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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/1214
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1780-1956
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 3.66 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Isleworth Brewery Ltd
Watney Combe Reid and Co Ltd | brewers
Sich and Co Ltd | brewers


Administrative/Biographical history:

A brewery is known to have existed in Isleworth in the early years of the 18th century but it was not until 1800 that the Farnells, a prominent local family, purchased it at a cost of 1,145. From this date, William Farnell developed and enlarged the existing business considerably and on his death in 1820 bequeathed it to two of his sons, John and Charles. These two entered into a formal partnership in 1824. Over the next thirty years they acquired, by lease or purchase, control of a large number of licensed houses while at the same time enlarging the Brewery, building malthouses and erecting cottages for their workmen. As wealthy and respected members of the local community they contributed large sums of money to charity, and helped in the building of Saint John's church, Isleworth. In 1854, William Farnell Watson, a relation by marriage, entered into partnership with the two Farnell brothers, and in 1865, the business became known as "Farnell and Watson's". In 1866, William, the son of W. Farnell Watson, to whom the business had been bequeathed in his father's will, converted it into the Isleworth Brewery Company Limited.

Sich and Company, taken over by the Isleworth Brewery Company in 1920, was likewise a small family concern. The earliest mention of a Sich connected with brewing was in a conveyance of 1790 when John Sich purchased the Lamb Brewery at Chiswick from a group of persons including members of the well-known Thrale family. In 1809 John Sich the Elder, John Sich the Younger and Henry Sich entered into a formal partnership as common brewers, a partnership which was dissolved and renewed between John Sich the Younger and Henry Sich in 1819. As a slight diversification of their business interests they agreed to act together as coal merchants, side by side with brewing. Throughout the remainder of the 19th century the business was carried on by a varying combination of members of the Sich family. They pursued a similar policy to the Isleworth Brewery Company and acquired a large number of licensed houses in the vicinity of the brewery.

Four years after the amalgamation of these two family businesses, the enlarged company was taken over by Messrs. Watney, Combe, Reid and Company.


Scope and content/abstract:

The surviving records of the Isleworth Brewery Company Limited consist mainly of an interesting series of account books and ledgers, covering the period 1796-1949, reports and annual balance sheets, 1886-1914, and a number of bundles of title deeds relating to the licensed houses acquired by the firm. One splendid item, worthy of greater comment, is the general ledger, 1796-1810. This volume in its worn vellum laced binding, records the sale of ale, porter, hock and other liquors to innkeepers in Isleworth, Hounslow, Ealing, Heston, Brentford and other places in south west Middlesex and Northern Surrey. In addition to this are recorded direct sales to such eminent persons as the Duke of Northumberland, the Duke of Marlborough, the Earl of Jersey and many members of Regency society living at Twickenham. At the other end of the scale the dairy maids at Osterley regularly purchased large quantities of ale as did anonymous haymakers working in the fields of aristocratic landowners just mentioned! As well as these more formal business transactions the ledger includes accounts of family and household expenses. Of the 20th century accounting records, a wages book, 1914-1949 is of considerable interest. Detailed lists are given of the workers employed by the brewery at Isleworth, including coopers, engineers, maltsters, draymen, stablemen and office cleaners, together with the wages paid to each individual over a long run of years.

The bulk of the records relating to Sich and Company are deeds of title relating to licensed premises in Chiswick, Kew, Hammersmith, Chelsea and Brentford. Unfortunately for this company, unlike the Isleworth Brewery, no accounting records have survived to indicate the extent of its business. On the other hand, a considerable amount of correspondence between the company and its solicitors exists for the period 1830-1880. This deals with such matters as purchasing, leasing and selling of property, and the solving of disputes arising between the company, as landlord, and its tenants. A more personal note is introduced by a small bundle of letters and legal papers concerning the separation of John Sich's daughter from her erring husband in 1850. Only a few title deeds and the wages book mentioned above go beyond the take-over date by Messrs. Watney, Combe, Reid and Company.

The only other coherent group of brewing records held here are those of Fuller, Smith and Turner of Chiswick. The nature of the records of the two companies concerned is such that they in great measure complement one another, enabling a relatively comprehensive picture to be created of the small beginnings of part of what is today an enormous commercial structure.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Isleworth Brewery Company Limited ACC/1214/1-1435; Sich and Company ACC/1214/1436-1676; Watney Combe Reid and Company ACC/1214/1677-1683.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Received in 1973.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Please see ACC/1309 for more records relating to Isleworth Brewery; and ACC/0735, ACC/1399 and ACC/2979 for Watney Combe Reid.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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