The Stokes Croft Brewery-Robert William Miller & Co. and predecessors.

Brewers and Aerated Water Manufacturers.

William Edwards was Maltster and Brewer at Stoke's Croft in the 1790's, he was born around 1758, possibly the son of James Edwards, a Customs House Officer, who was residing at 78 Stokes Croft in 1775 (Sketchley's directory). He married Elizabeth Staite at St. James, Bristol, on 25 July 1785. William died in 1806 and was buried at St. Paul's, Portland Square on 9th August. John Staite and John's daughter Hannah are mentioned in William's will. Stoke's Croft at this time was at the edge of the city and still very rural. William and Elizabeth had a daughter Elizabeth that was left £4,000 in investments in William's will, she was unmarried at the time, and this was a considerable fortune for the day. It appears that John Staite and William Edwards may have married each other's sisters.

John Staite was born in Bristol in 1768, baptised at St. Nicholas on 11 September, son of William and Hannah, he married Elizabeth Edwards on 1 June 1789 at St. Philip & Jacob's. Elizabeth died in July 1800 and was buried at St. Nicholas on the 9th. John married again to Hester Jones on 4 June 1801. Their son Opie Staite was born 21 Feb. 1802. John and Hester were Congregationalists and attended the Castle Green chapel where they had their children baptised. John was a Grocer in 1806 at the time of the death of William Edwards.

John was occupier of the Stoke's Croft Brewery, 76 Stoke's Croft from around 1811 until at least 1830.

John Staite died at his residence at 77 Stokes Croft on 28 Jan. 1847 aged 78. He was buried at St. Paul's, Portland Square on 5 Feb.

William Henry Castle was born 11 June 1810 and baptised at Lewin's Mead Presbyterian on 9 Sept. 1811, son of rectifying distiller Thomas Castle and wife Mary. William married Caroline Collins, youngest daughter of the late William Jennings, Esq. of Congresbury, at St. George's, Everton, Liverpool, on 8 July 1837. He was elected as a Liberal member of the town council for St. Paul's ward in Nov. 1837 and was resident in Stokes Croft y 1835. He was still at the brewery in December 1842. William died 10 March 1865 in London, aged 54. The partnership between William Henry Castle and Thomas Rees of Liverpool was dissolved on 2 March 1842. (London Gazette). The partnerships were in the style of Rees & Castle (Formerly Guppy, Rees & Co. which included Castle, dissolved 2 March 1840) at the Mersey (Nursery?) Brewery, Kent Street, Liverpool, and Castle and Rees at the Stokes Croft Brewery. Rees carried on his trade afterwards at the Nursery Brewery, and Castle carried on at Stokes Croft.  Possibly in partnership with John Willliams who later had a brewery in Bath.

Hattil Foll of Stokes Croft Brewery took over the brewing franchise of the Pennywell Road brewery on 21 June 1843, from Lilly & Son, who at that time were still involved in the maltings on that site. Hattil was born in Drayton Parslow in Buckinghamshire at the end of 1808, baptised there on 6 January 1809, son of Richard Foll and Bridget Warren. The unusual name is Old Testament and interesting. Wikipedia says "The descendants of Hattil (also called Agia or Hagia) are listed in Ezra 2:57 and Nehemiah 7:59 as a group of people returning from the Babylonian captivity (see Ezra–Nehemiah). They are categorized by Ezra as being descendants of "Solomon's servants" (see Nethinim). In the Greek text of 1 Esdras 5:34, a closely related work, Hattil is referred to as Agia or Hagia." Hattil married Elizabeth Cartwright, in Bedfordshire, registered at Luton in the summer of 1837, their first son, Hattil Cartwright Foll, had been born and died in Dunstable in 1838. In the 1841 census Hattil and Elizabeth were living at High Street, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, with young children Flora Elizabeth Foll age 1 yr, 10 mths (1840-1917), and Richard Nathaniel Cartwright Foll age 7 mths (1841-1922).  There were three more children: Louisa Victoria born in Bristol (1843-1926), Hattil James (1850-1850) and  Hattil Edward (1853-1886).
After coming to Bristol Hattil had his private residence at Drayton Villa, Richmond Park, Clifton and he was at the brewery from at least July 1843 and by April 1846 he was a churchwarden of St. Paul's. Hattil's son, Hattil James Foll, born 1850, died at Weston-super-Mare on 13 July 1850. Another son, Hattil Edward, was born 16 Nov. 1853. Hattil was at one time in partnership with Francis Turfrey, partnership dissolved 14 Dec 1852, Turfrey went bankrupt as a brewer in Abergavenny in 1854.
Towards the end of 1857 Hattil Foll aquired the country seat of Beckford Hall on the Gloucestershire Worcestershire border, a 540 acre estate formerly occupied by John Woodward Esq. The estate employed 19 men and 8 boys. Hattil was resident here with wife Elizabeth and daughters Flora and Louisa, and son Hattil in 1861. According to the 1861 census the brewery in Stokes Croft was employing 15 men and in 1863 Charles Stocken was the brewery manager, being succeeded by Gardener the following year. By 1866 Hattil was a magistrate and by Feb. 1868 he was High Sheriff of Gloucestershire. From around 1871 Elizabeth's sister Mary Ann Cartwright was living with the family. Hattil Foll died at Beckford Hall on 10 Oct. 1881 aged 72.

