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Rode Village History



Fussell’s Brewery


                                            A HISTORY OF BREWING IN RODE




 When the Bass Depot in Rode finally closed in late 1992 it brought to an end a local industry which had provided the livelihood of many village families for over a hundred years, and one whose origins go back a good deal further still. When Captain B.C. Foyston, at the invitation of the late Paul Stacey, then Chairman of Rode P.C., undertook to write this history, he had no idea how interesting a task it would be, nor how long it would take: even now, at this time of publication, there is certainly more yet to unearth.


The job would have taken even longer and the result much more lacking in substance (particularly for an author who was not native to Rode, and who settled here only in 1980 after some 41 years in the Royal Navy, retiring from it in 1984 and from a short second career in 1991), had it not been for a chance meeting with Mr. Sidney William Fussell, now living in Bratton.  He was born in Rode, a son of the late Mr. Reginald Fussell, who was once resident at Ten Acres, and a one-time Director of the Rode firm.  Reginald, in turn, was a son of Sidney Fussell, the man who took the modest, albeit progressive, Inn Keeping, Bakery, Brewing and Grocery business of his own father, Henry Fussell, and laid the firm foundations of what was to become a major West of England Brewery firm, that of Sidney Fussell and Sons, Ltd.


Mr. Sidney William Fussell was trained in accountancy with some aspects of law, is the family archivist and has had first hand experience at the management level of the post WWII years of the Fussell family firm. He has also clear personal recollections of what various parts of the Cross Keys and the Brewery buildings looked like from the late 1920s onwards, and can thus give an imprimatur to this story that it would otherwise have lacked – for Brewing in Rode is largely synonymous with the name of Fussell, as will become clear as the narrative proceeds.


For those of our readers not familiar with our past local affairs we hope the following three points will prove useful:


Our ancient village name was ‘Rhyd’ or ‘Rhod’, variously said to mean a clearing, cross, crossing or ford.  Domesday Book has it as ‘Rode’.  The ford at Scutts Bridge, built in the 14th Century, is where the old road from Bristol to Salisbury crossed the River Frome in the Selwood forest.  In 1650 the local Registrar, John Pockridge, who in Cromwell’s days had replaced the Rector, decided to correct the name to ‘Road’: it continued to be so until an order by Somerset County Council on 30th August 1919 altered it again to ‘Rode’, so finally putting an end to many years of mapping and postal confusion.


In years gone by Rode village was divided into two parts.  The area west of the west side of Lower Street (the local brook marking the boundary) and the area broadly north and west of the present Rode Hill road lay in the County of Wiltshire, the Diocese of Salisbury and the Parish first of North Bradley and then of Road Hill.  The remainder, ‘Road’, lay in the County of Somerset and the Diocese of Bath and Wells.  A United Church of England benefice of the two Ecclesiastical parishes was made in an Order of Council of King George V on 16th, March 1923, placing it in Bath and Wells.  Finally, on 1st May 1937 the two civil Parishes of Rode Hill and Rode were united as ‘Rode’ in the County of Somerset.


Besides agriculture the dominant base of the local economy has long been in wool and cloth and most cottagers had for centuries their own hand looms or spinning wheels.  With the coming of the Mills outlying villagers gradually coalesced into areas nearer these Mills (e.g. the abandonment on the Mobley Pond area below St. Lawrence Church) but in turn the closing of the Mills (the last working one, at Scutt’s Bridge, shutting in 1904) left a serious gap in the village employment.  It was thus providential that Henry Fussell was to start his business at the Cross Keys, as we will see in our History.


We emphasise, however, that our History is not a textbook on either the brewing process or on the British Brewing Industry. We deal with these aspects only to explain what happened here in Road/Rode.  It is rather a joint informal production, particularly for local reading, by Sidney Fussell and Brian Foyston: we are referred to, for the sake of brevity, in the text as SWF and BCF respectively.


We are happy to acknowledge the considerable help given by many people, particularly those who live, or have lived in Rode, but feel we should particularly mention:


Argus Books Ltd., for allowing us to quote from “Home Brewed Beers and Stouts” by C.J.J. Berry.

English Heritage (formerly RCHME) for permission to use material from their report “Fussell’s Brewery Rode, Somerset” (NBR 95962).

Selwood & Duncan (Measured Surveys, Ltd) for their Report at Reference 11, which gives much useful architectural and other background to our story (we have been unable to trace them to achieve formal permission for use of this but we contributed to its production).

Curator and Staff at the Bass Museum, Burton on Trent, who allowed us to copy the few Fussell’s records kept there.

The administrators of the estate of the late Mr. Paul Stacey who passed to us some valuable items amongst his personal records.

Members of the Fussell family, who have been supportive of our purposes and given authority to many of the incidents in our story, which would otherwise be lacking, and particularly Mr. Philip Hillier Fussell for allowing us to study and copy documents concerning the acquisition and disposal of lands of S. Fussell & Sons. Ltd.

Mrs. Doris Gifford (née Greenland) of Norton St. Philip, for her sparkling account of working in the Offices between the Wars.

The late Mr. John Bryant, Mr. Michael Sparey and Mr. William (Bill) Goulter, whose wide knowledge of this village, its people and its buildings has added much detail and colour to our writings.

The present owner of the Cross Keys Inn, Ms. Nicola Robinson and her partner Mr. Michael Moore, who welcomed us during the busy days when they were restoring the buildings and for the loan of valuable ownership Deeds.

Mr. Peter Harris, Mr. Maurice Webb and Captain Roger Sharp, as Members of the Parish Council, who gave valuable background to our record of the Brewery Redevelopment programme.

And perhaps, most of all, to Mr. Harry Hopkins of Rocks Farm Tellisford, who besides his wide locally published pamphlets on our village history, has assisted and encouraged us throughout and has provided many otherwise undiscovered sources of information.


From place to place in our narrative we give details of the sums of money involved in an event, and so as to give some feel for what these would represent in our own times we have given the equivalent at 2005 prices in brackets.  These latter are based on a House of Commons Research paper of 1998, updated by a modifier to cover the years 1998 to 2005. We must emphasise that the figures are only indications and too much reliance should not be placed on them.


 Although this history is principally concerned with the commercial brewing of beer in Rode it has touched on the one time domestic brewing in large houses; we should perhaps also in passing just bring the scene up to date by mentioning that with the availability of brewing kits and materials that can be bought over the counter some small brewing is now done for personal consumption in private homes. The Brewing wheel continues to turn!





(Sidney William Fussell)                                                                     (Brian Foyston)


30th September 2006                                                                          30th September 2006                                                                                       





WHAT IS BEER?                                                                                                           1,2


A MICRO-HISTORY OF BREWING                                                            3 to 6


THE COMMERCIAL BREWING PROCESS                                                 7 to 14




SOME BY-GONE LOCAL PUBS                                                                                  15 to 25


SOME BETTER KNOWN LOCAL HOSTELRIES                                                        26 to 39




PREFACE                                                                                                                       40 to 43


THE FUSSELL FAMILY ROOTS                                                                                   44 to 53


HENRY FUSSELL AND HIS FAMILY                                                                           54 to 57




Source Material                                                                                                          58

Figures and Diagrams                                                                                               59

Our purpose and our problems                                                                              60

Phases of our History                                                                                                61




Origins                                                                                                                          62 to 69

Subsequent Developments                                                                                                     70 to 72




Topography                                                                                                                 73

Layout within the Pub                                                                                               74 to 78

South of the Pub                                                                                                                       79 to 82




Early Stages                                                                                                                 83 to 85

Pre-1840                                                                                                                       86

1840 – 1884                                                                                                                87 to 89

1884 – 1899                                                                                                                90 to 92

Other Matters                                                                                                             93, 94

Sewage and Pollution                                                                                              95

Rosa Perrott’s Cottage                                                                                             96 to 100

1899-1904 Part I                                                                                                                       101 to 103

The High Street Stables                                                                                            104 to 111

Notes about the Improvements in 1904                                                              112 to 114

Improvements to the Main Site- Beer Stores and Cask Washing Shed                       115 to 119

Improvements to the Main Site – Brewhouse and Boiler Shed                                     120 to 125



The New Company                                                                                                    126 to 131

Death of Mr. Sidney Fussell                                                                                     132

The War Years                                                                                                            133 to 140




Preamble                                                                                                                      141 to 143

Company Records and Other Sources of Data                                                   144, 145




Orneage and Church Farms                                                                                    146, 147

Offices                                                                                                                          148, 149

Power and the Engine House                                                                                 150

Water Supplies                                                                                                            151 to 155




The Private Trade                                                                                                      156 to 161

Clubs and Societies                                                                                                   162

Licensed Premises                                                                                                      163, 164




Foreword                                                                                                                     165 to 169


1920 to 1929/30 


Enlarged Beer Stores                                                                                                170

The Well Pumping Mechanism                                                                              171

The New Cask Washing Shed (CWS)                                                                      172

The New Bottling Department                                                                               173


Other Matters


Family Affairs                                                                                                              174                      

The Reading Rooms                                                                                                  175 to 178         

Costs                                                                                                                             179


Post 1930 to1939 and the Rode Brewing System


The [Tower] Brewhouse                                                                                           180

The Rode Brewing System

               The Boiling Stage                                                                                        181

               The Cooling Stage                                                                                       182

               The Fermentation Stage                                                                           183

The Chimney Stacks                                                                                                  184


New Storage and Handling Facilities                                                                     185 to 189

               Racking                                                                                                          190

               The Cold Rooms                                                                                                         191

               Bottling of Beers                                                                                                        192

               Pasteurisation                                                                                              193


Mineral Water Production and Cider, Wines and Spirits

               Mineral Waters                                                                                           194 to 196

               Cider, Wines and Spirits                                                                            197




Bank Loans                                                                                                                  198

Cash Flow                                                                                                                    199

Loans from the Directors and the Fussell Family                                               200

Retention of Profits in the Business                                                                                     201




Preamble                                                                                                                      202

Numbers Employed                                                                                                   203 to 208

“Family Connections”                                                                                               209

Working Conditions, Wages and Trade Union Affairs                                                     210 to 215

Housing for Employees                                                                                             216 to 221

Sport and Recreation                                                                                                222 to 227






The Management                                                                                                                      228 to 233

The Bass Take-over                                                                                                   234 to 241

Death of Mr. P.J. Fussell                                                                                           242

The Company Renamed                                                                                           243,244




The Bass Organisation                                                                                              245 to 249

Revised Tasks of the Rode Brewery                                                                       250 to 252

The Work Force at Rode                                                                                          253




THE CLOSURE ANNOUNCED                                                                                    254, 255


PARISH COUNCIL ACTIONS                                                                                      256


EARLY PLANNING – KING STURGE/ W.D.KING                                                    257 to 263


English Heritage Views                                                                                            264

Further W.D. King Moves                                                                                                        265


ENTRY OF SWAN HILL HOMES                                                                                266, 267


MENDIP DISTRICT COUNCIL DECISIONS                                                268




Swan Hill Appeal                                                                                                                        269

Parish Council Views at the Hearing                                                                     270, 271

The Judgement                                                                                                           272




New Applications                                                                                                       273 to 275

Rode P.C. and Mendip D.C.                                                                                     276, 277

New Swan Hill Initiatives                                                                                                         278, 279              

Resolution of Outstanding Difficulties                                                                  280 to 285





Sequence of Events                                                                                                   286 to 291

Topography                                                                                                                 292




New Planning Applications                                                                                      293 to 299

House Materials                                                                                                                        300

Site Levels                                                                                                                    301 to 304

House Materials (continued)                                                                                   305

Drainage                                                                                                                       306

Council Officers’ Briefings for the Area Board

               House Materials                                                                                                         307

               Site Levels                                                                                                     308

               Drainage                                                                                                        309

General                                                                                                          310

The Final Permissions and Completion                                                                 311, 312




1.        Let us first be clear what “Brewing Beer” means (here we are indebted to Mr. C. J. J. Berry, the doyen of Amateur Beer makers (See our Foreword).


2.        Basically, if yeast (a living organism) is added to a solution containing sugar (and some other minor essentials) it multiplies by feeding on the sugar, and in the process of fermentation the principal   products are alcohol and a gas - carbon dioxide (CO2).  As the ferment goes on the increasing amount of alcohol in the solution gradually kills off the living yeast and its dead cells fall to the bottom of the fermenting vessel as ‘lees’. So, whilst the addition of Hops provides the flavour, the final strength of the brew depends largely on the amount of sugar used and the degree of fermentation allowed by the Brewer. Most modern beers contain between 3% and 6% of alcohol by volume, though some types     (e.g. Barley Wine) are rather stronger. Wines, which rely on the natural sugars in the grapes, and the natural yeasts of the ‘bloom’ on the grape skin, are made by similar processes, but are stronger still – typically about 11% or 12% alcohol – which is why we drink them by the glass and not by the pint! As for spirits they are not merely fermented but distilled, another story altogether.




3.        Brewing dates back at least 6,000 years. The ancient Mesopotamians fermented bread in water and flavoured the resulting ‘mash’ with spices and honey. Six types of ‘beer’ were in daily use in the Egypt of the Pharaohs, where one name for it was ‘boozah’ (booze?), and it was probably the Egyptians who brought the drink to England, where it was flavoured with the herb Rue (Ruta graveolens) (and thus probably it was a ‘bitter’). The Romans certainly drank ale and during their 400 years here both they and we natives may have regarded it as an essential of life. In most cases it would have been much more healthy to drink beer than the local water supplies, often badly polluted, and this was so in some places until quite modern times. The Saxons and the Vikings loved their beer (the latter especially before a battle) and there were at one time so many alehouses that Edgar, King of Wessex from 959 to 975 AD, decreed that there should only be one in each village (which would not have suited Road at all in the 18th and 19th Centuries).


4.        Contents of beer mugs were graduated by using wooden pegs to mark the quantity of the contents (‘taking some-one down a peg or two’) and after the Norman Conquest, when the country became more settled, quite large-scale brewing, even by modern standards, began, mostly under the auspices of the Monasteries and Churches. Henry II raised the first ale-taxes in 1188 AD and appointed local ale-testers to assess ale strength, thus foretelling the involvement in more modern days of H. M.

Customs and Excise. A Royal decree by King Henry IV in 1406 AD established the Worshipful Company of Brewers, but despite this royal mark of favour soldiers returning from France and Flanders during and after the Hundred Years’ War (1338 to 1453 AD) did not think much of our English ales, flavoured as they were with nettles, rosemary and other herbs (ugh!). Instead they demanded what they had drunk on the continent – ‘bere’ or ‘biere’ – ale flavoured with Hops, which were not endemic to Britain. Our Kentish hop fields were only started in the 1540s by immigrants from the Low Countries and it was only then that the making of beer as we know it really got under way. Nowadays ‘ale’ and ‘beer’ are largely synonymous to the average drinker, though not to the commercial brewer.


5.        Commerce and Taxation appear inseparable and Henry VII (1457 to 1509 AD) and Edward VI (1547 to 1553 AD) introduced the first licensing laws to control ‘Taverns and Tippling Houses’. Charles I in 1643 raised the first effective beer tax, and before 100 years had elapsed from that date the monies raised from the tax were nearly half the government’s income! As recently as 1922 a survey suggested that of the typical 7d (old pence) cost of a pint 3.2d went in duty! Production continued to increase despite the tax and by the mid-1700s many Brewers whose names are still famous today were established – such firms as Charrington, Courage, Guinness, Meux, Watney, Whitbread, Worthington and many others, not least Bass, who were to play such a big role in due course here in Rode.


6.            But before we go further into our wider history we are going to take a look briefly at how beer is brewed commercially. Some details about what was done here in Rode will follow in the course of the story.





7.            The sugars used in commercial brewing are, not surprisingly, somewhat different to the ones we use in home cooking.  The main ones come from grain (and in the UK that means Barley).  Barley contains carbohydrates (starches) (which cannot be fermented), but these starches can be converted into types of sugars (which can be fermented!).  Since 1847 it has also been legal to add other ‘Brewing Sugars’ when fermenting, so as to get a consistent product, because different batches of barley inevitably have different proportions of fermentable material (a cause of problems during World War II when sugar was rationed).


8.       The barley is first cleaned and then steeped in water for two or three days, absorbing some moisture and softening. The surplus water is drained off and the softened grain is warmed in large drums and encouraged to germinate so that it grows a small shoot. This part of the process is called ‘Malting’ and is then stopped by drying and roasting the grain (‘Kilning’). Usually specialist firms called ‘Maltsters’ do this. The resulting malt is then lightly crushed to a coarse powder (‘Grist’) between rollers (“all grist to the mill”). Certainly Fussells did not produce their own Malt at the Cross Keys Brewery.  However, when the Company was incorporated on 20th December 1909 (Para. 128 below) the widely drawn Objects clause of its Memorandum of Association covered, amongst other things, the acquisition of a going concern of the business of Maltster and the carrying on of the business of Maltsters; the fact that such a provision was made was wise as it provided a safeguard against the company finding itself at any time in possession of a business of that nature and trading beyond its authorised powers (‘ultra vires’).  (Appendix C will show that when in 1936 the Oak Brewery was bought from the estate of Henry Mead deceased, the company acquired a maltings with that Brewery). Kelly’s Directory for Somerset makes mention in its sections on Road of “William Smith, Maltster and Dealer in Hops” as our local specialist and he indeed kept the “George” Inn here from 1809 for some years. The “Red Lion” also had its own Malt House. There were also Maltings in Frome, Woolverton and Laverton so Fussells had plenty of sources to choose from.


9.       Perhaps the most important part of the brewing process – ‘Mashing’- comes next. The grist is carefully mixed with the right volume of hot water (or ‘Liquor’ as it is known in brewing jargon) in the ‘Mash Tun’. The temperature of the mash (about 65ºC or 150ºF) is also important to ensure that the natural enzymes (biological catalysts in the grist, produced during the malting process) can work to convert its starches into a fermentable type of sugar called Maltose. This Maltose and some other special additives dissolve in the liquor, and the resulting sweet tasting solution (‘wort’, pronounced ‘wert’) is, after a couple of hours, drained down through pipes (the ‘Underback’). As it drains the mixture is sprayed with hot water (‘Sparged’) to ensure that all fermentable material is extracted. The spent grain is kept back, removed and is usually sold for animal foodstuffs. 


10.       The solution now flows to the Copper, where Hops (or Hop Extract) are put in, to add the bitter flavour, kill the enzymes and sterilise the brew. Any brewing sugars needed are added – these are derived from cane sugars, usually treated by acid and ferment more easily than our domestic ones. Here is where the skills of the Master Brewer come into play.  Next the wort is boiled vigorously, cooled by means of heat exchangers and strained in the ‘Hop Back’, a kind of giant sieve. The spent hops are removed (to be sold to fertiliser manufacturers) and the wort, aerated so it will ferment better, flows or

 is pumped into Fermenting Vessels. These were originally made of wood and later of slate but are nowadays made from copper and stainless steel. At this stage Customs and Excise Officers measure the original specific gravity to assess the Duty to be paid by the Brewer. Yeast, often in the form of a paste or Slurry is added (‘Pitched In’). All beers except Lager are ‘top fermented’, i.e. the yeast lives on top of the brew, multiplying and forming a fluffy crust. After about a week, when the sugars have been converted, the yeast is skimmed off. The brewer will end up with four or five times as much yeast as he started with. Part of it will be kept for pitching succeeding brews, but most of it is pressed, and sold to makers of yeast extracts.


11.       After this the liquid ‘green beer’ is then cooled and drawn off (‘racked’) to mature and come into condition.  This is done either in wooden or metal casks, or partly in tanks and partly in casks. Minute particles of yeast are still suspended in the beer and these are carried down to the bottom by means of isinglass (‘Fining’).  A few dried hops may be added for extra aroma and small amounts of ‘priming’ sugars are often put in to give a modicum of ‘fizz’. Finally the newly conditioned beer is again racked into casks of various sizes (4½-gallon ‘Pins’, 9-gallon ‘Firkins’, 18-gallon ‘Kilderkins’, 36-gallon ‘Barrels’, or even, on rare occasions, into 54-gallon ‘Hogsheads’).  Still more unusual measures are 10-gallon ‘Ankers’, 72-gallon ‘Puncheons’ (most often used for Rum), and biggest of all 216-gallon ‘Butts’ (generally associated with wines). Incidentally casks were, and still are, valuable, and a Brewer will need to keep track of them.  Each cask used by Fussells was serially numbered; its whereabouts were recorded in a special book, and the recipient was reminded if the Brewery staff felt it had been out for too long.


12.       Bottled beers were at one time conditioned in the bottle (hence the ‘mini-cabaret’ older readers may recall when a barman had to pour a ‘White Shield Worthington’ for a finicky customer). In modern days, however, they and most other beers that are sold in cans or metal ‘Kegs’ are chilled, clarified by filtration to sterilise them and they are carbonated with CO2 to give them their sparkle.  Bottled beers are then corked or capped in preparation for delivery.(See Para. 192 below).


13.       Commercial brewing is a top to bottom process, i.e. it begins at the top of a tall building, with water pumped up from its source and other ingredients hoisted up, and the process flows downwards stage by stage, with the odd reversal en route to take advantage of efficient cooling apparatus.  Hence the tall five-storied [Tower] Brewhouse to the immediate south of the Cross Keys.  The massive ‘liquor tanks’ (Photo. 1) were on the top floor until being removed in early 2002.  The other processing floors were below them. But all of this was a comparatively recent development.


14.         These processes all need power. The liquids have to be moved around the brewery, the water must be heated and the premises lit. In more modern times electric power is essential and a brewery will need extensive machinery and the fuel to run it. Needless to say it also needs a good supply of potable water, and access to sufficient supplies of barley and hops.




15.       We will read later that one Henry Fussell bought the Cross Keys “Home-Brewed House” on 25th March 1857, and also that his family and others of this branch of the Fussell line had been in Road for many years before then. Nor was the Cross Keys the only place in Road where beer was brewed in years gone by.  It was indeed common in English villages for a number of the locals, often widows, to boost their meagre income in this way, for in the 1700s and 1800s times were often hard for ordinary folk, particularly after the Enclosure Acts and the disappearance of Common Land, which, nationally, was all gone by 1840 – in our case Road Common was enclosed in 1792. The wealthy also often thought a brewery part of their essential domestic offices; Merfield House had one, and certainly there were others locally. Remember also that almost everyone who had an orchard made farmhouse cider!   


16.       As an example, at Cerne Abbas in Dorset, a village then no bigger than our own, there were 14 Inns and Alehouses up to the 1880s, and Road, if we take account not only of hard evidence but hearsay as well, had a goodly number too. How long some of them were active, or indeed whether they existed at all is open to question, but it is rare for pure invention to hold sway for long, so what follows below will hopefully be of interest.  Much of it has been culled from past editions of the ‘Link’ but Ref. 1 has also been very useful. All Brewers and retailers of liquor and other Excisable goods for sale were required to lodge details of these with the local Comptroller so that his officers might ensure compliance with the Law.


17.   The Beehive:  The evidence for this is rather sketchy but its site is said to be at the bottom of Farthing Row, where it gives on to Lower Street. Only recently, on being shown an old (but subsequently tinted) picture of this area and being asked what it was, a respected elderly villager immediately said “The Beehive”. He was pointing at No. 24 Lower St. The present owners’ deeds show that in 1962 Percy John Fussell of Mayfield House sold a Blacksmith’s shop “formerly in the Parish of Southwick”, an adjoining cottage with rear garden and “Beehive Cottage” situated at “the Batch” in Lower Street.  The Batch is the patch of land in front of the present property and the Blacksmith’s Shop is now its conservatory.  The current owner gave the modern name of “Batch Cottage” after his purchase of it in 1973, and “Beehive Cottage” itself had also in the past been called both “Meadow View” and “Touch Down”. Incidentally its namesake at Abingdon in Berkshire carries the following words on its sign:

“Within this hive, we’re all alive,

Good liquor makes us funny!

If you are dry, step in and try

The flavour of our honey!” 

(Referring perhaps to the use of honey for brewing in earlier days).


18.  The Brass Knocker:  Hearsay is that this was what is now 33, High Street.  If so it must have been a long time ago, for it was the Post Office as far back as 1902, and as the local Methodist Minister lived there in the late 19th Century it certainly wasn’t selling liquor then!


19.   The Black Swan:  What is now the High Street end of Church Lane has in the past long been referred to as “Black Swan” and Ref. 2 refers to 2, Church Lane (“Black Swan Cottage”) as the “Swan Inn”.  During restoration work a delivery note for pale amber malt was found there, supporting the view that this was a ‘home-brewed house’, like so many of its contemporaries.  Interestingly enough the pub name “Black Swan”, often corrupted to “Mucky Duck” by sailors, was in common use in England some time before that beautiful Australian water bird was brought to this country.


20.   The King William:  Local lore has it that this was at the Lower Street end of the Big Shard.  In 1999 some older residents recalled that there had been a tall tower-like building there on its northern side though no one could remember what it had been.  It had been open to the sky in the 1920s but was at least four or five storeys high. The late Mr. Bert Woolley took down part of it in the 1930s, and the building was then converted into a paint store. At the Rode Parish Council meeting in November 1947 a letter of concern was sent to Frome Rural District Council about three dangerous buildings in our village and this was one of them. Photo. 2 (of part of Lower Street taken 2001) has at its centre a high building which is Chelsea Villa (No.12) and the building referred to would have been nearer to the camera than the corner of the wall in the right foreground.  If this possible pub were named after one of our nation’s Kings, it could only practicably have been William III (1689 to 1702 AD and one half of the “William and Mary” pair of joint sovereigns) or William IV (1830 to 1837 AD and uncle to Queen Victoria).  We prefer the former, as, had the Pub been open in the 1830s, it would doubtless have been referred to in early Directories or even the 1841 Census.  There was certainly a heap of stones and rubble there in the 1960s.The spot was formally taken into Parish ownership on the basis of 12 years of undisputed use, and was later sold as part of the building of a house in this position. Parish records, however, show that the rubble was the remains of an old lock-up rather than a Pub. Another possible explanation is that the tall building may have been connected with the woollen trade, rather than drinking. No supporting evidence on either connection has come to light.


21.   The Chequers:  There is some evidence that this was No. 15, Langham Place (Rosebay Cottage), for a Joseph Greenhill who lived there is described in the 1851 Census as “Beer house Keeper”, and in the 1861 Census as “Innkeeper near Christ Church”. The name “Chequers” dates back to Roman times (and there was at least one wine-shop of this name at Pompeii).  When the legions were on the march, and evening came, the humble soldier dossed down for the night where best he could, but the officers stayed at local inns, should they be convenient, playing board games to while away the hours. It was thus natural for mine host to hang out a sign to advertise facilities for games and gambling, and money lenders were usually at hand should an unlucky punter be in need of funds to pay debts incurred.  The Chequer Board became associated with the lending of money, as it still is in some parts of Italy today. In Britain we still have our “Chancellor of the Exchequer”, and the greater proportion of the 200 or so Pubs of this name listed nationally in Yellow Pages stand at junctions on our old Roman Roads.


22.   The Jew’s Harp:  A local record (Ref. 3) says:

          “Rode at one time had many more Public Houses than now; included was the Jew’s Harp, which stood where Green Park crosses the Beckington Road”.


          On the 1903 Village Map this ‘Green Park’ is shown as ‘Park Gate Lane’ and the ‘Link’ suggested in 1986 that it ran from the crossroads in Straight Lane (the extension of the High Street past Merfield House) to the crossroads on the modern A.361, which, on the other side, leads to Rudge and Beckington.  Certainly the 1840 Tithe Redemption Map of Road and Woolverton shows a piece of land at this point (No. 361 – strange co-incidence!), named ‘Jew’s Harp’ and farmed by James Dyer, Senior, a carpenter by trade and living on Road Hill. This piece of land is on the opposite side of the A.361 to a green lane just beyond Brook Cottage, but if ever there was a pub there its has long since disappeared. For the more senior citizens amongst us who in their miss-spent youth may have twanged what was then called a Jew’s Harp (a small lyre-shaped mouth instrument) – be informed that this has NOTHING to do with the Hebrews! The name of that device is rather a corruption of the French words ‘Jeu trompe’, or toy trumpet.  Sorry about that!


23.       The Three Horseshoes:  We have several pieces of evidence of this.  On 6th June 1837 the occupier, Jeremiah Francis, reported to the local Comptroller of Excise (see Para. 16 above) that he had a Brewhouse with one Mash Tun, two Store Rooms for Brewing and storing of Beer, Ale, Porter, and Cider for sale, a room for Malt and Hops and one for storing Tobacco, all for sale (The Brewhouse was in the Yard behind the House).  In the 1841 Census the occupant was William Paxton/Puxton, a Blacksmith.  By 1846 the occupier was Mary Ann Paxton/Puxton and in that year she made an Entry similar to that made previously by William, her deceased husband, but adding that the two store rooms adjoined one another and faced the Bar, the first (for Tobacco) being with the Bar.  The Malt and Hop Room was on the left of the entrance. The 1851 Census describes Mary Ann as a “Retailer of Beer”. In the first of these two Censuses the Inn is listed between “Gunston’s Barton” (a Barton being a farm or enclosure) and Nutt’s Lane; in the second it is listed between “Poorhouse Lane” and Gunston’s Barton (Poorhouse Lane, also sometime called “Union Cottage Lane”, is our modern Marsh Road).  So the Three Horseshoes was clearly somewhere in the Marsh Road/Nutt’s Lane area, perhaps in the quadrant between the two.  Has any reader any further knowledge?  The Church Rate Books of 1859, 1862 and 1870 show the occupier as John Noad but the latter two describe the property as “House and Garden, late Three Horseshoes”. This John Noad, incidentally, was not the one whose daughter married into the Fussell family (for that John Noad was Secretary of the Temperance Society!) but we know from an old rhyme that “…there was a long John Noad and a short John Noad…”

The Green Man:


24.       This is the last of our local hostelries lost in the mists of time.  It too is recorded in local records (Ref. 3 again) where, writing about Rode Common, the author says:


     “ The Common extended from Romsey Oak south over Vagg’s Hill, thence to a house near Puxwell which seems to have had many aliases, e.g. Dennis Court, Tennis Court, Fives Court and the Green Man, when, perhaps as the last ale-house on the Heath, it was burned down.”   Later this reference records: “…and perhaps the most famous of them all, the Green Man… which was situated near Puxwell, perhaps because of the convenience of the spring.  It has been suggested that the name is derived from the forest fairies, the most famous being Puck, who teased humans with his devilry, and because here the elms give way to the oak forest of the Bradford clay formation”.   It is also worth noting that the forest fairies were often shown clothed in green with red caps and that the sign of the Green Man is accepted to represent either the green or wild woodsmen, once familiar at old fairs and pageants or even the popular Robin Hood.


25.       It is true also that the oaks formed the majority of the ancient forest of Selwood, whereas the elms (now long gone and much lamented) were not native to our shores, but were introduced by the Romans.  The map showing the apportionment of land when Road Common was enclosed in 1792 does indeed show a prominent house called “Fives Court” some 175 yards north of the Bradford Road at the end of Plot 19 of the map and directly opposite Puxwell, itself some 350 yards from the modern junction with Rode Hill.  Puxwell is also mentioned in Ref. 4 and was said at the time of its writing to be still there albeit under a concrete topping. It was identified again by members of Rode Parish Council in late 2001 and cleared again for access.




26.       Though we have now dealt with eight local alehouses of somewhat arguable past history there are at least five others (leaving aside the Cross Keys, which has now been restored and re-opened), of whose existence we are certain, and in some of which a number of our older residents may have sunk the occasional glass.  The last one of these is the “Bell” (See Para. 37 et seq. below), still going strong as we write.


The White Hart:


27.        The very name of this delightful cottage at 38, High Street (formerly No. 1, The Green) evokes the image of a Pub and the present owners can point to a well-preserved plan of the ground floor which supports this, to which can be added, across the back yard, the much reconstructed brew house, built on two levels as was typical of buildings of the type in those days.  Lore has it that both the Duke of Monmouth and Oliver Cromwell made brief sojourns at the cottage. However it is not mentioned in any of the 19th century Directories, nor is there any mention of brewing in the Will of John Wheeler the Elder, dated 14th January 1815, who, dying in 1818, left the property and its adjoining cottages to his married daughter Elizabeth Dawson.  We can thus deduce that brewing at the White Hart ceased in the late 18th or early 19th centuries (perhaps another indication of current ‘hard times’). Ref. 2 has much more about this fascinating house.


28.       The sign of the White Hart, so myth has it, dates back to the time of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), when he met with such an animal while walking in the forest.  He put his gold chain around her neck and led her back to his camp.  As with so many tales the central figure has changed over time, from Alexander to Diomede, to Julius Caesar and to Charlemagne and others. The White Hart was also the badge of King Richard II (1367 to 1400AD).


The Lawyer’s/Brickyard Arms:

29.       There was a flourishing brickyard at the junction of the foot of Rode Hill and what has become the modern A.361. From very early days until the early years after World War I and around the brickyard, its owner John Dunford and various members of his family, a busy little community grew up, which had its own Pub.  The ‘Link’ of April 1976 records this as the “Brickyard Arms”, but the Record of Justices’ Licences for the Frome area, kept at the County Records Office at Taunton gives it the name “Lawyer’s Arms”.  We take this as the authoritative version.  From 1837 John Dunford made three Entries to the local Excise Comptroller (See again Para. 16 above), the first on 13th September of that year in which he declared one room in his house for the storing of Tobacco for sale, this being his bar facing the street.  On 21st September 1840 he added a room “for the storing of Beer and Cider for sale…” but on 13th May 1841 he revoked his previous Entries and substituted a Brewhouse with Mash Tun, a room for storing of Malt and Hops, a Cellar and three rooms for consuming beer “to be dranked (sic) in the Premises”, with a further one for storing of Tobacco for Sale. Various local and national Directories between 1861 and 1877 record “John Dunford, Brick maker and retailer of beer”, but Morris in 1872 has “John Dunford, Lawyer’s Arms”.  Records of Frome Petty Sessions show that on 30th August 1866 a licence was applied for in respect of Dunford’s Beer House at Road Common. Through Counsel, Mr. H. Saunders of the Bell Inn opposed this application on the grounds of proximity of other licensed premises, which he claimed were sufficient for the current requirements of the village.  “His Lordship asked if this was the only reason for objecting and on receiving an answer in the affirmative, told Mr. Saunders’ counsel that he need not trouble to prove his statement as they would take it for granted – and allow Dunford a Licence”! Despite all this the Post Office Directory of 1875 describes Dunford again, as formerly, “Retailer of Beer”.  Perhaps a Pub with a Full Licence at that spot was not really viable. In November 1881 Dunford sold off 80,000 bricks and a rick of hay, perhaps reflecting that things were not going well for him; on 30th October 1882 Dunford sold up completely. Lot 1 of the sale comprised “All that INN and DWELLING-HOUSE called the Lawyer’s Arms with the two Beer Cellars, Brewery, Malt Room, Stable, Coach House, outbuildings, and Garden and Paddock” whilst the second Lot was two adjacent cottages and gardens occupied by Henry Pike and Job Moon. It would appear that things were still not well for Dunford, for records tell us that it was not until September 1883 that he was able to have a family called Lister evicted from the premises and their goods sold.  As a more happy post-script (Ref. 5) a Mr. Ivan Dunford, a farmer and rail-road worker from Northern Alberta visited his relatives in Rode and elsewhere in 1948 and confided that not only had he been born at the Lawyer’s Arms, but that it had been built by his great-grandfather! 


30.         The owners of 12, Rode Common can show clear evidence that this building is the former Lawyer’s Arms (Photo. 3). The property was extended after World War II and the former Inn is the southwesterly part though there is no sign of there ever having been a cellar there.  Interestingly the January 2000 edition of the Wiltshire Family History Society tells us that on 3rd April 1941 bombs fell on Rode Common and a cottage near the old Inn was one of the buildings destroyed (perhaps another of that stick was responsible for destroying the little cottage beyond what is now the Lodge in Monkley Lane).  In neither case were there any casualties.


