The earliest directory containing information on Hertfordshire towns that I have access to is The Universal British Directory of Trade & Commerce comprehending ... all the Cities, Towns and Principal Villages in England and Wales. This was published at the end of the 18th century and Baldock is listed in volume 2. The directory notes the the market was on Thursdays "chiefly for barley, the town being noted for making most excellent malt, and the quantity made being exceeded but by one town in the kingdom." William Penn is listed as a brewer, and others in related trades were William Baker (maltster), George Fitzjohn (maltster and farmer), Thomas Fassey (maltster and farmer). James Ind (farmer, maltster and brewer), Henry Mason (mealman and baker), John Pryor (brewer, maltster and farmer), John Pree (maltster and glazier) and John Williamson (maltster and mealman).
The 1823 Pigot's directory records "The staple commodity of Baldock is malt, of which, and barley, considerable quantities are sold in the weekly market, which is kept on Friday. A brewery on a most extensive scale has been for a considerable period carried on here by Mr. Pryor, the beer made at it is of superior body and flavour resembling London porter in a great degree. Names listed are Robert Fitzjohn (maltster), William Penn (brewer and maltster), John Pryor (brewer and maltster), Vickris Pryor (maltster) and John Williamson (maltster).
The 1839 Pigot's directory list four brewers on Baldock or nearby Ashwell - Edward Fordham of Ashwell, William Oliver Penn of White Horse Street, John and Morris Pryor of the High Street and John Steed of Norton Street. The maltsters were Ann Bowman of Ashwell, William Folbigg of the High Street, Edward Fordham of Ashwell, Edward Lawrence of White Horse Street, John and Morris Pryor of the High Street, Vickris Pryor of Hitchin Street, John Steed of Norton Street and Thomas Westrope of Ashwell.
By 1845 the name Penn had vanished from the Post Office Directory for Baldock.
Simpson's Brewery, Baldock, demolished 1968
W. Branch Johnson's Industrial Archaeology in Hertfordshire has much of a chapter dedicated to the malting and brewing industry in Hertfordshire. In addition to the above photograph there are a few passing references to Baldock (but none to Penn) including "In about 1799 James Ind, a small brewer of Baldock, had seen his brother Edmund move to Romford, Essex, where Edmund's son took as partners W.O.E. and G. Coope in 1845."
The recently published books, Brewers in Hertfordshire, contains 19 pages on the brewers of Baldock. It states that William Penn brought the brewery in White Horse Street in 1793 and was succeeded by William Oliver in 1841.
Page updated August 2010