Thicko that I am, I’ve only just realised that a map – or series of maps – is the best way to demonstrate how the group was assembled. I’d been fairly certain that all Simonds acquisitions were West of London and the map confirms this.
They were very active in buying other breweries, with 17 purchases between 1930 and 1954. With the exception of the war, they averaged almost one a year. In doing so, they amassed quite an estate of tied houses. In 1896 they owned 158 pubs, but by 1916 that was already up to 316. When they were absorbed into the Courage group in 1960, their estate stood at around 1,200 pubs. Or around one-fifth of the later Courage estate.
Looking at the map, something immediately struck me: a similarity with the map of the Great Western Railway I have hanging over my telly. Simonds expansion until 1950 mostly followed the Great Western mainline from Reading out towards Wales. While in the 1950’s it was in the extreme Southwest of England, in Devon and Cornwall, another branch of the GWR. Coincidence? I suspect not.
You can see why they made a very attractive takeover target for anyone wanting a presence in the West Country and South Wales. To Courage, very much centred on London and the Southeast, they offered an easy route to total coverage of the South. When John Smiths was added in 1970, pretty much all of England was covered.
Like J W Green, Simonds seem to have run out of breath in the mid-1950’s and just coasted along for a few years until themselves being gobbled up. What was the reason? Personal? Financial? Or both? I’ll need to dig a bit deeper.
These are the breweries Simonds took over in handy table form:
|H & G Simonds acquisitions|
|1919||George Crake Tamar Bry||Plymouth||28||1975|
|1919||Mackeson & Co. Ltd.||Hythe||1929|
|1920||South Berks Brewery Ltd. West Mills Brewery and Atlas Brewery||Newbury||150/200||1920/1930|
|1930||Ashby’s Staines Bry Ltd||Staines||185||1931|
|1930||Wheelers Wycombe Brys Ltd||High Wycombe||148||1931|
|1931||Newbury Bry Co Ltd||Newbury|
|1935||W J Rogers Ltd||Bristol||1952|
|1938||Cirencester Bry Ltd||Cirencester||90||1937|
|1938||R H Stiles||Bridgend||27||1937|
|1939||J L Marsh & Sons Ltd||Blandford Forum||8|
|1945||R B Bowly & Co Ltd||Swindon||41||1945|
|1947||John May & Co Ltd||Basingstoke||90/100|
|1948||East Africa Brys||Nairobi, Kenya|
|1949||Phillips & Sons Ltd||Newport||125||1968|
|1951||R Grant & Sons||Torquay|
|1951||South Devon Brewery Ltd plus C W Blundell (Plymouth)||Union Road, Kingsbridge||25||1948|
|1953||Pool & Son Ltd||Penzance||1953|
|1954||Octagon Bry Ltd||Plymouth||50||1970|
|"The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, page 298.|
|"A Century of British Breweries plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, pages 3, 5, 22, 24, 25, 34, 35, 39, 45, 46, 118, 131 and 158|
And here’s the map:
Black: original brewery
Green: <= 1920
Red: 1930 – 1945
Blue: 1945 – 1949
Orange: > 1950
And, what the hell, here’s another table, too:
|Simonds tied houses 1839 - 1916|
|"The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, pages 297 - 298.|
I’ve drawn up a map of the breweries John Smiths bought. That also tells a story.