Reffel's Bridge, Redhill c1905

Reffel's Bridge, Redhill c1905
Entrance Gates to Cutforth Bros Brewery may be seen on right hand side of photo.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008



Part 1 - The Redhill Brewery.

If one studied a map of 150 years ago for the town of Redhill, one would have searched vainly, for it did not exist. One would have discovered instead a few scattered houses and farms which were grouped together under the unbecoming name of "Reigate Foreign" (i.e. within the manor of Reigate, but outside the "Borough"). So unthinkable was it to even contemplate situating a township on a low lying, marshy, wild tract of land such as it was, "intersected by meandering streams, the haunt of snipe and duck" (As Hooper put it), that had anybody even suggested the idea he would have undoubtedly been certified insane and locked up! So bottomless did the mud appear to be that when the town was eventually erected, the Market Hall had to be built on piles driven down through the marsh onto solid ground. In fact, many of the buildings built on the site, then called Rough Moors, had to be erected on rafts or piles [1].

Between 1800 and 1850, the population of Reigate grew slowly, but suddenly exploded between 1851 and 1861, doubling to nearly 10,000 by the latter year. This alarming growth was caused by the coming of the railway, for being not too far out into the countryside from London, Reigate became a dormitory suburb. Daily commuting was made reality when the London to Brighton line was put through in 1841, by the London, Brighton, and South Coast Railway Company, formed in 1837, after having purchased the line of the old Surrey Iron Railway from Croydon to Merstham. The latter was built in 1805 and formed a section of the earliest public railway in the world - though confined to goods traffic only.

The earliest local station, known as "Redhill & Reigate Road”, had been built at Hooley, Earlswood, near the present Earlswood Station, but when the Ashford branch was laid through in 1842, a new station was erected at Redhill, and named "Reigate Junction". For some years there was no train service between the two stations, so that passengers coming from Kent, who wished to travel to Brighton, and those going in the opposite direction, had to alight at Redhill or Earlswood and make their own way between the two stations, a distance of nearly one mile. This was only remedied when the South Eastern Railway Company, who built the Tonbridge to Reading line, were allowed to use the Junction Station [2].

Thus, the east end of the parish of Reigate sprang up as the centre of railway traffic, within easy reach of London, while Reigate, hostile to these new developments, contented itself with a subordinate station on a branch line with a level crossing obstructing the main London Road.

The site of Redhill town was determined by the position of the Junction Station, as was the making of Station Road with an eastward extension to the top of Redstone Hill. Drainage and improved methods of road-making slowly overcame the problems encountered, and builders increased the scale of activity, unhampered by any Bye-laws, so that by 1860 a small settlement called “Warwick Town” had sprung up; the earliest development being along Warwick Road, North Street, High Street, and Grove Road. The town owed its name to the Countess Brooke of Warwick, widow of the fourth Lord Monson, who granted building leases on parcels of land between Linkfield Lane and the High Street. The area formed part of the Monson family estate in the Manor of Linkfield.

Redhill, as the name of a community, came into use about 1841 and was at first generally applied to Earlswood and other inhabited parts of the neighbourhood outside Warwick Town. St.John's Church, opened in 1843, was called "The Redhill and District Church" and served a new parish, comprising the eastern half of Reigate Parish.

Other estates quickly came on to the market and were exploited for building by individuals or companies. In particular, the area around Hooley in 1856. Contemporary advertisements extolled the advantages of these newly built properties by playing the convenience of the railways to the fullest. It may be noted that railway facilities were better than they became later and helped to establish the locality as an attractive and easily accessible back-garden for the London businessman, a factor on which its prosperity has since so largely rested.

The rapid growth of population led to opportunities that any sane-minded brewer could not resist. Right from the start, beer was being brewed at Redhill, although at first it was designed to slake the thirst of the navvies in the course of constructing the railways, and then the builders of the newly growing township.

Early references to brewing in Redhill seem surprisingly lacking but from advertisements of the time, one gets the impression that three major concerns were competing for this lucrative growing market. Firstly, there was the Somers Arms Brewery, situated at Linkfield Corner; secondly, the Warwick Brewery, situated centrally in the growing town; and finally, the Roses Brewery, situated in Mill Street, at the Hooley end of town.

