Wilkins’ Seven Stars Brewery

Newtown, Bradford on Avon



Wilkins brewery, Newtown

Wilkins’ brewery in Newtown, Bradford on Avon, with the older malthouse and Seven Stars in front


The Newtown Brewery grew from the back of the former Seven Stars public house to become a large regional business and then collapsed.

A pub was in existence in 1722 and was probably rebuilt by John Sandell with a malthouse on one side in the 1780s. His daughter Grace married James Wilkins and they were living there in 1804, inheriting the inn in 1817 when Sandell died. Their son Alexander had taken over by 1830 and he built a brewery on a cramped site to the rear on Wine Street, while farming around Belcombe and Turleigh as well. In the 1840s he expanded further behind the pub and across the other side of Wine Street, probably taking over a redundant woollen cloth factory. By 1860 he had acquired an old quarry to the east, below St Mary Tory chapel, and built a large malthouse against the quarry face.

After the death of Alexander in 1861 the maltings and brewery became Wilkins Brothers, under his sons James Alexander, Henry Sandell and William. By 1886 they owned the Seven Stars, King’s Head, Three Horse Shoes in Bradford, White Swan in Frome, Green Park Tavern in Bath and one of the several Red Lions in the district.

Wilkins & Hudson, Pickwick Brewery, Bradford on Avon

In the 1890s and especially after the death of Henry Sandell Wilkins in 1896 the company embarked on a programme of expansion. Wilkins Brothers & Hudson Ltd formed 1897, being joined by Gilbert Hudson. It bought the Pickwick Brewery in Corsham with 20 tied pubs and took the name Pickwick Brewery from it in 1905 and bought the Chippenham Brewery (C.J. Dowding & Son) in 1914 and perhaps others.

Inevitably the company became over-extended and, at an Extraordinary General Meeting at Queen’s Square in Bath on the 6th February 1920, it was decided to wind up the company voluntarily. The proposal to sell it to the rival Usher’s Brewery of Trowbridge was accepted. Usher’s closed the brewery down and sold off its plant in the same year, retaining the estate that had built up to some 50 tied pubs. Gilbert Hudson, who died in 1933,  joined the board of Usher’s brewery.

The old brewery behind the Seven Stars and the old malthouse were demolished, while the later brewery and malthouse became a factory for building Royal Enfield motorcycles and then the builder’s yard of S.H. Long, before conversion into flats and offices in 1991. The Seven Stars pub closed in 1969 and is now a private house.