Hunt Edmunds and Co. Ltd.
Based at Banbury's Bridge Street, this company was founded by John Hunt around 1840. In Robson's trade directory published in the previous year, John Hunt was recorded as the licensee of the Unicorn Inn at Banbury's Market Place, a public house that he reportedly acquired in 1806. John Hunt also served Banbury as a town councillor. It was his son Thomas Hunt who developed the brewing side of the business. After ten years in commerce he was documented as a brewer, maltster and wine and spirits merchant employing 16 men, suggesting that sales were buoyant.
Trading in Bridge Street North, Richard Edmunds was listed as an ironmonger, seed, corn and hop merchant. His son William went into partnership with Thomas Hunt in 1850 and the firm flourished. I am not quite sure how William Edmunds resolved his personal dilemma of profiting from the production of beer - the family, who originated from Northamptonshire, were strict Wesleyans.
The firm initially operated four public houses but were soon able to develop a substantial tied estate in the area. By 1886 the company operated two brewery sites and 64 tied-houses in Banbury and the surrounding villages. I assume the second brewery was that of the Banbury Brewery owned by Mr. T. H. Wyatt and managed by John A. Stephens which was sold towards the end of 1861. There was a Britannia Brewery in Banbury but this was still trading independently by Francis R. Bruce in that late 1870s.
Charles Fletcher Edmunds, son of William, became a partner in the firm in 1886, and succeeded his father ten years later, the year in which the company was registered in October 1896. The company was registered by Chester and Co., 36, Bedford Row, with a capital £230,000 in £10 shares - 15,000 preference and 8,000 ordinary. Officially it was announced that "the object of the company is to acquire and take over a going concern in the business of common brewers, maltsters and wine and spirit merchants now and hitherto carried on by the firm Hunt, Edmunds, and Co., Banbury. The agreement was made between Tom Wilkinson Holland, William Edmunds, Charles F. Edmunds, and J. Meller as trustee. The business activities of the new company were described as brewers and maltsters, wine and spirit merchants, hop merchants and growers, distillers, corn merchants, coopers, bottlers, manufacturers of aerated and mineral waters and other liquors, farmers, yeast dealers, grain sellers, licensed victuallers, and hotel and beer house keepers, restauranteurs, carriers and forwarding agents. The first directors of the company were Tom Wilkinson Holland and Charles Fletcher Edmunds.
William Edmunds had retired for twelve years when he died in January 1908. He had been, for many years, "a senior partner in the firm. He had also, for three years in succession, served as Mayor of Banbury, and was a Justice of the Peace for the Borough. He was also for some time County Alderman for Oxfordshire. A prominent member the Wesleyan Methodist Connexion, William Edmunds had filled various offices in connection with the Wesleyan Chapel and Sunday School in Marlborough Road, and was a generous supporter of many institutions in the town. In his later years he moved to St. Leonard's-on-Sea, where he died in January 1908 aged 82."
It was thought that William Edmunds never fully recovered from the shock of the death of his son, Mr. C. F. Edmunds, who had passed away some eight months previous. His funeral took place in Banbury, in the family grave, in which were buried his two wives and some of his children. The chief mourners included Mr. W. M. Edmunds, of Gaytonhurst. Cheshire [his only surviving son], Mr. M. W. Edmunds [grandson], Mr. H. Edmunds, Rev. E. W. W. Payne, Mr. P. S. Edmunds [nephews], Mr. W. Mewburn. Mr. T. W. Holland, Mr. E. S. Holland, etc. Banbury's Mayor [Mr. H. R. Webb], members of the Corporation, Borough Justices, and other officials, all of whom joined the cortege which passed the Town Hall on the way to the cemetery. There were also in attendance members of the Wesleyan Choir, Sunday School teachers, and representatives of societies connected with Marlborough Road, and members of the Licensed Trades Association.
Related Newspaper Articles
"On Monday evening last, an accident occurred to Mr. Thomas Hunt, brewer, of this borough. Mr. Hunt was returning in a dog-cart from Wykham
Park, and in turning out of the Bloxham Road into Cork Lane, the horse took a too short turn, and the vehicle was capsized, and Mr. Hunt, Miss Hunt, and the coachman were
thrown into the road, the two latter escaped without injury, but, we regret to say, Mr. Hunt fell on his head, and it was feared he sustained a dangerous injury, but
fortunately the mishap was of a less serious character than was apprehended, and Mr. Hunt is gradually recovering from the fall."
"Accident to Mr. Thomas Hunt"
Oxford Chronicle & Reading Gazette : September 8th 1866 P.8.