The earliest reference we have is that a gentleman by the name of Samuel Relf, erected a brewhouse and inn, sometime after 25th December 1845, on which date he had acquired a lease on the land in what later became known as “Rail Meadow”. According to the local historian, Dr Ridgeway, writing sometime between 1814 and 1823, Mr Relf had a public house in a road below Redstone Hill - now called Hooley Lane. The writer speaks of a pub with the sign of “The Marquis of Granby” and continues:

" Close by it three more houses and the new Inn, The Somers Arms, kept by a Mr. Relf."

This history has in this one passage more than a suggestion that the recently delicenced Somers Arms at Reffell's Bridge, old though it looks, was not the original bearer of that sign. It seems more than coincidence also that the innkeeper of both bore the same name. In all probability, Samuel Relf removed his business from the old inn in Hooley to the new one at Reffell's Bridge. How can we prove this? We are helped by a second reference, again relating to the old inn, dating from 1817.

This is a grant, made by the Lord of the Manor, Earl Somers, to a Mr James Cocks, a kinsman, of a piece of common land at the top of Brighton Road at the corner of Mill Street, for the erection of a new Inn for the convenience of travellers using the newly constructed turnpike road. When the inn was opened, it was kept by Samuel Relf, late of the White Hart, Reigate, a name that is apparently well known in local hostelry matters. This earlier Inn had a comparatively brief existence, for with the arrival of the railway in 1841, taking traffic from the road, it lost its custom. Much of the trade then went to the Marquis of Granby Inn in Hooley Lane, which lay beside the "Redhill and Reigate Road Station" . When the stagecoaches ceased, the Somers Arms dropped its title, and the licence was conveyed over to a property newly erected at Linkfield Corner. The old Inn was renamed The Firs, and became the Vicarage of St. John's Church, then also newly built, and which was under the incumbency of the Revd Henry Goss (vicar 1846-1888). This dating fits reasonably well with Mr Relf's removal to Linkfield Corner.

Apparently, brewing, or brewing and innkeeping was more profitable than just innkeeping alone, for the business slowly grew. Samuel Relf, however, had become an old man, and having established a modest business, he offered it up for auction on the 6th July 1853. It was described as "Somers Arms and Brewhouse, a leasehold messuage lately erected by him". At the auction, held at the Railway Hotel, Redhill, it was knocked down to the highest bidder, one Henry Reffell, for £430 - the residue of the term of 50 years lease.

It is interesting to note that Mr W. H. Monahan, one of the last landlords of the Somers Arms before its closure, had displayed in one of the bars, an old envelope, with philatelic evidence dating it about 1857, addressed to Mrs Reffell, Somers Arms, Redhill, Surrey.

In the Census of 1861, surveyed by William Eve, the property appears as hereditament No.341, and is described as "Public House and garden, under the ownership of Henry Reffell, ground area covering 1 rood, 3 perches."

It did not take Henry Reffell long to build up the business on the grounds of a family pale ale, porter, and stout brewer.

When the Reading railway line was constructed alongside - hence the name of Rail Meadow - the engineers had to put the line in a cutting and erect a bridge where Hatchlands Road runs. This meant raising the highway so as to obtain a convenient gradient over the bridge. The bridge itself became known as Reffell's Bridge, thus perpetuating the owner's name of the adjacent brewery. The raising of the highway left the brewery buildings in a well, the three public bars were added to the building at the new road level. Those who frequented the Somers Arms would have noted that when the landlord left the bar, he first went downstairs and then upstairs to gain access to the first floor rooms. In the public bar stood what appeared to be a door, which in reality covered a staircase of the old house leading to the bedroom above, which in its turn had a wooden panel hiding the summit of the staircase.

On the 24th September 1874, Henry Reffell assigned the leasehold, Somers Arms, trade, and business of brewer, to Mr Charles Dagnall junior of Point Pleasant, Wandsworth, for £2,500. Charles Dagnall junior also had breweries at Horley, Epsom, and Mill Street, Redhill (of which later), but it is not clear whether this gentleman controlled all, or whether control was held in conjunction with his father. Directory references throughout the 1880's - the last being 1887 - shows him as trading here. By 1891, he had gone and reference is given to Cutforth Brothers to whom the business had passed the previous year. The two brothers referred to in the company title were Walter and Samuel Cutforth. Walter lived adjacent to the brewery in an old house called Stonehouse, and rode regularly with the Surrey Hounds.

