Four years later, it was taken over by the Kemp Town Brewery of Brighton, who closed it in 1926. It subsequently housed at various times an upholsters, a printing works and a gym before being been converted to apartments. Compare my 2015 photograph of the pub exterior (below) with the above RIBA photograph of 1930 and note how the top of the tower brewery has been removed from the latter.

The Kemp Town Brewery was at the forefront of the movement towards the socially inclusive and respectable ‘improved public house’ and they accordingly modernised the Egremont Hotel around 1929/30, resulting the façade that we see today. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) credits the design to the Kemp Town Brewery’s in-house architect John Leopold Denman: the arrangement of carved-oak arched Tudor doorways, herringbone brickwork and leaded stained glass windows bears a close similarity to that of another Denman remodelled KTB house of the same period, the Railway (now the Dolphin), South Street, Eastbourne.

The Egremont reopened in May 2015 following a sensitive refurbishment by new owner, locally-born Greg Grundy, who kept it as a real ale pub and with the interwar Kemp Town Brewery livery and windows intact. In admirable harmony with the original Kemp Town Brewery ethos, Greg has created the new Egremont as a community local with quizzes, live music and excellent food. Housed in the pub is a Toad in the Hole game, which involves tossing brass counters at a box with a slot in a lead lid, a popular pursuit in the Lewes area but a rarity in West Sussex. Two of the cask ales on the six hand pumps, Egremont 1836 and Double Dolphin, are brewed, badged and supplied exclusively for the pub by Goldmark of nearby Poling.

More information about the pub and its history can be found at the following websites:

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Brighton Bier Make History

Brighton Bier

First beer ever to be both
brewed and canned in Brighton!

Brighton Bier
4.0% Pale Ale

Gold Medal
International Beer Challenge 2015
Brighton Bier was one of only three UK breweries to win Gold in any category from over 630 beers from 30 countries worldwide that entered the competition.

Registered with The Vegan Society

Exciting news this week in Brighton's thriving beer scene as local craft brewery Brighton Bier made history!

Despite the city's rich brewing past, never before had a beer actually been brewed and canned in Brighton. Well now it has.

Brighton Bier's signature 4.0% ABV Pale Ale is now available in eye catching 330ml cans. The beer won Gold at the International Beer Challenge 2015, and is also registered with The Vegan Society.

Founded in 2012 as a gypsy brewery based at the Hand in Hand brewpub on St James's Street, Brighton Bier had long harboured ambitions to get its flavoursome brews into cans. "As well as preserving the freshness and flavour of the beer better than glass bottles, cans have enormous environmental advantages that are particularly relevant to our city" explains Brighton Bier founder and brewer Gary Sillence. Now based at their own premises less than a mile from where it all started, Brighton Bier has grown to be one of Sussex's most successful breweries. "From its inception Brighton Bier was all about developing the beer culture of the city and getting the best possible beer into the hands of Brighton residents and visitors alike. As a beachside city, glass bottles are just so restrictive" added Director Ollie Fisher.  As well as being widely and easily recycled, cans also offer significant space and weight savings which reduce fuel consumption whether the beer is delivered locally, nationally or internationally.

Once considered the exclusive preserve of mass produced, flavourless lager, cans are now firmly established as the package of choice for many craft beer drinkers. While unsurprisingly this was a trend that began in North America, large UK craft breweries like Brewdog and Beavertown have harnessed this renewed enthusiasm for getting great craft beer into cans. But only recently has small scale canning become realistic thanks to developments in the UK craft brewing sector. Principally, the arrival of companies like WeCan who offer mobile canning services.

The equipment and running costs and the huge minimum order quantities make having your own high quality canning line prohibitive for most craft breweries. "When we first started brewing I enquired about shipping a small manual canning machine from Canada" says Gary. "But it just wasn't realistic and to be honest back then people still thought it was mad to put great beer in a can. The landscape has changed beyond recognition".

So what next?  Well now that they've begun, Brighton Bier intends to be canning a lot more beer. As well as established brews like West Pier, Free State and South Coast IPA, the team will also be launching a number of new beers over the rest of 2016 and beyond. These include Cyclops Eyedrops, Downtown Charlie Brown, Fake Ale of San Francisco and Fat Boy Stout.

Brighton Bier Director Stephen Whitehurst explains "One of the huge advantages of the mobile canning rigs is the minimum quantities are quite small. So we can have them visit the brewery and package a number of different brews in one visit giving us much more flexibility".  Stephen also commented how this flexibility will enable the brewery to follow up on requests to export their beers to a number of countries in Europe and to Japan.  This week Brighton Bier also exported beer to North America for the first time. The new range of beers, along with some favourite brews, will enable Brighton Bier to meet a short-term target of selling in excess of 150,000 cans a year nationally and internationally.

Brighton Bier will also be launching a series of can driven beer events in the city including a "Barefoot Beer Festival".

For more information please contact:

Stephen Whitehurst
Director | Brighton Bier
07515 956 976

Friday, 15 April 2016

Horse and Groom and the Rose Hill Tavern, Brighton

The fate is now known of two Brighton pubs that were the result of a 1930s remodelling by architect Stavers Hessell Tiltman for the Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries. Both were listed last year as Assets of Community Value. Although neither has been saved as a real ale pub, the silver lining in the cloud is that they have been retained for community use instead of becoming the offices and flats they were originally destined to be. The Horse and Groom, Islingword Road, Hanover, was taken over by Majid Bensliman, owner and chef of the Blue Man in Queen’s Road, and reopened in December as the Village. It is a community-focused fully-licensed café bar, serving food and drink from 12noon-11pm (midnight Friday and Saturday), including tapas, breakfasts, dinners, coffee, cakes, teas and alcohol, including craft keg and bottled British and Belgian beer with prices ranging from £4 to £5. There is free wi-fi, disabled access and amenities and a changing station for families with babies. Live events will take place on a regular basis such as music, comedy and spoken word, while the soundproofed performance space can also be booked for private events. Those over 65 get a 15% discount while students and NHS staff get 10% off. See

Meanwhile, the Rose Hill Tavern Action Group seemingly did not raise enough capital to purchase this pub in Rose Hill Terrace, off London Road. The Brighton and Hove Independent (Friday 18 December 2015) reports that the property has been bought by an unnamed Brighton couple who aim to turn the closed tavern into a community arts hub. The buyers issued the following statement: “We are keen to set up arts studios and a recording studio in the cellar, and the ground floor space we will keep as flexible space for a variety of creative and community uses, for instance, we run a regular extended artists residency programme in France and would like a space in the UK to run some of those activities. We would like to put on events, exhibitions, performances, live music and community activities. We would run a variety of creative workshops. We belong to an extended local network of artists, musicians, photographers, creative workshop leaders and performers and we would like to set up a space that can help contribute to the configuration of the London Road area.”

The Rose Hill Tavern was rebuilt in 1934 and the Horse and Groom in 1937 after the pubs were acquired from the Rock Brewery. The use of green faïence tiling was a distinctive feature of Tiltman’s work for the Portsmouth and Brighton United Breweries. See also my Blog posts on the Heart and Hand and the attempt to save the Rose Hill Tavern