31.       Between the World Wars the disused brickyard filled with water and until 1955 there was a single storey building on the site (an old brick-drying shed), which was used by Fussells for storing farm machinery. The firm used the part of the pond nearest to Rode Hill as a dumping ground for ‘cullet’ (broken glass bottles) etc.  Incidentally, prior to the bringing of piped water supplies to Rode in 1936, water from the brickyard was pumped up to a reservoir constructed in the mid to late 1920s at the junction of the Bradford Road and Rode Hill (in the corner of the large triangular field), whence it was allowed to flow down by gravity to the Brewery at times when the supplies from the Brewery’s own well were inadequate.  This pump, later sited at Rockabella, was, as we will see in due course, used to boost water supplies from the dry rising main from the river once the Brewery extensions of the mid 1930s were done (see Para. 151 et seq.). We will discuss the provision of water for brewing later in this history (See Paras. 80 and 94) but this brickyard water was, however, only ever used for bottle washing or other cleaning purposes, never for brewing.


The George Inn  (Photo. 4):


32.     This is now ‘The Old George’ at 15, High Street, Rode (Photo. 5). In his Will, dated 12th May 1809, Jonathan Noad of Rockabella House left, inter alia, to his son of like name “all that inn or public house called the George, with the Brew house, stable, garden, and all the appurtenances thereto belonging situate in the Parish of Road and in the occupation of William Smith”.  By 1830 Pigot records the keeper as Elizabeth Smith and the Tithe Redemption Map of Road in 1840 shows the owner as Mrs. Helen Noad, and the keeper as William Smith, a son of Elizabeth.   On 7th December of that year (again revoking all previous Entries) he declared to the Excise Comptroller a Brew house containing a Mash Tun (in the Yard behind the Dwelling House), three store rooms for Beer, Ale, Spirits and Tobacco for sale (the first being the Bar, the second on the left hand side of the entrance passage and the third “adjoining the Brewhouse in which the Malt and Hops are kept” – this latter was a Cellar).  By an Entry of 26th, March 1842 he added a Malthouse, though he revoked this only a year later on 3rd April 1843.  In Pigot’s Directory of 1842 the keeper is still William (Sidney) Smith, and he was there also described as ‘Maltster’; either Pigot was mistaken on this occasion or perhaps there were further Excise Entries which we have not seen.  Whatever the truth by 1861 he is also described as a ’dealer in hops’, suggesting that he may perhaps have supplied other local brewers, including Henry and then Sidney Fussell.   He was not a supplier later to the Fussells firm, however, who bought much of their Malt from Baileys in Frome, and other ingredients from a number of other suppliers.  Interestingly William Sidney was also the owner of the Red Lion in the 1870s and his wife and later widow, Charlotte Smith, was the keeper of the George Inn from 1872 to 1875 but her Trustees sold the premises to William Bailey on 1st November 1877. By then it included a “Dwelling House” besides the “Public House, Beer and Spirits Cellars, Brewery, (with excellent water supply), Malt Room, two stables, Coach House, Yard and productive walled garden”. Interestingly enough, the Brewing plant, including a 246 gallon copper furnace, oak store casks from 1239 gallons downwards, and other equipment were soon sold on.  From 1885 to 1898 Directories show William Hood as keeper and for another long period, from 1902 to 1931, Thomas Henry Jackson, but brewing would have stopped by then at the latest. Fussells bought the George in 1932, the licence being granted to P.J.Fussell on 1st December of that year, but there was no application for its renewal at the Justices’ Sessions on 9th February 1933.  Valuation Records from Frome (Ref. 6) tell us that the former brewers’ traveller (and later Supervisor of Managed Houses), Mr. Stubbs (Paras. 72 and 158 below), became the occupier of the now private house, with S. Fussell & Sons, Ltd. as owner. Many of our older readers will recall a post with its Inn Sign atop in the Pub forecourt; it figures prominently in the well-known local Photo. showing the local Celebrations Organising Committee and Rode schoolchildren marching to Christ Church on the occasion of the Coronation of King George V in 1911 and can clearly be seen on our Photo. 4.


33.       After World War II the Inn remained a private house, owned by Colonel and Mrs. Wilkinson, who sold it to Mr. and Mrs. David Hollis. In 1992 they had photographs, which showed that Road Band had practised in the long room over the Beer Cellar.  During the years of brewing the people at No. 17 High St. were involved and the well was at No. 13.  No. 15 had a door on the upper floor into which the grain for malting was hoisted and it was either malted there or at No. 17.   There is no evidence to show that the Pub’s name was associated either with our Patron Saint or with King George II, even bearing in mind that many pubs of this name were built between 1750 and 1760.


The Red Lion  (19, High Street)  (Photo. 6):

34.       This closed for the last time in 1992; for some time before that it had belonged to Great Metropolitan Hotels, who sold it in 1992 to Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, who straightway made it over to the Magic Pub Company. They did not find it viable and it soon went into private non-brewery ownership; more recently it has been developed for multiple residential purposes.


35.      Our earliest record comes from an advert placed in the Bath Chronicle dated 18th September 1783: “Road Somerset. To be sold at a fair appraisal at the Red Lion Inn immediately or between this time and St. Thomas day next by Richard Silcock landlord thereof.   All his stock of Beer Spirits and Hops, together with all the Vessels, some of which will hold 8 or 10 hogsheads, all iron bound and in good condition.  Also the brewing utensils cooper [sic] and malt tubs, likewise his household goods or part thereof at the option of a tenant who may enter the inn immediately or at St. Thomas day next. For terms apply to the said Richard Silcock”. Directories, Church Rate Books and other evidence tell us that in 1832 the occupier was William Cockrell (whose relation Jacob was then tenant of the Cross Keys)(see Para. 36 below) and from 1839 the occupier was one Edward Francis; on 6th November 1841 he withdrew his former entry of a Malthouse (see Para. 16 above) and an Insurance Policy dated 26th October 1841 (and covering from Michaelmas 1841 to Michaelmas 1842) shows the owner as Jacob Cockrell, previously tenant at the Cross Keys with Prudence Ashby having become the Tenant during the year, succeeding Francis.  The Policy covers the Inn and the structure of the Malthouse (this latter being only for the drying of grain and no brown malt was being made).  A separate Brewhouse was included.


36,         Prudence Ashby’s tenancy on this occasion appears to have been brief for on 26th April a Jonathan Fricker made Excise Entry as follows:


“I, Jonathan Fricker of Road…make Entry as a Brewer of a Brewhouse marked BH containing 1 Mash Tun marked MT. Two cellars for storing of Beer for sale.  Two rooms for storing of Foreign and British Spirits and tobacco for sale and Room for storing of Malt and Hops marked MH.  The Brewhouse is in my yard behind my Dwelling House, the Room for Malt and Hops is adjoining the Brewhouse and the Rooms for storing the Beer and Spirits are attached to my Dwelling House”


Other changes were in the offing as Jacob Cockrell made an Excise Entry on 13th September 1844 on the same lines as Fricker’s.  Hardly had the dust settled than Prudence Ashby/Ashley returned to the scene making her Entry as Tenant once again, until a John Bull around 1852/53.  Some time after 1842 Jacob Cockrell must have sold the premises, for the actual owner until his death in 1877 was Mr. W.S. Smith; the details of the Sale after his death refer to “FREEHOLD PROPERTY” viz. (firstly) “All that Old-established, Fully-licensed PUBLIC HOUSE, called the Red Lion Inn, with the Slaughterhouse, Stable, Pig Styes, Yard and Garden…occupied by Mr. T. Noad at £15 per annum” and (secondly)  “ the 6 quarter MALTHOUSE adjoining, occupied by Mr. T. Holdway at £9 per annum.” It notes “Both properties are well supplied with excellent water”. In the Insurance Policy of 1841 the property is described as thatched, with a communicating thatched Malthouse (albeit the kiln only used for drying grain), and with a nearby Brewhouse. The occupants were thereafter a succession of members of the Noad family – Thomas from 1856 to 1902, and his Will dated 3rd November 1902 (and a Codicil of 15th January 1903) declares him to be “butcher and licensed victualler of Road, Somerset” and refers to his bequest of “the premises called or known as the Red Lion, Road and the butcher’s shop, slaughterhouse, stable and garden situate at Road. Also the Malt house or Building in Fore Street, Road and orchard and paddock in rear of the same” (Fore Street is probably another name for Lower Street, as was Frog Street). Edward Thomas Noad succeeded Thomas about 1903.  His Will dated 22nd June 1904 “…of the Red Lion Inn, Road in the Parish of North Bradley” includes the words “I give…the Red Lion Inn, the Brew house Buildings, orchard and paddock adjoining”.  Between 1904 and the mid 1920s the keepers were Mrs. Florence Julia Noad, Walter Randolph Noad, and Mrs. Gertrude Noad.  Florence was the sister of Edward Thomas Noad, Walter was his brother, and Gertrude Annie was Walter’s widow!  The first mention of an ‘outsider’ thereafter is one Peter Robinson. After him came a Mr. Price, John Martin, and Robinson again, and, after World War II, G. E. S. Fricker and John Wood. John’s tenancy was subject to disturbance, so he complained, from the 24-hour striking of the newly restored Jubilee Clock.


The Bell (Photo. 7):

37.       Hostelries near Churches have been known since very early times, and made their monies largely from hospitality offered to pilgrims and visitors and their names from the Church Bell(s).  In the 19th Century it obviously occurred to someone that a tavern at the junction of the Frome/Trowbridge turnpike road and the path that continued to Westbury and Salisbury Plain would be profitable.  So it has proved, perhaps increasingly so as other Pubs in the village of Rode declined and closed and as the amount of traffic along the modern A. 361 road shows no signs of decreasing.  We do not know how old this Pub is.  It is listed in the 1841 Census of Road with Thomas Darvell as keeper, but in 1843 two Excise Entries were made, the first on 11th March and the second on 3rd October by Charles Mead and James Thomas Franklin respectively, each declaring:


“A Brewhouse marked BH containing a Mash Tun marked MT. Also six rooms marked No. 1 SR, No. 2 SR. No. 3 SR, No 4 SR, No. 5 SR. and No. 6 SR for the purpose of Brewing and Storing of Beer, Ale, Porter, Cider, Spirits and Tobacco for sale.  Also one room for Malt and Hops

The Brewhouse is in the yard in front of my dwelling.  No 1 is my Bar”.


38.         However in the details of an auction held on 18th June 1877 the Bell is described as “newly built”!  Perhaps this latter referred to a re-build. Like many other Pubs the Bell had clearly brewed its own beer but on 8th January 1884 there was a sale of “the valuable BREWING PLANT and other effects, comprising excellent 210 gallon copper… 15 bushel new oak mash tub… 2 deal coolers, Underback, copper bottom hop strainer…tin wort pump…new malt mill… 5 capital store pieces sound and sweet [amounting altogether to 2,767 gallons capacity] and many 18 and 9 gallon carriage casks, etc., etc.” It is interesting to speculate if Sidney Fussell bought any of this equipment, but we have no evidence.


39.       Through Directories we have an almost complete list of the various tenants and owners of the Bell up to the time of writing. Perhaps the best known of recent years was Mr. Robert (Bob) Eke who, with his wife, between 1974 and 1986, raised over £10,000 for the ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ Charity.  The inn belonged at one time to the Lamb Brewery of Frome, which amalgamated with Frome United Breweries Co. Ltd. in the 1950s, to become Frome and Lamb Ltd.; however, by 1959/60, that Company had been taken over by Ushers of Trowbridge, which in turn ceased trading in the year 2000. Mr. Richard Vesty is its latest owner as we write.







40.      On 25th March 1857 Henry Fussell, founder of the family Brewery business, bought the Cross Keys ‘Home Brewed House’ in Upper (now High) Street from Silas Dainton “for a consideration of £85” and an undertaking to pay off the existing Mortgage of £250 (a total of some £23,890 at 2005 prices!).  He would also have paid for the equipment there and the stock, though we do not know how much: we do not know how Henry financed these purchases, nor how in due time he paid off Dainton’s mortgage, let alone the costs of transferring his bakery business and shop from Lower Street. We do not have details of Henry’s insurance arrangements in 1857 or later, but as a guide to his likely insurance cover we can quote details from the two previous occupants of the Cross Keys Inn and Brewhouse.  These were that in 1835 John Pritchard insured the premises for £500, his household goods and personal effects for £200 and his stock and brewing utensils etc., for £200: then in 1844 Silas Dainton insured his household goods for £80 and his stock and brewing utensils for £220. (In 1852 Silas bought the Cross Keys at Public Auction when he was also the tenant, which explains why in 1844 he was not at that time responsible for insuring the premises).  But by 1857, as we have seen, brewing was already well established in our village.  So, we will see, were the Fussell family.


41.       The Title Deeds of the Cross Keys were certainly held in 1986 at the offices of Bass (Wales and West) at Cardiff but their whereabouts until recently and despite extensive enquiries, could not be established: thanks to the present owners of the Cross Keys many have now been recovered and we have been able to study them. The Deeds go back as far as 1730, when the then owner, one Jos Hawkins, took out a mortgage of the premises.  Ownership passed to a B. Hawkins (Jos’ son and a minor at the time) two years later.  After several further proceedings it was leased and then conveyed by a J. Sloper to a group headed by Mr. J. Brettel in 1809.  The first reference to there being an actual Brewhouse at the Cross Keys was in a Conveyance dated 29th September 1818 (Thomas to Pritchard), viz. “Messuage Tenement or dwelling house commonly called or known as the Cross Keys with the Brewhouse, Outhouses, yard and garden thereto adjoining and belonging”  [our underlining].  We know that in 1830 the tenant (rather than owner) was a Jacob Cockrell, whose relation William ran the Red Lion Inn in 1831 before Mr. Francis (see Para. 35 above).


42.         On 11th October 1836 the premises were formally conveyed to “Mr. John Pritchard and his Trustee”, though Pritchard must have, de facto, accepted responsibility somewhat earlier for on 22nd December 1836 an Insurance Policy he had taken out described him as “Innkeeper and Victualler”. The premiums gave cover of £500 for “…his own Dwelling House, Brewhouse and Cellars all adjoining and communicating”, with an additional £200 for his household and personal effects, and a further £200 for brewing stock and utensils.  In 1839 Pritchard made new Entries for the local Excise Comptroller, which will be discussed in Para. 65 et seq. below.  Pritchard’s occupancy is confirmed in Pigot’s Directory of 1842 but he died intestate in 1844 and his son (also a John Pritchard) took on the property and business from a Lydia Hart (perhaps the former Trustee?).  The papers of 1844 again include “…Brewhouse, Outhouses, Yard and Garden…”


43.           In 1845 Silas Dainton, who had previously been a butcher, formally became the younger Pritchard’s tenant; Dainton insured his family goods for £80 and his stock and utensils for £220.  In May 1844 he had made a similar Entry to the Excise Comptroller as earlier Pritchard had done, but possibly the latter had not prospered for he put the premises up for sale on 1st September 1852 and it was then that Silas Dainton bought them for £290, the formal Conveyance dating from November of that year; he set the Insurance of his property to £150, the stock value remaining unchanged.  But perhaps Dainton also found the work too exacting for he made a good sale to Henry Fussell (see Para. 40 above), and clearly by the time of Henry’s purchase in 1857, the Cross Keys had already gained a familiar place in Road life.




44.         Henry Fussell’s father, Thomas Fussell, was baptised at Hemington, Somerset in 1776; Henry’s grandfather, another Thomas, was buried at Hemington on 8th December 1775.  However we do not know whether baby Thomas (Henry’s father) was born before grandfather Thomas died or not, nor do we know the occupation grandfather Thomas followed. We can however safely surmise that as a consequence of his early death at about age 28 years his children would have had a humble upbringing.  Grandfather Thomas’ widow, Sarah, re-married in 1779.


45.       Young Thomas (Henry’s father) is thought to have moved to Road in the late 1790s, where he married Mary Daniel (who was born at Buckland Dinham c.1777) at St. Lawrence Church, Road at the end of September 1798.  The earliest reference we have found of his occupation was at the baptism of Henry (his sixth child) in 1813, when he was described as ‘Husbandman’. The 1840 Tithe Redemption Map of Rode and Woolverton shows him working two pieces of land.  One, owned by the Executors of the late T. W. Ledyard (the Clothier), was a wedge-shaped piece of land to the SW of the Brook and below the Road Hill end of Lower Street. The second was described as “late Payne’s”, owned by Widow Sarah Wheeler, out beyond Park Gate Lane and on the edge of Beckington Parish. In addition Thomas was also both owner and occupier of two properties in the part of our village which in his days fell within the Tything of Southwick, viz. (firstly) “House, Shop and Garden opposite Towsey’s” (described in an 1844 Insurance Policy as “Brick, stone and tiled”) and (secondly) “Orchard and Garden off Farthing Road” The one-time ‘Towseys’, a shop, is itself opposite No. 18 Lower Street, and is now Brook House. (Photo 8 shows it in 1903).  No. 18 (“Bellsburn, the one-time “Heath’s Stores”) (Photo. 9) has a large rising garden to the rear.  The “orchard and garden off Farthing Road” is probably that mentioned in a Conveyance of 7th August 1884 (Adam Fussell to George Holland) and on part of which White Cottage now stands. Both the 1841 and 1851 Censuses indeed confirm Thomas was living in the part of Lower Street within Wiltshire and he is described in them as an “Agricultural Labourer”.  He so described himself in his Will, made on 4th June 1839, witnessed by Thomas Bunn and William Freeman. Freeman was a tailor, living in Road whose daughter Ellen was already married to Henry Fussell.  His Executors were named as Henry Batten Poole (sic) and Thomas Batten Poole (sic). It may be that at some time Thomas had worked for the Batten Poolls or perhaps the Executors’ role was simply because Henry Batten Pooll was a J.P. Thomas Fussell died on 11th January 1859 and his Will was proved at Salisbury by the oath of Henry Batten Pooll, the surviving Executor. Thomas was laid to rest at Buckland Dinham where his wife Mary had been buried in the early part of 1853.


46.       At the time of Thomas’ arrival in Road, there were families of Fussells at Mells and in villages near to it, who were well known and successful as Ironmasters famous for their edge tools. Whilst it is possible that the Fussells at Hemington and those at Mells and elsewhere were related there is to date

only hearsay evidence of any relationship.  The baptism registers at Hemington show that there were Fussells living there continuously from the 1680s; earlier references are found as far back as the late 1500s.


47.       The earliest recorded evidence of a Fussell in Road is the baptism at St. Lawrence Church on 23rd January 1763 of Rachel, daughter of John and Mary Fussell; this was followed on 30th November 1766 by the Baptism of their daughter Mary.  On 16th November 1767, after Banns had been called on 1st November, Robert Fussell then aged about 19, married Mary Sammels at St. Lawrence. Robert and Mary were both stated to be “of this Parish”; they did not sign the marriage register, but made their marks. Another marriage followed on 25th December 1767 at St. Lawrence, after banns had been called, between John Fussell and Susannah Slade. John and Susannah were also stated to be “of this Parish” but they both signed the register.  On 27th March 1766 Joseph, the son of Robert and Mary Fussell, was baptised at St. Lawrence; then on 25th June 1769 Ann, daughter of John and Susannah Fussell, was baptised there. Following that their daughter Betty was baptised there on 20th January 1771.  The John whose wife Mary was buried at St. Lawrence on 18th February 1776 was clearly not the same John as the one who married Susannah Slade on 25th December 1767.  On 21st March 1779, after Mary’s death in 1776, John, then described as a widower, married Sarah Keevil at St. Lawrence, both being recorded as residents of the parish. This John and his Sarah made their marks in the marriage register.


48.       On 3rd April 1772 a John Fussell and a Robert Fussell were separately examined on oath by the presiding Magistrates to establish whether or not they had a right to settle in the parish of Road and, as a consequence, be entitled to Poor Relief in the event of their becoming needy.  Both men told the Magistrates that they were born in Norton St. Philip; John said he was about 49 years of age and that he had a wife named Mary and three children (Elizabeth 18, Rachel 9, and Mary 5). John made his mark on the document. Robert said he was about 24 years old, had a wife named Mary and two children (Joseph about 4 and Benjamin about 1¼ years). Robert signed his name to the document. Both described themselves as ‘Scriblers’ (sic.) (i.e. wool carders), residing in the parish of Road. Although the available information does not provide the relationship of John and Robert to one another it seems most likely that they were father and son, both having been born at Norton St. Philip. Assuming this is correct, it probably follows that the children of John and Mary Fussell were Robert and John (who married Susannah Slade) as well as Elizabeth, Rachel and Mary.  Although there is a gap of some years between the recorded ages of Robert and Elizabeth, and between Elizabeth and Rachel, there were perhaps other children who, by the 3rd April 1772, had left their parents’ home.


49.       At his settlement examination Robert Fussell stated that when he was about 13 years of age his father put him to Mr. Jonathan Noad of Road to be his servant for the term of three years and to learn the art of scribling (sic.) wool.  It seems that Noad thought Robert (who had signed his name) had some potential because he sent him to work for Mr. Elderton, of St. Mary’s parish, Aldermanbury, London, who was a woollen factor of Blackwell Hall.  Other baptisms and burials were recorded in the respective registers of St. Lawrence before banns were called on 8th September 1798 for the marriage of Thomas Fussell and Mary Daniel.  Although present research has not established that any of the Fussells mentioned above were related to Thomas it is quite possible that there was a relationship in view of the proximity of Norton St. Philip to Hemington.


50.       There were also other Fussells in our village by the time of the first census in 1841, some of whom were the descendants of Robert and Mary; one was Joseph, born in 1768. He was a wool spinner who with his wife Elizabeth, a wool picker, and their son Benjamin (born at Crewkerne) lived at Townsend (the far end of our modern High Street by the entrance to the Mead).  A George Fussell married Mary Goodenough at St. Lawrence on 8th December 1800 after banns were called there on 16th November; both made their marks in the register and were residents of the parish. It is assumed that they are the same couple that were recorded in the 1841 census as George and Martha Fussell living at Gunston’s Barton.  Martha was buried at St. Lawrence on 26th September 1841, aged 62.  A George Fussell was buried there on 22nd June 1845, aged 80; it is likely that he was the father of the younger George.  In the 1851 census George Fussell, widower, born at Hinton, was living as a lodger at Poorhouse Lane, aged 67. On 2nd July 1851 he was buried at St. Lawrence; his age, given as 77, might have been an error for 67.


51.       The Will of Thomas, who as we read in Para. 45 above died in January 1859, left his modest estate to be divided equally between his six children, his wife Mary having pre-deceased him in 1853.  These children were William (1799), John (1801), Elizabeth (1803), Sarah (1805), James (1808) and the youngest, Henry (1813). It is the latter who will soon become the central character of our story, but, meantime, what of the others?


52.         We know little of the eldest, William, save that he married Sarah Rodgers at St. Lawrence on 25th December 1819; we know that they lived in the Wiltshire part of Rode from the fact that when they tried to settle in the Parish of Road the presiding magistrates ordered that they be removed and conveyed to the Parish of North Bradley where they had legal settlement. It is interesting that a person in those days without some means had no right even to cross the street to live if that involved changing from one Parish to another. John with his wife, another Sarah, established himself as a farmer in a small way and lived for many years at Barrow House, Rode before his retirement, this possibly having been one of the old manor houses. It later fell into disrepair and a new one now stands on Barrow Farm. Elizabeth never married, but lived in Road all her life until her death in 1880, whilst Sarah married James Watt at Road in 1828, dying here on 29th January 1892, and leaving no issue.  James married twice; firstly Ann Little at North Bradley, and she was buried at the Baptist Chapel in Road on 15th, September 1859, aged 55.  Secondly on 26th June 1864 at Christ Church, Rode Hill, he married Betsy Wells, who was born at Heytesbury.  She was a widow with a daughter by her first marriage.  James was buried at St. Lawrence on 27th December 1891, aged 84; Betsy in her turn was buried there barely a month later on 29th January 1892, aged 82.  Of the seven children of James and Ann known to have survived, two sons married Osborne sisters of Road before they, with their wives and children and their brother Thomas, emigrated to New Zealand.


53.       To return now to Henry, who married a local girl, Ellen Freeman, born in 1813, on 11th September 1833, at North Bradley.  They subsequently settled in Lower Street near his parents, again in the Wiltshire part of Road. A notice of sale of properties by the Trustees of the late James Daniel on 8th February 1839 at the Red Lion Inn describes Lot 1 as “ A messuage or dwelling house, with the outhouses, walled garden, roomy yard and other appurtenances adjoining the Red Lion (our underlining) in the Parish of Road and North Bradley, occupied by Mr. Henry Fussell, Grocer and Shopkeeper.” Was this the No. 1, Lower Street of our days? (Photo. 10). The selling price appears to have been £160 and we can deduce that the buyer was “James Pike, Junior, of Road, Gentleman” for he insured the premises “occupied by Henry Fussell, Grocer” for £100. Henry appears as Tenant on Insurance policies dated 1847 and 1852 and the 1851 Census of Road Hill.  There are two points of interest here. Was the James Daniel a relation of the wife of Thomas Fussell?  Why was Henry’s wedding at North Bradley, when Christ Church on Rode Hill was much closer?  We do not know the answer to the first question but the answer to the second is that, though Christ Church was consecrated in 1824, it was not solemnized for marriages until 1852.  Father Thomas meanwhile was still working on the land and Henry’s mother Mary had, by the time her son was married, become a laundress. By 1841 Pigot’s Directory has Henry established as a Baker and he was purveying groceries and sundries.  He and Ellen now had three girls and a boy (Ann was born on 12th November 1833, though not baptised until 10th April 1836, Elizabeth 1835/36, Mary born 1838 and William Henry born 1839), their third child George having died in infancy in 1838.  By 1851 Sarah (1842), Fanny (1844) Virtue 1846) and Sidney (1850) had been added to the total and three further sons, Thomas (1852), a second George 1855) and Frederick (1859) had completed the family. But later it was to be Sidney who would occupy the centre of our historical stage.




54.       Progression from dealing with yeast for baking to dealing with yeast for brewing seems quite logical and Henry and Ellen and their family, as we have seen, moved from Lower Street to the Cross Keys in 1857, when Sidney would have been a boy of six or seven years of age. However, the Church Rate Book for April 1862 shows Henry still occupying a cottage in Lower Street.  Perhaps he had not yet enough space for all the family at the Pub, or was holding onto his former home lest the Cross Keys venture did not take off.  His grandmother Mary had died in 1853 and his grandfather Thomas was soon to do so in 1859, so now Sidney’s father Henry was the businessman of the family. The Census of 1861 shows Henry as “Innkeeper/Baker”, with his wife Ellen as “Shopkeeper”; some of the older children still seem to have been living at home with their parents and to have been involved in the business.  We see Mary (aged 24) as “Shop Assistant”, William as “Journeyman Baker” and Fanny (aged 16) as “Barmaid”. The Post Office Directory of 1866 confirms “Fussell, Henry, Cross Keys Inn and Grocer and Baker”. By 1873 his daughter Elizabeth was living independently in a house in Church Row.


55.       Henry died on 6th May 1875, aged 62 and an Inventory and Valuation (Ref. 7) of his stock in trade, Household Furniture and other effects on his death amounted to £115 16s 6d (about £8,285 in 2005), including Brewing Plant, though not of course the property itself (see Para. 72 below).  The inventory was arranged in Sections, the order of sections probably reflecting the sequence of the assessors’ work.  First was the Yard (including an Apple Mill and Cider Press), then Garden (“the growing crop of vegetables”), Beer House (listing Copper Furnace, Oak Mash Tub, Oak Underback, 3 deal Coolers and stands etc.), Pump House and Loft, Cellar (inc. 2 casks and some barrels), Bakehouse, Meal Loft, [Baker’s] Shop and Pantry, Tap Room, Bar, Kitchen and four Bedrooms. It also included a horse and trap. We will be referring to some of these things later in our story.  Four years after his father’s death, in 1879, Sidney married Hannah Maria Noad, daughter of John Noad, and granddaughter of James Noad, a local butcher. Henry’s widow Ellen died in 1878 just before Sidney’s marriage.  By his will Henry left Ellen a life interest in his business and directed that on her death his estate was to be divided equally amongst their eleven surviving children. Prior to his marriage Sidney was living at the Cross Keys, from which we must assume that he was helping his mother to run the business; following their marriage Sidney and Hannah made their home at the Cross Keys. He was clearly shrewd enough to appreciate that a ‘Soviet’ of eleven owners could not be efficient and in his marriage year of 1879 he started to buy out the interests of each of his brothers and sisters for cash so that by 1886 he was the sole owner of Pub, Brewery, Bakery and Grocery businesses. As in the case of his father’s purchase of the business (See Para. 40 above), we do not know how Sidney financed the acquisition of his brothers’ and sisters’ shares in the business left to them under the terms of their father’s will, once their mother had died in 1878:  neither, in the absence of accounts, do we know how he distributed the others’ shares of the profits earned in the years before his buyout.  What is clear, however, is that his clear aim was of improving the lot of his own close family, which was already growing; in all there were to be six sons and two daughters, but we will concentrate on those who were subsequently to play a direct part in the Brewery.


56.       Sidney and Hannah’s first child, Percy John (“Mr. Percy” or “P. J.”) as he was to be known in the years to come, was born on 28th July 1880; he was to die on 18th July 1964.  The second son, Henry Sidney, referred to here as “Old Henry”, was born on 7th November 1882, and lived until 5th November 1958. The third son, Howard Noad Fussell, was born in the early part of 1886 (baptised on 25th April 1886) and died during the First World War (see Para. 135 below).  The fourth son, Leonard Noad Fussell, (born 1888) was in the Royal Flying Corps and he survived until 1953.  Wilfred was born in 1890 and Reginald Godfrey Fussell, also to play a key part in the firm, was born in 1892, twelve years after “P. J.”  Sidney and Hannah and their family moved from the Cross Keys to live at Mayfield House (then owned by the Batten Pooll family) around 1910, Sidney dying there in 1913.   After Sidney’s death, his widow remained in the family home with her sons and daughters, including P.J., until the latter’s first marriage in 1918.  Widow Hannah then ceased to be the occupier and moved with the rest of her family to Elm Cottage (No. 12 Church Lane) (See Para. 126 etc below).  She died on 24th May 1932 and was buried at St. Lawrence Church, Road.  100 Brewery employees attended the funeral service and one of the firm’s vehicles had to be used to carry the very large number of floral tributes. For many years afterwards Ethel Minnie Fussell, daughter of Sidney and Hannah, continued to live at Elm Cottage.  P.J. and his first wife Augusta Adeline lived at Mayfield House until her death in December 1934.  She had died at Bognor Regis whilst convalescing after an operation at the Forbes Fraser Hospital in Bath.  P.J. remained there after her death, having bought the house from the Batten Pooll estate a few years earlier and indeed he died there. “Old Henry” in due course moved to Southfield House, which had been bought by the Company, together with other properties, from Captain C.H.C. Noad, on 31st May 1915 for £1,100; it would be sold at auction in 1972 by Bass after their 1962 take-over for £14,000 to Mr. Richard Oatley.  In 1940 Reginald Godfrey Fussell built and moved into Ten Acres in Crooked Lane, having lived first at No. 43 High Street (Prospect Villa) between 1921 and 1931and then at St. Helens (No. 8, High Street).


57.          The business continued to flourish under Sidney’s sole ownership and Kelly’s Directory of Somerset of 1902 makes reference to “Fussell, Sidney, Cross Keys Inn, Brewer and Baker. Good accommodation for cyclists”. Clearly tourism was starting to reach Road! Adverts of 1904 and later make it clear that Sidney was delivering beers and stouts locally and was purveying wines and spirits. (See Appendix F).





58.         Source Material:  We have either found or been given many documents which have been very useful.  Early on we found three papers bearing on the layout of the whole site.  The first (Ref. 8) (“The Block Plan”) (see Fig. 19) is thought to be by the late Mr. P.J. Fussell (see Para. 56 above) and illustrates the broad sequence of erection of the groups of new buildings on the site from (say) 1935 to 1939 (though it also shows earlier ones). Ref. 8 may have been prepared for Rating Valuation purposes and notwithstanding that it presents all the spaces as if they be on a single storey it has proved very useful to us.  The second) (Ref. 9) seems to be for similar purposes.  It has an amended version of Ref. 8 as its cover page, then a stylised version of this latter, and finally a table giving details of the buildings’ spaces as of October 1959.  The third (Ref. 10) has outline floor plans of the buildings c. 1962/63 (i.e. during the Bass era).  We have added five more since these three above, the first three of these in 1999.  Ref. 11, prepared for Swan Hill Homes, developers of the Brewery site by a partnership of local historical architects, was only published in a limited edition.  Ref. 12 is a survey report on the site by what is now English Heritage.  It draws on Ref. 11 and both Refs. 11 and 12 owe much to earlier work of ours.  We nonetheless acknowledge the considerable help that these two have given to our work.  However Refs. 13 and 14, found among the Files left by the late Mr. Paul Stacey, are copies of two Specifications, dated 12th February 1904, for building work to be done on the site (and accounts for the actual work done then). These two show that some of the detail in Refs. 11 and 12 needs amending.  Refs. 13 and 14 help to deduce an accurate narrative of what happened at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.  We have attached Refs. 13 and 14 as Appendixes A and B.  After these we have put at Appendix D a document acquired in 2002, which shows a Valuation for rating purposes dated 14th February 1905.  The significance of this will become clear in due course and we will introduce other papers as our narrative develops


59.         Figures and Diagrams:  Ref. 8 and Ref. 9 (with its detailed floor plans of buildings) use compatible systems of numbering spaces and we have used these numbers in our text and pictures where we feel they may help the reader.  We have also placed a scaled diagram of the spaces as of c. 1962 as the last entry in our list of Figures and Diagrams. (Fig. 30).


60.       Our purpose and our problems:  Ref. 11 contains a veritable wealth of valuable architectural information, but this is not of direct interest to the general reader for whom this history is intended, so this detail has been omitted.  Also the absence of Deeds of the properties concerned in parts of the story means that some essential evidence is missing.  In some cases this means that we have had to reconcile a number of apparently conflicting clues (written records, personal recollections, and what has till lately been on-site) to produce our best resolution of what has occurred over the years; this has continued to develop as each new piece of evidence has come forward.  However, we do not consider that any ‘pruning’ done or ‘educated guesses’ made in what follows have had any significantly adverse effect on the broad accuracy of the story we present; importantly, the clearance of the site in the spring and summer of 2002 including the demolition of most of the buildings on it to make way for new houses and flats, has allowed us to see features hidden for many years, and to refine our story.  We have been impressed at how this “fresh view” has served to confirm much of what Refs. 11 and 12 have already set out.


61.       Phases of our History: What we saw at the start of the new Millennium has come about over perhaps 300 years.  In the early days change was modest and relatively slow, but from the time when the Fussell family became involved the pace of change accelerated. The mid 19th and first part of the 20th centuries saw a great number of expansions and alterations and, as with Refs. 2 and 6, we have felt it best to deal with these in Phases as far as we have been able to do. However, as the Cross Keys Inn itself is at the hub of everything that went on, it is helpful to deal with this in its entirety, before dealing with the Brewery buildings.






62.       We noted in Para. 41 above that the earliest written record of the Cross Keys is in a mortgage dated 4th May 1730, but Ref. 11 suggests that its oldest (‘core’) part is consistent with a build date somewhere in the 1600s. Fig 2 shows this area of the High Street in about 1900, but as seen from the High Street in 2001 (Photo. 11) this oldest part is to the left (east) of the modern front door, with the original right-hand (west) corner being just to the left (east) of the first floor window above this door.  Some of the alignment of the stonework in this area is not inconsistent with this.  Ref. 11 tells us that this building of the 1600s probably had two modest sized rooms on its first floor, two on the ground floor and a cellar.  The ventilation grating and the tops of the two grilled windows of the cellar were clearly visible just above street level in the 1990s  (Photo. 12) after pavement repairs.  The three levels of this early building were probably connected by a half-spiral stair in the southwest corner of the chimneybreast – which in those early days formed the right hand (west) wall of the building.