As mentioned, William's son predeceased him. The details of his will illustrate the wealth the brewery had brought and how it was distributed : Mr. Charles Fletcher Edmunds, of The Holt, Linton Road, Oxford, formerly of The Limes, Bodicote, Banbury, and of Bagley Croft, South Hinksey, brewer, died on the 10th June 1907, aged 51 years, left an estate of the gross value of £65,539 10s. 6d., of which the net personalty has been sworn at £23,037 14s. 2d. Probate of his will dated 12th January, 1899, with a codicil of the 18th April, 1902, has been granted to his widow, Mrs. Evangeline Edmunds, of The Holt, Linton Road, Oxford, his brother-in-law Mr. Arthur Thomas Holden, solicitor, of Sharples Hall, Bolton, Lancashire, and his brother, Mr. William Mewburn Edmunds, Gaytonhurst, Heswell, Cheshire, timber merchant, The testator left to his wife, Mrs. Evangeline Edmunds, £300, his plate, linen, consumable stores, horses, carriages, stable and garden stock absolutely; £100 each to his brother Mr. William Mewburn Edmunds, of Heswell. and Mr. Arthur Thomas Holden, of Bolton, executors, and £50 to his coachman, John Haines, £50 to Mrs. Eliza Butler of Himpton, formerly nurse to his children, £25 to each other domestic servant of five years service. The testator left to his wife during widowhood, the use of his house and furniture, and an annuity of £1,200, and in the event of her re-marriage life annuity of £500. The residue of his property he left as to two-thirds [to include all his holding in Hunt, Edmunds, and Co., Ltd.] to his son Maurice William Edmunds, and one-third to his daughter, Christina Mary Edmunds.
Maurice William Edmunds was appointed as a director in 1908. During the First World War he retained his directorship whilst joining the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He served with the 1st/4th Battalion in France and Italy as a Platoon and Company Commander until March 1919, except for two periods spent at home after being wounded in June 1916 and August 1917. On his return to Banbury he was made chairman of the company. He retained his military links and was a Colonel in the Territorial Army when hostilities broke out again in 1939. He returned to active service in command of the 5th Battalion. He and his wife Evelyn lost their only son during the Second World War. Lieutenant Michael Charles Edwards, like his father in the Great War, joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He transferred to the 7th Battalion on its formation in April 1941 and served in Iraq, Egypt and North Africa before operations in Italy. He was killed in September 1944 during a battle on the Gothic Line.
In January 1918 Hunt, Edmunds and Co. Ltd. added 35 tied houses to their estate when the company acquired Dunnell and Sons, of the Old Brewery in Banbury's North Bar Street. However, the most significant undertaking was in 1924 when the company combined with Hitchman & Co. Ltd. of Chipping Norton. This was announced in February 1925 in an article that declared "a working arrangement had been settled between Messrs. Hunt. Edmunds and Co. Ltd., of Banbury, and Messrs. Hitchman and Co. Chipping Norton. Both companies, however, were to remain separate entities, but a unity of management and perpetuation of the mutual agreement was effected through the formation of a small holding company called the H.E.H. Co. Ltd." The arrangement did not involve any issue of shares to the public. The directors of both companies combined to conduct the business with Maurice Edmunds as Chairman, A. Newland as Vice-Chairman, and Mr. T. Langley Jones as the head brewer. The combined business had an estate of more than 300 public houses across six counties. Hitchman and Co. had a subsidiary company at Worcester's Lowesmoor Brewery that was trading as Harper's Hitchman's Ltd. and supplying 13 public houses. Hitchman and Co. had 36 public houses. Clearly therefore, Hunt, Edmunds and Co. Ltd. was the foremost company in this business enterprise which was essentially a takeover by the Banbury firm. Indeed, in 1929 it was announced that the brewery at Chipping Norton would be closed and all brewing transferred to Banbury.
"Five years ago the old-established firm of brewers and wine and spirit merchants. Messrs. Hitchman and Co. Limited, Chipping Norton, was
acquired by Messrs Hunt, Edmunds and Co. Ltd., of Banbury, and it has now been decided to transfer the Chipping Norton business to this town. This will undoubtedly be an
important loss to Chipping Norton, but it is understood that the change, which will take place at the end of the month, will not mean the discharge of all the hands, because
the malting will be continued, and in addition to those who will be found employment at Banbury where some of the older servants will receive pensions. James Hitchman
founded the firm of Hitchman and Co. as far back as 1796, and on his death the business was continued by his son, William Simkins Hitchman, who was first Mayor of the
Borough after the remodelling of the Corporation under the Municipal Act of 1832. His son, Alfred William Spence Hitchman, was also connected with the business, and in
1890 he sold it to a company of which became chairman."
"Hitchman's Brewery to Close"
Banbury Advertiser : September 19th 1929 Page 8.
