Royal Osborne Brewery

Royal Osborne Brewery

and Aerated Water Works

 

It is not really clear when the Royal Osborne Brewery, situated on the southern side of Townsend or Sherborne Road, first started. There had been a brewery just along the road, opposite the Sun House Inn, but it is believed that there was no connection between the two breweries. The first mention of the Royal Osborne Brewery is in a newspaper advertisement placed in the 16 January 1855 edition of the Western Flying Post by a Timothy Huffam in which he states he has "commenced brewing".

Timothy Huffam was born on 3 October 1808 at Peckham, Surrey, the son of Joseph Huffam (1770-1843) and Sarah née Meek (1775-1847). In the spring of 1847 Timothy married Catherine Blake (1819-1862) at Cowes, Isle of Wight, Hampshire. They lived in Cowes for a few years where two sons were born; Timotheus Blake (1849-1939) and Frederick Walter (1851-1943). In the 1851 census the family were listed at West Cowes and Timothy gave his occupation as a brewer. However the family soon moved to Yeovil where their other two sons were born; Richard (1853-1919) and Gerard Scudamore (1855-1948).

Huffam later claimed he brewed "by appointment to Her Majesty" and used a royal cipher in his advertisements - this is where the brewery's 'Royal' designation arises and 'Osborne' is a reference to Queen Victoria's recently-completed Osborne House in Cowes, where Huffam lived immediately before moving to Yeovil.

In February 1863 Timothy Huffam sold the Royal Osborn Steam Brewery to Earle Vincent (who was just 25 years old) and the handover was announced in the 3 February 1863 edition (and many subsequent editions) of the Western Flying Press.

Earle Vincent was born in Lymington, Hampshire, in 1838. He was the son of brewer Earle Vincent and his wife Henrietta. By 1851 Earle Vincent Jnr was a boarder at a private school in Brook Street, Bishops Waltham, Hampshire and by 1861 he was living in Victoria Street, New Windsor, Berkshire, where gave his occupation as brewer's clerk. As noted above, he bought the Royal Osborne Brewery in 1863 and in the spring of 1864 he married Martha Fowle at Andover, Hampshire; they had two daughters; Sophia Fowle (b1865) and Henrietta (b1866).

 Martha died in the winter of 1867 and in the 1871 census Earle Vincent was living at Osborne House, Sherborne Road, next door to the Royal Osborne brewery. He was listed in the census as a 33-year-old widower with his two daughters, his sister Augusta, a cook and a housemaid. Earle described his occupation as Brewer. In the spring of 1872 Earle married Emma Rawlins of Yeovil at Bedminster, Bristol. In the 1881 census Earle and Emma were living at Osborne House with their three children; daughter Eiline aged 7, Earle aged 6, Henry aged 1 and three general servants. Earle Vincent described his occupation as 'Brewer employing ten men'.

It is clear, by comparing the two maps below, that Earle Vincent greatly increased the size of the brewery and also started an aerated water works behind the brewery.

Earle Vincent died in the summer of 1893 aged 55. Following his death his estate was sold (the sale details are shown in the gallery) - It included the Royal Osborne Brewery, four freehold public houses; the Elephant and Castle Hotel, the South Western Inn, the Butchers Arms Inn and the Foresters Inn at East Coker. Several leasehold public houses including the George Hotel, the Castle Hotel, the Albion Inn, the Black Horse Inn, the London Inn, the King's Arms, the Victoria Inn and the Rock Inn at Stoford. Also Osborne House, Osborne Villa and substantial land holdings as far as Newton Road that would eventually house the Western Gazette building and Aplin & Barrett's factory. The estate sold for a total of £9,865 (around £7 million at 2017's value) and the brewery, together with its tied houses, was bought by Jonathan Drew Knight, brewer of Shepton Mallet.

Jonathan Drew Knight was born in Frome, Somerset, in 1838 the son of maltster and publican William Knight (1806-1880) and Anna Maria nee Drew (1809-1858). In the 1861 census he was living with his widowed father, two sisters and a servant in Frome. William gave his occupation as 'retired innkeeper and maltster' and Jonathan gave his a 'maltster employing 3 labourers'. He married Emma Jane Mees at Frome in the autumn of 1861. They were to live and raise their family in Frome, Jonathan running the Royal Osborne Brewery through a factory manager.

Jonathan Drew Knight died in Frome in the summer of 1907 and following his death the Royal Osborne Brewery was offered for auction 8th October 1907 together with eighteen public houses. It was purchased by Baxter & Sons (Dorset) of Sherborne who finally closed the brewery in 1912. The last manager of the brewery was EJ Slann who went on to become the landlord of the Coronation Hotel & Vaults.

No trace of the brewery remains today.

 

Maps

 

A portion of Hickes & Isaacs' map of 1858. Osborne House had been built around 1830 (it is shown on Watts' map of 1831) but this is the first map on which the Osborne Brewery buildings are shown, albeit un-named on the original map.

 

Map based on the 1886 Ordnance Survey. Osborne House and its extensive grounds, together with the Royal Osborne Brewery (now considerably enlarged) and the Aerated Water Works, take up the whole of the lover left of the map.

 

GALLERY

 

The earliest reference to the Royal Osborne Brewery is this advertisement placed in the Western Flying Post's edition of 16 January 1855.

 

The notice placed in the 17 March 1863 edition of the Western Flying Press by Timothy Huffam and Earle Vincent, informing of the takeover of the brewery.

 

Earle Vincent's advertisement in the 1878 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.

 

The property sale of Earle Vincent's estate from the 2 October 1894 edition of the Exeter & Plymouth Gazette. It included the Royal Osborne Brewery, several public houses and beerhouses, Osborne House, Osborne Villa and substantial land holdings as far as Newton Road.

 

The announcement, in the Western Gazette's edition of 15 February 1895, that Jonathan Drew Knight had acquired the brewery. Notices to this effect had been published regularly since at least December 1894.

 

An enamel sign dating to between 1894 and 1906 - the period that Jonathan Drew Knight, brewer of Shepton Mallet, owned the Royal Osborne Brewery on Sherborne Road as well as several tied houses.

 

A stoneware ginger beer bottle (presumably a product of the aerated water works) for Jonathan Drew Knight, and therefore dating to between 1894 and 1912.

 


Courtesy of Tony Rendell

An earthenware jug for for Jonathan Drew Knight, and therefore also dating to between 1894 and 1912.

 

The notice of sale of the Osborne Brewery, following Jonathan Knight's death, from the Western Gazettes edition of 6 September 1907.