63.         In the 1700s the Inn appears to have been one of a row of cottages, with one or more of the row on its right hand (west) side and the others on its left (east) side.  These latter left hand (easterly) dwellings may have been demolished during the building of the United Counties Reading Rooms c. 1887 (also covered in Ref. 11) or perhaps even earlier.  We should also note here that the western limit of the Reading Rooms and their land to the immediate south was to mark the eastern limit of the Cross Keys property for many years, indeed until the purchase by Henry Sidney Fussell of Orneage Farm in the 1920s (see Para. 146 et seq. below).  However Para. 86 below suggests that a little further south the Fussells easterly boundaries extended as far east as the rear of Ivy House long before the 1920s.


64.         Extending the accommodation of a cottage in the middle of a row such as this would only be possible by building on at the back (south) and the Cross Keys seems to have had such an extension made on both above ground floors, though not to the cellar.  The words of the 1730 mortgage point to this – “…Cross Keys Inn Road… with the outhouses, Backside [our underlining] and garden…” A look at both the outside and inside of the post WWII Skittle Alley in April 2000 (later structurally changed) showed a difference in window design between its northern and southern parts (see Para. 77 below).  The cottage on the right hand (westerly) side of the Cross Keys is likely to have had a similar “Backside” extension built and a stylised extract from the 1840 Tithe Map of Road (Fig. 3) gives support to this view.


65.            We do not know for certain where the original front door of the ‘core’ building was, but we may safely conclude that it lay between the two left hand (east) ground floor windows seen in our Photo. 11.  Ref. 1 shows that on 22nd June 1839 John Pritchard (see Para. 42 above) made a fresh Entry to the local Excise Comptroller thus:


“I, John Pritchard of Road…do now make Entry of one Brewhouse marked BH containing one Mash Tun marked MT.  Also two Store Rooms marked No. 1 SR and No. 2 SR for the purpose of storing of Beer, Ale, Spirits and Tobacco for sale.  The first of these Entered Rooms is my Bar on the left as you enter my front door.  The second is on the right hand side and the Brewhouse is in the Yard behind my Dwelling House, marked and distinguished as aforesaid…

The Brewhouse is up the Yard behind the Dwelling House.  No. 1 SR is my Bar facing the street and No. 2 SR is on the left hand side of the passage as you enter my front door.”


66.         Silas Dainton made a similar entry (see Para. 43 above) on 20th May 1844 as follows:

 “I Silas Dainton…of a Brewhouse marked BH containing one Mash Tun marked MT.  Two cellars for string [sic] of Beer for Sale Marked No. 1 and No. 2. Two rooms for storing of Foreign and British Spirits and Tobacco for sale marked No. 3 and 4.  One room for storing of Malt and Hops marked M and H.  All the above Entered Rooms are in and attached to my Dwelling House…

The Brewhouse is in the Yard behind the Dwelling House and the Malt and Hop Room over.  No. 1 Cellar is on the right hand side of the passage and Nos. 2 and 3 on the left and No. 4 is the Bar”

Note: The ‘Malt and Hop Room over’ would definitely not have been a platform (see Para. 87    below) due to the need for good dry storage for the malt and hops.


67.         There are some minor uncertainties about the two accounts such as whether a particular “Entered Room” was to the right or left of the entrance, and whether there was one or two cellars in this period.  This latter point will hopefully be resolved in Paras. 83 et seq. below, but the abiding impression of the ‘core’ building in the 1830s/1840s is one with a front door opening off the High Street with rooms opening to left and right off a passage behind this door.  We also know that before 1813 the garden was south of the Inn somewhere, for that was the year when the yard to the west of the Inn was bought. We still are not completely sure where the garden was though we were sure it existed as we had documentary evidence. For example (see Para. 55 above), the Inventory and Valuation of Henry Fussell’s property on his death includes “Yard…Garden [the growing crop of vegetables], Beer house…etc.  However what we are sure was the original well of the Cross Keys was found in June 2003 (Photos. 13 and 14), and since almost all wells of old properties were in their gardens we are tempted to site the garden near the well (See Paras. 77 and 80 below).


68.       Henry Fussell was of course a Baker and Grocer before he became an Innkeeper, and one supposes that, certainly in the early years of his ownership of the Cross Keys, the bakery business was vital to him. We do know that some time after 1840 and more likely between his purchase of the Inn in 1857 and his death in 1875 the cottage (or cottages) to the west of the Inn in the row were demolished (Fig. 4).  Immediately to the west of the ‘core’ a passage was created leading south from the Inn to the rear of the premises, and to the west of this passage two new double-storey rooms (but no cellar) were built, the ground floor ones having a lower floor level than the ones on the other side of the passage, due to the natural fall of the ground.  We assume that around this period the earlier front door and the passage behind it were removed and the space left was incorporated into the existing rooms and a new staircase to the first floor was constructed.  A yard, possibly acquired by previous owners in 1813, lay to the immediate west of these new rooms, with an entrance off Upper Street [as now] and gave access to the rear of the complex, where it joined the rest of the yard and other buildings to the south of the passage.  Ref. 11 implies that on the extreme west of this yard there was a “long narrow building”, presumably on the evidence of the 1902 O.S.Map, but, bearing in mind that we now know that the major rebuild was at least a couple of years later than assumed by Ref. 11, it is more than likely that this “narrow building” was in fact Rosa Perrott’s cottage (see Para. 96 et seq).


69.       The new front room on the ground floor became the Baker’s Shop, with its own entrance from Upper Street and that to the rear (south) became the Bakehouse (probably with the Meal Loft over) (Figs. 2 and 4 again).  These two replaced Henry’s former premises in Lower Street (Photo. 10 again).  The west end wall of this new section (Ref. 11, Fig. 5 and our Fig. 5) then must have looked pretty much as it does today, though the chimney has been shortened.  Both Baker’s Shop and Bakehouse can be seen to be two-storey and windows can be seen in the upper floor of the Bakehouse. We know from the 1875 Valuation mentioned in Para. 58 above that there were then four bedrooms for the family on the first floor of the Cross Keys and this is confirmed by a later valuation (Ref. 15). So the first floor rooms above the Bakehouse and perhaps the Baker’s Shop may have been either for more bedrooms or for storage including meal.  The passage-way between the two parts of the premises, north and south, later covered in, led to a yard in rear which joined the one on the west side. The original Stable(s) for the horses that pulled the Fussells’ vans stood where part of the new [Tower] Brewhouse was to be built just after the turn of the century, and were pulled down at about the same time as the rebuild.  (See Para. 104 et seq below).  It is likely that a Cart Shed was sited to the west of these Stables and may have abutted the western Fussells’ boundary. Photo. 15 shows one of the vans (No. 3) in the village around 1900. The man at the horse’s head is Mr. Arthur Rose, who was born in 1855.  The new Pub entrance, the entrance to the Baker’s Shop and the pillars of the entrance to the yard from Upper Street can all clearly be seen in our Fig.  2.


Subsequent Developments


70.       Baking stopped during World War I, due to shortage of staff as more and more men were called up to serve in the Forces (see Para. 136 et seq below), and to the increase in demand for beer.  It never resumed after the War; presumably it was no longer necessary for the family’s finances, or perhaps it was becoming a distraction from the more profitable brewing activities. Moreover there were several other bakers in the village.  The Baker’s Shop became a room licensed for use by the customers of the Pub, and its separate door and entrance were removed.  Whilst we cannot be certain about the use to which the Bakehouse was put at this time it is possible it became the site where the first dynamo and its switchboard were installed.  This may have been in 1921, as we know that Reginald Godfrey Fussell visited Pylle Manor, near Shepton Mallet then, to inspect a generator newly installed there by Col. Garton of Manbré & Garton (suppliers of brewing sugars to Fussells).  We do not know that this visit did result in Fussells acquiring a dynamo etc., but Reginald Godfrey had been training to become an electrical engineer before he joined the army in 1915 and he might well have advised the Fussells Directors about the suitability of such an installation.  As to the date we have the evidence of a Sun Insurance Policy of 1921: we believe that besides lighting the premises this generator also provided power to drive equipment.  As the expansion of the Brewing side of the business continued, more and more buildings were raised on the site, which took in more land to the east. Major expansion to the south was unfortunately constricted by the boundary with Orneage Farm. However, when Henry Sidney Fussell bought Orneage Farm on 24th June 1920 the importance of its acquisition to Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd. must be stressed.  Although the farm remained in his ownership until he conveyed it to the Company on 30th June 1934, from 1920 onwards he had provided the Company with access to land on which greatly needed developments could and did take place.  (See Para. 146 below).  We go into the extensions further in Para. 112 et seq below.


71.         Today, in the early years of the new Millenium, it is often difficult to date each structure precisely, but the growth in both Henry’s and Sidney’s days must have required the potential for greater sales to be balanced against the resources available to fund the work needed to achieve the increase. We have gained some inkling of what went on in Sidney’s early days from Refs. 16 and 17, which we will consider in due course and as a separate but important issue the place of farming in the Fussell’s story needs to receive attention.  Essentially, what has farming to do with our story of Brewing in Rode?  Basically, Brewing, apart from adequate supplies of water, is very much dependent on the supply of barley and hops (our Para. 14 above).  Fussells never grew either of these two latter crops but they could be and were bought in.  The other essential, in the days when horses were needed to pull drays for beer and vans for bread, was for a supply of grass, hay and straw.  The latter (for animal bedding and, chopped, for feed) could be purchased, but from the first days after Henry bought the Cross Keys and Brew house and moved his Bakery from Lower Street he, and later the Company, would have needed fields for both grazing and haymaking.  Perhaps his brother John, a farmer at Barrow Farm (see Para. 52 above), provided him with grazing accommodation; John had been a party to the conveyance of the Cross Keys Inn to Henry in 1857.  Later still, as motor transport was introduced, there would be other considerations.  We will cover these aspects too as our story unfolds.


72.         Funding of Henry’s and Sidney’s Improvements.:  We have already introduced this subject in Paras. 40 and 55 above but to continue all the works we have so far recorded, not to mention the larger projects yet to come, needed cash to accomplish them, and it is worth pausing a while to explore again the financial position of the two generations of the Fussell family after their move from Lower Street in 1857. Henry had paid Silas Dainton £85 in cash for the Cross Keys premises and had undertaken to pay off the existing Mortgage of £250, a total of £335. In addition Henry would have paid Silas Dainton for the valuation of the trade equipment, stock, etc.  Though his Bakery and Grocery business was already well established by the time of the move we do not know its worth, nor do we know what income it brought in.  Henry died in 1875 and after the death of his widow (Ellen) in 1879 his total estate was valued at £550.  This seems only a modest increase (£215 in 22 years) but besides keeping a large family Henry had also built the Baker’s Shop/Bakehouse extension. After Sidney became sole owner of the business in 1885, if not before, we will see below that expenditure was incurred on the brewery buildings leading up to the major extensions in 1904; on the acquisition of some land and cottages; and the building of the Stables; All these took place before the Company of Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd. was formed in 1909 (See Para. 128. below), and the presumption must be that such acquisitions and building extensions were paid for out of the business under Sidney’s successful ownership.  If not so it is unlikely that Sidney would have been able to afford to take forward the 1904 works (nor indeed would he have wanted to do them).  We must also remember  (Para. 55 above) that by 1886 Sidney’s finances were good enough for him to have bought out the interests of his ten siblings and to become sole owner.  We will see that by 1904 the Brewing business had spread beyond the limits of Road Village and by then employed people other than his family.  Evidence of this includes the witnessing of the Conveyance by Rosa Perrott to Sidney Fussell of her Cottage (see Para. 96 et seq below) by a “P.L.Stubbs, High Street, Road, Brewer’s Traveller.”(See Para. 33 above).  We will read more of Percy Leonard Stubbs in due course (See Para. 158 below). It is also significant that as early as 1901 Sidney was advertising his business in local newspapers, by way of assurance as to the purity of his products. The Somerset Standard of 16th October 1903 mentions that since 1899 Sidney had employed a Brewer, Mr. Reginald Barton, who left the district in 1903 to become Head Brewer to the South Berkshire Amalgamated Brewery Company of Newbury.  An advert of 1907 mentions that a Mr. A.W. Austin, late of the Silver Street Brewery in Trowbridge, had joined Sidney.  By this time Henry Sidney, Sidney’s second son, would have been 23 years old, and ready to play a responsible role in the business (he would in due course become Head Brewer) so Austin was probably engaged as an agent.  In passing, such trade as Sidney did outside the village would only have been for Private Houses, as the first purchase of any other Pub was not yet on the horizon.  A local advert of 1906 refers to “Fussells Pure Beers and Stouts Brewed only for the Family Trade” [our underlining].




73.         Topography.  Though it means interrupting the chronological flow we will better understand the relationships between the several buildings of differing construction dates by first remembering that the ground rises steadily and significantly from the High Street end of the Brewery site up to the Playing Field (roughly from north to south) and falls (again roughly) from the oldest (eastern) part of the Cross Keys Inn towards the former Baker’s Shop and Bakehouse (now more recently the 20thC [Tower] Brewhouse) and the High Street gates and thence towards the Brook (i.e. from east to west).  It also became clear during the demolition and clearance phase in early 2002, and the subsequent development phase, that there has not only been significant excavation over the years, but also building up of ground (probably to ease the operations of increasingly heavy lorries as the years went by) so that in places it is now difficult to be sure about the original ground levels.  We will see (Para. 112 et seq below) the problem this presents in deciding the exact location of the Beer Stores built c. 1904 and we will also see in Chapter X below how significant this became during the re-development of the Site from 2002 onwards.  However, let us visualise a walk through the front door of the Cross Keys in (say) 2001 to help in understanding how the northern spaces of the later days related to those of the past. (Fig. 6).  This walk will show the results of many years of building and rebuilding (Para. 83 et seq.).


Layout within the Pub


74.         Inside the modern front door of the Pub and on the left of the gently rising central passage was the Main Bar (this had earlier been two rooms) and then its Servery Area, with a Lobby beyond.  In this Lobby, again on the left, a trapdoor gave access to the Pub Cellar below (Para. 62 above).  Beyond the Lobby at this side was a second (Snug?) Bar, which in earlier days was a ready-use store for replenishing the Main Bar and the kitchen.  Then came Cloakrooms; these latter were only built c. 1955 and prior to then there was merely an open Urinal and a W.C., though between the World wars there were fermenting vessels in the long room over this space (where the Skittle Alley conversion would be done in the late 1950s) and also a desk for the Excise Officer. (Significantly what is almost certainly the original well of the Cross Keys was discovered below a manhole in this passage during restoration work in June 2003 and we will return to this later) – since that discovery, Bill Goulter has recalled seeing in his younger days the pump installed by the well.  The area beyond the Cloakrooms and W.C. housed two bottling machines in the 1920s.  At the other side of the passage, at the north end, where the former Baker’s Shop was until World War I (Para. 69 above), was also a ‘snug’ bar before its conversion into the Landlord’s kitchen some time in the 1950s. The north end of this central passage was probably covered over some time in the 20th Century.


75.         Beyond the kitchen (i.e. to the south) was and still is the inner (east) wall of the 20th Century [Tower] Brewhouse.  At this floor level there was once an entry to this Brewhouse (later blocked up by Bass post 1962), and this storey of it (Room 34 of Ref. 10) was well below ground level, as became evident if one viewed it through the gates of the High Street Loading Area to its west.


76.         At the head of the Passage, in the centre, was a set of six concrete steps leading up, with a concrete or plastered brick wall to their left (on right of Photo. 16).  Ascending these steps one found a further set of six steps, this time wooden ones, leading up to the east, and at their top a door opened into the S.W. corner of the Skittle Alley, which, remember, was a Post WW II feature (formerly it had been a Fermenting Room). To the right (west) of the concrete steps a cross-passage, running east and west, led out onto the upper level of the High Street Loading Bay. Until the 1990s, when it was pulled down because it had become dangerous, there was a floor above this passage, which in earlier days gave access from the south end of the 1904 [Tower] Brewhouse (Room 34 again) to older buildings to its south (at that level being referred to as the “Present Fermenting Room”) (Ref. 13).  On the south wall of this passage, mounted high up, was a large wheel for industrial belting. The passage effectively divided the modern (20th Century) Brewery buildings to the north and the 19th century and earlier ones to the immediate south, and further pointers to the relationships can be gained from detailed study of the walls and windows. (Since conversion in 2001/3 these rooms are now letting bedrooms and an office space).


77.         In 1999 the south wall of the Post WW II Skittle Alley showed evidence of two closed-up segmental arch-headed windows, one to the east (Photo. 17) and the other to the west (Photo.18), this latter having a more recent closure cut into it. Previously this opening led up to the lower Cooling Room (o (18)) (See Ref. 10 and Fig. 30). These windows corresponded to closed-up apertures in the north wall of the space over Room 29 (Para. 81 below).  In passing, some 25 feet from the south end of the Skittle Alley’s west wall there was a rounded edge to the wall, hinting that the southern part of what became the Alley was of more recent construction than that to the north.  On the east wall two of the three windows were in this northern section, with the third a good way to the south.  Though this may seem to support suggestions that the original garden of the Cross Keys lay beneath this southern part (see Para. 67 above), considerable study has produced no evidence that this is so; indeed much argues against it.  We have to admit that we still cannot fix the garden’s position with any certainty, save to say that it was somewhere at the rear (south) of the Inn.


78.         If we had then returned to the top of the six concrete steps at the head of the central passage (Photo. 16 again) we would have seen, through the narrow double doors to the south, at ground level Room 29 (Photo. 19), and a wooden staircase leading up at its right; it may once have housed the dynamo (but see Para. 70 above).  To the left, at the foot of the stairs, a door led into Room 30 (the sometime Carpenter’s Shop), which had a small room (our 30A) opening from its east side (once used for storing paint).  In Room 30A’s south side was a large closed-up segmental arch-headed aperture. On the other side of this was the wellhead mechanism (see Photo. 20).  This mechanism was almost certainly of somewhat later date than the well itself and one could trace it back through a series of shafts and gears to a large wheel on the opposite side of the wall to that mentioned in Para. 76 above. The closed up aperture was probably blocked after the digging of this well (see Para. 80 below).  At the north end of the east wall of Room 29 was a wooden door, opening on to another space further to the east, and this also had another space above.  Photo. 21 is a reverse view of this door, taken from the modern Cask-washing Shed (Room 26) (Para. 115 et seq. below).  This space itself had a closed-up square opening in its own south wall.


South of the Pub


79.         We then needed to go back now to the head of the ground level rising passage of Para. 76 above, and to the foot of the concrete steps (Photo. 16 again). Our visit during clearance work in July 2002 confirmed some of our (and others’) earlier beliefs, and we can now be sure that, to the left of the foot of these steps a further set led down to a two-part basement with a double barrel-vaulted roof running east and west. These steps were clearly later than the basement itself, and on their left (east) side was a closed-up segmental arch-headed aperture (Fig. 7) This might have been the original entrance to the building from the brewery yard Alternatively the more modern entrance to the Basement (Photo. 16 once more) might itself have been the original door.  In 2001 there was no exit either to east or west of this basement, but on its western side, past a head-high brick dividing wall, the west wall had two segmental arch-headed windows, set high up, and they got light by being just above the level of the platform of the High Street Loading Bay [before its demolition in 2002].  These can be seen in the centre of Photo. 22.  Those on the left of the Photo. were in the west wall of the 20th Century [Tower] Brewhouse (Para.123 below).


80.         If we had climbed the staircase we recorded in Para. 78 (Photo. 19 again) to the Upper Ground Floor level, the group of spaces opened up can be seen in Photos. 23, 24 and 25.  Fig. 8 shows how they related to other spaces and Fig. 9 shows the general layout of them.  Through what we have called door ‘Y’ of Fig. 9) was another closed-up opening and the mechanism of the wellhead (Photo. 20 again).  Continuing the story of the well, until early 2002 we had assumed that this was the original well, but the Government Report at Ref. 16 strongly suggests a different series of events.  The 1875 valuation (Para. 55 above) placed the Pump House and Loft (and hence presumably also the well) between the [Old] Brewhouse and the [Pub] Cellar and we now know (Para. 74 above) that it was in the central passage – hence the Pump House would have been quite adjacent, sensibly close to the Brewhouse.  Ref. 16 implies that the water supply from that original well was inadequate for Sidney Fussell’s increasing needs and that a new well was dug to 70 feet in 1907.  Whilst this gave good water, the flow was still inadequate.  A boring to 132 feet (presumably within this new well) was made before a second new well was dug to 202 feet, and within 25 feet of the first new well. (It may be that the closed up aperture just to the north of this deep well had earlier been an exit from the Brewhouse to the yard to the south – see Para. 78 above).  We have not plumbed the present (1907) well but we know it is very deep, indeed on 7th July 1909 Frome Rural District Council heard complaints about a scarcity of water in Rode due to the Brewery’s well being much deeper that others in the village. We have now been able to locate the position of the original well, and we know that it was within the limits of the original Cross Keys plot boundaries. (See Para. 67 above) (Photo. 13 again).  We will return to the subject of the well in Para 171 below.


81.         Reverting to the Upper Floor we have already marked a closed-up segmental arch-headed window in the wall immediately north of the well (Para. 78 again). A second view of the well mechanism, taken from the floor below (i.e. out from the south door of what later became the Carpenters’ Shop (Room 30) is at Photo. 26. Through door ‘Z’ of our Fig. 9 was Room o (28).  At the east end of its south wall it opened (at this level) into the modern Cask Washing Shed (Photo. 27).  In its north wall were the blocked-up window and window/door of the Skittle Alley (Para.77 and Photos. 17 and 18 again).  This room o (28) had brick walls up to the floor level of the next storey above to its east and more flimsy walls above.  It had a further higher-up segmental arch-headed window in its east wall and a wooden staircase along the west side leading up to a long room above (the louvred top storey). Further east still were three rectangular apertures above an old wall plate.  These overlooked the rear garden of the Reading Rooms, and a door beneath them opened into this garden at first floor level (one of these apertures can be seen in Photo. 27).  This easterly building, with its three slatted corrugated plastic roof panels extended to the Ivy House boundary (see Photos. 28 and 29, this latter taken during the 2002 site clearance programme).


82.         There was an extensive range of buildings on the ground to the south of the well; indeed these latter were the dominant ones we saw in 2001. These, however, date from well after the early 1900s major works programme and it is sensible to deal first with the changes prior to that date.




Early Stages


83.       From the very earliest days there must have been somewhere for the brewing of beer to take place, for almost every Inn of the 1700s and early 1800s was a ‘Home-Brewed House’. And, crude though the facilities may have been compared to modern days, they would have needed all the basic elements we know now – somewhere to store the Malt, a supply of water and the means to heat it, a Mash Tun, a Fermenting Vessel and somewhere to store the product whilst it was maturing, both before and after racking. They would have needed casks (and probably also smaller stone or glass containers) for the finished product, and somewhere to clean the empty casks and jars (Para. 58 of Ref. 13 implies this was done in the yard in the open air), and to repair and store them. Finally they would have needed some kind of machinery to help move the ingredients and the product around the site, powered by whatever source was available at the date in question.  Before more modern brewing, with all the year round production, small scale brewing might have been more seasonal, rather like the making of farmhouse cider; beer would have been brewed when malt became available after the barley was harvested and then stored in casks to be used as required. We ought also to remember that beer was brewed to a higher strength in older times than nowadays.


84.       We can assume that in the earliest days the Brewing must have been done in one or more of the outhouses on the site.  The 1818 Release (Thomas to Pritchard) refers to a Brewhouse and there is a building of some sort marked on the 1840 Tithe Redemption Map of Road and Woolverton at the southern end of the then site (Fig. 3).  It is possible that this building was the “Pig House and Shed” which, as we will see later Appendix A, Para. 15), was to be pulled down (together with the existing boundary walls) as part of the major 1904 works programme. The 1884 and 1902 O.S. Maps indicate that the Pig House and Shed were indeed in the southwest corner of the site at the rear of the Brewery.  Some information has been found referring to a gate and a road at the rear (south) of the site. Though he did not own the lands to the south, might Henry have rented the grazing there?


85.         However it is much more likely that the structure in the preceding paragraph was indeed the kernel of the original Brewhouse and in the following paragraphs we will take note of Paras 65 and 66 above but rely mainly on Refs. 11 and 12 to tell its story as it developed.  Though these two Refs. differ in detail, what they set out is welcome in its consistency.  We have amended their conclusions where appropriate, based not only on our own observations on the site in 2001 and 2002, but also on two further independent pieces of evidence of work carried out around this time.  The first (Ref. 17) was by a Mr. Smith of Road (who lived in the cottage, lately restored, at the corner of Clay Lane and Church Lane, opposite to the modern Rectory).  He was one of a family of carpenters and wheelwrights in our village (and who was related by marriage to the Goulter family) (see Para. 102 below) who with one of the Goulters did many small but, in the event significant, tasks in both the Cross Keys and the Brewery in the few years either side of the turn of the 19th/20th centuries.  The second (Ref. 18), which we have copied as Appendix D summarises some of the important features of the site as of early 1905.  Both Refs. 17 and 18 lend weight to the broad conclusions of Refs. 11 and 12 but also help to clarify the details.  We have set out below our present thoughts on the progress of the site developments, using the same format as Refs. 11 and 12, illustrating them at Figs. 10, 11, and 12, with a consolidated sequence at Fig. 13.


               Note: In the Paras. below our comments are set in Italic script.


86.         Pre-1840 (Fig. 10):  “The 1840 Tithe Map [our Fig. 3] shows a building in a similar position and alignment to part of the existing building that has been referred to as the ‘Old Brewhouse’.  The western end coincides with the Fussell’s’ boundary line, as it does in 1884, but the eastern end seem to be significantly further east than the existing, coming to the Ivy House boundary…There is no indication of what this “unknown” building might have been.  It is possible that was single storey.  The RCHME (Ref. 12) suggests that the lower part of the eastern end of the existing [Jan 1999] building may be part of the building shown on the Tithe Map”. This would have been in the position of Room 28 of our Fig. 8 and the chimney can be seen below and just to the left of the Tower Brewhouse chimneystack in our Photo. 30.


1840-1884 (Fig. 10):


87.         “The 1840 Tithe Map building [Para. 86 above] was largely rebuilt and extended one bay to the west…probably towards the end of this period as the building style [of this rebuild] is similar to the extension of the building done between 1840 and 1884…The new building was… brick with limestone

rubble facings…segmental headed door and window openings with brick dressings and ears four bricks deep; the extended building was rectangular in plan with two rooms of almost equal size with a basement.  The number of floors is not known as these have been removed and may have been more like platforms” [see Ref. 12, Fig. 5]…

Indeed they were platforms and remained so until at least 1900, when Ref. 17 describes work being done on them in that year. (See also Para. 66 above).

… The form of the roof and its coverings is not known”.


Ref. 11 suggests that this might have been the ‘Brewhouse’ that Henry Fussell bought with the Cross Keys in 1857 and Ref. 12 also suggests that it may have been a small Brewhouse with cool storage in the basement and an entry from a yard in rear of the Cross Keys immediately to its north.

This is compatible with the Excise Entries of both Pritchard and Dainton (Paras. 65 and 66 above).


88.         Ref. 12 tells us “…the basement had a jack-arched roof supported on iron beams.  At the south western corner of the basement a section of the jack arching was formerly left as a void suggesting the basement and ground floor may have been linked in some way at this point”.  This ‘entry from a yard’ would have been below where the steps leading down are in our Photo. 16 above and the building, in plan, would have been the eastern part of the basement and the areas of Rooms 28 and 29 and o (28) and o (29) of our Fig. 8 (see again our Fig. 7)…

  We sighted this part of the basement on 23rd July 2002.  It was floored with squared blue bricks and at its western end had a head-high brick wall in which two door-sized arch-headed openings had been originally left (these were filled in later).  In the southwest corner of the jack-arched roof of this section was the one-time void already described, now filled in (See Photo. 31), which might have been the site of the stair mentioned in Para. 90 below, though we believe it to have been more probably a wooden or metal vertical step ladder (bearing in mind the limited dimensions of the void).

A study of the old Pub well (Para.67 above) shows a pipe leading south from it, which, though now cut short, appears to enter this basement quite high up on its east side.


 … Ref. 12 suggests, on the basis of the construction style, that this work was done towards the end of this period and hence that the younger Sidney would have commissioned it rather than his father Henry.


89.         Both Refs. 11 and 12 state that the pre-1840 constructions were in limestone rubble, whereas the later ones were in limestone rubble with brick facings and quoins; the new building had segmental-headed door and windows, with brick dressings and ears four bricks deep.


1884-1899 (Fig. 11)


90.         “The 1884 and 1902 OS maps and structural evidence show that the building was extended further to the west in this period, by the addition of a single bay at the western end and a two storey lean-to south of the new extension…. a new roof was constructed… the western part of the extension was used as a Carpenters’ shop from the late 1950s [Room 30 itself having a further small room (30A) accessed by a door it its east wall and sometimes used for storing paint]; prior to then it was a Fermenting Room [see our Fig. 12].  The southeastern part of the extension provided an office at first floor level in later years [used by the Head Brewer].  The basement was also extended to the west by one bay…and contained a water tank.”

We believe the water tank was either installed later than this or it was moved from the western bay to its final position in the eastern part at a later date; we will return to the problems of water supplies in Chapter VI of this history.  This extension would have comprised Rooms 30 and o/30 of our Fig. 8, the spaces immediately east of them and the western part of the basement as in our Figs. 7 and 8.  Ref. 11 suggests that access from the Basement to upper floors might have been by a spiral metal stair in the southwest corner (Fig. 12 and Photo. 31 again) but we strongly refute this – during the demolition phase of 2002 it was clear that nothing other than wood had been used in the brewery in those times, let alone the likely cost of a metal spiral stair and the absence of anyone who could have made it then in Rode.

.  It may well be that the apertures in the earlier west wall mentioned before in Para. 88 above were blocked up in this period, leaving only the windows recorded in the latter part of Para. 79 above.  This western part of the basement had the same floor of square blue bricks as the eastern part.  Over both walls and floor of this section, to just below the western windowsills, a cement render had been added to form what might well have been a reserve water storage (Photo.32).  A pipe in its southeast corner connects it to the 1907 well (Photo. 31 again), and pumping machinery on the north wall of the eastern section of the basement (Photo. 33) allowed the water to be moved elsewhere in the Brewery.  We are not clear how this concrete tank would have been cleaned, but perhaps this water was not directly used in the actual brewing process.  We have good supporting evidence from Ref. 17 “…290 blue bricks for chamber” (October 1898) and “…extra cellar doorways and 2 extra windows…100 arch bricks, 144 blue bricks”(December 1898 and “…cement concrete under new cellar floor” (March 1899), etc.


91.         The new roof mentioned in Para. 90 above “was supported on brick piers which extended for about 1 metre below eaves level.  The type of infill between these piers is not known but it may have been louvred”  (see our Photo. 34). Ref. 11 records that the west wall on the first floor had been taken out, leaving scars on the north and south walls, and that a first floor window opened into the later extension to the south.  Ref. 11 also suggests that the surviving part of the earlier building to the east was still probably a single storey one. (In later years this top room was the site for wooden collecting vessels for the assessment of the original specific gravity (and hence the duty payable) of the brew by the Excise Officer).


92.         The “lean-to extension” of Para. 90 above is covered in more detail in Ref. 11, which suggests that its southward extent was limited by the site of the well, which, with its pump, would have been outside the lean-to part of the building.  “A wide-arched opening, not quite in the centre of the extension, is centred on the well…”


This can be seen in our earlier Photo. 20. but we can now say that Ref. 11 cannot be right in this detail, as Ref. 16 strongly suggests that the well concerned was not dug until 1907 – and thus that the extension was ‘up and running’ before this modern well was dug (or at least before it was completed).  Ref. 11 describes the roof of the second floor and its extension to the west as hipped and records that a small ridged roof originally covered the first floor extension to the south.  We sighted this roof in the spring of 2002, enclosed within the 1900s overall hipped roof (see Photo. 35 (indicated by dotted lines on the picture).  The latter roof was supported on two queen post trusses.  Ref. 11 confirms the brick piers on top of the existing walls (Photo .34 again) might have supported an earlier roof. It is quite certain that both the extension and the lean-to were complete before the “Topping out” ceremony of Goulter’s work (our Fig. 5) was held, and it quotes Goulter’s carpentry estimate and two other references to “two roofs”.  Ref. 17 mentions ‘felting on new roof’ in March 1899.



Other Matters


93.         Ref. 12 sums up neatly that “c.1903 the E/W range was re-roofed and the upper parts of the brick piers which had supported the roof were replaced by a louvred framework.  The roof structure was hipped and had three full bays with two half bays at either end.  Three queen strut roof trusses supported the roof with single staggered purlins on either side.  The room had double Roman tiles.  The top floor rooms [later] were used as cooling rooms for beer from the new Brewhouse to the north”.  A suggestion as to how the building might then have looked at the end of the 19th C. is at Fig. 14.


94.         Ref. 17 has many other useful entries concerning jobs done in this general period, including work in September and October 1898 on new specifications “for the Brewery Extension” including “journeys to Kilmersdon to arrange with surveyor for passing of plans by Frome District Council”.   We doubt these would have been for the major works of 1904 as we know (Refs. 13 and 14) that these were by the Bristol firm of Llewellin’s and James and we conclude that these records refer to the Old Brewhouse complex, though frequent references to new drainage work may have relevance to the later major works.  There is mention in Ref. 17 of “piping from the well”, of “extra work by well excavating through mistake in plans”, and “work on pumps in well”. Looking at the original well in 2003 there was a pipe running through it which led into the top of the basement of the Old Brewhouse complex, and there were some signs in the well itself of work having been done in it after its digging.  Ref. 17 also mentions “new frame barel (sic) washer” (with more on this in 1900), and “repairs to Engine House”.  Importantly, also in 1899 the record mentions “alterations roadway by new Brewery door” and “New doorway from field, repairs and topping to boundary wall and altering road back of Brewery” (See Para. 84 above).  Clearly there was a lot going on in this short period but we may safely assume that Sidney would have considered what other major works to do next when funds were available without the need for borrowing. Whether as early as this he was contemplating the later expansion of the business by increasing the family trade we will never know, but as we will see, he was shortly to have the brewing capacity to do so.  Fig. 13 summarises these changes chronologically.


95.      Sewage and Pollution: The problems of poor treatment of sewage and pollution of local water supplies are generally beyond the scope of this history, but were to have an effect on the way Sidney Fussell was doing his business. In 1901 Frome R.D.C. (Ref. 19) accused him of violating their rights by discharging effluent into the public sewer. Through his agent Sidney’s response was that when the owner of a building had a right to discharge into a sewer that right extended to the discharge of trade and manufacturing effluent.  The Council pointed out that it was the discharge of solids (“any matter of substance by which the free flow of surface of storm water may be interfered with”) that was not permissible.  However, Sidney had already agreed to construct the “best possible strainer” and, after inspection, the Council were satisfied.  But as we will see later  (Para 152 below) this matter was to come up again in the 1930s and would be of importance during the redevelopment of the Site (Chapter X below).


Rosa Perrott’s Cottage


96.         We must now step aside for a while from the main progress of the Brewery development to look at an important pre-requisite that had an effect on part of the scheme.  If one were currently to leave Southfield House in the High Street and walk east (i.e. in the direction of Church Lane (see Fig. 15), there is a three-storied house next door to Southfield House and attached to it.  This is “The Chimes”.  Then comes the entrance to Chapel Green and the former Methodist (Wesleyan) Chapel.  To the east again is “The Old Wisteria House” (No. 18 High Street) and often referred to by older villagers as “Fricker’s House”.  It has three first floor windows on its High Street side and one window either side of its ground floor front door (Photo. 36).  This can be seen clearly on the front cover of Ref. 11 and in Photo. 1 of Ref. 12.  It also shows up on Photos taken in 2001; on its eastern side (away from Southfield House) No. 18 abuts the pedimented façade that marks the westerly boundary of the brewery entrance onto the High Street and built (as we will see shortly) in 1904.