Francis Abbott, of the partnership of Foll and Abbott, was born in Canterbury, Kent, on 18 June 1811, baptised at St. Dunstan's Church, Canterbury on 12 July, son of John Abbott, a corn merchant, and Elizabeth Balderston. Francis married Emma Shutely at St. Luke's Chelsea, Middx. on 24 April 1838, he was a wine merchant of address 24 Francis Street, Waterloo Road, Lambeth, Surrey, at this date. By 1841 Francis was a Wine & Spirit merchant in partnership with Horatio Robinson White, as "White and Abbott" at Oporto House, 15, Cecil Square, Margate, Kent. The partnership was dissolved on 23 June 1845 to be carried on solely by Abbott. The Oporto House premises were sold 21 July 1852 when the Abbotts, with young children Rose, Edward, and Alfred, moved to Bristol. In the 1858 Melville's directory of Margate his company is still listed at the same address in Margate and also at 23 Harp Lane, London. In 1861 Francis and family were living at 3 Apsley Place, Clifton, and by 1871 had moved to 5 Westfield Park, Westbury-upon-Trym. The 1881 census records Francis "late brewer" and Emma together with daughter Rose as visitors to a household back in Chelsea. It seems Francis may have died in London in 1890.

West of England Pale Ale Brewery Company Limited. From the LONDON GAZETTE, MARCH 28, 1877:  NOTICE is hereby given, that at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the said Company, duly convened and held at 45, Bedford-row, London, in the county of Middlesex, on the 3rd day of February, 1877, the following Special Resolutions were duly passed; and at a subsequent Extraordinary General Meeting of Members of the said Company, also duly convened and held at the same place, on the 13th day of  February, 1877, the following Special Resolutions were duly confirmed:—
"That considering all the peculiar circumstances under which the West of England Pale Ale Brewery Company Limited is placed, it is desirable the said Company be voluntarily wound up, and that a Liquidator or Liquidators be now appointed to wind up the said Company voluntarily accordingly, and that such Liquidator or Liquidators have power to carry on the business of the  said Company in such manner, and for so long as he or they consider desirable for disposing of  such business as a going concern.
"That Mr. Francis Abbott, of No. 5, Westfield-park, Redland, in the city and county of Bristol, Managing Director in the said West of England Pale Ale Brewery Company Limited, and Mr. George Frederick Gardiner, of No. 46, Stokes-croft, in the city and county of Bristol, Practical Brewer to the said Company, be now appointed Liquidators for the purpose of voluntarily winding up of the said West of England Pale Ale Brewery Company Limited, with power to carry on the business of the said Company, in such manner, and for so long as they consider desirable, for disposing of such business as a going concern.
"That the remuneration of such Liquidators shall be the continuing to them the payments of their present salaries as Managing Director and Practical Brewer respectively in the West of England Pale Ale Brewery Company Limited, until the affairs of the said Company be fully wound up and finally closed."
Francis Abbott,   Chairman." 
The company had been set up in 1873 with a capital of £30,000 in £100 shares. The petition for winding up the company was submitted to the Lord Chancellor on 28 March 1878 by one of the shareholders Capt. Hugh Polloxfen Deane (of Bath) to be heard n the following 12 April.

Harvey & Co. were incumbents at the brewery from around 1878-1889. In 1880 Frederic Harvey resided partly at the Swan Inn, New St. St. Philips, and partly a 2 Glen Oran Villas, Apsley Road, Clifton. He was not granted a licence at the Swan. Later, Frederic Harvey lived at 33 Apsley Road, Clifton. From the Western Daily Press - Saturday 12 June 1886, page 8: DEATHS. HARVEY.— June 11, at 33, Apsley Road, Clifton, Frederic Harvey, of Stokes Croft Brewery, Bristol, and youngest son the late Moses Woolland Harvey, solicitor, Moreton Hampstead, Devon, aged 38. No cards.

During Harvey & Co.'s tenure, on 30 July 1889, Mr. George Frederick Gardiner ended his service after 25 years as brewer and manager, he was presented with a pair of gold spectacles by the employees. He actually ran the brewery in the absence of its owners and it seems was the real brains behind the beers. With Frederic Harvey dead and Gardener gone it was time for a new owner to invigorate the brewery.

