Thank you to Raymond Simonds for letting us link to his website and use photos from his vast archive. The Simonds archive is now shared with Berkshire Record Office.
William Blackhall Simonds founded ‘Simonds Brewery’ at 83 Broad Street in 1785. The business soon outgrew this premises and five years later William it moved to 24 Bridge Street (then called Seven Bridges) which was designed by John Soames. Indeed, by 1805, Simonds owned 10 pubs and he even supplied beer to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.
According to the Simonds Family website, when William Blackall Simonds retired in 1834, Blackhall took over the business. Blackall later went into business with his two younger brothers, Henry and George and the brewery became known as H&G Simonds Ltd – with its famous trademark of a the red hop leaf
The brewery was taken over by Courage in 1960, and in 1973 it announced it would move away from the centre of town to Worton Grange next to Junction 11 of the M4. In 1980, the Bridge Street site closed. The Worton Grange site stopped brewing in 2010.
Decorations were hung on the exterior of Simonds Brewery on Bridge Street in anticipation of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and the (Unpublished) photograph below is from the Reading Chronicle Collection (with the kind permission of Reading Museum).
When Blackall retired in 1845, his brothers, Henry and George took over, followed by Henry’s son, Henry John. Through the 1860s, Henry John doubled the brewery’s output and also moved into wine, a separate business started by his father.
In 1846 Blackhall moved with his wife Emma Jane (née Usborne) from the family home at Caversham Court, to Ryde, Isle of Wight, where for 4 years he leased 3 different properties whilst he built a new home and called it Caversham House.
The Simonds are famously one of the four ‘B’s’ of Reading – with their ‘Beer’ standing alongside Bulbs (Suttons), Biscuits (Huntley and Palmer) and Bricks (The Colliers and Wheelers)
PLEASE NOTE: despite some sources that say that George Blackall Simonds is buried in Reading Old Cemetery (the sculptor of the Maiwand Lion in the Forbury Gardens, Reading) he is buried in Bradfield Churchyard, near Reading.
Buried in Section 44, Row J, Number 38