97.         However, an older Photo, taken prior to 1904 (Fig. 16), and looking east all the way from Mayfield House (at the western end of the High Street) as far as the Cross Keys, shows an easterly section of Fricker’s House, with its own front door and windows (directly below the arrow on the Figure), which is no longer there today.. We believe No. 18 is a restoration of what remains of a short row of older cottages, just as were Southfield House to its west at one time and the Cross Keys/Reading Rooms complex further east.


98.         Road Church Rate Books of the 1860s and 1870s tell us that Sampson Lewis, Master at the Wesleyan School around that time, lived in a cottage in Upper (now High) Street in these years and by a conveyance dated 17th August 1871 he sold it to a Mr. J.A. Fricker, a Painter and Glazier, who had a ‘House and Garden’ in Upper Street, and who may by then have renovated the other cottages into his single dwelling.  Fricker died in late 1894 and left the cottages and all his other effects to his widow Elizabeth, his sole heir. By a conveyance dated 25th June 1898 widow Fricker sold the cottage between the Cross Keys yard and Fricker’s own house to Miss Rosa Derham.  The 1891 Census shows that one Agnes Derham was a Draper’s Shop Assistant, aged 29 at that time, and that she lived in the cottage with her sister Rosa (four years younger) and her brother Herbert (eight years younger still - he later became a painter and decorator and then a builder and lived at 22, Marsh Lane).  Rosa was by then an assistant Teacher at the Wesleyan school.  Agnes never married, continuing to work for Mr. G.W. Stokes in his Grocery and Drapery Store and Post Office for over 40 years, dying in her High Street Cottage on 23rd January 1944. Around the end of the 19th century Rosa wed Felix Augustus Perrott, a Clockmaker, who at one time lived at 23, Lower St. near the site of “Rivermead”. Rosa appears to have remained the owner of the High St. cottage, for by a conveyance of 21st June 1904 she sold it to Sidney Fussell.  This was something of a ‘keeping it in the family’ kind of transaction, for Felix’s mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of John Fussell of Barrow House Farm, who was the brother of Sidney’s late father Henry Fussell!


99.         The terms of this 1904 conveyance to Sidney Fussell included the words “…All that cottage or Tenement with the yard and privy thereto adjoining situate and being in the High Street… Together with the plot piece parcel of land containing fifty-five feet (more or less) situate and being hereinafter described and adjoining the Cross Keys inn on the west side and which said piece of land has been built on and now forms part of the back rooms belonging to the said cottage or tenement.  All of which said premises were late in the occupation of Agnes Derham”.


100        In passing, 55 feet from the High Street entrance brought one to about where the ‘step’ up to the loading platform was before its removal in 2002. We will see in Paras. 102 and 121 below how Rosa Perrott’s cottage fitted into the overall Brewery developments but first we must take a further tilt at Building ”A”, and follow on from Para. 94 above.


1899   to 1904 Part I


101.       Ref. 11 suggests that, either concurrent with or before the major works recorded in Para. 102 et seq below, Building “A”, almost in its entirety, was re-roofed and modified. (See our Para. 93 above).  Maybe this was to anticipate the later works or perhaps it was necessary in the course of normal maintenance. After this was complete the building would have looked much as it did prior to its refurbishment from 2002 onwards, and the top floor rooms were to serve as Cooling rooms for the products of the new Brewhouse soon to be built to the north.


102.       The structures put up at the Cross Keys by Tom Goulter, Builder, of Road at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries were at first investigation thought to have been completed by 1903, largely on the admittedly scanty evidence of a letter from the Surveyor’s Office of Frome Rural District Council.  With what we know now this letter may well refer to a quite separate matter concerning Brewery effluent (see Para. 95 above) for, in the light of more recent evidence (Refs. 13 and 14) mentioned in Para. 58 above, it is clear that the major work was done some time later than previously thought.  The “Topping Out” ceremony (Ref. 11, Fig. 5) (which we have already introduced as our Fig. 5) could not have been as early as 1903, as the Specifications for the work were not written until February 1904. A record of a meeting of Frome District Council held on 2nd March 1904 strongly implies that plans for these major works (“the Brewery now being erected”) had actually been approved by that Council on 14th February of that year (Ref. 20). Refs 13 and 14 are attached at Appendixes A and B and it will be noted that the works were to be completed within six months of the instructions to proceed.  One can assume that Sidney Fussell would have wished to get started as soon as possible after the Planners’ decision (though materials would first have to be ordered), so the beginning might have been end March 1904, with scheduled completion end of September.  So the Accounts attached to the Specifications (and which may well be the actual Invoices for payment) are unlikely to date from earlier than October 1904.  However Sidney Fussell did not buy Rosa Perrott’s cottage (Paras. 96 to 100 above) until 21st June 1904, so the cottage could not have figured in the Plans approved on 12th February of that year; the Specifications do not mention it, nor do they mention the Pedimented Façade feature.  The Rating Assessment at Appendix D (see Para. 58 above) includes “cottage £5” on 7th March 1905 and it must be assumed that it was Rosa’s that was being referred to.  But we are not aware of any changes to Specs. Nos. 1 and 2 so we must conclude that the demolition of this cottage and the associated work, including the Pedimented feature, were the subject of a separate contract, probably with the same Tom Goulter, and soon after the main works.  We are left, however, with having to reconcile this with the instructions in Paras. 35 to 40 of Appendix B.  One possibility is that the back rooms of the cottage were pulled down in late 1904, leaving the residential front part intact for a short period, perhaps for use as Offices. 


103.       We also know from a contemporary insurance Policy (Ref. 21) that by 1901 “Sidney Fussell, Road, Somerset, Brewer” had bought “5 cottages or tenements, all adjoining, Brick, Stone, tiled or slated, Private, Situate High Street, Road, Somerset” and he insured them in that year in the sum of one hundred Pounds.  It seems clear that Sidney bought these to demolish them at some time before the main Brewery extensions so as to provide a site where the new stables could be built, for, as we will see, the then existing stables would need to be pulled down.  This is a further pointer to our revised date. It is worth pausing a moment to cover the new stables, as their construction was another pre- requisite to the bigger works to come.


The High Street Stables:


104.       Ref. 2, under its heading of  Hedgehog Factory”, tells us some of its background, and its Fig. 6 clearly shows the five cottages mentioned above (in pink) on the factory site. In passing, once the new stables were built, Sidney took out a new Insurance Policy; dated 2nd January 1909 it covered them in the sums of £525 on the actual stables and an adjoining shed, £100 for vehicles, £175 for the horses, £100 for Hay, Corn, Straw, Barley, etc. The policy also covered the westward cottage bought but not pulled down.  This was insured for a further £100, and the supplies and harness within for £100 more.  This westerly cottage (then abutting the east side of No. 26, High St) had its entrance door on its eastern side and windows only onto the High Street.  It was kept by Sidney and was used later as a Store for cases for some years until it was knocked down by Bass post 1962 to allow a wider approach to the vehicle workshops (see Para. 111 below).  The general depth of both this cottage and the rest of the tenement can be judged by the cement skim on the east wall of No. 26 (Photo. 37).  It becomes clear, however, that the easternmost one of the five cottages was somewhat deeper than the others, and behind the row there were undoubtedly privies and outhouses, perhaps even a stable or two belonging to the cottagers.


105.       It is likely that at least part of both storeys of the rubble stone east wall of the modern “Brewery Yard” property is the original east wall of the eastern cottage and that some parts of the property’s roof in that area may be original. (There is evidence of a valley gutter, which may mark the join between the pre-1900 and post-1900 work).  Much of the rubble stone used in these stables and later ‘Hedgehog’ factory would have come from the demolished cottages but much new work was involved.


106.       The new stables were also of two storeys, with the rear (south) wall made up of the rear walls of the three centre cottages.  The style of the build has the ‘signature’ of Tom Goulter, responsible for the 1904 Brewery extension. The lower storey had six equally spaced windows fronting the High St.; on the second storey frontage two door openings replaced two of the windows (these can all be seen today) (Photo. 38), and over the door openings were pulley wheels for hoisting in hay, straw and corn etc. for the horses.  At the northwest corner of the ground floor was a door by which the horses came in to their stalls, with their mangers probably on the rear wall (Photo. 39). This build is in Victorian red brick, all openings having rounded edges and two ring segmental arch heads.  The upstairs storage space remained in use for several years after the Brewery horses had left and was used to chop and bag fodder for the horses of Orneage Farm (bought by Henry Sidney in 1920 and transferred to the Company in 1934).  We know (Ref. 15) that as early as 1910-1915 there was a corn crushing machine in the new stables area and that water from an artesian well in the vicinity, with an adjacent pumping station, supplied water to the Brewery in time of drought (when most of the wells in Rode village might dry up). Early recollections of Mr. Bill Goulter of Rode are that the site of the well and its pump was in a corner of the yard, and that when the pump was removed the well was sealed over, but that it was possible afterwards to remove the seal.  SWF’s belief is that the pump itself was in the centre of the three internal enclosures (Para. 107 below). Mr. Bill Goulter’s grandfather Tom had led the main 1904 work and his uncles Jim and Charlie worked on it. The artesian water might also have been particularly useful for the Mineral Water process (Para. 109 below).


107.       The east wall of the factory to the south of the stables’ rear wall is a mix of rubble stone and brick.  It has three ground floor enclosures abutting on to it (Photo. 40 and Fig. 17). The southerly one has a window and a stable door; it is divided internally and the south part has a closed-up window that originally looked out to the south.  One may surmise that this space was used to house a single sick animal or perhaps one due to foal.  The centre enclosure is of double that width, and though it has double doors the original ones are now the garage doors at Ivy House (probably a quite late transfer).  We do not know what this space was used for, but the third and most northerly one is single width, still has its original door and may perhaps have been used for harness or other equipment. The doors and windows of each enclosure have the same rounded edges to their openings and two-ring segmental arch heads.  Beyond the north side of the north enclosure it is clear that the part of the wall built there has been cut out, probably when the largest of the three vehicle inspection pits was dug (see Para. 111 below).


108.       The area to the west of these enclosures was open to the sky in Sidney Fussell’s days, but the present rear wall of the factory may have been put up at the same time as the stables were built; it may possibly have had some loose boxes for horses or cart sheds set against it (Photo. 41).  The whole open area was cobbled and rose gently from the High St. level to the south with the lie of the land – the inside level of the main area to the south of the rear wall of the former stables is now about four feet higher than that of the stables themselves.


109.       We know that at some time Fussells manufactured and bottled Mineral Waters in a small enclosure at the west end of the factory space set against the south side of the east/west rubble stone wall that marks the rear of the stables and the former cottages. (See Para. 194 et seq for a fuller story and about Cider, Wines and Spirits also).  When the stables were no longer needed for the Brewery horses these were converted and became a Wines and Spirits Stores in which Port and Sherry were bottled.  In December 1937 the Wines and Spirits store was converted into a garage as can be seen from Photo. 38. The lower part of the High St. wall of the stables, with its windows, was removed, an RSJ inserted to hold up the first floor storage, and brick pillars were built up underneath.  Between these pillars guide rails and sliding doors were fitted so the spaces thus created could be used to garage cars. The car in Photo. 42 belonged to Mr. R.G. Fussell, and the Photo. was taken in the 1930s in rear of the stables, i.e. prior to the conversion of the stables yard for maintenance of motor vehicles.


110.       The gradual replacement of horses by motor vehicles greatly expanded the Company’s potential radius of action but also demanded maintenance facilities.  In the early days of motorcars and lorries these were provided on a limited scale in the small buildings (Photo. 43) to the west of the Methodist Chapel and east of Southfield House (including an inspection pit) but more extensive facilities became necessary as the fleet built up: by 1939, when the Private Trade (Paras. 156 to 161 below) was at its height, there were some 26 of these.  The part of the yard that is now within the factory was levelled (this being why the floors to the internal enclosures are stepped up from factory floor level) and it was concreted.  Two inspection pits were dug (Fig. 17 again) and a series of heavy rails over them allowed the lifting out of heavy components from the vehicles parked over the pits.  The present west wall of the factory, with its tall windows, was built with large sliding doors to allow vehicles to enter and leave and a small forge was set up in the southwest corner for metal work to be done.  An asbestos roof supported by a framework of steel girders was set over this new area and remains today.


111.       Towards the northern end of the main factory space there is a third and very large inspection pit, running east and west across the whole width, even extending into the area north and east of the

 third internal enclosure.  A heavy metal track way runs along its middle.  This third pit was installed by Bass some time after their 1962 take-over, because their large load carriers could not access the other pits – the trackway allowed the hoisting of heavy components.


Notes about the  Improvements in 1904.


112.       We wrote about the topography of the site in Para. 73 above and we recommend our readers to visit this paragraph again before moving forward.


113.       We must remember that whilst we can learn a great deal from Appendixes A and B about what was done in 1904, notwithstanding that the Architects’ drawings have not survived, there may have been other things done at that time which we do not know about.  In 1904 Sidney would already have been aware of the increasing potential of Private Trade (see Para. 57 above) but he was limited in his wishes by the physical limitations of the site.  Looking at the area of the final site we must always remember these latter limitations, which would not be eased until well after Sidney’s death, when his second son, Henry Sidney Fussell, bought Orneage Farm in the 1920s (see Para. 70 above and Paras 146 et seq below) This acquisition would provide opportunities which the younger generation of Directors of the Company would seize as soon as they were able


114.       To assist the reader we have included Fig. 18, an adaptation of part of the Lower Ground Floor Plan of Ref. 10. We have already mentioned the “unknown building” in Para. 86 above and have dealt with Rosa Perrott’s cottage in Paras. 96 to 100 above.  We have also included at Appendix E a comparison of the space numbers in Ref. 8 (Mr. P.J. Fussell’s ‘Block Plan’) and of the later survey done in October 1959 (Ref. 9), printing the parts relevant to the Beer Stores in RED. The Block Plan is also our Fig. 19.


Improvements to the Main Site – Beer Stores and Cask Washing Shed.


115.       Spec. No. 1 tells us quite a lot.  From Para. 13 the stores “are to cover the area of the present yard at the back [i.e. south] of the present Fermenting House” [i.e. the Old Brewhouse/Building ‘A’].  Para. 16 makes it clear that there were to be no other spaces beneath them, because the walls, where necessary, could be built up off the rock bed.  This paragraph also strongly suggests that there would be only a single storey (“height of walls to be 7ft 6ins to under side of wall plates”).  So we are looking for a single storey area to the south of the Old Brewhouse, built at least in part, off the rock bed.


116.       Careful reading of other selected paragraphs of Spec. No. 1 tells us quite a lot about the walls of these new stores.  Para. 17 implies that Wall “A” already exists, and that it already has a door in it.  This door and its frame are to be re-sited and it and four windows and frames (these latter like those in the Fermenting House) are to be fitted with similar cills to those in the Fermenting House.  It appears that Wall “B” is also to have a similar window, affixed according to a drawing (which we do not hold) and is to be built up to form a Gable End.  Wall “C” does not seem destined to have either windows or doors and is merely to be built up to the height of 7ft 6ins as in Para. 16.


Wall “D” appears to be the key wall.  From Para. 20 it is to be well bonded into the Fermenting House Wall, is to form a Gable End, and is to have two sets of doors in it, one a pair and the other a single.  This latter is to replace one window in the Fermenting House “by the Excise Desk” (though we do not know exactly where the Excise Desk was in those days).  Crucially concrete steps are to be formed between the “new Beer Cellar” to the Fermenting House.  Our Photo. 44 shows such a pair of doors and a single door (with concrete steps down from the latter (and the cap of the 1907 well and its winding gear to the right) and our Photo 45 confirms this.  We have some confidence that the base of the well cap marks the original ground level of this part of the site but we are uncertain about the southward extent of this development.  We have little doubt that were are seeing part of Wall “D” in these two Photos, which means that Wall “B” must be the southerly gable-ended wall (second part of Para. 17 and Para. 18).  The ridge of the roof would have run roughly N/S and we believe this ridged roof and the upper parts of Walls “B” and “D” would have been pulled down when the Upper Ground Floor spaces were added a few years later (See Para. 170 et seq below). We do not feel it profitable to pursue the details of Walls “A” and “C”, as they were subsequently altered, but on our Photo. 46 we have marked the possible plan position of the 1904/05 Beer Stores with an arrow and we have included them in our new Fig.18.


118.       Photo. 47 (looking south from the High Street gates of the Brewery) clearly shows the then remaining skeleton of the structure of the Cask Washing Shed (CWS) (and later to become the Cask Loading Bay), albeit the tiled roof covering has gone.  The three roof principals and the tooled stone templates that bore their load (Para. 19 of Spec. No. 1) are easily distinguished; at the top centre of the Photo. is the base of the ventilator.  Photo. 48 (from April 2002) (and looking north from just in front of the double doors of the Beer Stores) shows these same roof principals and also a large overhead water tank.  The water in this was heated by steam circulated in internal pipes, supplied by the boiler and was an essential facility for the CWS (See Fig. 18).


119.       We will write more about both Beer Stores and Cask Washing Shed in Chapter VI below.


Improvements to the Main Site- Brewhouse and Boiler Shed


120.       We next consider the new Brewhouse and Boiler Shed (Spec. No. 2) (Ref. 14) at Appendix B) and within that Spec. take the Brewhouse before the Boiler Shed; this makes it easier to match this work both to Building ‘A’ and its extension, and to the Bakehouse in rear of the Baker’s Shop.


121        The “Topping Out” picture (our Fig. 5) is a good place to start.  Following the logic of our Para. 102 above this must have been taken roundabout July/August 1904, i.e. after Sidney Fussell had bought Rosa Perrott’s cottage, but before he would have been able to do much about it.  The man on the left of the picture faces a short section of East/West wall which is still in place today, though the short piece of ‘lean to’ sloping roofed building just beyond this wall has gone.  On the left above is the West wall of the Baker’s Shop (now the West wall of the Cross Keys) and on the right is a pile of rubble, which we thought at one time to be the remains of Rosa’s cottage, demolished by then to give room for the new Boiler Shed of Spec, No. 2, and which would in due course be shielded by the Pedimented Façade (our Photo. 49) at the entrance to the expanded access from the High Street.  If this pile of rubble is significant at all it may be the remains of the rear parts of Rosa’s cottage lately demolished.  Incidentally there are fifteen men in the picture at Fig. 5, fourteen of them on the buildings.  The one on the roof, wearing a waistcoat, is Michael Sparey’s grandfather, William Riddle, and just below him, hand on hip, is Michael’s great uncle George Riddle.  We will show Michael’s father later in our story! The man standing outside on the left is a worker in the Bakery.


122.       Photo. 50 was taken in June 1997 and shows mainly the west wall of the present Brewhouse.  The small segment of E/W pitched roof on the left of this picture is part of the west wall of the Cross Keys.  Immediately to its right are the north wall of the Brewhouse, the 1935/36 Chimneystack and the 1935/36 section of the building (we cover this in Para. 180 below).  The part of the main structure beyond this is in two ‘slices’.  The lower part of this structure and stack is the older and the part Spec. 2 tells us was built in 1904.  At the far right of Fig. 5 is the north end of the ridge of the pitched wooden roof of the High Street Loading Bay and its Dock, which was to the south of and inside the main High Street entrance to the Brewery.


123.       Our interpretation of Spec. 2 is at Fig. 20. The new Brewhouse was to have four floors and was to abut onto the rear of the Bakehouse (there are remarks about taking care that the Bakehouse be kept clean whilst the joining [new common] wall is built); the Bakehouse, we must remember, was at the rear (south) of the Baker’s Shop at the west end of the premises. Para. 43 of Spec. 2 (“Brewhouse- Ground Floor”) speaks to the removal of the existing blue brick for use elsewhere and includes “pull

down existing stable walls and rebuild in 18ins. work” etc.  We can thus site the old stables to the south of the Bakehouse and where the new Brewhouse was to rise. We believe the Cart Shed was to the west of the Stables (see Fig. 18 again). Appendix C gives useful confirmation of what follows. The ground floor of the new building on its E/W sloping site was to have the setting and firebox for the Copper (see Para. 10) and, built across the main line of the building, the engine on its new foundations. We have an unresolved dilemma in that whilst the Specification makes mention of provision of the copper setting (its Para. 44) and the foundations for the engine (its Para. 46) it makes no mention of where either the copper or the engine themselves were to come from! We know from Paras. 32 and 38 above that brewing equipment from both the George and the Bell Inns had been sold in the then recent past but we do not know whether Sidney Fussell bought any of it.  However, joists in this wall were to carry the Hop Back (Para. 10 again) and in the west wall a door (later blocked up), and with a window either side, would allow the stokers from the main boiler to enter and service the fires under the copper (Photo. 51).  The first floor was for the upper part of the Copper and the Mash Tun and its supports (Para. 9), with an opening (clearly seen to the west) for the cab of the external hoist (Photo. 52), and with a door giving access to the Sugar Room (to the south) with two steps up to it from the Mash Tun floor. Brewing sugars, dissolved into solution in the tank on the left of Photo. 53, could be added to the wort in the copper to ensure consistency of batches of a mash (see Para. 7 above) A door in the wall next to the Bakehouse (i.e. in the north wall of the new building) would allow flour to be lifted by the hoist and then be delivered into the Bakehouse. A set of wooden steps would lead up to the second floor, and we will see later that, whereas the ceiling height of the ground floor would be 11 ft., that of the first floor with its Mash Tun would be only 8 ft.


124.       This second floor would carry the Grist Case (Para. 10) and, interestingly in view of later re-building, the Hot Liquor Tanks.  The third and final floor would house the Malt Hopper, whilst a dome in the roof would form a cover over the external hoisting case and its cab (clearly to be seen in our Fig. 5). Photo. 50 shows an additional (fourth floor) at this end of the Brewhouse as it was at the date of the closure, but the visible west wall of this floor is in brick rather than the rubble stone of the floors below.  The Chimneystack also looks rather different than in earlier days.  It is these points taken together that leads us to conclude that this final (brick) storey was the result of rebuilding during the 1930s (when the internal floors would also be altered) and that the height of the south (older) stack was increased then.  (See also Ref. 12).


Turning now in more detail to the Boiler Shed of Spec. 2. We have already opened up the question of when Rosa’s cottage was demolished but our interpretation of Paras. 35 to 39 of the Spec. is that a new boundary wall was constructed at the west side of the site, perhaps where the rear part of Rosa’s building had been (i.e. at the south-east end of No. 18 High Street) and that the new Boiler Shed was built immediately to the east of this wall..  This shed was some 9ft 6ins high; and the Boiler (which we know was coal-fired and second hand) was 14ft 6ins long and 5ft 6 ins wide. Goulter’s Accounts include “Remove boiler from Stables to site £5”. Perhaps this boiler had been housed after its purchase in the new stables until such time as the new shed for it was available, for presumably Sidney would have needed any existing boiler to be useable so as to continue brewing whilst the rebuild was going on. £5 at that time was no small sum, so it is likely that this sum also included the cost of dismantling the boiler, and of re-assembling it in the new Boiler Shed.  Until recently we had assumed that the Boiler Shed covered both the boiler installed c. 1904 and the later second one, but we now know (Ref. 22) that in October 1911 further alterations were made to the Brewery and that “the building used as offices” (see Para. 148 below) was to be converted to take another boiler and that Mr. T. Goulter, a builder of Road, was hired to do the work”.  This leads us to deduce that the 1904 boiler was the southerly one of the pair and one may surmise that the upper panels of the Pedimented Façade, possibly also built in 1911 might actually have replaced the former north wall of the remaining front part of Rosa’s cottage (“the building formerly used as offices”). We can also deduce that the old cart shed, which was at the south end of this yard, was also demolished - because only relatively small containers would have been used up to this time they could have been easily manhandled. We must assume that Sidney was aiming for bigger trade in the years to come and so, either now, or some few years later, he would have foreseen the need for bigger casks and so for a loading dock to ease handling problems.
Backing up horse-drawn drays from the High Street entrance to the dock must have been a difficult task, and we know from evidence of those who saw lorries in the 1920s and 1930s doing it, before refinements of synchromesh gearboxes, that the double declutching was “interesting” to say the least!  Pictures of some typical Fussells’ light lorries for the Private Trade of those inter-war years are included as a separate sheet (Photo. 54), following this paragraph.





The New Company


126.       We saw in Para. 55 that Henry Fussell died in 1875, and his widow Ellen in 1878, just before her son Sidney married Hannah Maria Noad in 1879, when he was 29 years old. (See Photo 55)  We also saw that by 1886, when his own third son Howard was born, Sidney was working hard to improve the business he ran and which was to result in the longer term in the grand expansion of 1904.


127.       By 1905 Sidney’s eldest son (Percy John) was 25 years old, Henry Sidney 23, Howard 19, Leonard 17, Wilfred 15 and Reginald 13; this next generation must have been playing an increasing part in the family’s affairs, as father Sidney was by now in his mid 50’s.


128.       Not only was Sidney’s family growing up but trade generally was expanding and it must have become apparent that the business arrangements needed to be put on a more formal basis.  Accordingly, on advice from family Solicitors, Mann and Rodway of Trowbridge, the Company Sidney Fussell and Sons Limited, was incorporated on 20th December 1909 as a ‘Private Company within the meaning of Section 121 of the Companies (Consolidation) Act 1908’ and on 6th January 1910 Sidney sold the Cross Keys Inn and the Brewery Site and all his other assets to the Company for £3,029 13s 1d (equivalent to about £225,200 in 2005). These ‘other assets’ were the fields he personally owned, amounting in area to some 10 acres and the sum involved was some £560. (At the time of the Valuation for the Inland Revenue 1910-1915 the Company was shown as the occupier and owner of 15 acres, so perhaps Sidney rented some other fields in addition to those he owned). Additionally the Company bought Elm Cottage in Church Lane on 7th December 1912, so adding a further six acres or so of pastureland. Bearing in mind that when Henry Fussell died in 1875 his estate had been valued at £550, that Sidney had bought out his brothers and sisters (Paras. 55 and 72 above) and that the 1904 re-build had been costly (Goulter’s bill alone amounted to around £1,000, perhaps £74,500 in 2005 even leaving aside the costs of the Llewellin’s & James employment and the Plant they provided) the hard work of Sidney and his family was clearly yielding results.


129.       Only four people were subscribers to the application to form this ‘Company Limited by Shares’. Sidney was the first and became Chairman of the new Company; the second was P.J. (aged 29) (Director and Company Secretary) and the two next eldest brothers Henry Sidney (“Old Henry”), aged 27 and Howard Noad (aged 23) were the other subscribers and Directors.  The other three sons Leonard Noad (b. 1888), Wilfred Gordon (b. 1890) and Reginald Godfrey (b. 1892) were probably judged to be too young, but in any case would have undoubtedly helped around the brewery and Bakehouse (for there was still the Bakery side of the business to run). Each of the four subscribers agreed to take one share of the company and so the complete authority for its running was limited to them.


130.       A seminal event of the early years of the Company was the proposal to buy the Cock Inn and Brewery at Warminster, the first property venture outside Road village to attract the Company’s attention.  Family stories have it that when the proposal to purchase was made to Sidney by Percy John and his brothers their father Sidney was alarmed to say the least.  We do not know whether or not he had yielded shortly before his death in January 1913 to pressure from his co-directors to borrow from the bank to make the Cock purchase, but there can be no doubt that when acquisitions were made in the years following Sidney’s death the directors would have deemed it prudent to borrow from the bank to ensure the Company expanded its Pub estate (See Appendix C) and for other purposes.


131.       Warminster, of course, was not too far away to be served by the horse transport of those days, indeed if a wagon were to leave Road very early in the morning, it could just about reach as far as Devizes, turn round, and still be back in Road late that same night.  A longer radius of action and interest would have to wait for motor transport, but that not only required the proper vehicles, but better road networks, petrol stations, garages and repair facilities and so forth, though beer was sometimes taken to Trowbridge for forwarding. Despite this, by the early years of World War I the Company had also acquired the Grapes Inn at Melksham (1914), the Rising Sun at Devizes (also 1914) and the Mason’s Arms in Warminster in 1915.  These would be the first of many (See Para. 163 below) and whilst we do not have precise details of the size of the Company in 1915, an insurance policy with Sun Life provided cover of £19,620 from 1st April 1916 (equivalent to over £1,070,000 in 2005).  As full an account of Fussell’s Pubs and Hotels as far as we have been able to research them is at Appendix C.


Death of  Mr. Sidney Fussell.


132.       Sidney, the Company’s Chairman and founder, died on 12th January 1913, aged 62 (the same age as his late father Henry in 1875).  In his will, dated 17th July 1912, he left a life interest in his part of the business to his widow, Hannah Maria.  He left the Company in good stead, with strong family management and died as a man of substance, well respected in the Village. His passing was fully reported in the local press (Ref. 23):



DEATH OF MR. SIDNEY FUSSELL – We regret to record the death of Mr. Sidney Fussell, of the Cross Keys Brewery, founder of the firm of Sidney Fussell and Sons, Ltd.  Mr. Fussell, who had been in indifferent health, passed away on Sunday, and the funeral takes place this (Friday) afternoon.  Mr. Fussell was a typical example of a successful businessman – of a man who knew how to seize the golden opportunity and make the most of it.  For many years he carried on the business of a baker and brewer at the Cross Keys Inn.  His bread and his beer were alike excellent.  With the assistance of his sons, three of whom are now partners in the business, he built up a very nice connection, and today Fussell’s beers have quite a reputation over a very large area, and the firm recently extended their business by purchasing a brewery [The Cock] in Warminster.  Mr. Fussell had a charming personality and had the esteem of a wide circle of friends, while much sympathy is felt for the bereaved family in their sad loss.”  

               His funeral also showed his place in the life of the village (Ref 24):



FUNERAL OF MR. SIDNEY FUSSELL- On Friday last week the funeral of the late Mr. Sidney Fussell took place amidst signs of respect, regret and sympathy.  So widely was he known that there was a larger attendance at the funeral than can be remembered at any other in Road. Heading the procession were Mr. R.H. Batten-Pooll, Hon C. French, Capt. Heathcote, RN, Mr. R.E. Younghusband, Mr. Arthur Batten-Pooll, Dr. Evans, Mr. Hayward Collings (Frome) and upwards of 50 other local and business friends. The family’s cross covered the coffin, extending nearly its length, and the sides of the funeral car and the top were covered with floral emblems. The cortege left Mayfield House at 2.45, with the lady relatives riding in three carriages; the six sons, with brothers, nephews, cousins, etc., walking behind, followed by the office staff, travellers and employees, numbering over 40.  Arriving at Road Parish Church, the procession was met by the Rev. H.W. Davy [sic] (Rector), who officiated, and whilst the mourners were being seated the organist (Mr. H.J. Prosser) played the “Qui Tollis” (Mozart).  The hymns “Jesu, Lover of my Soul”, “Rock of Ages”, and “Forever with the Lord” were sung and the “Dead March” in Saul was rendered as the remains and mourners left the Church.  After the body had been laid in its final resting-place, many lingered to take a last look into the grave, which contained one whose life, though so energetic and labour-providing, might well be summed up in the sentence printed on the hymn leaflets used at the service – “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength”. The coffin, of English oak with massive brass fittings, bore the inscription “Sidney Fussell, died January 12th, 1913, aged 63 years”. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr. G.W. Stokes, of Road”

               A fitting tribute to a truly remarkable man.


The War Years:


133.       Sidney’s death came as the threat of war loomed on the distant horizon, a war which was to mark the passing of a political and social era throughout the world, and not least in the villages of England; young men who had rarely been more than a few miles from their own homes, found themselves fighting in foreign lands far from their roots.  Their often-bloody experiences must have left them more open to fresh ideas and to question the previous order of things.  The names on our own War Memorial in Rode testify amply to the loss of the sons of many local families.


134.       Industry was to boom during the war years and the pace of technology rapidly quickened in response to military needs.  Women would begin to play a significant role in the work place and the horse and cart progressively gave way to the internal combustion engine, although Fussells’ first mechanically powered vehicle probably had to wait till after the end of the war. It is also doubtful, because of labour shortage or lack of funds, that more land was acquired by the Company during the war, so we may assume at this point that Fussells had no intention of entering into the farming world beyond the land they already owned and used for their horses.  There was, however, intense military activity in the South West of the country during the war – training camps and depots, hospitals, remounts and remusters and naturally where there were Soldiers there was a great need of beer!


135.       Percy John and Henry Sidney continued to run the firm at the outbreak of war, with the third brother, Howard Noad.  He was two years younger than Henry Sidney (see Para. 56 above), but was destined not to go into the armed forces.  There were large Army camps around Codford, Wilts in 1914-15.  They were tented, the weather was exceptionally wet, and conditions chaotic with much flooding.   Many colonial troops there died of meningitis and sadly Howard Noad developed this then incurable problem after visiting an Army camp in that area on company business in early 1915.  He died of it on 9th February of that year. (Mr. Bill Goulter, whose grandfather Tom had played such an important role in the 1904 Brewery rebuild, remembered being told as a small boy at Rode School nearby that he must be very quiet as “Mr. Howard is very ill”).  As for the fourth brother (Leonard Noad Fussell), the Brewery Employees’ annual outing in 1914 (to Bournemouth) visited an hotel for tea and saw some very fine confectionery made by him which was being readied for an exhibition. Leonard served in the Royal Flying Corps during the war and afterwards became the sole proprietor of a prosperous Catering, Confectionery and Chocolate Manufacturing enterprise in Lytham St. Anne’s; he got married and had four children. The two youngest of the brothers (Wilfred Gordon and Reginald Godfrey) were studying in London in 1914 and shared ‘digs’ in the Hanger Lane area. Wilfred was a keen cricketer and rower, with great interest in wild life and plants and was one of the earliest members of the Slimbridge Wildfowl Trust.  He never married and died at his home in Park Street, Bath, aged 83, on 14th February 1974. He is buried in the Churchyard of St. Lawrence, Rode. Reginald, the youngest, intended to become an Electrical Engineer, but he volunteered for the Army and on 18th March 1915 joined first the ASC and then the Gloucester Regiment, became a driver and was trained to use the Lewis Gun, serving in Italy and France. He was demobilised on 15th March 1919.  He was later to attribute his poor eyesight to the strain of his wartime driving.


136.       Ref. 25 gives an excellent account of the problems of providing the vast numbers of men needed to prosecute the Great War. Young volunteers, including many from Road, went off willingly enough in 1914 but by early 1915, as news of the slaughter on the continent and of the terrible conditions at the front reached home, enormous demands were put on the manpower pool. Though compulsory military service was not introduced until 1916, selective call-up was authorised in October 1915.  Some 2,300,000 men “attested” (i.e registered to be called-up as and when needed, in groups, the order depending on age, fitness and marital status). Some 600,00 did not attest.  Local Tribunals were set up to hear appeals against call-up, and at the first meeting of the Frome Local District Council Tribunal the very first case was of Henry Sidney Fussell, who was strongly supported by his elder brother Percy, on the grounds that he was essential to the family business:

               “which employed 67 people of whom 11 had already enlisted, and every man had attested.  The principal clerk  [Mr. Bill Butler] was in the call-up group before Henry and his loss would be keenly felt.  The business was far too extensive to be wound up and there was no-one else to manage it; it employed £25,000 of capital, properties owned and leased exceeded £600 Net Rateable Value per annum and they occupied 21 acres of land.  There had originally been three brothers in the business but one had died a year ago.” [Howard]

               Percy said he himself was nearly 36 and added:

               “ they had lost 11 men and their Chief Clerk was due to go.  ‘I shall have to do his work.  If we lose my brother we shall have to apply for the Chief Clerk to be exempted.  If we two brothers can stay together to keep the business going we shall be prepared not to make applications for any of the men and fill their places with female labour as best we can.  We feel we ought to be left to keep things going until the last.  I have been in the business all my life.  I have not attested.  I could not conscientiously attest with such a responsibility [our underlining].  My brother did it to encourage the men.  Three of my brothers are in the Services.  One is in France, another in Ireland. and a third is in a munitions factory  for he was rejected…” The three were, respectively Leonard Noad, Reginald Godfrey and Wilfred Gordon.