Advertisement from "The Ports of the Bristol Channel-Progress & Commerce-1893"

Robert William Miller was born at "The Vale", Ramsgate, Kent, on 13 July 1862, and baptised at Christchurch, Ramsgate, on 8 Sept. 1862, the youngest son of Robert Montgomerie Miller and Mary Jane Ranking.

Robert W Miller
Robert W. Miller - Image courtesy Carol L. Lester.

Robert married Minnie Ophelia, youngest daughter of the late Joseph Cooper, by license at St. George's, Ramsgate on 9 March 1886. The couple had 3 children: Nora Mable Montgomerie Miller born in Hereford (1887-1960); Willie Hugh Montgomerie Miller, born Stokes Croft (1890-1893) and Cyril Montgomerie Miller born in Stokes Croft (1894-1952).

From around April 1887 until July 1889, Robert was running the City Brewery in Maylord Street, Hereford. In 1889 the firm R. W. Miller & Co. was amalgamated with Arnold Perrett & Co. of Wickwar, under whose name it was carried on. Robert joined Arnold Perrett's board of directors.

Robert had an off license to sell beer in Stokes Croft from the licensing session 27 Aug. 1890.

From "Ports of the Bristol Channel-Progress & Commerce-1893" the brewery is described thus: "Probably the oldest brewery in Bristol is that known as the Stokes Croft Brewery, and now controlled by the firm of R. W. Miller & Co.
This large and important establishment has been in existence upwards of one hundred years, and was founded originally by Messrs. Fall (sic) & Abbott. It subsequently came into the hands of Messrs. Harvey & Co. and from them passed into the hands of the present proprietors, Messrs. R. W. Miller & Co.
During the three years that have elapsed since this enterprising firm acquired the brewery the business has been largely increased, and a very important trade is now being done, the connection extending all over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The
Stokes Croft Brewery has always been very successful at the leading exhibitions, never failing to obtain at the least an "honorable mention," and it has been frequently reviewed in the principal papers, trade journals, & c. For mild ales, bitter and pale ales, and porter and stout there is no firm in the West of England that enjoys a higher reputation than that of Messrs. R. W. Miller & Co., and certain special products of the Stokes Croft Brewery attain a particularly high standard of excellence.
Among these may be mentioned  the "A.K.," "P.A.," and "I.P.A.,"Ales, the XXXX, Mild Ales, and the old beers, all of which take rank with the best and purest obtainable anywhere. The brewery premises are admirably arranged, and their general organisation has been much improved under Messrs, Miller's régime.
After passing through the spacious and well-appointed general offices, affording every convenience for the numerous clerical staff employed, we proceed through the special offices and private rooms provided for the use of travellers, &c., and reach the private office of the principal, which is richly and elegantly furnished. From this private office a fixed bridge affords communication with the manager's office, which is also admirably appointed. Leaving here we come eventually to the brewery proper, and pass through the fermenting-room, the mash-room, the malt-room, and other departments associated with the brewing process.
Order and cleanliness are everywhere apparent, and we note the efficiency of the various appliances in use, all of them being of a highly improved type. These several departments are situated one above another, and the highest point is reached when we come to the large tank for washing the refrigerators. From here a fine view can be obtained over Bristol, Kingsdown, and the vicinity. The plant in use in the Stokes Croft Brewery is almost entirely of the manufacture of Messrs. G. Adlam & Sons, whose high reputation as brewers' engineers sufficiently indicates the practical efficacy of the machinery they have placed in this establishment.
There are not a few special appliances which speak equally well of the skill of the makers, and for the enterprise of Messrs. Miller of adopting the best available apparatus to ensure cleanliness and general excellence in the work of brewing. The hop-room at the Stokes Croft Brewery contains an immense stock, and besides this, the firm holds large quantities of hops in London. This is suggestive of the fact that the fine bitters produced by Messrs. Miller derive much of their excellence from hops of the first quality. The rest is affected by the use of the best malt, the purest water, and the most approved methods of brewing.
In connection with the Stokes Croft Brewery are large cellars, and on entering these the visitor is sure to be impressed with the vastness of the stock on hand, an index of the magnitude of the firm's business. The cheapest beer brewed by Messrs. Miller is that at 10d a gallon (X, mild, or F.A. bitter). This beer is really excellent in quality, as we can testify from experience, and is capital value for the money. The "A.K." bitter ale, at 1s. per gallon, is a special brew of extra quality, for which there is a great and increasing demand. The "P.A." and "I.P.A." beers are ales of fine character, respectively 1s. 2d. and 1s. 6d. per gallon. Of the "I.P.A." ales there are two different brewings, one on March and one in October. All thee above-mentioned beers bottle splendidly, and have an immense and steadily-growing sale.
In the old malt-house of the brewery, now used as a cellar, there is a large stock of mild ales. Crossing Moon Street, which runs at the back of the Stokes Croft premises, we enter another cellar, where the firm keep a great quantity of their "I.P." ales. Here we find a vat warehouse, coopers' shop, and stores for the old ales, stouts and porters. The 1s. porter is an excellent article, always in demand, and the 1s. 4d. stout is one of the best in the market, being remarkably suited for invalids.
The celebrated old beers of this firm are known respectively as the "Bristol Old Beer" and the "West of England Old Beer," and are greatly esteemed by connoisseurs.
Leaving these premises, and crossing Back Field Lane, we reach the firm's wine and spirit stores, containing large stocks of champagnes, hocks, moselles, ports, sherries, clarets,liqueurs, whiskies, brandies, rums, and gins, in all of which a very extensive business is carried on, the house being justly noted for the excellence and reliability of its supplies in the wine and spirit as well as the brewing department.
Returning now to the Stokes Croft premises we take note of the manner in which the casks are cleansed. They are first thoroughly washed, and are then taken into another room where they are dried and cooled by means of pipes and cold-air blasts connected with the engine. This plan is highly effective and undoubtedly has much to do with the excellent condition in which Messers. Miller's ales enter the market, a thoroughly clean and cool cask being indispensable in barreling good beers.Mr. J. J. H. King is the able and experienced general manager and managing brewer of this great concern, and has held his responsible post for many years. A thorough practical organisation prevails throughout the whole establishment, bearing witness to good management; and in every respect the Stokes Croft Brewery, as it is conducted by its present proprietary, takes high rank among the leading exponents of the brewing industry in Western England."

