Annoyingly, different sources give a different founding date. "A Century of British Brewers plus" (by Norman Barber, 2005, page 81) gives it as
|Camden Brewery on an 1896 OS map|
"Camden Brewery Company, a dividend on the ordinary shares amounting, with the interim dividend, to ten per cent, for the year ended 33th June last.
Dundee Courier - Saturday 01 August 1896, page 2."
According to "The Brewing Industry: a Guide to Historical Records" when the original company was first formed, it had 30 pubs. Some of the money to set up the business came from Richard Garrett III, a relative of Richard Garrett and Abram Garrett:
"DEATH OF MR. RICHARD GARRETT.
The deceased, Mr. Richard Garrett, was born at Leiston, Feb. 1st, 1807. His father and grandfather before him conducted there a business which was destined afterwards to assume world-wide operations. Like most men who are to take active part in life he bore the weight of responsibility very early. At a time when most young men are beginning to be initiated into business he was already conducting and enlarging that of the Leiston firm. When an opening presented itself he threw himself into it with an ardor of enterprise which could not be surpassed. At a comparatively early age his labors, which had brought him wealth, had also begun to tell upon his constitution, and he left the more immediate superintendence of the immense business about ten years since to his sons. In addition to this he invested some spare capital in connexion with some relatives in a new firm London, and the amazing success of the Camden brewery in a few years justified the expectations which his sagacity had formed of it."
Chelmsford Chronicle - Friday 06 July 1866, page 10.
The firm referred to was Richard Garrett & Sons of Leiston in Suffolk who manufactured agricultural machinery. The firm operated from the late 18th century until 1932.
Breweries and fires seem to go together like, er, Mild and Bitter or Black and Tan. For once, it wasn't in the brewery that the fire started:
"Fire. —At about half-past two o'clock on Saturday morning a fire occurred in Camden-road. A portion of the lower part of the malthouse attached to the Camden Brewery has been converted into two small shops, one occupied by Mr. Ballard, shoemaker, and the other by Mrs. Darby, dressmaker. The fire originated in one of these workshops, and the contents of both apartments were destroyed. The ceiling of the rooms gave way and a quantity of malt fell into the fire below, and a great deal of damage was also done to the malt in the lower portion of the building by water. The dressmakers' room contained in addition to three sewing machines, &c, some dresses which were being made up, and as we hear Mrs. Darby is uninsured, her loss will be a heavy one. About twenty canaries in the shoemaker's shop were burnt. The Fire Brigade was quickly in attendance, and the fire was subdued in about an hour."
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 17 July 1875, page 3.
By the 1870's, the business was already of a reasonable size, if you consider that there were more than 100 people employed:
"TRADE EXCURSION.—On Wednesday week about 100 of the men employed at the Camden Brewery, London, paid Herne Bay a visit on the occasion of their annual excursion. Dinner was provided for them at the Brunswick Hotel, and general satisfaction was expressed at the style in which the repast was served. The men were accompanied by Mr. Whitaker, a member of the firm, who presided at the dinner."
Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald - Saturday 21 July 1877, page 4.
There's lots more to learn about the Camden Brewery. Especially the strange circumstances of its takeover.