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One on every corner - Spalding's former pubs and breweries



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In the latest Gems From The Archive column, Dr Martin Blake looks at a town's former pubs and breweries...

Old Robin Harmstone, whose book Remarkable Events connected with the history of Spalding we’ve referred to previously in these columns, tells us that in his time, the 1840s, there were about 80 ‘Ale and Liquor Retailers’ in the town.

Although Robin’s memoir may not always be the most reliable, the figure is probably about right, even given that the town was much smaller then.

Westbourne House was once home to a Spalding brewery owner
Westbourne House was once home to a Spalding brewery owner

Contemporary Boston apparently had 17 brewers, 48 inns and taverns and 51 ‘beer houses’, establishments licensed to sell only beer rather than wines and spirits.

Towards the turn of the 20th century, South Holland was said to have one licensed house to every 135 of the population. How times have changed.

In the early part of the 19th century, Spalding alone had four breweries, located in Crackpool Lane, Double Street and Cowbit Road (two).

The Soames name etched on an old bottle
The Soames name etched on an old bottle

The housing development in Westbourne Gardens was built on the site of one of the latter, and takes its name from the adjoining Westbourne House, once home to the owner and later used as offices.

The brewery was built at the start of the century by one Henry Bugg, and during the course of the century passed through successive generations of his family until it was sold to Soames, a regional brewer, in 1889.

As well as their Spalding base, Soames had branches in Boston, Sleaford and Skegness. By 1949 Soames had 240 houses, but in that year they sold out to Steward & Patterson, who ended brewing operations in Spalding.

Collecting pub and brewing memorabilia has long been a popular pastime, and the museum of Spalding Gentlemen’s Society (SGS) has some prime examples of Soames’ marketing, including a bottle etched with the brewer’s name and a barrel ring, as well as various plaques and signs.

A Soames barrell ring
A Soames barrell ring

They are a reminder of an era when pubs and taverns were embedded in their local community, and a hub of neighbourhood social life.

Through the 20th century, economic conditions became more difficult. During the First World War, stringent licensing regulations were introduced to try to ensure that the war effort wasn’t hindered by excessive drinking, and in recent decades the tendency to drink at home, together with the widespread availability of cheaper beer and wine from supermarkets, have reduced the viability of pubs. Some of the survivors closed at the start of the Covid pandemic and have never reopened.

lThe SGS museum in Broad Street, Spalding is open every Wednesday from 11am-1pm and on the third Sunday of every month from 2pm-4pm, and on other special heritage days.

A Soames sign
A Soames sign

You can also keep in touch with us, and see some of the delights of our collections, on our website at sgsoc.org

An old Soames brewery sign
An old Soames brewery sign

Through social media, we will try to keep you up to date with everything which is going on within the Society: check out our Facebook page, find us on Twitter at @sg_soc, on Instagram at sgs1732 or email us at outreach@sgsoc.org



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