The Harpenden Brewery Letter, 1891



Harpenden Brewery

nr St Albans

Mar 7 1891

Dear Sir

       In reply to yours of Mar 5th/91 we paid all the Licences for the tenants belonging to Whitwell Brewery.

Yours Truly

Per B. Bennett

W Humphrey

J. W. Fellows

What is going on?

What is the connection between Harpenden Brewery, and Whitwell Brewery, and why is J. W. Fellows interested. Could it relate to a change of ownership?

An investigation is called for.


Who is Who.

William Humphrey was born in Dunstable,  in 1844.  In 1871 he was an brewer's clerk living with his parents in West Street, Dunstable. He was married (no children) to Emily by 1881 and was a Brewer's clerk in 1881, Brewer in 1891, and brewer's traveller in 1901. where detailed he was living in the High Street, Harpenden. The 1890 Kelly's Directory for Hertfordshire describes him as "manager to Mr. Benjamin Bennett, brewer."

Benjamin Bennett was born in Dunstable in 1837, his father, another Benjamin being described as "Straw Manufactory employing 70 hands." In 1891 Benjamin was described as "Barrister, Brewer, Straw Manufacturer" living at Cheverells Green, Markyate.

J W Fellows - Not identified

The Breweries

(notes from Brewers in Hertfordshire)

Bennett's Breweries, Dunstable: Benjamin Bennett senior recorded as a brewer in Dunstable as early as 1839. His son inherited the the business and in 1874 he obtained a leasing agreement of nineteen years for Healey's Harpenden Brewery. Between 1882 and 1897 he leased the Redbourn Brewery. In 1887 he acquired a brewery in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire.

Harpenden Brewery: Initially owned by James Curtis, the brewery was sold to George Healey of Watford. He dies in 1862 and the brewery was run by his widow till 1874. She then leased to Bennett's of Dunstable. In 1893 it was sold to Mrs Mardall, who owned the other brewery in Harpenden.

Whitwell Brewery: A small brewery run by Frederick Hill-Archer in 1862 followed by William Hill-Archer in 1878. When it closed (no date given) the tied estate was leased to the Hope Brewery in Wheathampstead.

Hope Brewery, Wheathampstead: The name was given to an earlier brewery by the Lattimore family some time after 1841. In 1897 they initially release and later sold a number of licensed properties to Prior, Reid & Co of Hatfield.

The Licensed Properties associated with the Whitwell Brewery

White Hart Beer House, Bendish

Woodman Beer House, Diamond End, Kings Walden

Green Man Beer House, Whiteway Bottom, St Paul's Wladen

Lamb Beer House at Whitwell

Maidenhead Public House, Whitewell 

The Maiden's Head is the only one still open. It was called the Queen's Head in 1774 but changed its name to Maidenhead in 1784 (Hertfordshire Inns & Public Houses)

Other Information about the Whitwell Brewery

In 1881 the 76 year old Frederick Hill Archer (retired Brewer & Maltster) was living in The Brewery, Whitwell - having been described as a "Farmer, Brewer, Maltsters employing 19 men 8 boys" when he was living at Bendish in 1861. He died in 1884

His son, Frederick William [Hill-]Archer was born in 1855 and in 1881 was a Brewer & Maltster living in Whitwell. It seems his wife Sarah (Constance/Catherine?) may have died in 1885 and I didn't find him or her in later years.

 Jim Parrott writes from St Albans that to say he is researching Fanny Ansell, who was a servant living with Frederick William Archer and his wife in the 1881 census. He found that following the death of his wife  in 1885 Frederick appears to have emigrated to America where he died in Sacramento in 1934.      December 2013


I was interested to see the following advert in The Standard of May 28th, 1880.

Companion and Assistant Housekeeper , where trustworthiness is essential, by a lady - M. S. The Brewery, Whitwell, Welwyn, Herts.

Other information about the Harpenden Brewery

By Order of the Executors of Mrs. Healy, deceased. - The Harpenden Brewery.  - An important and valuable freehold property , comprising a capital residence and premises; also 18 public houses and beer-houses, with the advantage of Possession on Dec. 1 next. The Brewery consists of a twelve-quarter plant and with the residence, premises, and land adjoining is situate close to Harpenden Station on the Midland Railway, in the centre of one of the most favoured and populous neighbourhoods in Hertfordshire, lying between the towns of St Albans and Luton. It occupies an area of about 4 acres and offers an excellent opportunity for development for building purposes in the heart of the business portion of the town. The public-houses include the Railway Hotel, Harpenden, and 17 others of well known repute in the adjacent towns and districts, and occupying excellent positions for trade.


Advertisement in The Standard, 7th October 1893


[The Brewery was purchased by Mrs Mardell, who is the Martha Long in the pages Who is related to Who?]




The Book Brewers in Hertfordshire suggests that the Whitewell Brewery passed from the Archer family to the Hope Brewery at Wheathampstead. This letter suggests that there was an intermediate step. The licensed premises associated with the brewery first came under the management of the Harpenden Brewery, which at the time was being run by Bennett's of Dunstable on a lease which ended at the end of November 1893. It may well be that the properties were transferred to the Hope Brewery, Wheathamsted, when Bennett's were unable (or unwilling) to continue to run Harpenden Brewery.


Unfortunately I have not yet been able to trace J. W. Fellows but he may have been a land agent or solicitor of an interested party.

December 2013   Updated