(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The Simonds' Brewery was a brewery based in Reading in the English county of Berkshire.
The Simonds' Brewery was founded in Broad Street in Reading by William Blackall Simonds in 1785
(although his father had a brewing arm of his malting business as early as 1760). The company
quickly moved to Seven Bridges 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, the famous sculptor. 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 still operate from the Berkshire Brewery on the borders of Reading and
Shinfield, although this site is due to close in 2010.
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. However, expansion was held
back until legislation restricting the setting up of new public housees was repealed by the Beer Act of
1830. Since 1813, Simonds' had supplied beer to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. 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 branches being set up in Malta and 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.
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' 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.
The brewery made extensive use of the canal to deliver its wares, but the railway was also an
important form of transport.