The article below, dated September 1925, illustrates how the company was divided across several geographic areas. The chartered G.W.R. train had to pick up passengers from all over the place!
"The annual outing of the combined firms of Messrs. Hunt Edmunds and Co. and Messrs. Hitchman and Co. took place on Saturday, when a trip was
arranged to Worcester. A special train was engaged from the G.W.R. and left Banbury at 8.25, the staff of Messrs. Hitchman and Co. joining at Chipping Norton. Agency staffs
joined the trip from Witney, Pershore, and Evesham, and the Worcester staff met the party on their arrival, when the employees present numbered 200. An excursion up the
river was arranged with Holt Fleet the destination, and there a luncheon was served. Afterwards the party returned by river to Worcester, where tickets were distributed to
all who desired to attend the cricket match between Worcestershire and Hampshire. Tea was served at the Diglis Hotel and at the conclusion Mr. Edward Jelfs, the oldest
employee, expressed the thanks of the company to the directors for the very enjoyable day's outing which had been arranged with such thoughtfulness. Mr. M. W. Edmunds
responded, as chairman of the Board of Directors, and referred to Mr. Jelfs being in his 53rd year of service and expressed the hope that many others would eventually have
a good record. After tea the time was spent in visiting the various places of interest in the city and the return journey was commenced at 9.15 p.m. The directors were
Mr. M. W. Edmunds, Mr. R. H. A. Holbech, Mr. W. N. Rowell, and Mr. F. W. P. Matthews, and Mr. D. Harper, director of Messrs. Harper Hitchman's Limited, Worcester."
"Hunt, Edmunds & Co's Annual Summer Outing"
Banbury Guardian : September 3rd 1925 Page 5.
Following some years of stability after the Second World War, Hunt, Edmunds & Co. Ltd. were themselves a target of a takeover by a larger concern. The company was eventually acquired by Bass, Mitchell's and Butler's in 1965. The brewery buildings, including the landmark chimney stack, were demolished in 1974.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"Just before noon today [Wednesday] Hubert Dale. aged 48, The Bungalow, Green Lane, Banbury, was admitted to Horton Hospital following
an accident at Messrs. Hunt, Edmunds' Brewery, where he has been employed for the last 16 years. It is understood that he sustained very severe and extensive burns when
he slipped into a tank containing hot liquor at the Brewery, and his condition was reported at 3 p.m. as very serious."
"Accident at Banbury Brewery"
Banbury Advertiser : February 7th 1945 Page 4.
Related Newspaper Articles
"George Hobbs, 11 years of age, living in Windsor Street, was charged with stealing 17 penny postage stamps, the property of Messrs. Hunt and
Edmunds, brewers. On many occasions stamps were missed from drawer in the brewer's office, and a number of marked stamps were put there and watch kept. The prisoner,
who called at the office with newspapers, was seen to take out the stamps and put them back again; but a day or two after, when no-one was watching, stamps were
missed. It was proved that the prisoner had sold them at the post office, and he admitted stealing them. He was sentenced to a day's imprisonment and six strokes with
a birch rod."
"Stealing Penny Postage Stamps"
Northampton Mercury : Saturday July 15th 1882 Page 2.
"A supper to employees and tenants of the Old Brewery, Banbury, was given by Miss Dunnell on relinquishing the business at the Red Lion Hotel
on Friday. Miss Dunnell, who presided, was supported by Mr. E. S. Holland, Mr. W. H. A. Barnes [representing the firm of Messrs. Hunt, Edmunds and Co., Ltd.]. Mr.
G. T. Hazlewood. Mr. A. Haynes [vice-chairman], and Mr. F. Jones. There were upwards of forty present. After supper, which was admirably served and reflected
every credit on this well-known house, "The Health of the King" was duly honoured from the chair. Mr. Hazlewood then proposed "The Health of Miss Dunnell."
and spoke of the exceedingly happy relations which had existed for so many years between the head of the firm, the employees, and tenantry, and bore testimony to the great
ability and zeal which Miss Dunnell had ever evinced in the conduct of the business, particularly during the arduous times in which they were passing. He trusted that she
might be spared for many years to enjoy the best of health and prosperity in her retirement. Mr. J. H. Thomas, representing the tenants, supported the toast, and Mr. E. S.