137.       But despite PJ’s eloquence the Tribunal was not convinced.  They believed ‘the business could be perfectly managed by Mr. P.J. Fussell and there was no case for an exemption, though a month [of deferment] would be allowed’.  Henry became an Army dispatch rider in the Somerset Light Infantry and his daughter Barbara Wheeler remembered being taken for a holiday in France in 1936 to revisit all the places where her father’s service had taken him.

138.       And what of Percy John, the eldest, who had remained in Road to run the company. He had been granted a conditional [exemption] certificate on 6th May 1916 but had to appear before a National Service Board on 26th April 1918.  It was recorded that he was 35 [he was actually close on 38], single and a Brewer.  P.J. reported that:

               “The business was a family one, that his mother was a widow, that four of his brothers were in the armed forces [Henry, Leonard, Wilfred and Reginald] and one of this two sisters in munitions.  He was the only one left to look after the business until his brothers returned.”

               Percy said he employed 32 people and ‘was responsible for everything’ [This 32 contrasts with the 67 of February 1916].  It reflects not only the demands of the Services, but also the cessation of Baking, discussed in Para. 70 above, and which of course reduced the need for some men.


139.       In response the Board pressed very strongly for Percy, saying he had been exempted for far too long, and despite Percy’s quoting a case from the Wiltshire Appeal Tribunal like his in which the appeal had been granted in favour of the man concerned and that “ he had without exaggeration three times the responsibility of the man in question”, the Chairman refused to be moved.  A not unamusing exchange followed:


               Percy:             June 1st is the day I had arranged to be married”

                Chairman        You may find a substitute”    (laughter)

               Percy              No, I am afraid not”                 (laughter)

                Chairman       The Tribunal may have saved you a great deal of trouble”.


140.       Percy’s wedding to Augusta Adeline Spittall, née Harrison, a widow (who had been living prior to her marriage at “St. Helens”, opposite the Baptist Chapel) (see Para. 56), went ahead, nonetheless, and he continued to protest vigorously, pressing his case in a letter to a weekly magazine, thought to be ‘John Bull’, enumerating the wide range of jobs he was saddled with to keep the business running.  A response in a later edition of the periodical, allegedly signed by Sir John French, Commander in Chief of the forces in France, implied that the General would not only be content to continue to run the war, but would be happy to run the Road Brewery as well!  Whether this exchange of correspondence had any real effect is open to question, but certainly P.J’s call-up was put to one side and he stayed in Road and a few months later the war ended and the troops came marching home. Notwithstanding his pre-occupation with keeping the business running P.J. would no doubt have been formulating his ideas on how to take the firm forward now peace had been achieved.







141.       The programme of expansion begun by Sidney Fussell in 1875 and continued until his death in 1913 was, despite the problems experienced during the First World War, continued during it and in the years following it.  The war not only made people much more aware of wider things going on in the world, but also what they themselves could experience and it raised their expectations.


142.       The war also accelerated the pace of technical advances – mechanisation of all kinds (particularly in power generation and motor transport) and improved communications.  Though the country’s government finances were devastated due to the costs of the war, and though we tend to think of the 1920s and, to a lesser extent, the 1930s as years of desperate deprivation (as they undoubtedly were for the industrial working poor of the towns), the situation in rural areas was perhaps not so bad.  Improved sewerage and better water gave a welcome lift to country folk.  Throughout the land many small businesses were founded and flourished modestly.  A growing middle class, whilst not having wealth on the scale of the pre-war gentry, lived steady, secure and unexciting lives with money enough for some relaxation.  The opportunities for well-organised local businesses such as Sidney Fussell & Sons, Ltd., were there to be grasped.


143.       The Fussell business was to expand in two related ways, through the acquisition and management of more Licensed Premises, and by the substantial increase in the Private Trade sector.  To achieve both these the production and processing facilities had to be increased, including a major expansion of Bottling capacity (not only because of the demand for bottled beers but also for the relatively new but growing demand for Mineral Waters). None of these could be achieved without more space (becoming ever more vital) and, in due course, a better and more certain water supply.  It is difficult to cover these subjects in a strictly chronological sequence so we have chosen to deal with one aspect at a time.


Company Records and other Sources of Data


144.       Many local people have contributed to the writing of this history, their input coming overwhelmingly from personal recollections from the late 1920s onwards, and these have been very useful.  But to produce a really authentic account of the development of a Company the writer must have access to its official documents.  We showed in Paras. 128 and 129 above how the Company was set up and it would have had to maintain a number of statutory records; they would have included a Register of Shareholders, Register of Share Transfers, Register of Directors and a Register of Mortgages.  It would have had to keep Deeds of all the Properties, Minute Books to record meetings of Directors and meetings of Shareholders and to make Annual Returns to the Registrar of Companies.  These would all be vital sources for the historian but in the case of Fussells not a single one has survived. Some time after the 1962 Bass takeover all surviving official documentation was housed at the Bass Offices in Cardiff; all efforts to locate them have failed. Visits to the Bass Museum at Burton have only given fringe information and when the Records of the Registrar of Companies were transferred to microfiche none was kept prior to 1997. The documents about land, made available to us by Mr. Philip Hillier Fussell, and which we have acknowledged in our Foreword, have been most useful and details are given in a limited distribution Appendix G.


145.         It would be inappropriate for us to give opinions as to causes or responsibilities unless open literature gives support.  We therefore present what we believe occurred as best we may, and the reader must recognise that what follows must unavoidably be less than a complete picture.





Orneage and Church Farms.


146.       Henry Sidney Fussell (our ‘Old Henry’), the Company’s Head Brewer and Joint Managing Director (Photo. 56), married Ada Hillier on 29th December 1920 and became a family man. We assumed in Para. 134 above that during the First World War and its immediate aftermath the Company needed land only for its use for horses.  But this situation changed dramatically on 24th June 1920, just before Henry Sidney’s marriage, when he bought the 37-acre Orneage Farm from the Batten Pooll family, with its farmhouse, farm buildings, and yard, much of which was directly adjacent to the Company’s existing boundaries. What is not known is why the purchase was by Henry Sidney Fussell and not the Company; it is difficult to believe the need for expansion was not then foreseen, nor the desirability of safeguarding adjacent land against development by a third party, or the possible need to prospect for further sources of good water. For whatever reason the Company effectively became Henry Sidney’s tenant until he conveyed it to Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd. on 30th June 1934.  These were shrewd moves on both his and the Company’s parts for, with trade increasing, there was a vital need for more space for both production and processing facilities, and the Orneage Farm land gave the potential for this.  The northern part of Orneage Farm (Fig. 21) would be where the new buildings of the 1920s and 1930s would arise and the rest was already an operating farm; not only that but the farm entrance to the west of Orneage Farmhouse fronting Church Lane provided a good access to the rear (south) of the existing buildings. Over the following years further land acquisitions increased the acreage significantly, resulting in the expansion of the Company’s farming activities, always however keeping the land as far as possible within a ‘ringed fence’. Indeed some exchanges of lands with the Batten Pooll Estate were made solely to that end. Mr. Maurice Franks (who went on to be the village Postmaster and run a Stationer’s shop in the High Street) conveyed Church Farm and other lands to the Company on 17th September 1935 for £1,500; Church Farm was a valuable agricultural enterprise; new buildings were put up there and its yard was extended.  Before World War II both Orneage and Church Farms were Dairy Farms, though during the war land had also to be used for growing cereals, kale, and other crops.  Most of Fussells’ milk from the 1920s onwards was sold to and collected by a local milk factory, save for small quantities kept for sale to the family and employees. 


147.       After Henry’s purchase of Orneage he and brother Percy needed a Farm Manager and chose their first cousin John Cray (Edward John Noad Cray, to give his full style); he was living at Langham Farm with his widowed mother.  His father, Edward Cray, had died in 1920, aged 61, and though John was only 23 (and still a bachelor) when his father died, his experience working with his father at Langham stood him in good stead and he remained Fussells’ farm bailiff until 1934, when he moved to Shawford Farm and took over from his wife’s father.  He received a wage from Fussells and rent-free accommodation in the farmhouse (and probably commission too).  Mr. H.T. Kealey, who was with the Company c1934 to c1939 followed, and his successor in turn was E.F. Taylor, whilst the last, who was A.E. Ingram, followed him as Bailiff.  The buildings of Orneage Farm, such as remained after the major brewery extensions of the 1930s, gradually fell into disuse, and became variously storage areas for repair of cases, and a Carpenters’ Shop.  In early 1952 the Directors decided that it was no longer economic for the Company to farm: on 1st April 1952 Henry Sidney became the Company’s tenant in partnership with his son Philip.  Philip, who had been trained in farming away from Rode, was employed by the Company to work under Ingram, the Bailiff; he was then paid £3 or so a week but received no overtime and had only one weekend a month off.  At the end of this saga one is left with the interesting question as to whether farming by the Company had been merely accidental, or had been planned from quite early days, or had it simply developed by process of evolution.  We leave the reader to decide.


Offices (Fig.22)


148.       All significant organisations need a place from which they can be administered and Fussells were no exception. When Henry Fussell bought the Cross Keys and Brewhouse in 1857, adding that business to the one he already owned as a Baker, bookkeeping needs would no doubt have been dealt with in either the bake house and shop or his domestic quarters: this was probably so until his death in 1875. It is unlikely that there was a greater need for office accommodation during the early years of Sidney’s active management of the business, until the volume of Private Trade warranted more clerical assistance and office space towards the end of the 1800s.  By 1885, when Sidney had become the sole owner, it is likely trade was then increasing and his growing family would have put pressure on his domestic spaces.  Although we have not found any reference to offices at that time our best guess is that some suitable space was found within the brewhouse buildings, which had been enlarged in stages since 1857.  By 1900 Sidney’s trade was increasing (as evidenced by his early advertising), and he was employing his three eldest sons.  Our Fig. 2, taken around the turn of the century, shows a small lean-to building just inside the High Street gates, against the west wall of the baker’s shop: this might have been used as a small office. We now believe that some time after 1904, when Rosa Perrott’s cottage had been pulled down (Para. 121 above) and her land became available, and before 1911, when it in turn was demolished, there might have been a building of some sort to the north of the new boiler house of 1904 and to the immediate south of the Pedimented Façade (again Para. 121 above): this might have been some sort of office space. Where this work was next done is not sure, but the Company bought Southfield House in 1915 and we know from an insurance policy for it that it was used as both a hop store and as offices for a while. It is thought that the adjacent house, now called The Chimes, was variously used for offices, before it became a Saddler’s Shop and later a Barber’s Shop.  These were indeed the recollections of Mr. Bill Goulter, who remembered seeing the late Mr. Bill Butler (the Chief Clerk) and the late Miss May Woolley working there, but had no recollection of the buildings opposite the Cross Keys being so used.


149.       After Henry Sidney Fussell bought Orneage Farm in 1920 (Para. 146 above), the Farm Manager lived in Orneage Farmhouse, which was the eastern part of what was to become the larger whole Office building; the cheese-room of the farmhouse was converted to office space, and as we learned from Mrs. Doris Gifford (who started work in the Offices in 1928, when she was only 15 years old) some of the staff worked in the spare bedrooms of the farmhouse, access being through the front door in Church Lane.  She believes it was some 2 or 3 years later  (i.e. 1930/31) when the additional offices were built for the Company by Mr. H. Derham, attached to the farmhouse on its western side.   (Photo. 57 clearly shows the difference in styles). These extra spaces were becoming essential as the Private Trade expanded.  Meantime, within the brewery premises there had been a need from the earliest time for some modest amount of office space, probably no more than a desk for the brewer (see Para. 171 below) and the Excise Officer.  Later there was also a need for offices for the Transport and loading purposes (hence the small suite of spaces “on the bridge”).   After the cessation of the Private Trade during World War II some of the rooms of the main offices became redundant for daily use and were only occupied by the Company’s auditors at the time of the annual audit; otherwise the rooms were occasionally used for formal or informal meetings of the directors from the late 1940s. During these many years the office buildings were altered more than once both internally and externally.  A former junior member of the Bass staff recalled being instructed to clear out the rooms on the 3rd floor of the Office building and to throw out the Fussell ledgers, files and other records stored there to a lorry waiting below in preparation for the 3rd floor to be dismantled and lowered.  The ledgers, files, etc. were then taken to one of the Brewery yards and destroyed on a bonfire. Bass also used Southfield House as Offices from 1962 until its sale to Mr. Richard Oatley in 1973, in addition to Orneage until the office work was transferred to Yeovil in the late 1960s, after which the buildings were unused until the final closure in 1992.


Power and the Engine House (Fig. 23)


150.       We mentioned the need for power and water in our early Para. 14 above, and in Para. 70 above noted that the first dynamo, with its switchboard, was installed about 1921. Increased availability of power was another vital pre-requisite for expanded production and the Engine House (Photo. 58) was built in the mid 1920s on a small part of Orneage Farmyard. (Mrs. Doris Gifford remembers its already being there when she first started work at Fussells in 1928).  It would have needed to be commissioned before any of the new facilities set out in Para. 167 et seq could be brought into service.   As can be seen from the Figure, the new Engine House had four floors.  The ground floor housed two Ruston & Hornsby Diesel Engines, each rated at 78-horse power, together with a switchboard, to provide a 110V electrical supply to the Brewery; also on this floor were 2 Crompton Parkinson 50 KW generators.  On the first floor were 57 accumulators, each giving 1.85 volts, to provide a minimum of lights once the generators were shut down at the end of the working day and as a short-term stand-by in case of generator failure..  The second and third floors were intended as storage spaces, the third having a large external diesel fuel tank at one end.  The second floor was in fact used as a rest area in which the workers took their lunch breaks (a proper canteen was not provided until after World War II, on the ground floor of the former Reading Rooms) (See Para. 175 et seq below).  In the latter stages of the war, the second floor was used as a venue for regular dances, popular with the whole of the village community (first mentioned on 19th October 1944).  Records seen at the Bass Museum at Burton-on-Trent in June 1997 show the building cost £1,283 12s 0d in 1934/35, with another £75 for the 110V generator and £98 17s 0d for other plant.


Water Supplies (Figs 24 and 25)


151.       We have already emphasised the essential need for adequate and suitable water supplies, both for the actual brewing process (Para. 14 above) and for non-brewing cleaning purposes (Para. 31 above).  We have mentioned Rode Brewery’s own well (Paras. 74 and 80 above) and we recorded (Para. 90 above) our sighting of the tank in the Old Brewhouse Basement. We also noted (Para. 106 above) the artesian well in the one-time High Street Stables area.


152        Until full public water supplies were connected to Rode village in 1936 almost all the local people had to rely on water from wells (there were some 80 of them) and we have already mentioned (Para. 95 above) that many of them were contaminated by bacteria or worse.  The wells were also dependent on local rainfall and even the Brewery’s own deep and clean well could not completely guarantee a sufficient output for the business, let alone any effect it might have on the other local less deep bores in spells of very dry weather.


153.       The Company had therefore to look for supplies elsewhere.  An excellent potential source lay in the natural springs in the land north west of Rode Village, in the rising ground in the area of the Chatley Estate, on both sides of the Frome/Norton St. Philip road (the modern B3110).  Water from these had long served the monastical fish tanks (still to be seen in the fields to the north of the now de-consecrated Church of St. Lawrence at Woolverton). Evidence from a recently acquired (albeit poor quality) copy of the local 1884 OS Map shows that, although we do not know the dates of the works, water from these springs had already been piped to some important outlets, for example the then local Rectory (now the Woolverton House Hotel) and the Road Manor Estate of the Batten Pooll family (the former Northfield House and later to be the Rode Bird Gardens).  Towards the end of the 1920s, with demand for their existing Brewery products increasing and with a major new building programme in the offing it was time for the Company to take the necessary steps to secure a more capacious and dependable supply.


154.       Accordingly an agreement was negotiated between Captain Walter Stewart Batten Pooll of Rode Manor, The Trustees of the Batten Pooll Estate and Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd.  By a Conveyance dated 9th December 1931 (Ref. 26) the Company acquired rights to a supply of water from Lower Chatley Farm, whilst safeguarding the existing supply both to the Estate and the Farm.  The exact positions of springs, wells, collecting chambers, piping etc., are marked on the OS Map mentioned above, supplemented by larger scale drawings of key areas set on hardboard sheets.  These are in greater detail than is needed by this story (and there are some difficulties in reconciling these two sets of data).  However Fig. 24 shows the layout of the Chatley springs and wells.  Fig. 25 shows the general runs of the main piping: the “Rode end” runs up to Rockabella Hill after crossing below the river Frome.  It then passes under The Mead (including a by-pass which enabled the late Mr. P.J. Fussell to water his one-time tennis court opposite Mayfield House). There is an isolating valve just east of Mayfield House, whence the water originally flowed by gravity to the Brewery site.  However once the “ Multi-Storey Red Brick Building” (referred to from hereon, for the sake of brevity as the ‘MBB’), with its top storey water tank was built in 1936/37 a pump was needed to boost the flow to the single large storage tank in its top floor (a tell-tale on the east wall of the building, clearly visible from much of the site, would show the level in this tank). The pump previously used in the brickyard (Para. 31 above) was transferred to a small stone building on the site of the one-time Rockabella House on the route of the rising main up Rockabella Hill to meet this need.  Records, again at the Bass Museum, show that the Company spent £1,500 on water works in 1931/32, £190 13s 0d in 1932/33 and £76 10s 10d in 1933/34.


155.       We know, as a point of some interest, that in June 1952 the Housing Committee of Frome Rural District Council found a dry rising main from the river [Frome] to the Brewery, and that the pipe lay across the proposed site of two pairs of houses in what was to become the Mead development.  Captain Batten Pooll had forgotten it, and was surprised that the Brewery had not mentioned it, as they knew about it.  Fussells wrote that they had a perpetual right of access.  The Council had prepared a diversion for the pipe, which they would implement.  The detailed outcome is not known, but the supply pipe to the Brewery does still lie under that part of the Mead.


               Note:  The full records of the water supplies will be offered to the Somerset Record Office in due course.




The Private Trade.


156.       We mentioned changes in social circumstances in our Para. 142 above and with these the rise of the “middle class”.  There was a ready market out there for Fussells, not only amongst the white collar society, to whom ‘an evening down at the Pub’ was very much not the done thing, though they were able to afford liquor, but also to satisfy the needs of other businesses, Clubs and Societies.


These folk wanted liquor ‘at home’, as it were, but the licensing laws did not permit the ‘hawking’ of liquor (See Para. 19 of our Appendix C). The liquor seller did not enjoy the privileges of the brush salesman!  Moreover only a few private houses had telephones, nor did Public Houses.  But a Brewer’s Traveller was allowed to call at a house carrying a list of what his firm had to offer, and to record orders to be filled later.  Thus grew up the team of Fussell’s ‘outriders’, each with his own transport and each with his own area to service.  At first these calls were made by bicycle or by pony and trap (and thus radius of action was limited), but later came motorcycles and still later motorcars.  Once the road network was adequate and there were sufficient petrol stations for refuelling it was full speed ahead!  The company’s own bulk petrol tank, in front of the offices in Church Lane, was built around 1930 but Mr. George Dunford, one of the old school resisted the mechanisation and served his area by bicycle until he retired roundabout 1941.  He is remembered affectionately; somewhat florid in complexion and with a walrus moustache, always smart and wearing highly polished leather leggings.  Though he lived in Victoria Road, Frome, he sometimes called to see Mrs. Hannah Fussell (Sidney’s widow) at Elm cottage in Church Lane, and on one occasion in 1922 he was able to rescue her after a nasty accident when she had fallen from a pair of steps while cutting flowers and had knocked herself unconscious, losing a great deal of blood.


158.       In Para. 72 above we mentioned a “P.L. Stubbs, High Street, Road, Brewer’s Traveller”.  Clearly he was already so employed when he witnessed the conveyance of Rosa Perrott’s cottage; he stayed on as a Traveller until he became Supervisor of Fussell’s Managed Houses and Hotels, a post he held until his death at the age of 64 in October 1937.  In the report of his burial at Rode it was stated that he had lived in the village for 40 years: this provides us with the date of his joining Sidney Fussell as 1897 and further indicates how Sidney’s business was then developing.  He was one traveller who used a pony and trap in the days before motor vehicles and grandmother Hannah Fussell was wont to describe a pony on Orneage Farm (used at Haymaking time to work the elevator used to build the ricks) as “Mr. Stubbs’ pony”.


159.       Each area had its own Identifying Code:  A for Axbridge, B for Bath, C for Chippenham, D for Devizes, E for Easton (Bristol), F for Frome, G for Gillingham, H for Horfield (Bristol), K for Knowle (Bristol), L for Long Ashton (Bristol), M for Minchinhampton, N for [Midsomer] Norton, O for Oldland (Bristol), P for Pewsey (Swindon), Q for Quedgeley (Gloucs.), R for Romsey, S for Swindon, T for Trowbridge, U for Southampton, V for Warminster, W for Wells, X also for Southampton, Y for Yeovil, and finally Z for Bristol.  Radstock was included with Midsomer Norton.  By 1933 Mr. W. Lane of Rode Hill was the Supervising Traveller and named areas each had their own travellers – William Stokes for Trowbridge, A. Thatcher for Devizes, E. Colley for Chippenham, V. Veale for Salisbury, J. Jennings for Bath and G. Bevant for Swindon. There were doubtless others in the other areas.


160.       There was a card for each customer, recording the name and delivery address, together with a note of the deliveries made and a record of payments.  The cards for each area were assembled in delivery order in ring binders and in these the Traveller recorded the orders.  Office Staff (and in the later years there were over 20 of them) made up Invoices from these Binders and from them loads for each lorry serving the area were made up.  Each area was sub-divided into smaller delivery areas (one for each day of the week save Sundays).  If a Traveller called at a house on, say, Monday to record an order, the office staff would invoice this order on the Tuesday, put it into the Delivery Binder and the delivery would be made on the Wednesday.  Each individual item had its own label showing the name of the Customer, so as to discourage any illegal hawking, and these labels were colour-coded and marked with a distinctive pattern to denote the delivery district.  Not surprisingly the Firm would order 1,000,000 invoices and labels at a time!  The lorry men delivered the orders and collected the payments and empties. Delivery men who returned to the Brewery after the Offices had closed for the day would post their takings through a flap in the outside wall of the Cashier’s Office (see Fig. 22), and the money would drop down a chute, to be collected the next morning.  Mrs. Gifford remembers that on one occasion the chute inside the flap was deliberately blocked with a stone and the monies posted were stolen!  Our earlier Photo. 54 (4 pictures) (following Para. 125) shows typical Fussell’s vehicles of the 1930s (Note the progression from solid to pneumatic tyres between the Photos. of 1930 and 1935!). Even in those days travel by road was not without risk as it is recorded that on 31st January 1933 one of the Brewery lorries skidded on an icy road about 100 yards past Claverton Post Office on its way to Bath.  It turned half round and crashed backwards through a hedge.  Eric Stokes with J. Marsh as his mate drove it.  Although the lorry turned on its side both men escaped serious injury..  Except for a few favoured customers who were occasionally allowed unofficial credit, all transactions were in cash.  Customs and Excise Officers would regularly stop and examine the loads to ensure they were matched to their invoices, again to stop hawking.


161.       Whilst this ‘Private Trade’ started in a modest way, by the time of Sidney’s death in 1913 it was already significant and it continued to increase.  By the mid-1930s it was substantial – turn-over £89,804 in 1936, £113,392 in 1937 (an advert by Fussells in that year claimed “In the west we supply more Private Houses than all other Brewers put together!”), £115,338 in 1938; even in 1939 it was £114,281, possibly due to people stocking up as a precaution against what effect the expected coming war would have on availability. To continue this subject to its close, the effects of shortage of shipping and rationing of supplies, including petrol, became obvious in 1940 (£99,258); it was clearer still in 1941 (£73,893), the year of the UK’s worst shipping losses, and the Family Trade had to be abandoned altogether in 1942 (£14,936).  The areas involving the longest journeys were closed down first until only Fussell’s Pubs, Hotels and Off-Licences and Private House Accounts on the direct route to them could be supplied.


162.       Clubs and Societies:  Thrift, Slate and Christmas Clubs have long been a feature of the English Pub and Club Scene and Fussells encouraged their Pub Managers and Tenants and many other organisations to form such groups and to deposit their weekly or monthly collections with the Brewery, to which the Company added the appropriate amount of interest at Christmas time, or whenever the deposit was scheduled to mature.   As an example in the early Years after World War II there were some 40 of these Pub clubs and the total amounts posited were as follows: 1948 - £5,969, 1949 - £5,725, 1950 - £5,977, 1951 - £6,234, 1952 - £7,985, 1953 - £9,180, 1954 - £11,183, 1955 - £12,860, 1956  - £14,788. 1957 - £13,997. 1958 - £16,375, 1959 - £15,492 and 1960 - £19,225. There were also a substantial number of other Societies involved, e.g. various Conservative, Labour and Liberal Clubs and Police Club, which maintained regular ordinary accounts with Fussells.


Licensed Premises:


163.       In Paras. 130 and 131 above we recorded the acquisition first of the Cock Inn at Warminster in 1913 and of three more Pubs in 1915.  By the end of the First World War the Company owned ten Pubs besides the Cross Keys in Rode.  By the end of the 1920s the total was 22 (including the Garibaldi Tavern in Bath, which was Leasehold and the Lamb and Lion in Bath, which was part Freehold and part Leasehold). The Crown in Frome Market Place and the George in Trowbridge, both Hotels with Letting Accommodation, had also been added.  A further 6 Pubs (including another Leasehold one) and the White Hart in Bridgwater (Hotel with Letting Bedrooms) were also in the portfolio before the start of 1935, but by then the Garibaldi Tavern had been compulsorily purchased by Bath City Council. The grand total (again excluding Rode) by the end of 1939 was 45 (28 Freehold Pubs, 2 Leasehold Pubs and one part Freehold/part Leasehold and 4 Hotels with Letting Bedrooms). The Oddfellows in Bath had closed during 1939.


 164.      Clearly Fussells continued to acquire licensed premises during this period whenever it seemed advantageous to do so and finance allowed.  We know that after Sidney Fussell’s deaths in 1913, as opportunities arose to acquire Pubs, loans were obtained from the company’s bank (Lloyds in Trowbridge) to help finance the deals.  In 2004 Mr. Robert Hill of the firm Tolley & Hill, brewers’ valuers. etc., recounted to SWF that his father, Hill senior, remembered Mr. P.J. Fussell making visits to the firms offices in Bristol.  ‘P.J.’ would show Fussells’ bank deposit book [this suggests the time was in the 1920s, i.e. before machine accounting was introduced by banks] and say: ‘Find me some pubs to buy with this money I have available’.  Whilst many of the acquisitions were because there was sufficient In-house trade to make the outlay worthwhile, there is no doubt that others were bought for reasons of economy connected with private-house sales.  Where, after experience, it became clear that there was insufficient private demand in a given area to fill a delivery lorry completely, it was good to have an owned Licensed property to take up the balance and make a full load, to avoid part empty lorries travelling around the country. This trade also served the Brewer’s traditional aim of “keeping the Mash Tun filled”.  Incidentally the prices charged for liquor in the private trade were considerably lower than the prices across the Bar in a Pub.  Though some overheads of the Private Trade (travellers, transport, etc.) also applied to the Pubs private sales were reliable sources of cash flow.






165.       During the early and mid nineteenth century the traditional methods of brewing had changed little, but, countrywide, in many fields of endeavour, rapid strides were made in the 1870s, both in science and technology.  In the brewing industry, however, both owners and managers, being cautious by nature and experience, and though ready to accept new kinds of machinery at every stage of production, were wary of scientific advances.  Despite the establishment of the Institute of Brewing in 1886, they were slow to move on from their traditional methods and respond to scientific advice.  Nonetheless, besides the widespread use of steam power in heating, pumping and lifting materials in the industry the other main advance in the latter part of the 19th century centred on ways to cool worts and beers. By 1900 the country saw extensive introduction of refrigerating plants and ice machines, allowing brewers to achieve a large turn over of the new, rather weaker “running beers”, so called because they matured quickly, enabling batches to follow one another swiftly, as opposed to the older traditional “vatted” products, some of which required weeks or even months to mature.  Though it would be some years before these changes reached Rode Brewery, nevertheless during the years after WWI there were a number of areas of improvement here, some of which are not easy to date precisely or to fit exactly in to the sequence of our narrative.


166.       We remarked in Para. 60 above that in absence of full records, particularly financial ones, it is difficult to be precise about which buildings were erected at specific times, let alone what each cost.  We are confident however that, externally at least, the Fussells Brewery buildings were essentially the same at the start of the second World War as they were later when Bass took over the Company in 1962.


167.       We have chosen, for reasons which will become clear in the text below, to divide the inter World War years into two broad parts, the first being from 1920 to (say) 1929/30.  The second covers from this latter date to the end of 1939.  We believe, however, that the acquisition of the Mead’s Brewery Enterprise (covered in Appendix C) was not part of a pre-conceived  “master plan”, but rather an unanticipated opportunity which was simply too good to miss.


168.       There was some significant building during this inter-war period of which the dates are not clear to us, so we have set these in the particular context which seems best to us.  We have also included a copy of Ref. 8 as our Fig. 19 to help the reader.


169.       We have also included below some particular details of the brewing processes used at Rode, to expand on the outline in Para. 7 above.  In reading the details however it is important to remember that the processes described and the method of assessing excise duty relate to what took place at Rode before 1962: at some time since that date the taxation of beer has been the subject of a radical change to meet the requirements of the laws of the European Union.  Moreover Fussells replaced some of the plant in use up to c. 1960, when the bottling line was modernised.


1920 to 1929/30 (Figure 26)


170.       Enlarged Beer Stores:  At some time during this period, the roof and at least part of the walls of the “new” 1904 Beer Stores (See Paras. 115 to 119 above) were pulled down and a new strong concrete floor was installed above the remainder, its level matched to those of the Old Brewhouse and Extension, and gave space to site more Fermenting Vessels so to meet the need for increased throughput.  We have marked the original 1904 Beer Cellar as u4 (18) (so being consistent with the space numbering system of Appendix E, and this new floor as 4(18).  The level of this new floor and space can clearly be seen in our Photo 59 with another floor above it o4 (18)).  This latter floor has, towards its eastern edge, a door giving into the top level of the L-shaped extension of the Old Brewhouse (see our Photo. 29).  We are not certain whether this floor o4 (18) was added in the 1920s or the 1930s, but we have chosen the former, as we doubt the Fussell’s Directors would have deliberately chosen to take “two bites at the cherry”. Accepting this these new floors had both north and south gable ends, with a N/S ridged roof, the southern wall ending at the south end of rooms 5(17) and o5 (17) (See also our final Figure 30).

171.       The Well Pumping Mechanism:  Both Percy John and Henry Sidney Fussell would have been fully aware that bigger throughput would involve increasing the water supply and, planning in the mid 1920s, with the Batten Pooll solution (Paras. 151 to 155 above) not yet in the offing, this meant pumping more water from the Brewery’s own well, and for more powerful pumping machinery. We understand that the probable reason for the need for the new mechanism was that the depth of the well, some 202 feet, required a second pump at  an intermediate level (at approximately the half-way stage of the rise from the natural water level) to boost the flow to be discharged at the top of the well. Mr. Michael Sparey recalled that when he and the late Mr. John Bryant were making repairs John went part way down the well on a ladder and sighted ironwork used for the booster pump.  Our Photo 60, taken in June 1997, shows the floor of room 4(18), towards it northern end (and close to where the Head Brewer’s desk was sited in those days), and one can see the top of the well winding gear protruding.  It is difficult to believe that this floor would have deliberately been sited so that the space below could accommodate neither the old winding gear nor the new set we believe to have been ordered for the 1920s.  We can only assume that what we saw in 1997 was indeed the new mechanism which, when delivered, did not fit.  One can imagine that the brothers would not have been amused!


172.       The New Cask Washing Shed.  We have already described how a Cask Washing Shed had been built as part of the 1904 works (Paras. 115 et seq and Fig. 18), but with the acquisition of Orneage Farm and a new site entrance in Church Lane, cask handling could be both expanded and improved.  Photo 61 looks SW inside this new shed, with the door accessing the ramp down to Room 16(27) Barrel Store, whilst our Photo. 27 looks roughly NW into it. There the SE corner of the Old Brewhouse is just to the right of the boarded-up opening in the Photo.  Access to the back of the garden of the Reading Rooms is through the single door at the RHS of this Photo.  The “stepped” part of the roof can be seen at the right side of our Photo. 62 and the eastern entrance to it in our Photo.  63.  Photo. 64 (See following page) was taken in 1929 towards the end of the first post WWI building period and looks towards the east side of this new CWS from further east.  A lorry, backed up to unload inside the overhang can be seen at the back of the picture.  Almost all the employees of Fussells are in the Photo, with Henry Sidney Fussell, Head Brewer, in the centre with his young son Henry John on his knee and Reginald Fussell (the Transport Manager) on his left.  The young fair-haired hatless man wearing a tie on the right of the assembly is Michael Sparey’s father.


173.       The New Bottling Department.  Photo. 65, taken during the Demolition Phase of 2002, shows part of the east side of the main range of the brewery buildings, with the Toilet Block in the foreground.  The south wall of this latter rises to a white-painted gable end of a ridged roof running N/S and this terminates at the southern end of the Cold Room complex (Rooms 13(12)), which was constructed in the 1930s (See Para. 191 below).  In the 1920s this ridge continued north to become that of the Cask Washing Shed (See Photo. 62). Photo 67, taken from inside of this Bottling area  (Room 1(11)) has, off camera right, access to room 5(1) (See Para. 170 above).  At this Photo’s top right, through the skeleton of the roof, some of the upper part of the MBB can be seen.  We will come to this later. At the far left of Photo 66 is the northern end of a sloping concrete ramp, once carrying roller tracking on its top and against which lorries would back to unload cases of empty bottles prior to their being washed.  Photo 68 gives a view, taken in 1993, of the whole ramp.


Other Matters


174.       Family Affairs:  We described the formation of the Company Sidney Fussell and Sons Ltd. in Para. 128 above and we recorded in Para. 129 that founder Sidney and his three eldest sons (Percy John, Henry Sidney and Howard Noad) became the first Directors of the Company. Sidney, of course, died in 1913, leaving a life interest in his share of the business to his widow Hannah, who was to live until 1932.  Howard Noad Fussell died in 1915 (Para. 135 above).  The formal settling of the estates of these three important people proved to be a challenge, not only because of the need to satisfy the expectations and need of their beneficiaries, but also to ensure that there would be sufficient working capital for the new Directors to run the Company’s business.  This may well be the reason why the next major building phase was not to start until the mid-1930s.  There were to be two distinct strands – a further increase of brewing capacity and a vast augmentation of processing, storage and handling facilities still further to the south of the site.  There was first however to be  another acquisition of a different type. Meantime, Photo. 69, taken at a function at the George Hotel, Trowbridge, shows a group of those attending, including (standing) Percy John Fussell (second from left), Reginald Godfrey Fussell (fourth from left) and Henry Sidney Fussell (on the right).

The Reading Rooms:


175.       These, formerly known as the ‘United Counties Reading and News Rooms’, together with the caretaker’s cottage between them and the Cross Keys, were bought (the rooms themselves being disused) by Fussells on 9th December 1930, from Walter Stewart Batten Pooll of Rode Manor. Some other pieces of land in the Rode area and, importantly, a right of way in rear of the premises over Orneage Farm, were part of this deal in which Fussells paid £480. Mr. Wilfred W. Barnett and his family occupied the caretaker’s cottage at the time.  Fussells employed Mr. Barnett, who had lost an arm during WWI, as a painter and decorator.  He and his family remained as occupants there until 1937 when they moved to No. 1 Fairfield, one of a block of three houses built by Fussells from some of the stone salvaged from the ruins of Rockabella House (Photo. 70). Mrs. Gifford remembered that in her early days the office Staff used to eat their lunch in the disused Reading Rooms.


