W.H.Brakspear & Sons; The Pubs.
I had my first ever pint of Brakspear’s bitter when I was a student at Reading University. It was
served straight out of a cask in the Students Union bar, and cost 12 pence. Since then I
have drunk in virtually every pub in the Brakspear’s estate.
That was in 1974. At the time there were 130 to choose from, unfortunately since then
many have closed. I have drunk, literally, from Lands End to Aberdeen,
and I can say that Brakspear’s have some of the most charming pubs in the country.
Other breweries, such as Hook Norton and Palmers, have some nice pubs, but no one
does it quite so consistently well as Brakspear’s.
At some time during the early ’80’s, my friend Ian and I thought it would be a good
idea to visit every Brakspear’s pub, but to do it in alphabetical order (don’t people
think up some silly ideas when they are drunk). The plan was to photograph each one
we visited, you can view the fruits of our labours below.
In November 1896, Brakspear’s purchased the Greys brewery. Their pub ownership
was now at an all-time high, approximating to 150 houses. By the 1970’s about 20 of
these had closed leaving the 130 listed below. Since then, another 35 have been either
closed or sold, and half a dozen new ones acquired. The estate now numbers
101 currently trading pubs
At one stage it seemed that pubs were being closed nearly as fast as we were visiting
them. You will find photographs below of pubs that are no longer trading. It was a
cause of concern to Ian and myself, that while Fullers and Youngs were opening pubs
hand over fist that Brakspear’s were actually closing theirs—including some of my
favourites. I believe that the tide has now turned and Brakspear’s have now opened
some new houses.
When we started our alphabetical pub tour we had no plans to compile a pub guide,
and we certainly hadn’t heard of the internet. So some of the entries below consist
solely of photographs. Now, when we visit the pubs, we take note of the facilities,
beers and menu so we can mention these in the pub descriptions. You will also come
across the occasional anecdote. You will notice that some pub names are written in
yellow—these houses have ceased trading. Do you remember me saying that we have
every pub? That is because we have yet to complete our
alphabetical tour. We are currently up to the Red Lion at Britwell Salome (July
1999), but we are in no hurry. (We do have some photos of the remaining pubs taken
out of sequence).
Update March 2014:
Quite a number of the pubs below have now closed since the above was written. So just because the name is written in white there is no guarantee it is still trading.