The Redhill Public Library has in their possession a directory of traders and professions dated 1892, in which is given a run-down on the business and is of such interest that it is well worth reproduction here.

"Messrs Cutforth Brothers, brewers. - Amongst the number of well-appointed breweries which it has been our pleasure to visit in various parts of the country we do not remember to have seen one so compactly constructed, or when greater pains have been taken to supply every convenience tending to the production of good wholesome ales, than that belonging to Messrs. Cutforth Bros. at Redhill. The brewery is situated on the direct road to Reigate, and is within a few minutes walk of the Railway Station. This important concern was founded many years ago and besides the able direction of the principals, continues to have the advantages of the services of a most efficient brewery staff. The various buildings, outhouses, stables, yards &c., cover a great extent of ground, and everywhere it is noticeable that the concern is equipped with machinery and appliances of the most improved and effective type known in the district. All the aid which science and lengthy experience can lend are taken full advantage of by the firm, with the result that Cutforth Brothers are enabled to produce an article of undoubted excellent quality, which has found much favour amongst residents in the neighbourhood. All the operations are conducted under the most careful supervision, the appliances and utensils bear most distinctly the stamp of thorough efficiency and every part and portion of the equipment is as bright and clean as the proverbial "new pin" - cleanliness being one of the most salient features of the whole establishment. Next to cleanliness the most important factor in the production of good ale is thoroughly pure and suitable water, and in this respect Cutforth Brothers are highly fortunate. The water used by them is of undoubted purity, and practically perfect for pale ale brewing, being obtained from deep artesian wells on the premises. Special care is taken to secure the use of grain of a superior quality, and the use of the finest English malt and hops enables them to produce particularly good bitter ale, intended specially to meet the requirements of private families, and which is highly recommended for dinner and other use. We may also mention the light and strong ales, which are favourably known in the district and also that firm are agents for Barclay & Perkin's stout and porter, which is supplied in cases, and which is too well known to need further comment by us. Messrs. Cutforth Brothers stand very high regarding all their products for which there is a large and increasing demand. The family trade is specially cultivated, and has acquired a wide and valuable connection. These brief outlines will convey some idea of the resources of the brewery, and our readers will, we feel assured, not be surprised at our frank commendation of the beverages placed for their use by Cutforth Brothers of the Redhill Brewery."

"For our fathers so bold,
When laughed at the cold,
When Boreas was bending his brow;
For they quaff'd a mighty ale,
And they told a blythe tale;
And so will we do now, Jolly Hearts
And so we will do now."

With reference to the water supply, above mentioned, the Redhill Public Library also has a copy of the Whitaker Report on the Water Supply of Surrey, 1912, which records all underground sources, and also contains records of sinkings and borings. Cutforth Brothers' artesian well is singled out in this report being described thus:

"Redhill Brewery, Messrs Cutforths. Made and communicated by Messrs Isler & Co; lined with tubes 5" diameter to 84 feet down. Water level is 31 feet down. Supply about 1,000 gallons an hour."

Then followed a description of the rock formations encountered - mainly greensand - to a depth of 125 feet.

The Report of the Royal Commission on Water Supply described the water quality as excellent for all domestic purposes, being bright and limpid, of a degree of hardness varying from about 3 degrees to 9 degrees of Clark's test, and generally very free of organic matter. The temperature of the water when drawn up remained a constant 50-52 degrees showing its source to be deep seated, and that this temperature remained stable throughout the entire year.

The public houses acquired by Cutforth Brothers upon the acquisition of the brewery numbered only three, but by the time they relinquished control the number had doubled.

The Skimmington Castle stood upon Reigate Heath and bore a name of very curious origin. Wilfred Hooper in his book "Reigate, its story through the Ages" postulates that it was the spot where the old custom of "Riding the Skimmington" was carried out, as the word does not appear to be used in any other connection. The origin of this custom is unknown, but it has been suggested that it be derived from the skimming-ladle with which the hen-pecked husband was beaten during the procession. Such was the ridicule a man had to experience were he to allow his wife to dominate household affairs.

