clarendon brewery1.Comp

Photo: Bill Gibbons ’Collection’

A wine merchant had operated from 61, Clarendon Street since at least 1878 – Arthur Watts was the licensee, followed by Lionel James circa 1900. In August 1908 an application was granted for the temporary transfer of the wine merchant off-licence from Lionel James to William Udal; this was made permanent in the October and upgraded to a full [beer, wine and spirits] off-licence. Although Udal purchased 59 and 61, Clarendon Street he continued to operate the wine and spirits business at ‘61’ and commenced brewing in separate premises at its rear – the only subsequent reference to ‘59’ is as a ‘residence’.

When William Udal applied for the renewal of the full off-licence in February 1909 the magistrates requested that the ‘bottle and jug’ trade be relocated from the rear of the premises, to the front. However, Udal successfully argued that he could not consent as it would mean giving up that class of business, and the licence was renewed.

In March 1911 the chief constable objected to the off-licence renewal on the grounds that the premises were not conducive to effective police supervision, as there was access to the rear of 61, Clarendon Street from [‘59’] the house next door – occupied by a brother of William Udal, acting as manager. After due consideration the magistrates agreed to renew the licence on condition that access between the premises be ‘blocked-up’ and rear lighting be improved to the satisfaction of the police – Mr. Udal gave the requisite undertaking.

Then in May 1911, less than three years since its start-up, the Clarendon Brewery was advertised for sale: –

“Sale of a remunerative small freehold brewery with retail off-licence, tap and wine & spirit business, as a going concern.
Messrs. Fayerman & Co are instructed by the proprietor, in consequence of his returning abroad, to sell by auction, on the premises, on Thursday next, May 18th 1911: –
All that capital freehold property, situate and known as Clarendon Brewery, 59 & 61, Clarendon Street, Leamington Spa, having a 2-quarter brewing plant, with full equipment of fixed plant; 6-day off-licence tap, retail wine & spirit business, and goodwill, as carried on for many years past as a profitable going concern, and having a yearly trade of 1,000 barrels of beer, in addition to wines and spirits.
In addition to the brewing premises and off-licence tap there are also two residences; one comprising wine & spirit office, back office, beer stores, washing and bottling stores, kitchen, etc, with large cellars below and 6 rooms and bathroom above; and the other a private house, with 2 sitting rooms, 6 bedrooms, bathroom, water closet, kitchen, etc.”  

Although the auction notice stated that the sale was “in consequence of the proprietor returning abroad” it transpired post auction that there was another possible explanation. On 24th May, 1911, William Udal had executed a deed of assignment for the benefit of his creditors – assumedly as an alternative to bankruptcy – with G. M. Fayerman being the trustee appointed to take charge of property and pay-off the debts, either in part or in full. Then on 9th June the ‘Courier’ published a summary of Udal’s financial situation: – “Unsecured liabilities, £1,926; estimated net assets, £835; secured creditors £1,555”. Although the brewery failed to sell at auction, the ‘Courier’ reported a week later that “it had since been disposed of to a local purchaser at a satisfactory price”.

On 1st September a ‘public notice’ – posted in the ‘Courier’ by the trustees’ solicitors – instructed creditors yet to assent to the deed of assignment, and/or  submit particulars of their claims, to do so before 9th September, 1911 or face exclusion from any benefit of the proposed dividend.

Although there may be other reasons why the Clarendon Brewery was a short-lived venture, it’s conceivable – given the facts and the benefit of hindsight – that it was a predictable outcome. By the early 1900s the majority of the town’s pubs were ‘tied-houses’ – contracted to a specific brewery to exclusively sell their products. The most prominent of these was the nearby and long established Leamington Brewery [Lillington] – others included Ansell’s, Flowers and Mitchells & Butlers [M&B]. Furthermore, there is no evidence of the Clarendon Brewery engaging any press advertising whatsoever, suggesting that its ‘brewery tap’ serviced little more than a ‘bottle and jug’ trade.

That the Clarendon Brewery/Udal Brothers are listed as brewers and a wine & spirits merchant [same address] until 1914 – and the February 1913 licensing sessions reference “Udal’s off-licence” as being active – suggests that Udal either resolved his financial issues, leased the premises and equipment from the ‘local purchaser’ and resumed trading or, the new owner temporarily retained the business name. From 1915-19 the joint business was operated by Atkins & Bosley after which it reverted to a wine & spirits merchant run by Atkins only.

Martin Ellis, July 2016

Leamington Spa Courier [1878 to 1920]
British Newspaper Archive (
Annual directories: 1878 to 1920 [Spennell’s, Beck’s & Kelly’s]