Somerton Brewery Page 2
Brewery Page 2
Somerton Brewery Continued …
In 1889 Philip Elwes, the youngest of the directors of the Brewery, became brother-in-law of Col Pinney of Somerton Erleigh, and he lived at Monteclefe House with his wife. His only son was in South Africa at the outbreak of war in 1914 and he “was killed by natives” on his way home to join up to fight the Germans that autumn. His name is recorded on the Somerton War Memorial and in the parish church. In 1925 Philip Elwes inherited the Elwes family estate in North Devon and so left the town. Brewing at the Somerton Brewery had ceased before 1935.
In its hey-day, the Somerton Brewery provided employment for at least 20 men (17 men resident in Somerton in the 1891 Census; 19 in 1901, see list at end;) and it is likely that a few more were resident in adjacent parishes, and the Brewery brought trade to the Town. It seems there was a corn mill on the site as well, according to a Directory of 1859. The ‘malt’, made by boiling barley with water and allowing it to ferment, was prepared at the former Horsemill on the corner of North Street and Horsemill Lane.
The premises in West Street were in Victorian times a scene of bustle and activity, and the drays, drawn by big horses lumbering along the streets, were among the familiar sights of the Town. The horses, two teams of six, were kept behind the Unicorn Hotel in the building now used as a skittle alley – or whatever stables were there before the skittle alley – known from Victorian times until about 1960 as “The Assembly Rooms” – was built.
The beer brewed at the Brewery was very well known locally, up to a radius of about 40 miles, and the water which made it famous came from the deep well on the premises, the head of which can still be seen. Mr Ord’s concern about sanitation may be related to the risk of sewage seeping into his well and spoiling his beer and mineral waters. Just across the yard, there is a glass-roofed building over the steps down to the cellar restaurant – on the site of the tower – and in the wall of the pet-shop can be seen the brick arch which covered the boiler for the ‘steam’ process of the brewing.
At one time thirty people were employed and they worked from 6.0 a.m. to 6.0 p.m. The Brewery hooter sounded at 6.0 a.m., 1.0 p.m., 4.0 p.m. and 6.0 p.m., and, as it was audible for miles around, it was used by many folk as a time signal, to put their clocks right.