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The Spencer Brothers Brewery

The New Bear Inn, Silver Street House, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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Silver Street House

What is now called Silver Street House was formerly the New Bear Inn and before that called the Angel.

Its home brewing developed into quite a large operation with the building of a brewery on land to the rear. This possibly started with a baker called Emanuel Baily who raised a considerable amount of money by a mortgage in 1810, but failed to make a payment in the following year. Walter Spencer, a yeoman farmer at Little Chalfield, was one of the creditors and took on the property and his brother John developed the brewery. On John’s death in 1837 his three sons George, John and Thomas Spencer jointly inherited the business. John jr* was farming 810 acres and employing 40 labourers at West Lavington and wished to continue in that business, so the other two brothers had to raise a mortgage to buy out his share, involving George Pinchin of the Northgate Brewery** in Bath, who was related to them. George Spencer was a farmer, holding Barton Farm as a tenant and later lived at what is now called Westbury House. The housing estate called Spencer’s Orchard in Frome Road, on land he once farmed, is named after him.

The G. & T. Spencer brewery flourished and expanded to own pubs over a wide area from Bristol to Berkshire and became a Limited Company in 1889. However it seems to have over-extended itself in buying a brewery in Marlborough and its estate of pubs and then could not service the mortgage. Andrew D. Hatch, the Managing Director, was caught falsifying the duty accounts in 1909 and the company was fined heavily, although the fine had not been paid in 1914, when his son, A. Basil Hatch, was in charge. The company was auctioned in 1914 and its property, including a large number of pubs, was bought by Usher’s Brewery of Trowbridge for £56,000. Usher’s then closed the brewery down, but held on to many of the pubs, including the New Bear until 1958, when it was sold off and converted into flats by theatrical costumier and actress Sybil Gladys Hedwig Marie Gallinagh, who went under the stage name of Dolores Denison.

John Spencer jr’s daughter married Edward Burbidge of a South Wraxall farming family, from whom descended Sir Richard Burbidge, first Baronet and three generations of Managing Directors of Harrods.

**The Northgate Brewery was the largest in Bath. It was on the site of the Hilton Hotel and The Podium at the bottom of Walcot Street, with more premises across the river, connected by a bridge. It had connections with Bradford on Avon through George Pinchin and through James Bethell, who farmed at Lady Down in Trowle, Bradford.