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Bury St Edmunds historian Martyn Taylor describes how Southgate Brewery made way for Greene King and a housing development





Henry Braddock’s Southgate Brewery was one of several breweries in the town and was situated in Maynewater Lane, abutting the River Linnet.

Just off nearby Southgate Street he also owned maltings to the rear of the White Hart (today’s Abbey Hotel) – unbelievably these continued to provide malt into the 1930s when owned by Greene King. This oast house (hence Oast Court) is still there today but is now converted into residential use.

Braddock, who followed the national Whig party doctrine of the tolerance of protestant dissenters as against Catholicism and the supremacy of parliament over the monarch, was mayor of Bury in 1837.

He did not have any sons, which had major consequences for his brewery as there was no one to inherit it. Brewing ceased at the Southgate Brewery in May1868 on Henry’s death and was put up for sale by his executors.

The brewery and its 11 tied public houses were sold to E Greene & Son for £7,000 in July 1868, although within a few months seven of the less profitable tied public houses were sold off. Perhaps the Cock pub, which became the Grapes Inn around 1849 following a conversion, is the most notable.

Confusingly, according to Whites directories Henry Braddock had lived at different times at 107, 81 and 82 Southgate Street, the latter however was renamed Southbridge House when purchased by Edward Greene and sold by him to his loyal manager William Pead in 1869.

The old oast house in Southgate Street before it was converted
The old oast house in Southgate Street before it was converted

It was a shrewd purchase of the Southgate Brewery by Edward Greene as he knew Frederick King, a farmer who had acquired maltings in St Mary’s Square by marrying into the Maulkin family of malsters, had his eyes on it for his own brewery.

To ensure expansion plans by his possible rival were curtailed, Edward promptly demolished his purchase.

The fine looking Southbridge House stood on the corner of Southgate Street/Maynewater Lane, several photographs showing this. The two shown, reference numbers K505-0652 and K505/907 (the garden), are in the amazing Spanton Jarman collection of historical photographs, the custodians of which are Suffolk Archives and the Bury Past & Present Society (see online).

William Pead's Southbridge House. Picture: Spanton Jarman collection - K505-0652
William Pead's Southbridge House. Picture: Spanton Jarman collection - K505-0652
The garden of William Pead's Southbridge House. Picture: Spanton Jarman collection - K505/907
The garden of William Pead's Southbridge House. Picture: Spanton Jarman collection - K505/907

The inevitable happened: Edward Greene’s Westgate Brewery and Frederick King, now with his St Edmunds brewery, amalgamated in 1887 to form Greene King, still with us today as the largest independent brewery in the country.

Amid the discussions as to whom would have the main shares in the newly formed company, William Pead alas was not privy to these (though he did receive a generous £5,000 of ordinary shares), the primary owners E Greene and F King ironing out who among both families got what.

Pead died in 1903 having devoted all of his working life to the Westgate Brewery/Greene King.

As for Southbridge House, according to the Spanton Jarman image caption, the house remained a residence until World War Two, when it was occupied by the Royal Signal Corps. Then, from 1948-64, it became the Area National Assistance Office.

The house was sadly demolished in 1970 for the widening of Maynewater Lane, the junction with Southgate Street being a notorious bottleneck. Subsequent to where the Southgate Brewery site was, a garage known as The Linnet Service Station, dispensed fuel there.

Regency Place was built on the site of Henry Braddock's Southgate Brewery
Regency Place was built on the site of Henry Braddock's Southgate Brewery

After this side of the business closed it became a car lot for Alan Reason cars and then a vehicle hire business operated from there. Eventually, a small housing development, Regency Place, some of it overlooking the River Linnet, was built there.

Martyn Taylor
Martyn Taylor

Martyn Taylor is a local historian, author and Bury Tour Guide. His latest book, Bury St Edmunds Through Time Revisited, is widely available.