Early in the 1800's, according to Hooper, this place, then known as Skimmington Down Farm was owned by William Perkins who for some time prior to 1826 had let the property to Robert Bridges. It then consisted of an old farm house, part of which was given over to the use as a general store, run by Robert Bridges’ second wife, Mrs R.Legg. In the farmhouse, home-brewed beer was produced and sold in small barrels to cottagers and surrounding farms. On the Common, opposite the farm stood an old Poplar tree which was planted to commemorate the signing of an agreement of apprenticeship of Nathaniel Perkins, youngest son of William, who then dwelt at the property which by then had become an Inn. The 1861 Census lists the property as Hereditament 1764, beershop and garden owned and run by William Perkins. Sometime between 1861 and 1892 the Inn was acquired by Charles Dagnall, for mention is made in the 1892 Petty Sessional Returns of his ownership, and that the Inn was tied for trade by the Hornchurch Brewery Company of Horley, in which Dagnall held an interest. Since Dagnall had sold his Epsom Brewery in 1888, prior to his move to Redhill, we may safely assume acquisition of this Inn to fall within the four-year period 1888-1892. Ownership passed shortly after the latter date to William Bonney, who ran it until 1905 when the inn passed into the hands of Messrs. Cutforth Brothers.

The Fountain Inn was a beershop which stood on the south side of a road leading out of Union Road into Church Road, St. John's, Redhill. The author has not yet ascertained the exact date of acquisition, except that a reference is made to the Fountain Inn in the Petty Sessional Report for 1892, in which it is stated to be owned by Cutforth Bros. and that it was frequented by Carmen and Labourers.

The above two Inns were freehold properties. Those that follow were leaseholds.

The Three Horseshoes was situated at Irons Bottom, Horley. The lease of this Inn dates from 29th September 1787 when John Charrington leased it out for one thousand years. The author has been unable to examine the deeds of this property so the exact date of acquisition by Redhill Brewery is difficult to establish. However, it must have been after 1892 in which year the petty Sessional Report describes the Inn as being in the ownership of Nathaniel Turner who ran it as a Free-house. It was obviously acquired by Messrs Cutforth Bros. sometime between that date and 1906, for it is specifically mentioned in the Deed of Conveyance to Henry Bransbury in the latter year.

The Star, in Observatory Road, Redhill, had been in existence since 1869 when Lord Monson leased it to Henry Reffell. The 1892 Petty Sessional Report gives it as being owned and tied for trade by Cutforth Brothers and that Cottagers and Labourers frequented it. A document dated 18th June 1893 exists in the Archive of Friary Meux, in which Mr. Reffell passed over to Cutforth Brothers a renewal of lease for a further 40 years commencing 29th September 1895. The brewery, however, were not to enjoy this extension as on 20th June 1911, the beershop was closed down by the Licensing Compensation Authority. The licence was transferred to the Noah's Ark in Brighton Road, Redhill.

The Sultan was situated on the east side of London Road, Redhill. It was a small beershop leased by Lord Monson on 25th December 1862 for 83 years to Joseph Peters for a peppercorn ground rent, to run as a free house. The 1892 report stated that it was frequented by mechanics and working classes. On 10th February 1899, Cutforth Brothers bought the Sultan from Joseph Peters for £2,000, together with an unexpired lease of about 48 years.

In 1902, Cutforth Brothers acquired the Warwick Brewery and closed it down, effectively removing serious competition in the family and club trade, of which their table ale and AK Crystal ale had been the subject of keen rivalry.

Trade continued for a further four years, until eventually Cutforth Brothers sold the lease of the Brewery under mortgage on the 10th July, 1906, to Henry Bransbury of the Crown Brewery, Landport. As mortgagees, Cutforth Brothers retained an interest in the business. An inventory of the plant acquired by Henry Bransbury included:

"A gas engine, a cask washer, a galvanised iron liquor tank, a West's vertical carbon dioxide compressor, a racking machine, two slake yeast backs, three yeast trucks, a Worthington beer pump, a wooden hop-back with cast iron bottom, a Worthington supply pump, an 8 ft by 4ft cast-iron tank, a chaff cutter, a cast-iron mash tun with gun-metal bottom, a steel masher for same, a fire copper and fountain, malt mill, elevator, wooden liquor-back and coil, a grist case, a 13ft cast-iron tank, a friction hoist, a circular copper vessel, a galvanised hop-strainer, four fermenting squares and six fermenting rounds with attemporators and parachutes, two refrigerators, one throw well pump with beam action, a 4hp Tangye type horizontal engine with 3ft fly-wheel, a Galloway Cornish boiler - 16ft by 6ft diameter, and a 22ft Davy & Paxman Lancashire boiler."