176.       Fussells later used the Reading Rooms as a store for dry goods such as labels, stationery and other items as well as, at one time, using the first floor for the bottling of wines and spirits.  SWF remembers seeing the late Bert Rossiter and another man there for that purpose.


177.       It is not known when access from the first floor of the Reading Rooms to both the Cross Keys and to the Skittle Alley (created from what had been a room housing fermenting vessels) was made; the purpose of access to the Cross Keys was to provide additional accommodation for the landlord of the Pub.  Mr. Michael Sparey believes there was no access from the Reading Rooms when he and the late Mr. John Bryant used to carry out repairs to the property until the Bass era.


178.       Bass used the ground floor rooms as a workers’ canteen, whilst the first floor was adapted with cages to hold “goodies” (beer mats, dart boards, etc.) for Travellers to distribute to Licensed Premises (Photo. 71).  Since the restoration of the Cross Keys the former Reading Rooms have been fully incorporated into the Pub and arrangements have been made to modernise the mechanism of the Village Clock, the dial of which still adorns the High Street frontage.  But that is a separate story.


179.       Costs.  We noted in Para. 60 above that, in absence of full financial records and detailed plans, it is difficult to date and delineate exactly the improvements made to the Brewery premises during the inter-war years (or for that matter in the years post WWII under either Fussell or Bass ownership). We do know from records held at the Bass Museum that substantial capital expenditure was made for those purposes - £11,915 in 1936, £2,757 in 1937, £1,420 in 1938, £1,546 in 1939 and £121 in 1940, giving another hint that these works started about 1935.  Such expenditure would not have been written off directly to the Profit & Loss Account when incurred, but if appropriate an amount for depreciation would have been charged against profits in future years until the cost was fully written off.  The expenditure would have appeared in the Company’s Balance Sheet under Fixed Assets, split under Freehold Land and Properties, Plant and Machinery, Fixtures and Fittings, and Motor Vehicles.  One might not expect to see capital investment during the war years, but there must have been some after World War I in the years before 1936 and doubtless non-capital expenditure on progressive alterations and maintenance.  We simply do not have evidence to show, but the paragraphs below are our best-considered record.


Post 1930 to 1939 and the Rode Brewing System: 


180        The [Tower] Brewhouse : In Para. 69 et seq. we related the early story of the Cross Keys Bake house and Baker’s Shop starting with Henry Fussell’s work between 1857 and 1875.  Specifically  in Para. 70, we told how, after WWI, in the 1920s, baking not having resumed after the war, the Baker’s Shop was incorporated into the Pub and its separate door and entrance were removed.  In Para. 123 et seq we showed that the first (southern) part of the new [Tower] Brewhouse was built in the early years of the 20th Century.  We set out what was sited on each floor, and in Para. 117 and in our Photo. 50 indicated how an altered floor was erected in this part, also in the 1930s, when the Chimney Stack was heightened.  In the mid-1930s the Bake house at the rear of the rooms of the former Baker’s shop was demolished and replaced by a new northern “half” of the [Tower] Brewhouse, with a second (northern) chimney stack. (Photo. 72)  The resulting space usage is shown at Fig. 27 and it can be seen that the effect was to add a complete further set of brewing plant, but with all liquor tanks raised to the top floor; it can also be seen that the new brewing plant was of different capacity to the original set, and Fussell family representatives believe the newer plant was the larger.  We know that the output capacity was doubled.


181.       The Boiling Stage:  We described the early stages of the production process in our Paras. 7 to 9 above.  After mashing the wort was run off from the mash tun to the copper; dry hops were added and, depending on the particular formula being followed for the brew, dissolved invert (Brewing) sugar was also added by pipe from the sugar dissolver in the sugar room.  When brewing Stout and Brown Ale a proportion of Black and Crystal Malts were added to the other malts in the grist, bearing in mind that that the total quantity of the grist could not exceed the limit of the mash tun.  In addition, to provide a dark colour and flavour a measured quantity of concentrated Caramel Sugar (not an invert type), appropriate to the recipe, was fed into the copper.  One of the brewer’s many skills was his ability to monitor the use of material used in the brew to ensure for costing purposes that there was an appropriate balance in the respective proportions of malt and sugar.  Fussells had two ‘High’ Mills (made by Robert Boby, Ltd., of Bury St. Edmunds), one 7 quarters mash tun and one 3 ½ quarters mash tun.  There was one 60-barrel copper (enclosed pressure type, coal fired) and one 30-barrel copper of similar type and firing.


182.       The Cooling Stage: This followed the boiling. The wort was passed by gravity from the copper to the hop back, where it was separated from the spent hops; the wort was then pumped from the hop back to the coolers (sometimes called the refrigerators), which took the form of open troughs, before the wort was allowed to flow over the outside of vertical coolers through which cold water was being circulated, the wort being cooled to 60o F at collection.


183.       The Fermentation Stage:  This began after the wort had been lowered to the required temperature.  It was passed to the fermenting vat in readiness for the yeast to be added.  However, before fermentation began the brewer read off both the number of barrels (i.e.36 gallons) of wort in the vat and its original specific gravity.  The brewer then entered these in the Excise Book.  By law the brewer had to enter in the Excise Book notification of his intention to brew 24 hours before doing so.  The Excise Officer then knew when the next brewing was to take place and would call at the brewery to assess for himself the barrelage and original specific gravity recorded in the Excise Book; in the event of any discrepancies between his calculations and those of the brewer both would cross-check their readings to arrive at an agreed result.  Such accuracy was essential because the excise duty was calculated and charged on the agreement so reached.  In passing, an allowance of 6% from the duty so calculated was made to cover the inevitable losses that occurred from the quantity assessed in the fermenting vat to the packaging of the product ready for dispatch to the trade outlet. For every 36 gallons where the wort was of an original specific gravity of 1027o or less before fermentation a minimum duty was charged, and for every additional degree in excess of 1027o further duty became payable.  Fussells’ fermenting capacity was all in wood and was of some 500 barrels.  The stages that followed fermentation depended on whether the beer was destined for casks or for bottling and we deal with these shortly.


184        The Chimney Stacks: A rather poorly defined picture, taken in 1935 (Photo. 73) was shot from the SW corner of the extended site, looking NE.  One can distinguish on the left of the picture two chimneystacks of the Tower Brewhouse, the left hand (northerly) one with smoke issuing. This does confirm that the Brewhouse expansion was done before other work of the 1930s as, behind the part completed large single-storey building in the foreground can be seen the skeleton of what would become the upper storeys of the multi-storey Red Brick Building.  We will consider these next.


New Storage and Handling Facilities  (Fig. 28)


185.       Our access to the site during the demolition phase in early 2002 (see Chapter X) and the Photos we were able to take then, coupled with a cross-comparison of the layouts shown in our final Fig. 30 and Ref. 10, are the basis of our deductions about what happened in these facilities in the 1930s.


186.       Based on what we set out in Para. 170 above about Floors u4 (18) and 4(18) we believe that the central parts leading south towards and into the MBB as far as its southern end would have received earliest attention (Rooms 6(16), 7(15) and 8(14) on the ground floor and rooms o6(16), o7(15) and o8 (14) above them) and our Photo. 73 gives hints of this work.  Photo. 74 shows the completed first floor from the south, looking north and with the lift enclosure on the right marking the south end of Room o6 (16).  But more prominently, in the foreground of Photo. 73, are what would be the new areas for making up out-loads for delivery (Rooms 19/20) and the new load-out bays (Rooms 24 and 24a) can be seen.  Rooms 19/20 are better shown in our Photo. 75 (including the overhead offices “on the bridge” and from which out-loading was controlled), and Photo. 76 (looking out through some of the roller blinds to the docks against which the delivery lorries would back); our Photo. 77 shows some Fussells’ lorries parked there in the 1930s, whilst Photo. 78 shows Bass lorries being loaded there after the 1962 take-over.


187.       Logic tells us, though we have no direct supporting evidence, that the remaining floors of the MBB must have been completed next (Rooms oo6 (16), oo7 (15) and oo8 (14) and the sole room on the top level (ooo7 (15)), which was to hold only a single large internal water tank.  Photo. 79, again taken during the demolition phase, gives the reader a good view of these, including the Tell-tale (this latter was used to indicate whether the Rockabella pump needed to be switched on to maintain a good head of water) (See Para. 154 above).  An unrelated telltale on the north wall of the first floor of the brewhouse indicated the level of the water in the cold liquor tanks on its fourth floor (See our Photo. 53).


188.       The corresponding large single-storey building to the east of the central range (Photo. 80) created the final important extension to the south., its northern end abutting and continuing the south wall of the 1920s build, described in our Para. 173 and shown in our Photos. 65 and 66.  Our Photo. 81 was taken within this space, looking north.


189.       Once fermented the beer was subject to a number of processes in various places in the brewery and we describe both the processes and where they were carried out in the sections below.


190.       Racking:  Beer to be sold in casks was “racked” into them by gravity in the main cellar, either direct from the fermenting vats or from holding tanks (there were 20 of these, each of 40 barrel capacity and glass-lined) sited on the floor above.  Some sugar and dry hops were added to the cask to help cause a secondary fermentation and the casks were rolled each day to assist this.  The casks were kept in the cellar for a certain number of days, depending on the beer’s strength and before a cask was dispatched from the brewery “finings”, known as Isinglass (made from the dissolved bladder of sturgeon fish) were added to each cask to clarify the beer.

191.       The Cold Rooms (Rooms 13(12):  These were lined with cork and contained sixteen 30-barrel glass-lined cold storage tanks; the temperature in them was controlled by refrigerating plant in the small room at the eastern end of the complex.  One of the cold rooms also stored yeast.  Below the cold rooms were sets of machinery (Photo. 82) but as members of the Fussell family did not recognise these one must conclude Bass installed them after the 1962 take-over.


192.       Bottling of Beers:  Very clean bottles were essential for beer and Fussells had two 240 dozen per hour washers made by the Miller Hydro Co., Ltd., of Slough (of the general design shown in our Photo. 83) to ensure this.  The beer for bottling was filtered, as with cask beer, from either the fermenting vat or holding tank to remove yeast and any other solid matters.  These filters (some types are shown in our Photo. 84) were made up of a series of steel sieves, alternating with a mineral pulp and compressed together.  When soiled after a period of use, the compressing spindle would be loosened, the exhausted pulp removed and the sieves washed out in fresh water before new pulp was packed in. The beer was then piped to the conditioning tanks in the Cold Rooms, where CO2 was added at the appropriate temperature; when ready it was piped to the Bottling Plant and filled into flagons, pints, half-pints etc. before capping with stoppers or crown corks appropriate to the type of bottle.  Fussells had three 18-head Bottling Fillers, products of H. Pontifex & Sons, Ltd., of Manchester Square, London.


193.       Pasteurisation:  Louis Pasteur (1822 to 1895) developed a procedure for killing off bacteria in milk by heating it, and he did similar work on “the infection of beers” (Ref. 27).  This process, combined with filtration, greatly improved the bottling of beers.  Henry Fussell, the firm’s founder would almost certainly not have known of Pasteur’s work, nor would his son Sidney; indeed we do not know whether the next generation became aware of it in their early days in charge, and in any case they would not have had space to install the necessary machinery, nor possibly had the money to buy it.  But once Orneage Farm had come into use it was different and after extending the storage and bottling spaces in the 1920s and 1930s a large high-ceilinged room (22(22)) was dug out to the south of the lower cellar (See Fig. 26 again) and in 1938 Fussells installed a Pontifex Pasteuriser.  This had a capacity of 120 dozen pints per hour, and filled bottles of whatever size were passed to the Pasteuriser to be totally submerged at a controlled heat to destroy harmful or undesirable micro-organisms.  The plant was accessed from the ramp leading up from Room u4 (18) towards the rear of the space to the east of the Methodist Chapel.


Mineral Water Production and Cider, Wines and Spirits


194.       So far we have found no evidence of Mineral Waters having been produced in Sidney Fussell’s days; his time and available space were entirely taken up with brewing and baking.  There was certainly no spare labour during WWI to make mineral waters so our assumption for now has to be that with the family trade building up after WWI the prospect of adding profitable sales (plus the evidence of an invoice dated 6th October 1921), production started c. 1920.  A further factor was that Reginald Godfrey Fussell became available on his return to Rode after his demobilization in 1919, and it was he who became responsible for Mineral Water production then and continued so until his retirement in 1956.  As to where he got his training we simply do not know unless he consulted his uncle and aunt (Thomas and Sarah Barnes – she a sister of Sidney Fussell) who had at one time produced them in Southwick.  Another factor was that until Henry Sidney Fussell bought Orneage Farm on 30th June 1920 there was no room on the brewery site for such production.  Perhaps it was around 1919/20 that the space in the High Street Stables (See Para.109 above) was first used for the purpose and SWF and his brothers well remember, when young, seeing lemonade (it was yellow in those days) being bottled there.  Sugar was dissolved at the rate of 6 Lbs to the gallon in water, to which a flavouring essence and citric acid were added: it was then filtered through an inverted cone of material before a specific measure of it was inserted into the bottle, and before chilled carbonated water was added via the bottling machine (the water had to be chilled to ensure that it could absorb the CO2).


SWF recalls that between 1930 and 1935/36 there was a section at the south end of the bottling hall, before this was extended c. 1935/36, that was used for Mineral Water production and his brother Howard remembers that at that time syrup was still prepared in the rear of the stables and then carried in two buckets by yoke to the brewery building.  Once the MBB was completed the mineral water plant and manufacture was then moved to the south end of the first floor and the syrup was dissolved there.


In 1955 Fussells had an 18-head Barnett & Foster filler for Mineral Waters. Squashes, which were also produced, were filled by means of a Siphon Filler.


197.       Cider, Wines & Spirits:  Fussells also bought Cider in cask.  During the Early 1950s Reginald Godfrey Fussell decided that, with the rising cost of labour and without the family trade to supply, it was more profitable to buy cider in bottle rather than in bulk.  Wines & Spirits (e.g Whisky and Rum, and possibly Gin as well), and Port [and Sherry] were bought in cask and stored in the Customs & Excise Bond in Bath.  Excise duty did not become payable until the goods were required for use and withdrawn from Bond.  SWF recalls wines at one time being bottled in the former stables, sometimes straight from the cask, and at other times by siphon filler; the first floor of the Reading Rooms was also used for the same purpose and the filled bottles were both corked and labelled in both places.




198.       Bank Loans: We have referred in Para. 130 above to Sidney Fussell’s objection to borrowing for purposes of the business, despite his Victorian values that sound investment was in bricks and mortar: it is therefore unlikely he would have committed himself to capital expenditure on buildings or land unless he had the necessary funds available at the time.  We do not know whether he had yielded shortly before his death in January 1913 to pressure from his co-directors to borrow from the bank for the Company to purchase the Cock Inn and Brewery, Warminster.  Nevertheless there can be no doubt that when acquisitions were made in the years following Sidney’s death the directors would have deemed it prudent to borrow from the bank to ensure the company expanded its pub estate.  However we have no records and in the absence of the Company’s Register of Charges we have no evidence to support this until the Crown Hotel, Frome was purchased on 1st May 1920 for £1,500. (See again Appendix C).  Although the sale of an old lavatory in 1959 to the nearby Post Office was of itself a minor matter only, documentation resulting therefrom has provided useful information on the subject of borrowing from the bank at the time of the purchase of the Crown Hotel.  A mortgage deed dated 26th February 1920 appears to have related specifically to the Crown transaction, but a later mortgage deed dated 28th June 1920 provided for a total amount not exceeding the principal sum of  £4,000 to be secured on all hereditaments and premises mentioned or described in that document.  Unfortunately the details of these hereditaments and premises have not survived so we do not know whether or not all the Company’s freehold properties were subject to the mortgage, although it is clear from what we know that £4,000 being the amount secured was well in excess of the £1,500 paid for the Crown. Both mortgages were to Lloyds Bank, Trowbridge and there is a reference to a further mortgage dated 14th May 1925 that secured an amount not exceeding the principal sum of £3,000; from the documents we have available it appears this £3,000 represents a second charge on the assets described in the mortgage dated 20th June 1920. As the business expanded over the succeeding years until 1962, when Bass acquired the Company, it is likely that larger loans would have been registered with Lloyds Bank Ltd., as the need arose.


199.       Cash Flow:  Although the Private Trade and the pubs provided excellent cash flow, together with the usual monthly credit allowed by suppliers and the time allowed by the Customs and Excise for payment of beer duty, there would have been opportunities to purchase pubs and the need for financing the enlargement of the brewery buildings. So additional funding would have been required from the Bank for these purposes; there were, however, other ways to improve the cash flow, such as the establishment of Thrift and Slate Clubs (see Para. 162 above) and by loans from employes, which were much encouraged by the Company, earning good annual rates of interest.


200.       Loans from the Directors and the Fussell family: When the estates of Sidney and his widow Hannah were distributed in 1932, under the terms of their respective wills, balances on loan accounts of the deceased and other members of the family represented a significant part of the Company’s debts; it was necessary consequently for the directors to seek the advice of their solicitors to find a way to continue to use the cash represented by these loans rather than having to repay them.  The result of this advice, and with agreement from members of the family, was that the Company’s capital was re-organised in 1934 so that in effect the amounts due to the beneficiaries were covered by the issue of Preference Shares, with further issues of those shares to members of the family paid for from their Loan Accounts.  At the same time a new issue of Ordinary Shares was allotted to the two remaining Ordinary Shareholders for cash under the provision of the Company’s Articles of Association.


201.       Retention of Profits in the Business: Annual dividends were always paid on the 6% Preference Shares but apart from the relatively modest salaries the directors paid themselves their policy of not paying dividends on the Ordinary Shares was followed until just a few years before 1962.  This policy resulted in the retention of cash in the business out of which the acquisition of pubs and the expansion of brewery buildings were funded without resource to loans from the bank unless unavoidable.




202.       Preamble:  We have no formal records or wages books from any period of the Fussell years at Rode Brewery. What we do have has been culled from Censuses, some family records, from limited documentation at the Bass Museum, from Local newspapers, including a few reports of Court Proceedings and similar publications, and from the recollections of local people.  Whilst these are lacking in detail, particularly in the early years, they do give a broad outline of how, as the business grew, the numbers employed, not surprisingly, did so too.


Numbers Employed


203.       We do not know when Henry Fussell engaged his first employee(s) to work for him in the bakery business/shop that he ran at No. 1 Lower Street, Rode adjacent to the Red Lion Inn, before his purchase at the Cross Keys in 1857, but no doubt his and Ellen’s children would have helped around  the place in their early years.  After the move to the Cross Keys the Census of 1861 tells us (Para. 54 above) of involvement of the children. A case heard at Frome County Court on 14th May 1866, for non-payment of a debt to Henry (in which it appeared the debt was paid to William instead) seems to confirm William’s role. 


204.       In a case heard at Frome Petty Sessions on 10 June 1875 (after Henry’s death) reference was made to his widow Ellen, to whom the business had been left for the term or her life, and also to Sidney as a “baker and innkeeper”, from which it can be assumed that he was by then managing the business for his mother.  On 16th August 1892 in a case at Frome County Court reference was made to Joseph Toogood, described as a “baker in the employment of Sidney Fussell”; evidence was given by John Thomas Dunford (“assistant in the brewery”) and Albert Lane (“assistant baker”).  Toogood said he had worked for Sidney Fussell for seven years.  At Frome Police Court on 19th May 1899, in a case involving alleged embezzlement, it was stated that Sidney Fussell had employed Charles Barnett for seven years as an assistant in the bake house and for delivering bread and collecting accounts.  At Frome County Court on 16th September 1902 Sidney Fussell, when applying for a commitment order against Joseph Fricker of Coleford, was asked how much Fricker was earning and replied that whilst he (Sidney) did not know “his traveller did”. We can conclude from the foregoing that not only did family members help in the business, but that both Henry and Sidney engaged employees from outside their families.


205.       We know that Sidney Fussell employed Reginald Barton as a brewer from 1899 until he left the district in 1903 (Para. 72 above), and that in 1904 Percy L. Stubbs, described as a “Brewer’s traveller”, witnessed Sidney’s signature to the conveyance of Rose Derham’s cottage to Sidney (Para. 72 again). In an advertisement of Sidney’s in 1907 A.W. Austin of Trowbridge was mentioned, but it is thought he was an agent seeking orders for Sidney rather than a direct employee (still Para. 72). Some time around 1909 William H. (“Bill”) Butler was engaged on a temporary basis; he later became Chief Clerk, working for Fussells until 1962 when Bass acquired the Company.  We do not know if he retired then: he died in 1967 and his burial took place at Rode on 16th July of that year.


206.       The foregoing names refer only to individuals and provide no evidence of the total number of employees; however at the Funeral Service for Sidney after his death on 12th January 1913, office staff, travellers and employees numbering 40 were present.  At the Military Tribunal on 24th February 1916 when Henry Sidney Fussell’s (unsuccessful) appeal against his call-up was heard, Percy John Fussell stated (Para. 36 above) that the firm employed 67 people, of whom 11 had enlisted. At his own hearing before a National Service Board on 26th April 1918 Percy John said the firm now employed only 32 people, including women (see Para 138 and 139 above). At the funeral of Hannah Maria Fussell (Sidney’s widow) on 24th May 1932, 100 employees were present.


207.       We have a note (of uncertain origin) suggesting that in 1929 Fussells employed 91 people on the Brewery site and in the Office, and a note at the Bass Museum tells us that in 1938 there were 140 in the brewery (plus two Foremen) and 32 in the Office (though this may have included some Travellers).  By the outbreak of WWII in 1939 Fussells were employing some 200 in Rode with an unknown total of full-time and part-time employees at over 50 managed houses and hotels.  Contrast this with 81 names at Rode in 1946 listed by the late Mr. Reginald Fussell.  By 1946 the number at Rode was about one-half the pre-war total and this reflected the cessation of the Private Trade.


208.       The numbers of employees in the foregoing paragraphs are given as an indication of the build up of the business since Sidney became the sole owner in 1885.


Family Connections:


209.       Not surprisingly, in a business such as Fussells, based in a small village, and drawing its work force predominantly from local people, there were frequent examples where two or more people from one generation of a family, or from two, or even three generations of the same family, worked in the Brewery, some of them at the same time.  Even after the Bass take-over there were cases where fathers (and some mothers) had worked for Fussells and they and their children then worked for Bass.  Whether or not this strong family involvement was due to an innate loyalty to the firm, or whether it was a case or limited opportunities we leave the reader to decide, but it is certainly true that Fussells were virtually the only local employers around.  We could select many people known to us who fill this bill, but we have felt it best (even realising that there will be omissions) to set out in Appendix H some lists of employees and wages, copied from records at the Bass Museum.


Working Conditions, Wages and Trade Union Affairs


210.       By the standards of the 1920s and 1930s, relations between the Fussells’ management and their work force appeared to be reasonably harmonious.  One worker of those days records Mr. P.J. Fussell as a hard but fair boss – “he let you get on with things”.  There were some advantages in working in a ‘family firm’, where everyone knew everyone else, but there were drawbacks as well.  Much of the work was physically demanding, and the working hours (even leaving aside the peculiar needs of the staff of the actual brewing section themselves) were long and often what we might nowadays call ‘anti-social’.  Add to this that Trade Unions were steadily seeking  (and succeeding) to increase and spread their power beyond the traditional areas of heavy industries, and there was obvious opportunity for friction. Fussells’ Management were fundamentally opposed to Trade Union activities in the firm, arguing that their work force was already in a unique position.  Each man was treated individually.  The firm paid the whole of the National Health and Unemployment Insurance, many men enjoyed the benefits of cheap employer-owned housing - there were two pints of free beer a day and cheap milk from the Fussells’ herd. Trade Unions were not needed.  A number of the men, however, wanted Trade Union recognition so their claims for improved conditions and higher wages could be regularised and strengthened.


211.       Matters came to a head in April 1937, when a branch of the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU) was formed at Rode Brewery. The Chairman and Secretary of the new branch and its 20 members were immediately sacked.  Mr Jack Donovan, the Area Organiser of the TGWU in an interview at Rode was quoted as saying: “We are left without an alternative and shall immediately put into operation our scheme to boycott the firm.  We shall advise all members of the Union and Trade Unionists of this boycott, which will effect [sic] any materials that may be consigned to Messrs. Fussell or any firms who supply goods to the brewery.  The dockers at Bristol and Avonmouth are already watching for goods consigned to Messrs Fussell and they have been supplied with the names of firms supplying barley, sugar, bottles or any other goods to this firm.  The boycott will be complete”. Clearly in those circumstances it would have been difficult for Fussells to have refused to talk to the Union for very long.  At this stage the Union’s fight was presumably about the principle of employees’ right to join the Union if they so wished, but from that would undoubtedly flow pressure on Fussells to discuss wages and working conditions.


212.       On a Saturday afternoon in late April Mr. Jack Donovan supported by Mr. H.R. Priddy addressed a large gathering of employees in the open space of the High Street opposite Ivy House; some, by no means all, greeted the speakers with enthusiasm.  Such a serious dispute in such an important Company of the region gave great concern to prominent businessmen in Bristol and through their good offices a meeting between Trade Union Officials and Fussell’s management (Percy John, Henry Sidney and Reginald Godfrey Fussell) was arranged in Bristol and a settlement was agreed, including the immediate re-instatement of the sacked men.


213.       But this was not the end of the matter for in early June the TGWU renewed the embargo on goods consigned to the brewery, complaining that Fussells were hostile towards proposals to regularise wages and conditions of work for union members and had dismissed five union members.  The Union contended that in April they lifted the embargo on goods entering Messrs. Fussells’ brewery because the firm gave undertakings not to oppose trade union organisation among the employees. The Union further contended that the firm had agreed to consider applications for a wage and conditions agreement.  It was reported that the Union subsequently made such an application but received a reply suggesting that the matter be left in abeyance.  It was also contended that preferential treatment was meted out and wages increased to men who had expressed their intention not to join the union.  Fussells wrote to Mr. Donovan pointing out that the Union represented less than 10% of the work force and consequently had little status in Fussells’ affairs, but they were prepared to acquaint the Ministry of Labour with their position and ask for the Ministry’s advice and recommendations.  On one occasion during the dispute the Union Officials called at Percy John’s residence, Mayfield House, and asked to see him: they were told he was not at home by his two resident staff whom the Officials took to be his daughters.


214.       Happily, two further meetings were held at Bristol under the auspices of the Ministry of Labour after which it was announced on 16th June 1937 that a settlement had been reached by both sides. We do not know the details of that settlement although it is thought likely that Fussells agreed to a review of wages and working hours of the employees (See Para. 215 below).  Throughout, the dispute had been widely reported in both the local and national press.


215.       Until some time in 1937 working hours for brewery employees for Monday to Friday were: 6am-5pm with an hour’s break for breakfast at 8am: dinner hour 1-2pm: Saturday was a half-day starting at 6am with an hour’s break for breakfast but finishing at 1pm.  By December 1937 (we do not know exactly when) the hours had been changed to start work at 7.30am with no break for breakfast; otherwise the day and week remained as before.  On 1st July 1938 the dinner hour for Monday to Friday was altered to 12 noon-1pm.  According to the late Mr. John Bryant brewery working hours in 1949 were Monday to Thursday 7.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm: Friday 7.30am-12.30pm and 1-5pm, Saturday 7.30am to 12.30pm.  Daily, the relevant hours were announced by a hooter; brewery workers clocked-in at two or more points on the premises, but Mrs. Gifford told us that Office Staff did not have to clock in.  She also told us that in her early days she was required every six weeks (as part of a roster) to be at the Offices in Orneage Farmhouse (having left her home in Norton St. Philip at 5.40am) in time to receive the first post of the day at 6am, open it and prepare the paperwork for any outgoing deliveries to be made that day.  She would then go to Mr. P.J. Fussell’s home at Mayfield House at 8am where the resident staff (Mabel and Beatrice) would give her breakfast. On those occasions she would receive an extra 5/- per week (Bass records tell us that in 1929 her regular wage was 10/- a week and had gone up to £1 7s 0d a week by 1938). A good example perhaps, of the rigorous working regime of those days, but having some advantages of working for a family firm!

Housing for Employees:

216.       With the slow down in the work of the woollen mills and the closure of the last local one in 1904, there were few opportunities for work in Rode, save on farms, and in baking, brewing, and local shops or, for a very few, domestic service in larger houses.  Gradually small cottages (those not owned in due course by Fussells), fell into decay and were neither repaired nor replaced.  As a result the housing stock decreased: at a meeting of Rode Parish Council in April 1930 it was agreed that an appeal should be made to Somerset County Council.

217.       As long as employees for the brewery could be found within Rode village, or from other nearby villages (by either cycling or walking to Rode) recruitment did not become of significance until the early 1930s, when better employment opportunities and living accommodation became available in nearby towns. Providing housing in the village was a problem, because until the mid-1930s, though the big houses had supplies, there was no public electricity, gas or mains water supply in Rode, and sewerage was still basic to put it at its best.

218.       In April 1934, P.J. Fussell wrote to the Somerset Standard (Ref. 20) about houses in Rode and in particular housing for brewery employees.  He wrote:

‘Your paragraph in last week’s issue about the domestic water of the village interested me keenly, because the provision of a water supply may be a step towards the much needed additional houses.  It takes a very long time for schemes of this sort to materialise but to have some evidence of the necessity of houses I would like those genuinely wanting houses from 5s a week upwards to give me personally direct information of their requirements or wishes.  I refer to our employees.  Why cycle five, six or even seven miles to work?  Our village is off the beaten track.  There is no through traffic, not even a bus and about the only village without a new house.  Fancy new houses in such quiet surroundings, furnished with electric light, water laid on and perhaps wireless.  Work better and live for ever.  What would my grandfather think?’


219.       In the following Month, May 1934, at the meeting of the Parish Council (of which, of course, he was Chairman), Mr. Fussell said that his firm would probably have to build houses for its workers.  He had received 20 applications – but water problems would have to be sorted out before any building could commence.  He said the present open wells were not good enough. (‘PJ’ had long railed against the pollution of local wells, whilst emphasising that the water used in the brewery was absolutely pure, coming from Chatley – see Paras. 151 et seq above).


220.       As soon as a public supply was available (albeit it was not until 1936 that the Rural District Council began tapping the pipes into most of the existing individual houses in Rode) Fussells began to build on land they already owned.  In 1936 sixteen semi-detached houses were erected in what was then known as Poorhouse (the modern Marsh Road). Coronation terrace, at the Rode Hill end of the High Street (four houses) followed in the same year, and in 1938 two detached houses and a block of three houses between them were put up on Rode Hill itself, using, for part of them material salvaged from the ruins of Rockabella House, acquired by Fussells in 1931.


221.       In November 1992 BCF spoke with the late Mr. Victor Perrett, then living at 17, Marsh Road and 70 years old.  He described how he was born in Frome, and, as a single man, went to work for Fussells in 1928.  He married in 1938 and came to live as a tenant in the house he then still lived in and later bought. Mrs. Esme Hillman was born at 112 Burnham Road, Highbridge, a house rented by Fussells, a daughter of Mr. Sam Couch, a Fussells traveller (and keen local cricketer) and remembers moving to No. 3 Fairfield in 1939.  The list of the tenanted properties owned by Fussells at the time of the 1962 Bass takeover is at the end of our Appendix C. In the years after 1962 Bass sold off this housing as being of no further value to their business.


Sport and Recreation


222.       We have a record of a Cricket Match between Road Wesleyan School Club, Road, and a team from Frome on 13th July 1865 and a few of other local teams later in the 19th century, one of them a Soccer team in 1898 in which no less a person than Walter Stewart Batten Pool played, plus several records of Cricket Matches between Road Northfield Club and other local teams. But records are sparse in the early years of the 20th Century of either Soccer or Cricket activity in the village, and more research needs to be done.  We do know that the first Cricket Match of the 1910 season was played on Whit Monday between Rode and Wingfield; during it Mr. Henry [Sidney] Fussell dislocated a finger whilst attempting a difficult catch.  The joint was reset by a spectator and Rode went on to lose the match by 39 runs to Wingfields’s 56. Financing the sports clubs appears to have been as difficult in the 1920s as it has sometimes been today and in August 1925 the local football club held a meeting showing a deficit of over £2, a derisory sum in our days but serious enough then for the Rode United Club to disband and to start anew under the auspices of Fussells and Sons Brewery. To pay off the deficit Mr. P.J. Fussell bought the goal posts and other assets of the former club and offered to provide a ground and a dressing room! This seems to mark the start of the Company’s direct association with local sport, not surprisingly as most of the players would have been Fussell employees; a Fête in Southfield Paddock on 4th August 1928 resulted in a clear profit for Rode Cricket Club and so strengthened its finances.


223.       During the 1928 season Rode Cricket Club, playing in the West Wilts League, gained promotion from Division 3 to Division 2 and it was resolved for 1929 to enter not only the League again but also the West Wilts knockout Cup.  This latter they duly won on 24th August 1929, against Spencer Moulton (the Glovemakers’) Club. In the match, held at Southwick, Rode batted first and lost 6 early wickets but W. (Bill) Goulter, W. Baber and Herbert (Gunner) Moore held out to complete a total of 55 runs. Spencers were all out for 49, Henry Fussell taking 4 wickets for 10, G. Pike 2 for 4, Lane (the Captain) 2 for 12 and J. Moore 2 for 20. (See Photo. 85 showing (L to R standing) “Titch” Giddings (scorer), H. Fussell, G. Francis, L. Beaven, P.J. Fussell, H. Joyce, R. Moger, N. Banks, W. Goulter, G. Pike, J. Moore and W. Riddle (umpire). Seated L to R. W. Lane, J. Harrington, W. Baber (Captain), F. Joyce (Vice-Captain) and H. Moore).


224.       The Cricket Club were not able to repeat their success in the Knockout cup in the following year, losing in the Final, but the Football Club were winners of both the Trowbridge and District League Division II and the Frome and District Hospital Cup in the 1929/1930. Our Photo. 86 shows the team: Standing L to R: Mr. R.G. Fussell, J. Smith, G. Pike, J. Moore, H. Dray, W. Marshall, H. Moore, C. Pike, H. Moore Snr., Mr. Henry Fussell: Centre L to R: W. Goulter, H. Joyce, R. Cook, H. Preator, W. Holley; on the ground E. Harrison and G. Godfrey. On 23rd May 1936 the Fussells United Football Club celebrated their successful season with a supper held at the Brewery, with 120 members present. The Club had won four cups during the season and lost only four matches.


225.       We have not been able to trace any formal records of either the Cricket Club or the Football Club in the years beyond the early 1930s.  We know that cricket was played on Ten Acres and on Brown’s Ground, and that both sports were played after World War II. When the Football Club was finally wound up and why is something that we must leave for others to research.


226.       As to other forms of Recreation, the Company seems to have been open to use of selected parts of its premises, particularly during World War II, for functions such as dances and other socials. Between the Wars an annual highlight was the outing for Brewery Employees, either by Charabanc or train to some attractive spot, with refreshments laid on by the Company.  A typical one was in 1925:


“On 18th July the annual Brewery outing was to Bournemouth and employees and Slate Club members went. Messrs. P.J. Fussell, H. Fussell and R. Fussell also went.  The party left about 8 am and Salisbury was reached by two of the three charabancs.  The other one had engine trouble and a replacement was requested.  The route was through the New Forest via Lyndhurst. In the Forest lunch included a drink of ‘Fussells Popular’ and mineral waters. Bournemouth was reached about one o’clock and the return journey was through Blandford, Gillingham and Frome, Rode being reached about 11.30pm”.


