THIS rare photo, from Victorian or Edwardian days, shows John Stedman’s brewery in Horsell and was published in the News & Mail 56 years ago.

The article that accompanied it said the photo belonged to Mrs Roberts of April Cottage, Horsell, who recalled “many happy hours she and her brother spent at the brewery when they were children”.

Their uncle, Mr H Crane, worked for the brewery as a drayman. In the photo, he is sitting on the cart.

John founded the brewery in about 1864, and it operated until 1910. Then the premises were occupied by wine and spirits merchants Tyler & Co up to 1939. Clues to the brewery’s location are Brewery Road and Old Malt Way.

In the 1967 article, Mrs Roberts said: “The brewery was demolished many years ago, but the adjacent Old Malt Farm remains. Between these two were stables for the horses.”

 In his book A History of Woking, Alan Crosby said that the brewery was at the foot of Church Hill. He added that in local newspaper advertisements, John claimed to use only hops and barley grown by himself and that he produced beer of the highest quality.

When Mrs Roberts sent the photo to the News & Mail, the newspaper was reporting on a petition that had been raised by some residents of Brewery Road. They were campaigning for the road name to be changed.

Of the brewery photo, the News & Mail said: “This picture shows that there is a historical reason for the road’s name, and that the brewery was not of inconsiderable importance in the daily life of the then-residents of the town.”

The article continued: “Born in Brewery Road, Mrs Roberts lived there with her parents for many years, and sees no reason why the name should be changed. She writes: ‘It goes a long way back in history and is quite a decent name’.”

In the picture, there are more clues about John’s business. 

The sign says ‘licensed brewer, wine and spirit merchant’, which was typical of the alcoholic beverages offered by many brewers at the time. They bought the wines and spirits from other makers, sometimes bottling the drinks themselves.

Wooden casks can be seen in the wagon, and large stoneware bottles and jars are known to have been used by John. These would have had a capacity of about half a gallon up to two or three gallons each.

Glass bottles may also have been used. If anyone has stoneware or glass items from the brewery, I would like to see them.

Brewing continues in Horsell, under the name Thurstons – the Horsell Brewing Company Ltd. It was formed at the Crown pub in Horsell in 2012. 

The brewery said its original plan was to produce an occasional drink for the pub. But it was asked if it could supply Woking Beer Festival with its first drink, Stedman’s Ale. The beer won an award at the festival.

More beers have followed from the brewery. These include Horsell Gold, Horsell Best, Un-American Pale Ale, Horsell Invader, Chobham Treacle and Saison.

Thanks go to Peeps researcher Mark Coxhead, who found the photo and story in back copies of the News & Mail on microfilm at the Surrey History Centre in Goldsworth Road, Woking.

If you have memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area and its people which you would like to contribute to this page, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or write to the News & Mail.