Holland and Mr. W. H. A. Barnes both spoke of the pleasant dealings with Miss Dunnell in the negotiations between the two firms, and trusted that the good feeling which
existed with the employees and tenants would be mutually continued under the new regime. The toast having been musically honoured. Miss Donnell fittingly responded, and
spoke of the loyal way in which she had been supported by all and expressed her great regret in parting with them, and in saving "good-bye" hoped that the good
feeling which had ever existed would be loyally tendered to her successors. Mr. A. Haynes proposed "Success to the Firm of Messrs. Hunt, Edmunds and Co., Ltd.,"
which was responded to by Mr. E. S, Holland and Mr. W. H. A. Barnes. The chair was then taken Mr. Hazlewood, and the remainder of the evening was spent in a convivial manner,
songs being sung Mr. E. S. Holland, Lieut. James. Messrs. A. Haynes, J. Dobson. A. Heritage. H. Shephard [Bedworth], W. Moseley, and W. H. Twynham. Mr. Robinson
contributed to the enjoyment of the evening by some clever conjuring tricks. The firm proposed "Success to the Management of the Red Lion" for the excellent repast
which had been placed before them, to which Mr. Wilks responded. A most enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the singing of "Auld Lang Syne."
"Banbury Breweries Combine"
Banbury Guardian : January 3rd 1918 Page 8.
"The staff and other employees of Messrs. Hunt, Edmunds and Co. were entertained to dinner on Wednesday last week by Captain Maurice W. Edmunds
in celebration his wedding that day at Bodicote. The proceedings took place in a large room in the bottling department, Bridge Street, which had been tastefully decorated
with flags and bunting, with a specially erected stage for the entertainers in an admirably arranged programme. Mr. W. H. A. Barnes presided, and Captain Edmunds was
represented by his brother-in-law and sister. Mr. and Mrs. G. R. Ellis Danvers, and there were also present Mrs. Barnes. Captain H. P. A. and Mrs. Barnes, Mr. John
Mellers, the secretary of the company, and about 120 employees. Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Trolley provided an excellent dinner, and the proceedings were of of a very enjoyable
character, beginning at 6.30 and ending at midnight. Mrs. F. Gilbert sang songs and, with Miss N. Sturch, played accompaniments to other singers. Mr. E. Robinson and Mr.
Yardley gave humorous items with much acceptance, and Mr. Harry Mellers, of Warwick, and Mr. Jack Mellers also sang several songs, which were much appreciated. Captain
Barnes entertained the company to some very clever sleight-of-hand tricks, proving himself adept in the business. After the loyal toast had been honoured, the
Chairman, on behalf of the company, gave a hearty welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Danvers, whom he said had come to represent Captain Maurice Edmunds and his bride
[applause]. He was glad to see so many of the staff present at the charming wedding they witnessed that afternoon. Captain Edmunds lived up to the true ideals of
an English gentleman, and played the game. Before Captain Edmunds left that day he handed him [the speaker] a letter in which he expressed the hope that they would
enjoy the festive gathering, and he was sorry not to be able personally to thank every man and woman on the firm personally for the beautiful tray they gave him. He
appreciated it more than he could put into words, and the tray itself had been universally admired. He thanked them for their loyal support and would count upon it in the
future. He also thanked the artistes and all who would take part in the harmony of the evening. Mr. Barnes said that by the present they had given Captain Edmunds they had
tried to show him, in a humble way, how much they appreciated his kindness to all of them. He gave them the toast of "Long Life and Happiness to the Bride and
Bridegroom." Mrs. Ellis Danvers, at the call of the Chairman, responded the toast, and was cordially received. She said she had come there to represent her brother and
to say how pleased she was they were celebrating his wedding in that way, and he wished her on his behalf to thank them for the lovely tray they had given him. Everybody
said it was much the nicest present they had received. He might have been with them that evening, but she on his behalf, thanked them very much for their kind expressions
towards him. Mr. A. Haynes proposed "The Health of the Artistes" in appreciative terms, and Mr. Harry Mellers, in responding, said it was a pleasure to take part in
the harmony on that auspicious occasion. Captain Edmunds, as they all knew, was "white man" and so were his father and grandfather before him. He knew something of
the old firm, seeing his father had been connected with it for fifty years. The firm always been good employers and as a result they had always got the best out of their
employees. If there was more sympathy between employers and employed England would a much happier country. Mr. J. Reeves proposed "Success to Messrs. Hunt, Edmunds
and Co.," and said as an old employee he had always found the firm fair and just, and felt sure Captain Edmunds would follow in the high traditions of his father and
grandfather, for they were gentlemen in every sense of the word. He hoped he would have long life and happiness and direct the affairs of the company for many years to come
"applause". Mr. John Mellers responded to the toast, and spoke of the great developments which had taken place during his long connection with the firm, which was
since the days of the late Mr. Thomas Hunt. The firm had always done their best for the employees and in return they had never had any slackers. The firm had now 220 tied
houses and they started with four. He paid tribute to the work of Mr. Barnes, and said all who were at work for the firm wished it every success "applause". The
proceedings were most enjoyable throughout."
"Dinner at Banbury Brewery"
Banbury Guardian : September 23rd 1920 Page 6.