Henry Bransbury continued the business of family pale, mild, and stock ale brewers under the new style of Bransbury & Company. Prior to Redhill, Henry Bransbury owned the Hyde Park Road Brewery, Southsea, which he sold to Brickwoods in 1880. He then acquired the Crown Brewery, which had premises at both Church Road, Portsmouth, and Clarendon Street, Landport. In 1902 he sold this concern to Portsmouth United Breweries Ltd. By all accounts he was quite a shrewd businessman, for he had built up the Landport enterprise virtually from scratch, carving out a mini-empire right into the heartland of Hampshire, ending up with over 40 public houses, and swallowing up another brewery, Nance's Cygnet Brewery of Havant, on the way. Henry Bransbury had also set up an extensive London trade which he continued to keep separate from other enterprises, and which he ran under the style of Bransbury, Stratton and Company, having entered into a partnership in 1913. Apart from 7 public houses, the London business also owned the Halfway House, Webber St, Blackfriars SE; The King Henry VIII, High St. Lambeth; 163 High St. Lewisham; 325-327 Hornsey Rd. Holloway; 43 Edgware Rd. W; 17 North End Rd, W; and 112 Bow Rd, E.

In the short period between 1906 and 1914 that Henry Bransbury traded from the Somers Arms Brewery, he acquired another public house, the Kings Arms, West Street, Dorking. The acquisition on 29th September 1906 took the form of a lease for 21 years from Messrs Heathfield & Adrian Young.

His partnership with Mr Stratton lasted only a year, and on 23rd April 1914, he sold the business for £9,500 to Bushell, Watkins, and Smith Ltd, of the Black Eagle Brewery, Westerham, Kent.

The conveyance is interesting as it gives some insight as to the extent of the concern that hitherto could only be conjectured. The agreement was made:

" Between Walter Cutforth of Redhill, and Samuel Cutforth formerly of Redhill but now of Ashlyn, Woodford Green in Essex, Esq., the mortgagees of the first part; Henry Bransbury, formerly of Holme Chase, Woodborough Road, Putney but now of Redhill, brewer, the vendor of the second part; and Messrs Bushell, Watkins and Smith of Westerham, Kent, the purchasers, and hereinafter referred to as the Company...."

The Conveyance continues, and makes reference that Henry Bransbury:..
" Had for some time past carried out the business of a brewer and bottler of beer, wine and spirit, tobacco, and mineral water merchant at the Redhill Brewery, Redhill, under the name of Bransbury, Stratton & Co, and the Redhill Brewery, and also possessed an important free, private, and club trade, carried on both at the Redhill Brewery and in London and elsewhere."

The Redhill trade to be made over to Bushells in this deal, consisted of eight public houses and the brewery, which was described in the Conveyance as:

"All that piece or parcel of land with the brewery, public house, offices and other buildings standing thereon, containing in the whole by estimation, two roods and four perches with their and every of their appurtenance situate lying and being at or near Lingfield Corner in the town of Redhill on the Borough of Reigate in the County of Surrey, which said premises are known as the Redhill Brewery and Somers Arms; together with all the fixed machinery, fixed chilling, bottling and other plant and fixtures therein or in any part thereof, together with the site of the private roadway, partly at the side of the said premises and partly at the rear of six messuages or shops fronting Linkfield Corner aforesaid."

As well as the brewery and Somers Arms, the sale included The Fountain BH, Redhill; The Skimmington Castle Arms, Reigate Heath; The Three Horseshoes, Ironsbottom; The Noah's Ark, Redhill; The Sultan, Redhill; The King's Arms, Dorking, and The Camden House, East Grinstead.

