Simonds Brewery

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H & G Simonds Ltd
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1785
Founder William Blackall Simonds
Defunct N/A
Headquarters Reading, Berkshire, UK
Products Beer
County Lock with Simonds' Brewery to left in 1975
Simonds' brewery malthouse, now apartments

H & G Simonds Ltd was a brewery founded in Reading, Berkshire, England in 1785 by William Blackall Simonds. The company amalgamated with Courage & Barclay in 1960 and dropped the Simonds name after ten years. Eventually the firm became part of Scottish & Newcastle who sold the brands to Wells & Young's Brewery in 2007 and closed the Reading brewery three years later.[1]

Corporate history

The Simonds brewery was founded in Broad Street in Reading by William Blackall Simonds in 1785[2] (although his father had a brewing arm of his malting business as early as 1760).[2]) The company moved to Bridge Street, where it remained until 1978. The site is now occupied by The Oracle shopping centre. Simonds became a very early limited company in 1885, taking the name of H & G Simonds from William's two sons, Henry and George. The latter was the father of a later director, George Blackall Simonds, a sculptor.[3] In 1960, the brewery amalgamated with Courage & Barclay to become Courage, Barclay, Simonds & Co Ltd until simplified to Courage Ltd in 1970. As Scottish Courage, they operated from the Berkshire Brewery on the borders of Reading and Shinfield, until it closed in March 2010. In January 2007, the rights for the production, marketing and sales of the Courage brands were sold to Wells & Young's Brewing Company of Bedford. This is managed by a venture called Courage Brands Ltd[4]


Simonds developed rapidly and, by the 1790s, had a fine new brewery complex designed by local architect, Sir John Soane and an early Boulton & Watt steam engine.[2] However, expansion was held back until legislation restricting the setting up of new public houses was repealed by the Beerhouse Act 1830. Since 1813, Simonds had supplied beer to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[2] In the 1850s, it expanded its reputation for supplying the military with beer, when nearby Aldershot was established as the 'home of the British Army'. This led to a branch being set up in Malta and an outlet in Gibraltar. The former still exists as the, now independent, Simonds Farsons Cisk Brewery. Simonds also supplied many of the railways in southern England. By the 1880s, Simonds was the largest brewery in Reading. After the First World War, they expanded by acquisition, purchasing local breweries as well as others in places such as Bristol and Devonport. By 1938, Simonds' was producing just over one percent of all beer brewed in England and Wales. The brewery made extensive use of the canal to deliver its wares, but the railway was also an important form of transport.


Simonds was a pioneer of pale ale in the 1830s, including India pale ale which the company exported to the British army in India. In the 1870s, they developed a lighter beer called 'SB' (Season's Brew) and, in the following decade introduced a new system of fermentation known as the 'Burton Union Method'. Simonds were well known for their 'hopleaf' branding and Hopleaf pale ale is still available from the Simonds Farsons Cisk Brewery in Malta. Simonds branded an "India Pale Ale" as "Tavern", the name originating as "Taverner's" in a competition for employees.


  1. ^ "Reading History Trial – Brewing". Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ford, David Nash (2005). "William Blackall Simonds (1761–1834)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Simonds, Raymond (2004). "George Blackall Simonds (1843–1929)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  4. ^ Wells and Youngs Buy Courage Brands – Wells & Young's Brewing Company Ltd – Archived 25 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

  • Hopleaf Beer
  • Royal Berkshire History: William Blackall Simonds
  • The Story of H & G Simonds Ltd Brewery, Reading
  • The Red Cow in Caversham: a Simonds Pub
  • The Doctor Johnson in Barkingside – End of an Era: a Simonds Pub

Coordinates: 51°27′4.89″N 0°58′29.3″W / 51.4513583°N 0.974806°W / 51.4513583; -0.974806

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