The Bexley Brewery (1874-1886) & Reffell Bros. (1886-1898)

Henry Reffell (1817-1886)
John Reffell (1853-1928), William Robert Reffell (1855-1948) & Arthur Henry Reffell (1858-1907)

Opening of Brewery 1876

Henry Reffell left the Somers Arms in Redhill, and in March 1876 opened a new brewery on a green field site in Bourne Road Bexley Kent. This was the most successful Reffell brewery, albeit ultimately outside the control of the family. Little is currently known about the earliest brewery at Bexley.

Henry died on 8 September 1886 and was buried at the church of St Mary Bexley. He had married Mary Ann Prikler at Godstone in 1852, and she was buried with him on 14 January 1890. They had three sons & one daughter; John (1853-1928), William Robert (1855-1948), Arthur Henry (1858-1907) & Bertha Annie (1867-1963). During 1879 John married Harriett Alma Prikler, who was his mother’s niece. Bertha Annie never married and lived on the brewery site until after it was sold, moving to Godstone and Redhill, eventually dying in Rustington Sussex at the age of 95.

Reffell Bros. Bottle

The brewery now passed to Henry’s three sons and was renamed as the Reffell Bros. Brewery. William dealt with the brewing side and Arthur handled the office, the wines and the spirits departments. John also worked at the brewery, although by 1891 he had retired and moved to Ramsgate before finally moving to Godstone. The business expanded and the sales at that time consisted mainly of beers, wine and spirits to local public houses. A front page advertisement on the Bexley Heath & Erith Observer of 3 November 1888 showed the brewery was offering a range of ten beers from the XXXK Stock Strong Ale, to the AK Light Bitter (which was highly recommended for families).

Around the turn of the century most breweries needed to expand and re-equip with modern machinery in order to remain solvent. Accordingly the company was put on the share market and Reffells Bexley Brewery Limited was registered on 3 December 1898. This gave a much needed boost to the finances, but things did not initially go well for the company. This led to Arthur Henry retiring at the age of 41, unfortunately he died only nine years later at Nutfield. Two years later, William Robert also left the company, dying in Rustington at the age of 93. Although the Reffell name would survive up to 1956, the family connection to the brewing industry had come to an end.