It would appear by scrutiny of various other documents drawn up by Bushells just prior to the purchase of the Redhill Brewery, that Henry Bransbury had been trading at a loss over the previous five years and that a cash surplus on the books was possible only by the injection of large sums of money from the London trade. This position was further complicated by the financial obligations of the company whereby the liabilities exceeded the liquid assets and a large mortgage was liable to be called in at any time. Henry Bransbury was undoubtedly only too eager to sell out because he realised that were the London trade not to come up to expectations in any given year the position might well become serious.

At the time of the acquisition of the Redhill Brewery, Bushells carried out a full inventory of the plant, for which they allowed, together with the remaining stock, the sum of £2,000. It is perhaps appropriate to reproduce the inventory here for it provides an excellent insight as to the working capacity of the brewery.

Six-quarter cast iron mash tun, gunmetal plates to fit.
Six-quarter copper masher.

One copper with furnace, 6ft diameter, 6ft 6ins deep.
One copper dome.
One Roby 6-quarter malt mill elevator.
One wooden liquor-back of 20 barrels capacity. 6ft x 3ft x 4ft.
One cast-iron 58 barrel tank. 13ft x 3ft x 9ft.
One five hundredweight friction hoist in good condition.
One six-quarter malt copper, wooden.

One circular copper vessel.
One galvanised hop strainer on legs.

One fermenting square. 6ft x 6ft x 6ft.
One ditto. 5ft 6ins x 4ft 9ins x 6ft deep.
One ditto. 4ft 6ins x 3ft 6ins x 6 ft deep.
Two fermenting rounds of 30 barrels capacity each.
One ditto of 32 barrels capacity.
One ditto of 29 barrels capacity.
Two ditto of 22 barrels capacity each.
Ten copper attemporator coils.
Seven copper parachutes.

One refrigerator 5ft long x 3 ft high.
One refrigerator 4ft long x 3ft 3ins high.

One 4 bhp National gas engine.

One Pontifex cask washer.
One 60 barrel galvanised iron tank, fixed.
One beam and throw well pump.

One portable backing machine.
One slate yeast-back. 5ft x 2ft 9ins x 1ft 6ins.
Two wooden yeast tanks. 2ft x 4ft x 3ft 6ins deep.
One wooden yeast tank. 4ft x 4ft x 2ft 6ins deep.
One slate back. 3ft x 3ft x 2ft deep.
One Worthington beer pump. 4ft 6ins x 3ft 9ins.
One wooden hop-back. 4ft x 12ft x 3ft 4ins deep.
Seventeen cast-iron plates.
One 3-inch gunmetal and iron cock from copper.
One 4hp Tangye type engine with 3ft flywheel.

One Galloway Cornish boiler. 16ft long x 6ft diameter.
One Lancashire boiler by Davey & Paxman. 22ft long x 6ft diameter.
One eight-day clock.
One Worthington boiler feed pump. 4ft 6ins x 2ft 6ins x 4ins.
One cast-iron tank. 8ft x 4ft x 3ft, with planed joints.

One chaff cutter and one corn bin.

Bushell, Watkins & Smith Ltd continued trading at the Redhill Brewery until 1921 as a depot for their Westerham beer, having a respite during the First World War when it was made use of as a remount depot by the army. Henry Bransbury traded into comparative obscurity, and died in May 1921 leaving assets of £42,011. [3] Bushells finally sold the premises in 1924 to Howard Waters, a local heating engineer and builder. The Somers Arms public house, Bushells retained, and it was incorporated into the Ind Coope empire when Bushells themselves were taken over. During the Second World War, the old Redhill brewery was used firstly as a section of Billingsgate Fish market, then as a grocery store, and finally as a meat depot. It was finally demolished in 1972.
1. Hooper, w. p177.
2. Marshall, C. F. D. History of the Southern railway, Chapter 1, pp264 - 66, 379, 381, & 388 - 390.
3. BTR, 1st May 1921 p203

It is interesting to note that Howard Waters' son, Ronald, was responsible for the establishment of Gatwick Aerodrome in 1930, and he used to run a flying school there. Outlined below is a plan of Redhill Brewery as it appears on the 1914 Conveyance, and also a photo of it taken shortly before demolition may be found on this page.

Plan of Redhill Brewery, 1914

Plan of Redhill Brewery, 1914