Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bowly's Brewery

Cirencester draper's son Richard Bowly set up business in the High Street, Old Swindon sometime in the late 1850s.

The census of 1861 reveals he headed a large establishment employing three assistants, an apprentice and three house servants to look after his young family, but this was only the beginning of his empire building.

Less than ten years later he would own the spacious Italinate villa at the top of Kingshill, parcels of land across Old Swindon and a brewery.

Pigot's Directory of 1842 lists three Swindon brewers, William Butler in Newport Street, William Farmer in High Street and John Sheppard & Son also in the High Street.

Early records suggest that the North Wilts Brewery, established around 1765, was associated with the Sheppard family in 1830. However the connection probably dates back much further as John Harding Sheppard described himself as a wine merchant at the baptism of his son at Holy Rood Church in 1813.

However it would appear that according to William Read's 1844 Terrier of Lands and Houses in Swindon, Sheppard was only the tenant, with Edward John Ewer the proprietor of a 'House, Brewery, Stables, Malt House and Close occupied by John Harding Sheppard.'

After Sheppard's death in 1868 the brewery came on the market and an indenture made between Edward John Ewer, his wife Mary and Richard Bowly confirms that Sheppard never actually owned the brewery.

'In consideration of Two thousand pounds therein expressed to be paid by the said Richard Bowly to the said Edward John Ewer All that Messuage ort enement situate in the High Street in Swindon aforesaid with the Outbuildings Brewery Malthouse Barn Stable Yard garden and appurtenances thereunto adjoining and belonging and a small close of land in the rear extending to the public road or street called Short Hedge as the same premises have been for many eyars past in the occupation of John Harding Sheppard and Henry Sheppard.'

Under its new ownership the brewery was modernised and extended to the design of London architect Arthur Kinder and Swindon building, Phillips who also worked on the building and layout of Radnor Street Cemetery in 1881.

Bowly's son Robert Brewin Bowly took over the brewery, making it a limited company in 1900. He died on September 13, 1939 from injuries sustained in a car accident the previous day. His widow continued to run the business until her death in 1944 when Simonds of Reading bought the brewery.

Used as a bottling department and then a depot for Courage's, the site was later demolished, ending over 150 years history of brewing on the old town centre site.

photograph courtesy of Neil Lover - for more photographs of Bowly's Brewery visit Neil's website Swindon's Other Railway on www.swindonsotherrailway.co.uk

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