HISTORY OF BREWING IN STAINES
The last operating brewery in Staines was Ashby’s Staines Brewery Limited, which was acquired by H&G Simonds in 1931, which was in turn acquired by Courage. Ashby Breweries went into voluntary liquidation in 1936.br>Thomas Ashby had started brewing here in 1796, attracted to the area (along with other brewers and mineral water suppliers) by the pure water in Staines. His business was apparently conducted in a basic way, and Thomas Ashby brewed beer in his own house (just as I started) and reputedly delivered casks to customers on a wheelbarrow. As the business grew (and encouraged by his wife, who tired of the constant smell in the kitchen) Thomas moved production to the garden shed (just as I also did with my home brewing equipment whilst developing the recipes). The brewing premises subsequently expanded onto surrounding land given to Thomas by his father in 1805.
The brewery tower survives today near Staines Bridge, close to where our microbrewery is now located on the opposite side of the river.
I am indebted to Peter G. Ashby for an article he posted online in 2012 entitled Ashby Breweries History. Whilst looking through this, even though I am in no way related to or descended from anyone involved with Ashby’s Brewery, I noticed several things which made me feel very connected to this old company, and to hopefully help me to become a worthy successor to it. Ashby’s had a branch for a time in Kingston, in which Thomas Ashby’s youngest son Francis had an interest with his brother in law Samuel Thorne, who was from Chelmsford. I grew up and spent most of my life in the Royal Borough of Kingston, as well as having family in the Chelmsford area. Also, there is mention of the delivery lorry they used was the Thorneycroft Q, 1919 – 1926 type. My grandfather worked for Thorneycroft in Basingstoke and Pimlico yards building and repairing these lorries from 1920 – 1935, so would probably have been involved with making or repairing these same Ashby delivery lorries.
Finally, in 1850 Ashby’s opened a store in the railway arches at Waterloo Station to supply some London trade. As mentioned above, after 41 years I am realising my dream of leaving insurance to open a micro-brewery. For most of those 41 years, I have travelled through Waterloo Station twice a day, probably unknowingly passing right by the site of the old store!
ASHBY’S AUSTRALIAN PALE ALE – THAMES SIDE EGYPTIAN GOOSE IPA
I also discovered whilst researching the history that from as early as 1829 Ashby’s brewed a beer for export to “the Australian colonies”. This was described in advertisements placed in the Times in 1842 & 1843 as a beer that “resembles East India Pale Ale (IPA) in flavour and colour, but with rather more body”. Sadly, I can find no surviving recipes from Ashby’s, but the IPA that I brew (Egyptian Goose IPA) is based upon an old fashioned English IPA (rather than the currently popular American style IPA’s). IPA’s usually use only pale malt as their base (as indeed I have done here) so in an attempt to give mine the “rather more body” boasted of in the adverts, I tweaked the recipe slightly another way. So whilst not labelled as such, this is my attempt to complete the circle of brewing coming back to Staines, by producing something possibly similar to that last produced by Ashby’s Staines Brewery Limited in the 1800’s.
We are proud to be returning the craft of brewing to Staines.
Andrew Hayward, Owner & Head Brewer, Thames Side Brewery