The Old Brewery Chimney

Many of Shoreham’s old photos of the High Street and from across the river show a familiar chimney on the spot where Coronation Green is now. Originally part of a cement works in the early 1800’s it later became a brewery.

Photographs though show two sizes of chimney, a taller building topped with a pot and another that is about one third shorter. Identifying when the chimney was altered can be a useful tool in dating photos so a quick rummage through all the photos in our collections initially provided an approximate indication. 

The Tall Chimney

One of the latest photos of the taller chimney was this from the High Street and from the names shown on the building fascias ‘Albion Steam Brewery’, ‘Mitchells’ and ‘Spencer Reed’ it was possible to identify from street directories that this was taken about 1881 (a). Furthermore, Reed’s shop was completely destroyed in a fire very shortly after this photo was taken.

An apparently even later photo though was to come to light in the Samuel Butler Collection. A poor quality image of Henry Jones, one of Butler’s friends with the river and chimney behind him nevertheless showed enough detail to identify it as the taller version. Most of the photos in the collection are specifically and individually dated 31st March 1891 except this one that has no date but shows elsewhere in the Butler album that Butler and Jones visited their friend Charles Gogin, an artist in Shoreham, in 1889, 1890 and 1891. Gogin is recorded as living in Shoreham for a few years at this time but not much beyond and seems to have moved on to marry Alma Broadbridge in London shortly after. If, as seems likely, the photo was taken during that period then the full size chimney seems to have survived to at least then (b).

Not conclusive evidence perhaps but another discovery lends considerable support to all this and extends the probability of the taller chimney surviving by a few years more. Another poor quality but discernable image of an 1893 painting by Alfred Bennett titled ‘Norfolk Bridge’ also shows the chimney with its pot (c). 

The Short Chimney

From the vehicles shown in the High Street images that included the smaller chimney it was apparent that generally these were taken during the first quarter of the 20th century. A check of the names on the shop front fascias against those in the street directories narrowed it down further. 

The earliest short chimney High Street photo turned out to be one that showed  Glyde outfitters. Glyde’s are shown in the High Street in the 1902 directory and were taken over by Luckings in 1907. The two photos show the different owners’ names – with a prominent display position on the side of the building the names would have been repainted fairly promptly after ownership changes.

So from this we have a period during which the chimney was likely to have been shortened – from at least 1881(a) but probably 1893 (b) up to 1907 (c) – no great revelation in itself but a useful reference when dating photos of similar views. 

One possible contradiction to all this though is the Sussex Archaeological Society’s photo 95.2612.3 that purports to show the ship Osman Pacha on the stocks prior to launching in 1878. The Methodist Church is shown, built in 1879. The riverside buildings at the Dolphin Hard still show their original roofs before they were destroyed in a 1911 fire, coincidentally the same year as the brewery company Chapman & Co (the name is just discernable on the side of the East Street Arms pub) were taken over by the Rock Brewery. The chimney though is obviously the reduced version which, if the foregoing is accepted, dates the photo after 1893.

Shoreham historian Henry Cheal tells us that the Osman Pacha went unsold for many months before being moved to the West India Docks in London where she lay for a ‘very long time’ until she was eventually sold. Unfortunately, Lloyds Registers are somewhat sparse for this period and the first record we have of her since the launching is at London under the ownership of R. Berridge in 1883.

Clearly, this is at odds with the SAS information and if the conclusions here regarding the date of the shortened chimney are accepted (i.e., post 1893) then the ship is unlikely to be the Osman Pacha besides which it was reported lost at sea on a journey to Mauritius in 1892 (State Library of South Australia PRG 1373/20/23). Other large ships from elsewhere were however subsequently hauled up for repairs and overhaul by winch on to Dyer’s ‘patent slipway’ and this photo may perhaps show one of them.

Roger Bateman
Shoreham
August 2021

Samuel Butler Collection photo by permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

2 Replies to “The Old Brewery Chimney”

  1. Who was the chairman of shoreham during the war years ?
    I’ve been told it was Sydney Williams but can find know proof.

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