Brewery Page 4Somerton Brewery Continued ...
In 1903 when the Great Western Railway was built through Somerton, an extra bridge had to be constructed to enable access to the rear of the Brewery to be continued. There was much friction between the Railway Company (GWR) and the Parish Council about the up-keep of the paths running along the line of the railway and over the surface of the bridge. The Brewery Bridge was never intended for anything other than brewery drays and pedestrians. It is fortunate that drays laden with barrels of beer are heavy, so the bridge is strong enough to cope with modern traffic - although it could be wider!
Local people used to go to the Brewery for large jugs of 'Barm' to use in bread-making. Barm is a by-product of the fermentation of beer, it contains yeasts and is useful in making bread. "Marmite" is another product of barm which we still enjoy today.
The Proprietors of the Brewery owned land in the Parish and grew barley and other crops. They employed two carters to look after the stables, which were situated on the site of the Assembly Rooms at the Unicorn [now the skittle alley]. Each had a team of six horses to care for, and six or seven draymen were employed to drive the loads. However, in the 1920s the increasing use of lorries and railways to transport beer meant that Somerton could not compete with the larger city-based breweries. The Brewery is not mentioned in Kelly's Directories after 1923, and brewing seems to have ceased in about 1935.
The Brewery was sold soon after to Messrs. Bruttons, and the premises were used for storage and packing of cheese by Messrs Cow & Gate, later Unigate Dairies. The Brewery buildings were used for cheese storage, packing and distribution, as late as 1973. When Cow & Gate finally left the town, the site became derelict until in 1985 it was modernised and converted to the Brunel Shopping Precinct by the Ruddle Group, at the same time as Cox's Yard was made into a car park and the chemist shop was created at Lancaster House.
Air photograph of the brewery area, about 1965