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Charles Wells Brewery

Places > Bedford > Trade and Industry > Charles Wells Brewery

1842:Charles Wells born in Bedford on the 13th August, the second son of George Wells who was a proprietor of a furnishing business in Bedford High Street.

1856: Educated at Bedford Modern School, Charles Wells at the age of fourteen went to sea. He signed up with the shipping company Wigrams as a midshipman on the frigate Devonshire. By 1868 he had been promoted to the rank of chief officer and when having qualified to the rank of captain he was offered command of Wigrams' first steamship.

1870c: While on leave in the early 1870s he met and fell in love with Josephine Grimbly, of Banbury, Oxfordshire. Her father although in favour of the match said that Charles Wells must leave the sea and find a new and less dangerous career.

1872: Charles and Josephine married; they had five sons and three daughters.

1876 : Charles Wells retired from the navy and in 1876 he became a brewer  when he took over a coal wharf, a malt house and brewery in Horne Lane and thirty five public houses, the lot was sold to Charles at public auction for the sum of 17,800 in December 1875. He decided to concentrate on brewing and sold off the coal business.

1884: Charles Wells took the opportunity of improving Brewery House in Horne Lane. His wife, Josephine was offered the choice of a riverside view  or one facing Horne Lane, surprisingly she chose the street as her outlook and the house was completed in 1884.

1892: Charles Wells became a member of the Bedfordshire County Council and served until 1907.

1902: A well was sunk in Park Road North, Bedford to supply water to the brewery.

1903: Charles Wells became a member of Bedford Borough Council and served until 1909.

1904: Four of Charles sons were taken into partnership with strict conditions that they must live in the town.

1910: The business was registered as a private limited company, valued at 150,000 and owning 140 pubs.

1914: Charles Wells died on the 1st April.

1917: The Phoenix Brewery in Midland Road was purchased.

1919: The Company acquired the Newport Pagnell Brewery, consisting of a brewery and 53 public houses.

1920:  Pary of Days Brewery in St. Neots was purchased.

1956: Sir Richard Wells died and was succeeded as Chairman of the company by Major David Wells.

1963: The Abington Brewery Company of Northampton was acquired together with 23 public houses, mainly in the Northampton and Buckingham area. By this time the company owned 265 public houses, all within a forty-mile radius of Bedford,

1977: Charles Wells moved from their Horne Lane site to their new brewery in Havelock Street, Queens Park, Bedford.

1988: Charles Wells buys 19 new pubs mostly in the Peterborough area from Heron International.

1991: 38 pubs covering an area from Nuneaton to London purchased from Bass.

1997: The firm awarded the Queens Award for Export and Achievement.

2006: The breweries Charles Wells and Youngs amalgamate with the new company being called Wells & Youngs Brewing Company Ltd.


  • Newspaper Cuttings Collection, Local Studies Library, Bedford Central Library 
  • PROTZ, Roger  A Brewery in Bedford : the Charles Wells story.  2005

Charles Wells Brewery by Bedfordshire Libraries, 2011

Page last updated: 22nd January 2014