By 1894 the company had outlets in Palk Street, Torquay, adjoining the Marine Tavern, also in Clifton, Cardiff, Newport, Bath and Swansea according to their ads.

From the Western Daily Press - Thursday 4 October 1894 page 6: Obstructing with Beer-Barrels: Mr. Robert William Miller, of the Stokes Croft Brewery, was summoned for causing an obstruction by allowing 30 barrels remain in Moon Street, and eight boxes to remain on the footway in Upper York Street, for three-quarters of an hour. Mr Broad (Messrs Broad and Francis) appeared for the defence. The police having given evidence as to seeing the barrels and boxes lying about in the thoroughfares named August 19th, Mr Broad contended that they had not been left about for an unreasonable length of time consistent with the proper carrying on of the business, and called witnesses to bear out his statement. Supt. Croker said that Evan Drew, a cooper in the employ of defendant, was summoned in for obstruction on behalf of his master, and fined 5s and costs, and Mr. Miller was fined 20s and costs in August for a similar offence. A fine of 40s and costs was now inflicted.

The first advertisements for Aerated Waters and Cordials of every description seemed to begin appearing in the February of 1894.

From the Western Daily Press - Saturday 6 February 1897 page 5: The death occurred yesterday of Mr Robert William Miller, head of the firm of Messrs R. W. Miller and Co., Limited, of the Stokes Croft Brewery. The deceased gentleman has been able to attend to business matters until comparatively recently, and his death at the early age 34 will be regretted by a large circle of friends.

Miller, Robert William, of "Stokeleigh" Stoke Bishop, Gloucestershire, common-brewer died 5 February 1897 Probate London 28 February to William Maples solicitor Effects £160 6s 2d. Former grant Bristol April 1897.

R. W. Miller & Co. Ltd. was acquired by George's Bristol Brewery in 1911 along with its 48 tied public houses.

10oz Codd's bottle Miller5.jpg
Embossed: R. W. MILLER & Co / image of rearing horse surrounded by belt with motto "NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT" / HEREFORD & BRECON

Glassworks:  ?
Image courtesy Aled Rees.

Stoneware Ginger Beer Bottles Miller1.jpg

Potter:  Powell / Bristol (left), Price / Bristol (right). Both cork closure with white glaze.

6oz Codd's bottle Miller2.jpg
Embossed: R. W. MILLER & COS LTD. / AERATED / WATERS / Stokescroft / BRISTOL

Glassworks:  Powell & Ricketts / Bristol.

10oz Codd's bottle Miller3.jpg
Embossed: R. W. MILLER & COS LTD. / AERATED / WATERS / Stokescroft / BRISTOL

Glassworks:  Powell & Ricketts / Bristol.

10oz Reliance Patent Codd's bottle Miller6.jpg

Glassworks:  ?
Image courtesy Aled Rees.

1 Pint Beer Bottle Miller4.jpg
Embossed: R. W. MILLER & Co Ld. / BRISTOL

Glassworks:  5163. C. S. & Co. Ltd. (Cannington Shaw) Dark Green Glass, vulcanised internal screw stopper.

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