               Similar trips were made to Southsea, Weymouth and one even to Torquay, visiting Paignton in addition, a really long day.  The Cross Keys Slate Club, early in each New Year, had an annual supper, with the meal again provided by the Company.


227.       As with physical recreation we have a disappointing lack of records of either company or village social events held by Fussells or on their premises, save for knowing that during World War II and the years immediately afterwards the upper floors of the Engine House were, on occasion, used for dances, birthday parties and village fund raising events.  Once more we must rely on others to follow up these aspects.









The Management


228.       In 1945 when the War ended the three Directors responsible for the Management of Fussells were, namely, Percy John Fussell (Chairman and Joint Managing Director), Henry Sidney Fussell (Joint Managing Director) and Reginald Godfrey Fussell. These latter two became Members of the Incorporated Brewers’ Guild (MIBG) in 1942 and 1947 respectively.  Percy John Fussell was also the Company Secretary.  The three Directors held all the Ordinary Shares, i.e. those entitling the holders to vote at Annual General Meetings and at Extraordinary General Meetings of the Company.  The Preference Shares (i.e. non-voting shares) were held by other members of the Fussell family and others, as well as by the three Directors.


229.       Henry John Fussell, the son of Henry Sidney Fussell, had begun his way up the brewery ladder by starting a pupillage in a brewery at Exeter before he was called up for National Service; after his demobilisation he returned to Exeter for a while before he became an employee of the company as an understudy to his father. He became MIBG in the same year as his uncle Reginald, 1947.  His employment spanned two periods, the first from 1948 –1953, and the second from 1956 when his Father’s health began to fail. After Henry Sidney’s death in November 1958 his widow Ada built  Shemvellie” in Church Lane, often called the “Cheese House” and she lived there until her death in December 1982.  After his father’s death Henry John was appointed to the Board as an ordinary Director, taking up the post of Head Brewer


“Rode Brewers Win Prizes

At Olympia


A Somerset brewery gained first prize in classes for both bottled and draught beers in competitions at the Brewing, Bottling and Allied Trades Exhibition at Olympia, London on Tuesday.

Messrs Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd., of the Cross Keys Brewery, Rode, won the bottled beer class for the best stout and in the draught beer classes, they gained the silver medal first prize for the best strong ale…

…Established in 1906, Messrs Fussell & Sons was founded by the late Mr. Sidney Fussell, who graduated from village baker to village brewer.  Eventually the firm purchased between 60 and 70 houses throughout the West Country, and even in London, Berkshire and elsewhere. [Sic].

Their free trade business to canteens and clubs has increased enormously during the last few years” (Ref 28)


 Henry John remained on the Board of Fussells when the company became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bass in 1962 and his employment under the Bass regime continued for a further six months, after which he ceased to be a Director of Sidney Fussell & Sons Limited or an employee of Bass. 


230.       Reginald Godfrey, who retired in 1956 in his 65th year, died on 18th August 1981 aged 89.  The four of his sons who reached maturity were all to engage in the brewery trade in some way.  The eldest, Sidney William (SWF), was articled to Chartered Accountants Tribe Clarke & Co., joined Fussells in 1946 and was for some years Personal Assistant to “P.J.” but resigned from the Company in 1955, eventually retiring after 21 years with Whitbread plc.  After Reginald John (always called John) left school he joined Fussells, starting in the cashier’s office, and then moved to the accounts and bookkeeping department. Following five years in the Army with the rank of Lieutenant he attended a Management Course in Cheltenham.  Realising the need for a full knowledge of the Drinks Industry he joined Trumans in Burton on Trent, and then Ind Coope for Free Trade Sales experience in Bournemouth.  After further experience in the Soft Drinks Industry he joined the Bristol office of IBM when it was the leading Computer Company in the world and retired in 1986 when he was 63 years old.  Howard Norman did his pupillage under the head brewer, Mr. A.B. Green, of Starkey, Knight & Ford of Tiverton. He became MIBG in 1942.  In 1943 he was called up and served for four years in the RAF, after which he joined George Younger & Son Ltd. of Alloa, Scotland as a brewer; later he went to their subsidiary Brewery in Sunderland.  After further experience in the Soft Drinks Industry he joined the Greenall Whitley Brewery Group as General Manager of their Soft Drinks factory in Ruthin, N. Wales; from there he was moved to Bolton, Lancs, to organise a new Production Unit.  The youngest son, Roger Allen, left school in 1943 and, like his brother Howard, became a Pupil Brewer of Mr. A.B. Green. He became MIBG in 1943.  He joined the Army in November 1944 and was demobilised in the rank of Lieutenant after service in India with the 1st Bn. Somerset Light Infantry.  He then attended the School of Malting and Brewing, Birmingham University, following which he joined the Hull Brewery Co. as a junior brewer.  He had further employment with Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries and Atkinsons Brewery (subsequently taken over by Mitchells and Butlers) until leaving the brewing Industry in 1964, having previously established, as had his brothers John and Howard, that there was no chance of employment in Fussells brewery.


231.       The early years after World War II were of gradual recovery from the war’s disruption, consolidation of the company’s operations, and continuing struggles against countrywide shortages of every kind of material and skills.  The 1950s and 1960s were years of enormous change in the Brewing Industry throughout the country.  In common with many other industries the raising of market share, rationalisation of management and finance, and lowering of overheads (particularly in labour costs), were the principal driving forces.  In particular small local Breweries came under threat of take-overs from the giants of the trade, who were, as we now know only too well, responsible for the dreadful reduction of local choice in beer products in that period and the demise of many splendid old brands.  The introduction of ‘Kegging’ of beers did nothing to help the position of the smaller Brewers, many of whom did not have the capital available to install the costly machinery and equipment (e.g. pressure casks were required for racking, and at the point of sale special fittings and gas were required to draw the beer from the keg) needed for this change in ‘packaging’ - one after another the small Brewers were swallowed up and at the higher level there was a series of massive mergers.


232.       Following the end of WWII the house-to-house trade had long ceased but some 60 Clubs and Societies ran Bulk accounts with the Company.  Fussells also continued to purchase pubs and The Cathedral Hotel, Salisbury.  By the late 1950’s the bottling plant, then some 25 years old, needed to be replaced and its output increased.  The Board of which Henry John was now a member, on the recommendation of Mr. C.F. Hopper, who was then the Head Brewer, decided to re-equip the bottling plant in 1960 with, it is believed a loan from Whitbread, and secured a contract in 1961 to bottle Tuborg Lager.


233.       By 1960 Fussells existing Management Team was no longer young.  Percy John was 80, ‘Henry Sidney’ was dead, and Reginald Godfrey Fussell, who had resigned in 1956 when he was the Director responsible for Transport and Distribution, was 68.  Who then were to be the successors when the time came?  P.J. had no children to follow him, there were ‘Young Henry’ and his brother Philip, but Philip was a farmer.  All four of Reginald Godfrey’s sons had gained much experience of working for Brewery Companies (see Para. 230 above) but after the resignation of Sidney William Fussell in 1955 there was no acknowledged “heir apparent” nor was there any clear plan of succession. The only significant factor was that Mr. Cyril J. Cotton, a former employee of Bass, had been appointed to the Fussell Board.


The Bass Take-over


234.       The writing must have been faintly sketched on the wall when the first ‘outsider’ to become Head Brewer, Mr. C.F. Hopper, previously employed by Bass, appeared at the turn of the 1960s.   Indeed in 1961 rumours abounded that Fussell’s was the subject of take-over interest from both Whitbread and Bass.  We now know of course that Bass were becoming more interested and we have private evidence that others were too:


“18th October 1961. Mr. Henry Fussell [‘Young Henry’]. Head Brewer and a Director of Sidney Fussell and Sons, Ltd., of Rode, strongly denied his company planned to sell out or amalgamate…Rumours had been circulating that both Whitbread and Burton had been interested in Fussells, which is one of the last remaining family brewers in this part of the Country” (Ref. 29).


235.       Bass, or to be more precise ”Bass, Mitchells & Butlers Ltd.”, (who were to merge with the Charrington United Breweries Company to form “Bass PLC” in 1967) continued to take considerable interest and despite the denials the rumours persisted:


“27th February 1962.  Strong rumours concerning the future of Sidney Fussell and Sons, Ltd., that Rode Brewery to be merged with Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton, Ltd. [this latter Company was a subsidiary of Bass, Mitchells and Butlers]…. There was a special Board meeting yesterday at Mayfield House, Rode, home of Percy Fussell.  Mr. Percy Fussell’s grandfather founded Fussells.  Mr. C.F. Hopper is Chief Brewer.  Each week Fussells’ produce 84,000 pints of their own draught beer and have also a large bottled trade.”(Ref.  30).


236.       Finally, on 26th March 1962 came the news that people of Rode had feared:


“Messrs Sidney Fussell and Sons of Rode are to be taken over by Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton Ltd., as from 1st April.  All employees will be retained and the Brewery business will continue as usual.  The area covered by Rode Brewery is bordered by Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Bridgwater, Salisbury, Reading, Swindon and Bath.  They have 60 Public Houses and six hotels, including their main one, the George Hotel, Trowbridge.  Fussells have 10 houses in Bath and their first one was the Cock Inn, Warminster.  Bass and Whitbread beers are already sold in Fussells Houses.  The Rode bottling plant was recently modernised.

Managers and Tenants of Sidney Fussell and Sons, the Rode Brewers, were informed today that the Board had accepted the offer of Bass for the Share Capital of the Company.  Consequently Mr. P.J. Fussell, Mrs. I.M. Fussell [Ida, P.J’s second wife] and Mrs. A. Fussell [Ada, widow of ‘Old Henry’] will retire from the Board of Directors on 30th, March.  The new Board will be Mr. J.R. Lloyd (Chairman), Mr. C.J.F. Crofton (Managing Director), Mr. H.J. Fussell [‘Young Henry] and Mr. C.J. Cotton [Cotton, a former employee of Bass, had worked for Fussells for some time].  Mr. P.J. Fussell (Chairman of Fussells) states, “ The Brewery, Bottling Plant and Offices at Rode will continue and no change will occur in name or title of the Company”. (Ref.  31).


237.       This was followed by a General Press Release giving some background to the take-over:


“Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton Ltd., acted on behalf of Bass, Mitchell and Butler.  Fussells brewers started 55 years ago and stands on the Fosse Way [sic] at Rode.  They bottled not only their own brands, but [also] Bass Blue Triangle and Worthington Green Shield.  The plant was modernised in 1960, to produce 1,000 dozen bottles an hour.  Fussells own 56 Licensed Houses including five Residential Hotels within 50 miles of Rode.  The Hotels are the George at Trowbridge, the Cathedral at Salisbury, the Half Moon at Sherborne, the White Hart at Bridgwater and the George and Railway at Bristol.  One of its picturesque and ancient Inns is the Ship and Castle at Congresbury on the main road between Bristol and Weston-super-Mare, a name it has held for over 250 years and derived from the Arms of the City and County of Bristol.  It originally belonged to Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, which up to 1836 was administered by Bristol Corporation.” (Ref. 32).


238.       Further brief details appeared on 31st March 1962:


“ Bass, Mitchell and Butler paid £1,104,593 for Sidney Fussell and Sons Ltd., of Rode. [At 2005 prices this sum would represent nearly £15,700,000; this apparently huge sum must be seen against the background of the unprecedented increase in inflation since those comparatively recent days].  Bass have acquired 99.9% [later to be 100%] of the Ordinary Shares and 50% of the Preference Shares [later to be 100%].  Consideration was 25 Bass Ordinary 5s shares and £20 Cash for each £1 Fussell Ordinary Shares and £1 Cash for each Fussell Preference Share.”  (Ref. 33).


239.       The Bass, Mitchell and Butler News Vol. I carried the news to the parent company’s employees:


“3rd April 1962. SIDNEY FUSSELL & SONS JOIN THE GROUP:  Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton, acting on behalf of the Group have acquired practically 100 per cent of the Ordinary Shares and 50 per cent of the Preference shares of Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd., the West Country Brewers in exchange for cash and shares in Bass, Mitchell and Butlers.  The acquisition is a valuable link between the Group’s holding of licensed houses in the Midlands and its interests in Exeter and the South West. The Board of Sidney Fussell & Sons is being reconstituted.  Mr. P.J. Fussell (Chairman), Mrs. I. Fussell and Mrs. A. Fussell are retiring from the Board.  Mr. Henry [John] Fussell and Mr. C.J Cotton will continue as Directors.  Mr. J.R. Lloyd (Marketing Director [of Bass, Mitchells & Butlers]) has been appointed Chairman and Mr. C.B.M. Crofton, formerly Bass/Worthington District Manager at Middlesbrough, is to be Managing Director.

New Plant Located near the old Roman Road, the Fosse Way [sic], at Rode, some ten miles from Bath in Somerset, the Fussell brewery was started 55 years ago by Sidney Fussell, who was at that time the village baker.  Over the years the annual trade grew from a few hundred to several thousand barrels, and Fussell’s products became increasingly well known in the West of England.  At the same time their intake of Bass and Worthington draught and bottled beers also increased. Subsequently they began to bottle Blue Triangle and Green Shield, which previously they had bought in glass.  In 1960 the Bottling Department installed new plant capable of completing the process of bottling, pasteurising and labelling at the rate of 1,000 dozen bottles an hour.  This immediately increased output, which in turn satisfied the ever-growing trade.  Running parallel with Fussells expanding trade during the half century was an extension of their property holdings in the area to 56 licensed houses.  These houses, which include five hotels, are situated in the heart of the holiday country within a 50-mile radius of Rode, taking in such places as Bath, Salisbury, Chalford and Frome.  The hotels – the George, Trowbridge; Cathedral, Salisbury; White Hart, Bridgwater; Half Moon at Sherborne; and George and Railway. Bristol – are all classified A.A. two-star.  All are residential – and offer a high standard of catering.

Historic Houses:  Prominent as they are in many of the interesting and attractive towns and villages throughout Wiltshire and Somerset, the 56 properties include a number of properties of fine character.  One Fussell house, the Cross Keys Inn, Rode, is from the point of view of delivery service, perhaps one of the most conveniently situated pubs in the country.  For it is an integral part of the brewery premises, after which it is named.  Licensed houses and hotels, a wide trading area giving the Group an additional stake in the West Country – these are some of the reasons immediately underlying the value of the Group’s acquisition of Sidney Fussell and Sons Cross Keys Brewery.  The future will certainly emphasise many more.”


240.       In April 1962 some personal details of the new Managing Director were revealed:


               “ BIG BREWERY GROUP POSITION FOR BATH MAN: Mr. C.B.M. Crofton, of Quarry Drive, Horsecombe Grove, Coombe Down, has been appointed one of the new managing directors of the Bass-Charrington Group.  Mr. Crofton will be in charge of the South West region.  A Chartered Accountant, Mr. Crofton served with the Army in N. Africa and Italy during the war.  After the war, Mr. Crofton entered the Brewing Industry.  In 1960 he joined Bass as area manager at Middlesbrough.  He was appointed managing director of Bass, Mitchell and Butler South West Division in 1965 (sic).  He is married with three sons and a daughter”(Ref. 34).


241.       Alas, Henry John Fussell soon found that the ways of the massive Bass Group were not for him; he doubtless found it irksome for his work to be constrained in what he remembered as the family business. By mutual consent he retired from the Rode Brewery business, to live first at Budleigh Salterton and finally in Plymouth, where he died in 1980; his ashes were interred in St. Lawrence Churchyard, Rode on 20th August of that year.  Remembered locally as a man who won prizes and medals for his brewing at the Olympia Trade Exhibition in October 1960, he was the last member of the family to have been the brewer at the Cross Keys Brewery in Rode.


Death of Mr. P.J. Fussell


242.       It was only just some two years after the Bass take-over that the senior surviving member of the Fussell family died (Ref. 35):


“Death of Mr. Percy Fussell

His many friends in Rode and a wide surrounding area heard with deep regret of the death, on Saturday [18th July 1964] at his home, Mayfield House, of Mr. Percy John Fussell.

He was joint managing director of the Rode brewing firm of Messrs. S. Fussell and Sons, which two years ago was taken over by Bass-Worthington.

Mr. Percy Fussell had been associated with the firm from an early age and followed his father, the late Mr. Sidney Fussell, in the business.

He was the eldest of a family of eight, of whom four still survive – Mr. Reginald Fussell of Rode; Mr. Wilfred Fussell, who retired from Stothert and Pitt, of Bath; and Miss Ethel Fussell and Mrs. Wilden [née Helen Jane Fussell], of Rode.

Associated with him after his father’s death was Mr. Henry [Sidney] Fussell, who died some years ago, and another brother, Mr. Reginald Fussell, who also played a part in the business over a number of years.

Genial Personality

The administrative side of the brewery and its 65 houses, was largely the responsibility of Mr. Percy Fussell, who was a well-known figure in Bath, Frome, Trowbridge and a wide area of the West Country,

In 1938, Mr. Fussell was a director of Bath City Football Club and continued to follow the club’s activities for many years.

Of a genial personality, he made a wide circle of friends.

He was a keen sportsman himself. For many years he played cricket for the Rode club and kept wicket and he was a keen tennis player, building his own court opposite the house, a court on which he played regularly for many years.

He was active in parish affairs, and was a member of the Rode Parish Council for a number of years.


A keen linguist, he had travelled extensively. He was found [sic] of composing verse and on local matters on which he felt strongly he would often pen to the Local press a comment in verse which was often much more significant than a prose letter.

For some years he held the position of Churchwarden of St. Lawrence’s Parish Church, Rode.

Born in the village, he had lived in Rode all his life.  His main interest in life was the brewery and the running of it, in which he continued an almost active interest until its sale two years ago.

He had not enjoyed good health in his last few years but lived to within a week of his 84th birthday.”

Then followed an account of his funeral ceremonies and those who attended.  A fitting memorial to a memorable man.


The Company Renamed.


243.       By a Special Resolution passed at a duly convened Extraordinary General Meeting held on 20th May 1964, the company name of Sidney Fussell and Sons Ltd. was changed to Bass Mitchells and Butlers (Bristol) Ltd., with effect from 1st July 1964.  A few months later at a further Extraordinary General Meeting held on 26th February 1965, Bass Mitchells and Butlers (Bristol) Ltd., changed its name to Bass Mitchells and Butler (South West) Ltd. with effect from 1st April 1965.


244.       As a matter of wider interest, in April 2003 the name Mitchells and Butlers Ltd. was revived as the new name for the de-merged Pubs business of the company Six Continents.  Who knows if years to come may see further revival of this name, originally Victorian, and altered by merger to Bass, Mitchells and Butlers in the 1930s.






The Bass Organisation


245.       The parent organisation into which Sidney Fussell & Sons Ltd. was absorbed had its own foundation as far back as 1777, when William Bass, owner of a carrier business between London and Manchester, established a brewery business in High Street, Burton-on-Trent.  Following his death sometime prior to 1787 his son Michael Thomas Bass operated the brewery, building up its export trade after 1821.  Prior to this general period London brewers, mass-producing porter (a strong, cheapish, highly coloured beer) and serving a huge urban population, had dominated the trade.  But public taste began to change and the light, fine, pale and ‘India’ ales, made with hard local waters, aided by cheapening transportation and cuts in government legislative controls, became much sought after. Michael Thomas Bass the second (later an MP) inherited the business on his father’s death in 1827, when it was producing 9,700 barrels a year, expanding it into what became by 1877 the largest brewery in Great Britain, by which date it was producing a million barrels every year.


246.       By 1837 the business was known as Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton, but it did not have its own licensed Public Houses until the 1960s, preferring to concentrate on supplying other breweries and the free trade.  Bass, Ratcliffe & Gretton was registered as a limited liability company to acquire the business, which was reconstructed as a company of the same name on 13th January 1888 with a share capital of £2.7 million.  The company merged with its Burton-on-Trent competitors Worthington & Co. in 1926 but the two companies continued to operate separately.  Bass continued to take over a number of smaller concerns over the years, and in 1967 merged with Charringtons United Brewery in a £200 million deal.


247.       Meantime, Henry Mitchell, Senior had founded a brewery business at the Crown Inn, Oldbury Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, in 1884.  Henry Mitchell Junior built the Crown Brewery next door to the Inn in 1866 and a new brewery was built in 1878/79; by 1888 Cape Hill Brewery covered 14 acres, employed 271 people and was producing 90,000 barrels of beer a year.  Henry Mitchell and Co. Ltd. was registered in January 1888 to take over the business, and in 1893 it acquired Butler’s Crown Brewery Ltd. of Broad Street, Birmingham, West Midlands.  Brewing was concentrated at Cape Hill.  As Bass did, Mitchells & Butlers took over or bought outright many small brewers and specialist drinks manufacturers and bottlers.


248.       In 1961 the Bass/Worthington enterprise merged with Mitchells & Butlers to form a new company – Bass, Mitchell’s & Butlers Ltd.  Other changes of name and function were to come and on 17th August 1967 Bass PLC was incorporated to acquire the issued share capital of Bass, Mitchell’s & Butlers and Charrington United Breweries. Beneath this overall umbrella were several Holding Companies, several Non-brewing Interest Companies (including soft drinks, leisure, betting, hotels and holidays, and Inns and Restaurants) and a substantial Brewing Division.


249.       Bass Brewers Ltd. had Breweries at Alton, Birmingham, Burton-on-Trent, Cardiff, Highgate (Sandymount Road, Walsall), Sheffield and Tadcaster and there were other breweries in Glasgow and Belfast. A separate Maltings Company was based at Burton-on-Trent.  Charringtons in London, Bass Wales and West in Cardiff, Bass North in Leeds, and Tennent Caledonian Breweries in Glasgow handled sales of Brewery products to the Licensed Trade.  “Off” Trade was controlled by Bass Take Home in Burton.


Revised Tasks of the Rode Brewery :


250.       It soon became clear that Bass’ principal interest in their new acquisition of Fussells did not lie in its brewing capability – they were already well served by the other breweries of the Group – but rather in the size and geographical position of the Rode site and its processing facilities – for space and a central position were assets of high value.  There needed to be adaptations and modernisation of course, for example the Tower Brewhouse was altered, with the removal of the brewing machinery and the installation of a large diesel boiler (Photo. 87) to replace the existing plant. Bulk handling of products brewed elsewhere, processing, bottling and distribution were to be the new tasks, with an inevitable reduction of employees.


251.       Conversations with two retired Bass employees have shed some light on the way Bass operated, and how their management applied at Rode.  Mr. Gredington of Horse Road, Trowbridge told us in 1997 that he had joined Bass, Ratcliffe & Gretton as a Sales Ledger Clerk in 1949, at the age of 20, later becoming a Sales Representative for 106 managed and tenanted tied public houses in a 10 mile circle in Staffordshire and Shropshire.  In his early days he did not qualify for a car and had to cover his “beat” by bus or on foot. He moved to work in Rode after the take-over of Fussells and commuted from his new home in Trowbridge.  Bass ran its business through both regional offices and agencies (these latter dealing with items such as cigarettes, wines, spirits and tobacco, since Bass only brewed beer).  As a Bass Sales Representative his area covered Bath, Frome, Glastonbury, Warminster, Devizes, Bournemouth and Southampton.  He checked Sales, carried out stocktaking and supervised buildings maintenance (both inside and outside for managed houses, but external only for tenanted houses).  The cages on the upper floor of the Reading Rooms were, as in Fussells’ days, used for sales ‘goodies’, but the downstairs room was fitted with racks on which were stored minor parts for equipment needing to be fitted in Pubs by Technical Support Groups, on the alerts given by Sales reps. Mr. Gredington recalls the move of the Bass Offices, first to Yeovil and then to Bass (Wales and West) in Cardiff.


252.       The late Mr. Ted Squirrel told a not dissimilar story to us, also in 1997.  He came to Rode in 1963, settling at 28, High Street, on the corner of Church Lane, having previously worked, as a native of Burton-on-Trent, in Bass’ wine and spirits operations.  In his early days here at Rode he recalled that the Dutch barn was still in place in what was the Orneage Farm yard.  The barn housed a Joiners’ and a Fitters’ shop.  In post war days, prior to the Bass take-over, Fussells had bought their own wines and spirits in bulk and these were bottled on the top floor of the Multi-storey RBB.  Stocks were made up there for the several outlets before being taken down in the lift to be positioned ready for individual lorry load-outs.  The centre floor of the building in Fussells’ days was divided into sections; Bass took these out in 1963 and the spaces were, as on the top floor, used for Bass own wines and spirits.  Bass had their own brands of Ports and Sherries and traded other brands of wines and spirits.  These came to Rode in bulk from Burton-on-Trent and Exeter and, later, from Coventry; later still the wines and spirits came to Rode from London.  Rode became the national Bass hub for wines and spirits, supplying Bass depots all over the country, e.g. Newcastle, Exeter, the Midlands and even the Isle of Wight.  In 1967, after the merger with Charringtons, bottling transferred to Yeovil, as that depot had more modern bottling plant, but the distribution effort remained concentrated at Rode due to the space here; it was at a premium elsewhere in the group.  Three bulk tankers would arrive each day and either one or two each night.  Mr. Squirrel also recalled that gas heaters were installed to aid conditioning of Guinness in the years it was bottled here in Rode.  Mr. Squirrel took early retirement in 1986, the date when much of the distribution work was computerised.


253.       The Work Force at Rode. There were, needless to say, numerous redundancies as Bass, in stages, modified and reduced their operations in Rode.  Typical of those who had to leave in 1970 was William Frederick (‘Bill’) Goulter.  Born in 1910, he was a son of Samuel Goulter, a decorator and builder.  Educated at Rode Methodist School he left in 1924 to join his father’s business and spent the years 1940 to 1946 as an RAF aircraft Fitter working on various UK bases.  When demobilised he was taken on at Fussells by Mr. P.J. Fussell, to continue his painter/decorator work.  The day after being laid off by Bass he, like others, got a job with Ushers’ Brewery in Trowbridge; a pick-up truck used to collect several Rode men each day and return them after work.  His grandfather, Thomas Goulter, was the Contractor to Sidney Fussell for the 1904 expansion (Para. 102 et seq.), whilst his mother, Annie, nee Smith, was one of the family who we mentioned in Para. 85 above.  Bill’s uncles Jim and Charlie are in our Fig. 5 (Topping Out Ceremony).








254.       Fears that the Bass Depot in Rode might close had been widespread in the years after the Bass buyout of Fussells and at the meeting in April 1992 of Rode Parish Council was reported thus:


               “Plans to build village homes for village people have caused the Parish Council to write to Bass Wales and West.  It was uppermost in councillors’ minds when the future of the brewers’ Bass Depot in the village centre was discussed at their April meeting.  At the meeting, presided over by Mr. Paul Stacey and attended by County Councillor David Wicks and District Council member David Brunt and two members of the public, it was decided to write to Bass informing that the parish council was looking for a site for village homes for young people in the village.  The clerk was to request the company to clarify the position relating to the depot and also the future of the Reading Rooms in the High Street.  Bass is also to be asked about the ruins of a house on the site next to the weir [sic – not strictly true] at the bottom of Rockabella Hill [the one time Rockabella House].  If this also belongs to Bass the parish council would be interested in considering buying the site for the general amenity of the village “ (Ref. 36).


255.       It was thus no surprise when, at the beginning of May 1992 an announcement was made:




               The Bass Distribution depot in Rode, near Frome, is to close in October.  The 45 men and women working at the depot have been offered the chance to re-locate to a major new distribution depot at Bristol.  The former brewery was established in the early 1900s by the Fussell family and sold to Bass in 1958 (sic).  Both before and after World War II the company was one of the employers in the area and the biggest in the village.  For the past 30 years the brewery has been used as a depot with beer being transported from Burton on Trent and Alton in Hampshire and then distributed by lorry to public houses and clubs throughout Somerset, Avon and Wiltshire.  A spokesman for Bass, Mr. Sean Jefferson, said the closure was part of a restructuring process with operations at Rode now being centralised at Bristol.  He said employees had been informed about the closure at a meeting with the company and had been offered a chance to re-locate to the new depot.  Mr. Jefferson said “When we make a move such as this it is vital that the staff are looked after and given the chance to choose the best options possible.  The word is that most people will be coming along with us but this would be discussed again at a meeting in May”.  He stressed the closure at Rode would not affect distribution to local pubs and clubs in the area.  “There will be no change in the service, in fact there will be an improvement”.  Over the years the brewery has played a major role in village life.  The oldest member of the Fussell family, the late Mr. Percy Fussell, was Chairman of Rode Parish Council for many years.  Regular dances were held in one of the large buildings on the site during the war.  Present Parish Council Chairman, Mr. Paul Stacey, said villagers had feared the depot would close for several years.  He said “ We do not know what sort of problems it will cause for the employees.  I believe about 10 of them live locally, but as a Parish Council we are concerned about what is going to happen to the site.  We are hoping it will be used for industrial purposes but that is unlikely to happen.”  Mr. Stacey said that in the past newcomers had complained about the heavy lorries passing through the village to and from the depot.  “In the last 15 years people have come to live here and have approached us wanting to know if we could get rid of the lorries.  But we point out that it has been the life blood of Rode and the centre of village activities” (Ref. 37).




256.       On 2nd July 1992 the Parish Council held an open meeting, attended by the local District Councillor and Mendip D.C. Planning Officers; views were expressed about the effects of any development of the site subsequent to its closure, including increases in the village population, loss of employment, vehicular access to the site and the need to preserve the Cross Keys, the Reading Rooms and perhaps other buildings.  Opinions were sharply divided about the desirability and indeed practicability of keeping both the five-storey Brewhouse and the large multi-storey brick building further to the south in the site.  A Planning representative revealed that Council Officers had already met with Bass representatives and the District Council was urged to prepare a draft Planning Brief (a document giving broad guidance as to conditions which any development must satisfy).  Mendip DC’s Planning Committee reviewed the situation at its meeting on 25th August 1992 and a second public meeting was held in Rode on 10th September, again attended by MDC Planners and by King Sturge of Bristol, agents for the site owners, Bass Brewers Ltd.



Notes: 1.   All Planning Applications for the Rode Brewery Site carry the Mendip DC number 064750.

            2.  Serial 001 was to install a new diesel tank and pump and was approved in April 1991, i.e. before the Closure.

257.       During 1993 King Sturge worked up a Development Brief (for potential site purchasers) based on official guidelines including the local and county Structure plans, and the Planning Brief.  It only covered the front areas of the site (Cross Keys, Reading Rooms and the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse]) in any detail.  There were to be a total of 25 car parking spaces (to serve the Pub, the Reading Rooms and visitors to the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse]), plus two garages for the two dwellings to be formed of the former Offices in Church Lane.  The new main site entrance was to be to the east of these old offices, with the existing one to the west of them closed up.  Rode Parish Council (amongst others) was consulted and its response took into account not only the views of those who had been at the previous year’s two Parish meetings, but those expressed at a third open meeting, held in the Memorial Hall on 22nd November 1993.  Mendip DC members visited the site on 18th January 1994, and the full District Council Planning Committee then formally adopted the final (and much amended) Development Brief in February 1994.  On the basis of this agreed brief, the W.D.King Group, of Edgeware, Middlesex, bought the site.


258.       On 30th December 1994 King Sturge, now the agents for these developers, forwarded to Mendip DC two applications for Outline Planning permission for the site.  These were to be the first of several to be submitted.


259.       Application 003 was to demolish the former Fussells’ offices in Church Lane (the one-time Orneage Farm House and its extension) and their boundary walls to facilitate access to the site for development purposes.  In the course of on-going work King Sturge modified this Application so that it covered only the removal of the boundary walls.  They put it to Mendip DC on 6th March 1995 and the Council gave Outline Planning permission on 30th June 1995.


260.       The second (Outline) Application (002) was more extensive and sought approval for residential development (35 dwellings plus a pair of semi-detached houses either side of a new entrance on the space left by the old offices, which were to be pulled down), conversion of two existing buildings (Reading Rooms and the [Tower] Brewhouse) for Class B1/Business use (with 3 and 8 parking spaces respectively), construction of access and provision of other parking areas.  The Cross Keys was to remain as a Public House with 11 parking spaces.


261.       Rode Parish Council held a fourth Open Meeting on 21st February 1995 to discuss this latter Outline Application.  Besides local folk, MDC officers and a representative of King Sturge attended it.  Whilst the plans were generally welcomed concerns were expressed:


               “… A high proportion of detached houses was proposed. A wider mix of dwellings is required to meet the village needs.  The existing position of the site access should be retained, which would be safer than that proposed and would allow retention of a significant dwelling in the conservation area.  No proposals had been made for improving the village sewage system to cope with the additional load.  Inadequate consideration had been given to protecting the proposed dwellings bordering the village playing field from the effects of cricket and other ball games.  The line of the footpath should remain in the site in order to prevent dogs from fouling the playing field…”


262.       The W.D. King Group subsequently modified this Outline Application (002), principally to give a better mix of housing (including 6 “affordable” houses), but also by the retention of the former offices, which would be converted to two dwellings.  (The site entrance would remain to the east of these latter properties).  Car parking for Cross Keys, Reading Rooms and former [Tower] Brewhouse would now total 24.  This modified Outline Application was given approval by Mendip DC on 28th February 1996, but subject to a stringent Legal Agreement, which demanded provision of an estate road, re-affirmed the need for affordable (or “social) housing under the aegis of a Housing Association, reinstatement of the footpath through the site, safeguarding of the playing field fence and of provision of an area of open space.


263.       The W.D. King Group submitted its first application for Full Planning Permission (004) in January 1997 (004); the Parish Council considered the proposals in February 1997, and held a meeting to which all neighbouring residents were invited.  Whilst the Council supported the plans for conversion of the Church Lane Offices, the remainder of the proposals were considered either inadequate on unsuitable.  The Application made no mention of either the Cross Keys or the Reading Rooms or any of the other matters in the Legal Agreement, and the style of the 28 new two-storey dwellings and garages proposed was said to be quite out of character with their surroundings.  Mendip DC took the same position and rejected this application in March 1997.  WD King did not appeal against the refusal.


264.       English Heritage Views: It was at this stage that an intervention by English Heritage, based on records of the Historic Buildings Commission, urged Mendip DC to amend its requirements and to include the original Brewhouse in the buildings to be retained:


               “There is a greater Historic interest in the older, modified Brewhouse to the south than in the obvious red brick landmark building [Tower Brewhouse] which it is already proposed to retain.  English Heritage therefore urges you to seek a modified scheme, which retains the older Brewhouse as well as its successor.  Should no such modification be forthcoming, we urge that the present application be refused” (this proposal also included the well and its mechanism).


Further W.D. King Moves


265.       The W.D. King Group soon submitted three further applications for Full permission:


               005        Demolition of existing rear extensions to facilitate conversion to residential use.


006        Demolition of existing buildings, structures and wall, alterations to retained buildings, construction of car park, car port and rear access adjacent to retained buildings and walls.


007.       Demolition of existing vacant depot buildings and conversion of two retained buildings to 6 residential units. (The “retained” buildings were the [Old] Brewhouse and the “Red Brick Building” [Tower Brewhouse].




266.       By May 1997 Mendip DC was aware that a second potential developer of the site was in the offing; meantime negotiations with WD King on their applications 005, 006, and 007 remained unresolved.  In the summer of that year Swan Hill Homes, of Stoke Gifford, near Bristol, took an option to purchase the whole site.  Applications 005, 006 and 007 were withdrawn, and Simpson Building Design of Bath, acting as Planning Consultants, replaced King Sturge (previously the Developer’s Agents).


267.       Swan Hill presented their own proposals at yet another Parish open meeting on 5th August 1997 and submitted a new series of formal Planning Applications in the September.  Their proposals were for 37 houses in area C (Proposal 008), and elsewhere to convert the offices into four flats, build another flat over the garages of the other flats and build three small terraced houses at the rear of the Cross Keys on the land previously shown as Cross Keys/Reading Rooms parking (Proposal 009).  They also applied to convert the Reading Rooms to residential use, but with no parking (Proposal 010).  The Red Brick building [Tower Brewhouse] was not mentioned at all but it was clear that if it were to be retained there would be very little room between it and the terraced houses.  (An incomplete proposal to demolish the R. B. B. was not even registered due to the lack of information given).  These proposals were still far from the Development brief and the Outline Application Plan and gave no satisfactory assurance that either the Cross Keys or the Reading Rooms would play a proper part of Swan Hill’s developments.  The Article below amply showed the Parish Council’s disappointment.


