H&G Simonds Brewery – History and Website

Updated 28 November 2021

Raymond Simonds has compiled a broad and deep on line archive of information about the history and times of H+G Simonds Brewery, this may be reached through the Simonds family website.

In February 2017 he completed releasing even more amazing images to the archive which cover :

  • People  In the company archives, Raymond uncovered a hoard of wonderful old images of the people involved in the brewery operation at all levels. The earliest images date from World War 1. One small album was marked ‘pre-1920’. But the majority are from the post war years and up to about 1960.  Some were in albums, probably from the Hop Leaf Gazette editor’s office.  Others were loose or in bundles. This can be reached HERE 
  • Design.  This section includes images of Simonds Pubs and Hotels around the South West.  HERE 
  • Coopers and Barrel Makers – this has some amazing images of the initiation ceremony of Journeyman Cooper, appropriately perhaps Maurice Cooper.  HERE

In April 2016 Bill Buckley held BBC Radio Berkshire’s  Celebration of Beer in Reading Town Hall (sadly no longer accessible on BBC).  This was followed by a docu/drama about the brewery  recorded in late 2016.   BBC Berkshire Simonds Drama   There are also 7 clips from Andrew Peach’s recordings about Simonds Brewery  HERE

Brewery Information Board

The late Duncan Simonds was President of Reading Civic Society. He started to encourage the Oracle Shopping Centre management team to mark the site of the H&G Simonds Brewery, which was formerly on the site now occupied by The House of Fraser. Duncan sadly did not succeed in completing this task before he died.

In 2008 the Civic Society worked with the Simonds family and the management of The Oracle Shopping Centre to complete his aim and an Information board was unveiled by The Mayor of Reading.  Peter Beard, on 26th February 2009 in the presence of the then Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, Mrs Mary Bayliss.

This information board, sited next to the Strada Restaurant across the river from the House of Fraser,  explains the history of the H&G Simonds Brewery, later Courage Brewery, in Reading.   It was funded by the Civic Society, donations from its members and the Simonds family.

Further information is HERE and a report of the unveiling event is HERE.  The booklet which was produced for the event may be found on the history site  HERE.

The unveiling of the Simonds Information Board 26 February 2009 with the Lord-Lieutenant - the Hon Mrs Bayliss JP, Peter Beard, Mayor of Reading, members of the Simonds family, the designer, the board supplier and Chair of Reading Civic Society.

The unveiling of the Simonds Information Board 26 February 2009 with the Lord-Lieutenant – the Hon Mrs Bayliss JP, Peter Beard, Mayor of Reading, members of the Simonds family, the designer, the board supplier and Chair of Reading Civic Society.

 

Recent Posts

Station Retail Park development plans submitted

Station Retail Park Development (the TGI Fridays/ ALDI/ Majestic Wine Warehouse site), Caversham Road / Vastern Road. Application for Outline Planning Consent now submitted.

The initial design for the development which will run along Vastern Road and Caversham Road.

3 April 2020 An application for Outline Planning Consent has been submitted for this site No 200328. The link to the application on RBCs Planning site is HERE

A final exhibition was held on 30 & 31 October 2019.  The link HERE takes you to information about the proposals. On Social Media there are understandable concerns from local residents about the loss of the supermarket and other facilities, which will not be replaced for 5 years (the expected time the scheme will take to complete). If taken to completion this scheme will add some 900 flats and some office space with retail on the ground floors. The scheme raised a lot of opposition from people living in Caversham the company commented after the exhibition that “Most of the 220 comments came from Caversham residents and 70% objected.” The Reading on Thames Nov 2019 blog commented The height of the tall building has been pointlessly shrunk to placate the moaners from Caversham Heights.”

On 21 January members of the RCS committee, the CAAC and CADRA met Barton Willmore, the advisors behind the scheme, high up in the Blade to gain a better understanding of what is proposed here. When we meet developers and their agents in this way there is an agreement about confidentiality. It would not however be any surprise that as the site is owned by AVIVA (pension company) that Barton Willmore are developing a scheme which will lead to an Outline Planning Application, the site will then be sold on to a developer who will submit a detailed application with a view to implementation. We were given to understand that the leases on the sites end from 2021 to 2025. It will probably take up to 2 years to work up an outline planning application which gains consent so it is understandable why the scheme has been raised now.

The concerns we raised with BW included: how would construction be undertaken, would the whole site be worked on at the same time or would it work block by block as each lease came to and end (difficult either way), the challenges of all the construction traffic serving developments on Station Hill, SSE, Reading Metropolitan and this site all at pretty much the same time, the closeness of the accommodation blocks to each other, views though the site from the station to the Thames, how the design of the 3 nearby development sites work together (SSE Vastern Road, Reading Metropolitan (the former GPO Sorting Office)), pollution from the nearby road, the accumulated impact of the town centre developments on Healthcare facilities, what social facilities would be provided to build communities, are the units for sale or rent, affordable element? We have been offered a return discussion when there is more information.

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