Around the turn of the century many breweries needed to expand and re-equip with modern machinery in order to remain solvent. In order to meet this challenge the Reffell Brothers Brewery was put on the share market, with Reffell’s Bexley Brewery Limited being registered on 3 December 1898 with a purchase price of £185,000. Within a short time, all the Reffell brothers were to leave the company. Although the Reffell name would survive up to 1956, the family connection to the brewing industry had come to an end.
The brewery struggled for many years before slowly becoming solvent and by 1934 a dividend was paid on Ordinary Shares for the very first time. In celebration of this achievement all staff were given an extra week’s pay. The brewery always had a strong local Kent connection and even provided an ornamental mace to the Bexley Corporation on it’s founding. At the time of the Kings Silver Jubilee, it was noted that four employees had attained 40 years employment, another four had done 25 years and three more had stayed for over 20 years.
Further financial pressures grew after the Second World War and another round of mergers saw the brewery bought by Courage & Barclay in June 1956, along with the public houses then owned. Courage & Co Ltd had been established by John Courage in Bermondsey during 1787. In 1955, the company had merged with Barclay, Perkins & Co Ltd. to become Courage, Barclay & Co. Ltd. Today, it is part of the Marston’s Brewery empire.
Reffells Bexley Brewery Ltd. closed the following year and around 70 people were made redundant. The site has been converted into a small industrial estate whose buildings still retain the old brewery names.
The story of the Reffells Bexley Brewery is the subject of a mini-website (opens in a new window).