               “The Parish Council (PC) welcomes the early development of the whole of this site, so that the child safety problems of the property are removed and the listed buildings are saved from total dereliction, but not at any cost to the village environment.  The PC is disappointed that these latest proposals from Swan Hill Homes are still a long way short of the agreed arrangements of the Development Brief, approved outline plans and legal agreement.  The PC notes three major changes in these applications compared to the approved outline plans:

The removal of the proposed car park for 25 cars servicing the listed buildings.

The removal from the site plan of the listed red brick buildings [Tower Brewhouse].

The change of the Reading Rooms from Class 1/Business use to residential use.


The PC objects to these changes in general for the following reasons:


Provision of Work Opportunities.  The approved outline plans include an expectation that this would be achieved through the use of the listed buildings supported by a car park at the rear.  (A small price to pay for a change to residential use on the rest of the site).  The only work opportunity in these proposals is the retention of the Cross Keys as a Public House.  The viability of this is seriously jeopardised by the reduction in available parking space, and the chance of the site providing work opportunity if these proposals are approved looks very low.  The PC supports “sustainable” development and wishes to see the provision of some work opportunities on this ex-industrial site.  If the listed buildings are not going to be used for Class 1/Business use then the PC would expect to see alternative proposals for work opportunities elsewhere on the site.

Retention and Refurbishment of the Listed Buildings:  There is no reason given for the demolition of the red brick building [Tower Brewhouse] and there are no proposals to refurbish any of the listed buildings.  The PC considers that the retention and refurbishment of the listed buildings on this site to be important to the conservation area and the village environment and should be an integral part of the development of the site.

Affordable Housing:  The outline plans envisage some affordable housing being provided by suitable terraced housing in the new development area.  The applications do not contain confirmation from a local housing association that the proposal to use the cottages fronting Church Lane for affordable housing is economically viable.  The PC supports the provision of some “affordable housing” on this site under the control of a Housing Association.

Low Cost Dwellings.  There is an increasing need for small, low cost dwellings for single occupiers both young and old.  The latter often require ground floor, single storey dwellings.  The proposals contain a high proportion of large dwellings and do not address this need for low cost housing.  The PC supports the provision of some low cost dwellings on this site.

Phased Programme:  The proposals do not contain a phased programme of work, addressing the provision of these major aspects (work opportunities, affordable housing, refurbishment of the listed buildings and low cost dwellings).  The PC is concerned that these aspects may not be achieved if planning approval for new dwellings is given without an agreed programme for the development of the whole site.

               (The PC refrained from making detailed observations on these applications at this stage, on the advice of Mendip DC’s Planning Department, but asked to be consulted again if the need arose).




268.       In November 1997 MDC’s Planning Panel once more supported the Parish Council’s views, notwithstanding that Swan Hill had withdrawn two of their three applications (009 and 010) earlier that month, leaving only that concerned with the building of the new housing (008).  The Planning Panel again visited the site and unanimously endorsed the existing planning policy for the site; following higher-level meetings MDC formally refused the applications on 19th November 1997.  The reasons cited were as follows:


1.            The proposal would result in the loss of key buildings within the Conservation Area for which no justification has been advanced for their removal. The Local Planning Authority thus consider that the proposal would be detrimental to the character of the setting of the Listed Building[s], the site in particular, the Conservation Area in general and would as a result be contrary to the Adopted Development Brief and to Policies AH1, AH3 and AH4 of the Somerset Structure Plan and to the provisions of Planning Policy Guidance Notes 1 and 15 “General Policies and Principles” and “Planning and the Historic Environment”.


2.            The proposal by reason of the arrangements proposed for the rear access to the Cross Keys Public House and the Reading Rooms is fundamentally contrary to the principles embodied within the Adopted Development Brief for the site such as to render the key objectives unattainable.  The proposal would, as a result, be fundamentally contrary to the expectations of the brief and the provisions of Policy H5 of the Adopted Frome Local Plan and to guidance contained within the Planning Policy Guidance Notes 1 and 15 “General Policy and Principles” and “Planning and the Historic Environment” in that it would represent an unsatisfactory environment at the rear of a group of important Listed buildings which would be seriously detrimental to the character of the site and the Conservation Area in general.


3.            The proposal does not contain sufficient sectional and levels information to demonstrate that the proposals will not have an adverse impact on the adjacent properties and as such is contrary to Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 “General Policies and Principles”.




Swan Hill Appeal


269.       However, despite this, Swan Hill, who had so far only had an option to buy the site, now actually purchased the rear part of it, retaining their option to buy the buildings fronting Church Lane and the High Street, and started work on a new set of applications.  In April 1998 they also formally appealed against the decision to reject their remaining application (008) setting out the grounds for appeal as follows:


               “The appeal is made against the refusal of Mendip District Council to approve an application for the approval of reserved matters in respect of a site which received outline planning permission in February 1996.

               It is the appellant’s submission that the proposed redevelopment scheme to provide 37 dwellings on the site of a former brewery distribution centre is wholly consistent with the conditions imposed on the outline consent.  Consequently, the appellant regards the action of the Council in refusing approval of reserved matters unreasonable.

               The unsatisfactory manner in which the Council has dealt with the application can be assessed from the reasons given for refusal given in the Decision notice.

               Reason one claims the proposal would result in the loss of buildings within the Conservation Area and thereby be detrimental to the character of the area and Council policies.  This is factually incorrect; the redevelopment site lies outside the Conservation Area.  Consequently the case put forward by the Council to justify refusal has no validity, being based on an entirely incorrect premise.

Reason two claims the proposal would render unattainable the provision of satisfactory rear access to the Cross Keys Public House and the Reading rooms and is thereby contrary to key objectives of the Adopted Development Brief.  Again the reason given is factually incorrect.  The appeal proposal is consistent with the Brief and with the plan attached to a S.106 agreement to which the Council is party.  The proposed access road from Church Lane to serve the development makes appropriate provision for access to serve that part of the outline permission site not falling within the appeal application for approval of reserved matters.  It is only the Council’s misconception that the appeal scheme would prejudice the future of the buildings to be retained to the north of the appeal site that has resulted in this reason for refusal.

               Reason three claims insufficient information was provided in respect of sections and levels.  No such information was requested by the Council.  Council Officers resisted the appellant’s attempts to meet to discuss any modification or additional information that might make the proposal acceptable before putting the application before the relevant Committee with a recommendation that approval of reserved matters be refused.  Had the opportunity been given the matters raised by this reason for refusal would have been dealt with in a satisfactory manner.”


Parish Council Views at the Hearing


270.       A hearing was scheduled to be held by a Government Inspector on 10th and 11th June 1998.  Prior to this the Parish Council summed up its views in a Memorandum circulated to all members, in which their aspirations for the three areas of the site outlined in Plan 3 of the Development Brief were:


               Area A:  The Cross Keys to be brought back into use as a Public House; the Reading Rooms used for ClassB1/Business use in a way which would allow continued access to the village clock; the “red brick building” [Tower Brewhouse] to be used for Class B1/Business use, or, if this is not viable, for residential use (e.g. as studio flats), or, if this is not viable, to be demolished and the space used to improve the viability of the public house; a car park at the rear of these properties to support their use for business; a pedestrian way from the old brewery gates on the High Street, past the red brick building [Tower Brewhouse], to the new housing area.

Area B: The cottages fronting Church Lane to be used for 2 dwellings; the old entrance to the site to continue to be used as the vehicular access.

               Area C: A mix of housing including some small bungalows (for older village people to move into without leaving the village), some relatively cheap dwellings for young families, some “affordable housing” to be run by a Housing Association for occupation by local people, and in a mix of housing styles, roof lines and frontages; viable protection from cricket balls; the footpath temporarily diverted into the playing field to be repositioned within the site.

               An agreed development programme that includes refurbishment of any retained buildings


271.       It was acknowledged that the villagers might not be able to achieve all these desiderata and there might have to be compromises to achieve an early and satisfactory solution. This was basically the Parish Council’s position for the Appeal and was summed up in a letter to the Inspectorate dated 13th May 1998.

The Judgement


272.       The Inspector’s Judgment, delivered on 1st July 1998, was quite a complex one, but is simply summed up by an article in the ‘Link’ in August 1998:


               “The result of the inquiry held on 10th and 11th of June, in respect of the application for the erection of 37 new houses on the back part of the site, has now been published.  The inspector in charge of the inquiry has decided to allow the Swan Hill Homes appeal but has limited that approval to the design and external appearance of the new buildings and site access.

               His decision specifically excludes approval of those items affecting overlooking of neighbouring properties, i.e. floor levels of the houses and the boundary screening of the site.  Further details on these, the siting of the houses, landscaping, surface water drainage, affordable housing, the footpath and the playing field fence are required to be submitted for approval by Mendip [DC].

               The Inspector’s approval is also subject to new conditions, in addition to those in the outline planning approval and the associated legal agreement.  These require the developer to obtain approval by Mendip [DC] of the following items before starting ANY development work on the site:

               A detailed implementation programme for the development of the WHOLE site, which is to be strictly followed.

               A schedule of materials for walls, roofs and external finishes.

               An assessment of any contamination on the site and the measures to be taken to make the area safe for residential use.

A programme of archaeological work, which is to be implemented before other work is commenced.

The Inspector also noted in his report that Swan Hill Homes had stated at the Inquiry that they understand the wishes of local residents to see the provision of some employment opportunities and, having now purchased areas A and B (containing the listed buildings, [Tower] Brewhouse and Church Lane cottages), were now committed to their redevelopment along the lines set out in the development brief”.


New Applications


273.       On 17th March 2000 Swan Hill’s agents submitted three further applications to support an Appeal against some of the decisions made at the 1998 Public Enquiry.  The opening Written/Design Statement listed them as:


               011 – Conservation Area Application: Demolition of boundary walls to Church Lane, demolition of ground level rear buildings (in association with proposals for the conversion of the cottages to two dwellings and the redevelopment of the land in rear for housing).

012 – Listed Building Application: Carrying out a Schedule of works of repair and alterations and demolition of ancillary structures (i.e. not forming part of the original buildings) – Cross Keys Public House, Reading Room[s] and Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse].  Demolition of unlisted former brewery depot buildings to the rear of the Cross Keys PH, Reading Rooms and Red Brick Building.


               013 – The Planning Application (Full detailed): Demolition of former Brewery Buildings, construction of new access and estate roads, erection of 37 dwellings, garaging, car parking and landscaping; provision of a new access and car park/service area to the rear of the Reading Room[s] and the Cross Keys Public House, change of use of the Reading Room[s] to Class B1 use, change of use of the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse] to 4 studio flats, conversion and alterations/additions to cottages in Church Lane to form 2 dwellings, garages and car parking.


274.       A number of documents were included in the submission – A structural survey of significant buildings concerned (which included the Old Brewhouse, though the applications made no other mention of this), a copy of the Selwood and Duncan Report [Ref. 11], a desk-based assessment of the area by Wessex Archaeology and two schedules of works for the Cross Keys Public House and the Reading Rooms.  These latter two set out the work which would be undertaken to make the two buildings fit for marketing.


275.       Besides submitting these three applications as the basis for their appeal against the conditions imposed by the Planning Inspectorate at the Public Enquiry, Swan Hill wished to continue to negotiate with Mendip DC on the outstanding matters.  On the same date as they submitted 011, 012, and 013, therefore, Swan Hill submitted three further applications (014, 015, and 016) which were identical to 011, 012, and 013, for this purpose. Council Officers immediately made it clear that they could and would not negotiate on 014, 015, and 016 unless the Appeal and Applications 011, 012, and 013 were placed in abeyance.


Rode P.C. and Mendip D.C.


276.       Meantime Rode PC, examining 011, 012, and 013, agreed they represented a considerable step forward from Swan Hill’s stance to date but was still concerned about lack of commitment to affordable housing, the lack of a proper programme of work and the risk of flooding.  However there was another important development.


277.       Hastoe Housing Association, presumably after discussions with Mendip DC officers, approached Rode PC at the beginning of March 2000, to suggest a meeting on the subject of affordable housing, so this was very firmly on the agenda for the Meeting of the Frome Area Board of Mendip DC Planning Panel to be held on 10th July 2000.  The Officers initial recommendations to the Council Members present at this meeting were for approval of application 016 (as 013) subject to an overall programme of redevelopment yet to be agreed, but for refusal of 014 (as 011) and 015(as 012) on a number of grounds, prominent amongst them being the absence of affordable housing proposals and the failure to plan for the retention of the Old Brew House.

New Swan Hill Initiatives.

278.       Happily, at the last moment, Swan Hill’s Agents asked for both series of applications to be deferred, on the grounds that they wished to negotiate on the outstanding differences; as Council Officers reported:


               “A letter has been received from the agents stating the applicant is keen to respond to the issues raised in a positive manner and has requested that the applications be deferred to allow negotiations to be entered into.  They have set out the basis of the revised approach they wish to take in respect of affordable housing and the [Old] Brewhouse.

These two issues are of fundamental importance in the consideration of the planning application and is an illustration of their desire to secure a locally negotiated planning permission.

               They have confirmed that if the applications are deferred Swan Hill Homes will:

               Request that the Planning Inspectorate place the current appeals on hold for four months.

               Make provisions for affordable housing in the scheme.

               Undertake to retain the Old Brewhouse in the refurbishment of the existing buildings.


Officer Comment:

               The applicants’ change in position on the fundamental issues is welcome as is their willingness to negotiate.  In the light of the above I would recommend the following:


               That the position taken in the report on the main issues is endorsed as the stance to be taken both in terms of negotiation and in the stance to be taken at appeal should the inquiry proceed.

               That a decision on the issue of the duplicate planning applications be held over for a period of no more than 10 days during which time confirmation MUST be received regarding their position on appeal together with confirmation from the Planning Inspectorate that this is accepted.

               Should, for any reason, the abeyance of the appeals NOT be confirmed within the next 10 days that members give delegated authority to REFUSE the applications set out in the report.

               That should the appeal not be held in abeyance that officer resources be directed into the preparation for the appeal.


279.       As Council Officers anticipated, Swan Hill asked the Planning Inspectorate to place their Appeal in abeyance and worked on amended applications.  The first 017 for Listed Building Permission was circulated by MDC on 27 June 2001and commented on by Rode PC on 11 July 2001; however it was soon overtaken by a later version.  These were presented to Mendip DC on 4th September 2001 and were:


014 (As amended): For Full permission for Erection of 42 dwellings, garaging, car parking and landscaping, together with the demolition of the former brewery buildings; providing a new access road and car park service area to the rear of the Reading Rooms and Cross Keys Public House; change of use of the Reading Rooms to B1 use; Change of use of the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse] to 4 studio apartments (C3 use), change of use of the [Old] Brewhouse to 2 dwellings and conversion and alterations/additions to cottages in Church Lane to form 2 dwellings, garages and car parking.  A full set of drawings was included.

               (This effectively superseded applications 013 and 016 of 17th March 2000).


               016 (As amended):  For Conservation Area permission for Demolition and re-alignment of boundary walls to Church Lane.

               (This superseded applications 011 and 014).


               017 (As amended):  For Listed Building permission for Carrying out a schedule of works and repair and alterations and demolition of attached ancillary structures Cross Keys Public House, Reading Rooms and Red brick Building [Tower Brewhouse]. Schedules of proposed works were included.

               (This superseded applications 012 and 015).


Resolution of Outstanding Difficulties     


280.       Rode PC agreed to support these proposals subject to some detailed comments in its letter of 21 September 2001 to MDC and the Frome Area Board considered the three applications on 13th November 2001.  As Council Officers reported to members:

               “These amended submissions now include key features that address the Council’s previous concerns”.


281.       The Officers went on to compare the new submissions with those refused in July 2000, and listed those previous concerns which had now been addressed:


The Old Brewhouse: The authority objected to the loss of this historic structure.  However it is now included within the scheme as being retained and will be converted into two dwellings.  The details submitted in support of the application include the floor plan layout but certain elevations are at present not exposed and therefore only indicative plans have been submitted.  Their final treatment will be dealt with by condition so that this element of the development will be controlled and the situation assessed once the demolition of the attached buildings has taken place.

               Affordable Housing: The development now includes an element of affordable housing comprising 6 units, which represents 14% approximately of the total development.  Whilst it is normally accepted that the Authority would seek approximately 20% of the units for affordable housing [on] the site the renovation costs of the listed building elements are likely to be such that the level of provision in this instance is considered to be acceptable.

               The extent of works to the retained buildings: The previous schedule of works to the protected buildings was considered to be too stark and consisted of a high degree of stripping out of the buildings.  An amended schedule of works relating to all the retained buildings with the exception of the [Old] Brewhouse (which as stated will be controlled by condition) has been submitted which is considered acceptable, employing a more sensitive conservation approach.  It is considered that this package of works will secure the future of those parts of the site of historic importance, provided the timings are carefully secured via a legal agreement.

               The treatment of the interface between the new and retained buildings: The original scheme had a large number of discrepancies between the large-scale plans and the site layout plan.  In addition it proposed the removal of the [Old] Brewhouse building.

               The amended plans provide an acceptable interface between the retained buildings and the new build element of the application.  This is in the form of a car park area serving the rear of the retained buildings and elements of the new build.  This negotiated solution accords with the concerns raised by the inspector in respect of the original appeal decision and meets the requirements of the planning brief.  For these reasons this aspect of the development is now considered to be acceptable

               The design of the rear part of the site: The original design of the proposed new build element of the application was unacceptable as the detailed design of the dwellings was overly fussy and bore little or no resemblance to the character of existing dwellings within the village.  The amended scheme represents a significant improvement in the character of the properties with simplified roof detailing and overall design.  This element of the application is therefore now considered to be acceptable.

               The provision of a footpath link and open space: The footpaths now link into the existing footpaths surrounding the sites and are considered to be acceptable.

               The treatment of the elevations facing the cricket ground: The amended scheme has been changed to incorporate a more sympathetic interface between the residential development and the cricket pitch.  In terms of the boundary treatment demountable cricket nets have been proposed which will protect the future residents of the site from having balls being hit over the boundary and will be secured via the legal agreement.


282.       Officers also pointed out that there was already considerable flooding risk in times of high rainfall to properties in the High Street, and residents in the vicinity were concerned that the development would increase this risk.  It reported that Swan Hill were prepared to fund a mitigation scheme to be carried out by Wessex Water in the form of a balancing pond upstream from the site.  This would be covered within the projected legal agreement and would require to be implemented before erection of dwellings on Plots 17 to 20 of the site.  This would both address the problem of flooding within the existing village and also the part of the site where houses 17 to 20 would be built.


283.       Officers concluded that the proposals were such as to meet the concerns raised by the previous scheme and provided sufficient benefits to outweigh problems with sustainability issues.  They recommended that the three proposals (014, 016 and 017) be approved subject to an appropriate legal agreement, subject to the application being referred to the Secretary of State as a departure from the Mendip District Local Plan and the imposition of any essential conditions.  The legal agreement was to refer to:


a.            Within 12 months of the commencement of works, to make the Reading Rooms and Cross Keys structurally sound, weather and water tight and to market the properties for a period of 18 months to find a commercial user.

b.            Renovation of the cottages to Church Lane to be complete within 24 months of the commencement of the demolition works.

c.            Renovation of the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse] to be complete within 24 months of the commencement of the demolition works.

d.            Commencement of new homes within 6 months of the commencement of demolition works.

e.            The completion of the proposed change of use of the Old Brewhouse into two residential units will be complete prior to the occupation of 30% (12) of the dwellings on the site (Not including the Affordable Housing Units).

f.            That prior to the adoption of the estate road a diversion order shall be completed to reinstate the public footpath through the site and connect up with the original footpath position between Plots 16 and 17.

g.            That prior to the commencement of works on site a sum of £22,000 shall be paid to the Local Planning Authority to fund flood mitigation works and that prior to the construction of plots 17 to 20 such works have been completed.

h.            The developer will use all reasonable endeavours to procure that Rode Cricket Club enter into the Agreement (at the expense of the site developer) to site the said nets within the cricket ground and that such Agreement then contains a clause which requires that the cricket net to be erected on the site along the boundary of plots 10-15 may be raised and lowered by the Cricket Club only immediately preceding every game of cricket during the cricket season (end of May until end of September) and that it is lowered after each such game. Alternatively fund the relocation of the cricket square within the playing field away from the boundary of the application site.

               [NOTE:  This latter was greatly to be preferred by the Playing Field Committee.]


i.             That prior to the commencement of Phase 2 the 6 affordable houses shall be completed and ownership passed to the Registered Social landlord for occupation.


284.       Other matters were to be covered by a Section 106 Legal Agreement, and on 13th November 2001 the Area Board gave its approval to the submissions by Swan Hill Homes, subject to the completion of this agreement. (It would be formally signed on 3rd July 2002) 


285.       The development of the former Fussell’s brewery site was at last clear to go ahead, though there would still be significant changes to be made and problems to be overcome in the months ahead. It is now time, however to record how the site was cleared, an area of about 4 acres (1.6 Ha).





Sequence of Events


286.       The contract for the demolition of all redundant buildings and the clearance of the site was awarded to Lawson Demolition and Crushing, Ltd., of Swindon. The authors wish here to acknowledge the cheerful co-operation and expert advice of the Lawson team, which greatly helped us in our recording task.


287.       The broad brief for Lawson was to bring down all structures to the south of the hipped joint at the south end of the Old Brewhouse (extreme right of Photo. 35 again), leaving the well and its surround untouched (it was later due to be capped and the pumping machinery preserved).  They were also to take down the Engine House (Para. 150 above) and break up and remove all ground slabs (Photo. 88).  Lawson began work in January 2002.


288.       As a matter of priority all asbestos found was carefully removed as approved by HSE.  All other spoil, including much broken glass and soil polluted by oils and chemicals was put to one side and temporarily stored on heavy plastic sheeting prior to screening and either transport off site or re-use.  All salvageable roof tiles were carefully stacked for re-use as was any serviceable timber.  As demolition proceeded recovered steel and other metals were gathered towards the south of the site to be cut up into lengths of five feet or less; the pieces were then loaded into massive containers for direct transport by road and sea to continental smelters for processing and re-sale (the “5 ft” limit was determined by the width of the waiting furnace mouths!).  All stone and brick rubble was crushed (Photo. 89) and then stacked in vast piles towards the west of the site for use as landfill as and where needed.


289.       The first major structure to be demolished was the large single-storey one attached to the east side of the main multi-storey building of red brick.  This eastern building can be seen in our Photo. 79 and Fig. 28 and had housed Bottle Washing Machines, Pasteurising Equipment and Bottle Filling Machines.  With it went the long sloping concrete ramp on to which lorries returning to the depot had discharged their cases of empty bottles (Para. 173 and Photo. 68).


290.       Next to go was the corresponding (though longer) single-storey attachment to the west of the main building which had housed the loading areas, controlled by the offices “on the bridge” (Photo. 74 again); the main multi-storey building, which had been the stores for Beer, Wines, Spirits and Tobacco, followed (Photo. 79).  We were able to confirm that only a single water tank (holding 60,000 gallons) had been housed in its top storey (see Para. 154 above).


291.       The Engine House (Photo. 58) was quickly removed and then the structures to the north of the now defunct multi-storey building, with the cold room complex beyond, these latter tasks revealing the unidentified plant in rooms below the complex and accessed from the lower cellar (Photo. 82).  The final main area to be tackled was that to the south east of the former Methodist Chapel and, west of this, Southfield House.




292        The clearance gave notable evidence of the alterations in ground levels from the historic ones, and it was particularly those changes around the Chapel/Southfield House boundaries which were to cause anxieties and disputes in the months to come.  We will look at these as the story of the developments continues.






New Planning Applications


293.       Lawson completed site clearance at the end of March 2002, and on 17th June Swan Hill submitted two Applications on behalf of Mr. John Yerbury of Beckington, for the conversion of the Red Brick Building [Tower Brewhouse] to three flats (rather than the original four) served by an external glass-walled staircase tower on the west face; 018 was for Listed Building permission for the necessary alterations/extension and 019 was for Full Planning permission.  Construction of the staircase tower added space for the flats compared to the internal stairwell of earlier proposals.  Rode PC and nearby dwellers formally protested, arguing that the tower would be clearly visible from the High Street, was out of character with other buildings in the vicinity and was not aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, it now looked unlikely that the conversion would provide low-cost housing.  Nevertheless the Frome Area board approved both applications on 2nd December 2002.


294.       On 1st July 2002 Swan Hill conveyed to johnyerbury property developments Ltd. the part of the site fronting Church Lane (the former Orneage Farm House and Brewery Offices), together with the Old Brewhouse and Tower Brewhouse buildings, with certain other areas as shown in Figure 29. As can be seen each of the two cottages to be renovated in Church Lane would have a double garage, the one constructed by Swan Hill and the other by the new developer.  The remainder would be served by 1 single garage to be built by Swan Hill and three parking spaces.  Save for a small section either side of the west front of the Staircase Tower all space to the west of the Brewhouses remained the responsibility of Swan Hill.       


295.       On 15th July 2002 Swan Hill conveyed the Cross Keys Inn and the Reading Rooms to Ms. Nicola Robinson, who, with her partner John Moore, took over both ownership and the tasks of renovating them.  With the Cross Keys and Reading Rooms went 10 Parking Spaces on the Main Site reserved for the use of both ordinary Pub customers and those staying in the Letting Bedrooms.   


296.       Although not in chronological order for the Rode complex, the following two applications by Ms. Robinson concerned the development of the Cross Keys and Reading Rooms in October 2002.  Application 021 was for Change of Use of the Reading Rooms from Class B1/Business Use to a Dining Room with Staff Flat and 022 for Full Planning permission for the work, including 3 bed-and-breakfast rooms in place of the Cross Keys Skittle Alley. Rode PC objected to this initial approach as they wished to avoid any future erosion of the remaining business use on what was once a wholly commercial site.  The applications were amended by replacing the first floor staff flat with Office space and were approved on 24th June 2003.   To complete this part of the story, the Cross Keys was able to re-open for limited business on 17th August 2004 and, earlier, on 5th January 2004, Mendip DC gave listed Building Consent for the repositioning of the clock mechanism to the ground floor of the Reading Rooms and reconnection to the clock face and bell.  An application by Rode PC to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant was successful.


297.       Meanwhile on the main part of the site Swan Hill started with the erection and opening of a Show House in the southeast corner, followed rapidly with other houses on the eastern side.  However, as the work progressed during the summer of 2002, Rode Parish Council and local residents became increasingly concerned that the development was not in line with their understanding of the plans and conditions approved in November 2001.  It is worth mentioning at this point that no consultation is legally required (and in this case none was undertaken) by Mendip DC to inform the Parish Council of any amendments subsequent to approval of plans.


298.       Applications 021 and 022 were preceded by 020 on 1st August 2002 in which Swan Hill sought Full permission to amend the Plans for the House at Plot 1 on the site.  By their note of 16th August 2002 Rode PC objected on grounds of visual amenity, in that the solid expanse of uniform red brick caused by the garage walls of Plots 1, 2 and 3 was out of keeping with other buildings in Church Lane; after meetings with the Developers amended plans were provided to Mendip DC on 2nd September 2002 and the Frome Area Board gave its consent on 22nd November 2002.


299.       In Para. 283 above we mentioned the Legal Agreement that would govern several aspects of the overall development and the conditions that the Developers were required to observe.  In view of difficulties which were soon to arise it is worth quoting some of the salient conditions:


               “…2.       No development shall be carried out until sewage disposal and surface water draining

               works have been carried out…”


               “…3.       No development shall commence until a hard and soft landscaping scheme…such a

               scheme shall include details of all planting… walls, fences and other boundary treatments and

               finished ground levels [our underlining]…

               “…15.    No development shall commence until a schedule of materials and finishes and

               samples of materials…have been approved by the Local Authority…”

               “…17.    That prior to the commencement of development hereby approved on site details of existing and proposed levels, including finished floor levels [again our underlining] shall be submitted to and approved by the Local Planning Authority; and implemented in accordance with such approved details unless otherwise agreed in writing…”


House Materials:


300.       Prior to January 2003 the latest full set of drawings held by Rode PC was dated July 2001.  These showed that of the 42 houses to be built 33 were to be of reconstituted stone and 9 with rendered facings.  The roofs were to be of Double Roman tiles (salvaged ones as far as available on the entrance court and for houses along the footpath to the High Street) (see Para. 281 above and Photo. 52), but new ones elsewhere save for five dwellings with Spanish slate roofs.  In August 2002 the PC wrote to the Mendip DC Case Officer pointing out that Drawing 990/6 submitted with the previous Application 014 (Amended) had proposed reconstituted stone and render as wall materials, with sample materials to be available for inspection on site.  But now the PC saw bland red brick being used.  On enquiring of the MDC Conservation Officer, the PC were given to understand that “any type of reconstituted stone was not acceptable to Mendip DC” and hence the red brick.  Though the Brewery Buildings had mainly been in red brick the PC pointed out that since their demolition there was little brick left in the vicinity and this should be reflected in the new build.  The PC asked to be consulted, and for Mendip DC to clarify its views on the materials to be used, allowing that building was already in progress.  The Case Officer responded that he was “in the process of consulting you in respect of details submitted by the applicant in relation to the discharge of conditions regarding the above development”.


Site Levels


301.       The Parish Council and others still had considerable concerns over levels with reference to the lower (western) side of the site towards the Brook. [To anticipate, and with the advantage of hindsight, it seems odd that the site was apparently never re-surveyed once the demolition and clearance phase was over].  During the many years of trade at the Brewery there had overall been a significant increase in levels above the historic ones, not only because of the demands of progressively larger buildings, but particularly on the western part and above all the north western (See Para. 291 above and Photo. 60).  This had arisen because of the route taken by heavy lorries exiting the site to the west of the former Methodist Chapel and to the east of Southfield House, a Listed Building with garden to its rear (south).


302.       The owner of Southfield House had written of his worries to both Mendip DC and Swan Hill as early as 1997.  A Swan Hill representative had visited the owner on 17th July 2002 and revealed that the final levels in this area would remain unchanged save that the top two feet of tarmac/concrete would be replaced by two feet of earth.  The owner, recognising that final site levels would be governed by condition under the existing approvals and that details from the developer were not yet available, sought a meeting with them when they were to hand; in this Rode PC joined him by their letter of 5th September 2002.  Meantime the developers were not allowed to proceed in the disputed area and the owner of Southfield House took further advice, both professional and from the local District Councillor.


303.       With mounting dissatisfaction and disillusionment as the development appeared to progress out of control the District Council were eventually persuaded to demand a full set of new plans to address these departures and the outstanding conditions.  Serial 023 was stamped by Mendip DC on 29th January 2003 and was for Full permission for the construction of 42 new dwellings and formation of a new access in Church Lane, i.e. an update of the previous main proposals.  The application was forwarded to Rode PC on 30th January 2003 with full drawings and an External Materials Schedule (Version F) (dated 15th January 2003).


304.       These documents met with immediate and vigorous objections from the Parish Council, which were set out in its letter to Mendip DC of 14th February 2003 and by the Parish spokesman at the meeting of the Area Board on 29th April 2003.  The salient points made (with some of the background to them) are set out below; these are in some detail as this Board meeting would be of crucial importance to the Parish and the new plans showed that the PC’s writings had produced little if any effect.


305.       House Materials (continued):  The new plans indicated 31 houses of rendered facing and 11 of brick (and engineering brick at that) as opposed to 33 of reconstituted stone and nine rendered.  The new roofs, save for five with Spanish slate roofs, were to be of Single Roman tiles, which were not used anywhere else in the village, and elsewhere many of this type had been removed due to fitting and maintenance problems. Whilst the PC appreciated that a number of dwellings were already complete it wished the remainder of the development to be given a better “mix and match” to sympathise with its wider surroundings.


306.       Drainage:  In his preparatory notes for the Area Board Meeting the Parish Councillor responsible noted that though a number of roof drains ended in closed storm drains with perforated pipes, much water was fed direct into the culvert, including all road drains.  Flow down the fields had already been reduced by water works already carried out in earlier stages of the development but in recent heavy rains the culvert was reported as full at “Overbrook” in Lower Street.  Surface water, which could be taken to soakaways, should not be allowed into the culvert.  The PC also needed assurance that, were the pumps in the Pumping Station at F217 to fail, sewage could not flow back to the Houses at Plots 16-20.  Already, on receipt of its copies of Application 023, the Environment Agency had raised its objections on 27th February 2003 in that 023 and accompany notes did not contain sufficient details to assess properly the risks of flooding and surface water disposal.


Council Officers’ Briefings for the Area Board:


307.       House Materials: Council Officers reported that the original inclusion of reconstituted stone had been a mistake but conceded that Rode PC had not been consulted about the use of red brick and render, nor had the use of single Roman tiles ever been agreed by the Parish Council.  Swan Hill had been advised of the PC’s wish to see the stone included in some dwellings, but, supported by the Conservation Officer, considered that this would adversely affect the appearance of the development.  Council Officers’ advice would be that the use of red brick and render was acceptable, though the style of tiles on the dwellings yet to be built would be conditioned to be approved.


308.       Site Levels:  Council Officers briefed the Area Board members for the vital April meeting (See Para. 304 above) that despite some advice that the levels in the critical area might be reduced by as much as 1.4m, it was not possible to effect a reduction of more than 0.6m due to the position of the new main drains in the area, which were already installed and could not be further deepened.  From an amenity point of view however the 0.6m slab level reduction of the relevant dwellings and reducing the ridge height of one of them would reduce their visual impact to existing dwellers.


309.       Drainage:  This matter was taken up in a professional exchange by a Chartered Town Planner retained by the owner of Southfield House and the Chief Engineer of Mendip DC and the former appeared before the Board at the 29th April meeting.




310.       There can be no doubt that the Parish Council was thoroughly disenchanted over the failure of Council Officers either to consult properly with them or to deal critically with the Developers; the PC was highly critical of the lack of notice taken over their suggestions, comments and criticism in the Planning process, and its representative spoke robustly in this vein before the Board.  Despite this the Area Board gave its approval to Application 023, albeit subject to conditions regarding materials and levels.  The Parish Council wrote to the Council Case Officer on 1st May 2003 setting out its views on the finishes for Plots which had not yet progressed above damp course level and a meeting with Swan Hill, the Case Officer and the PC representative on 8th May produced an agreed Schedule of Materials, a copy of which was received by the PC on 30th May.  Though much had been lost at least the PC would be able better to monitor the rest of the development.


The Final Permissions and Completion..


311.       By mid 2003 the question of the future of Plots 21 to 26 on the site was still unresolved but on 1st October 2003 Swan Hill submitted Application 064750/24 for Full Planning Permission for this remaining area. It included proposals for site levels and roof and walling materials and all other outstanding matters.   Rode Parish Council raised no objections provided the proposals were in line with previous agreements; subject to meeting the requirements of the Environment Agency set out in its letter of 28th October 2003, Mendip District Council gave its final approval at the end of that month.


312.       As we bring our history to a close in 2006, the development of the Rode Brewery Site is, for all practical purposes, complete. The progressive, step by step alterations to significant areas around our High Street has ended for the time being, though we cannot predict what the years to come may bring.  What can be said with confidence, however, that the enterprise that Henry Fussell began when he bought the Cross Keys Inn in 1857 has transformed our village and its inhabitants to a greater degree than any in the past, save possibly the rise and fall of the woollen mills.  Both have left visible marks on our buildings, our roads and our services, and, without doubt, on our lives and those of many villagers to come after us.



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Topping off of the new brewhouse 1904



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Fussell’s delivery van no.3 at Church Row pre1909




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Fussell’s delivery van no.3



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Brewery workers, 1929



The Brewery just before closure 1992


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The Brewery sitec c2000


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