Burnham’s Brewery in the 20th Century

At the height of production 1200 to 1500 quarts of malt were produced a year and 300 barrels of beer per week. There were spacious growing floors and a good sized reservoir at the rear of the building to provide water for the boiler. A familiar entry in the carnival procession used to be the Brewery Steam (Mann) Wagon (1902 to 1911) with the registration number Y146. Beer was initially delivered to the ninety Holt pubs by horse and dray. At one time all the pubs in Burnham , except the Crown in Oxford Street, belonged to Holts. In 1895 they sold the Mason’s Arms to Joseph Braithwaite who demolished it to construct the Lifeboat Temperance Restaurant.

Brewery jpeg

Advertisement from Burnham on Sea Golf Handbook, probably 1910’s.

Above is the 1921-43 o.s. map showing the development of the brewery  site.

The wind pump above pumped water from the brewery’s own spring. It was on the site now occupied by Margaret Crescent, just behind South Esplanade.

Holt’s  had their own brand of spirits, obtained via Burnett’s bonded warehouse in Highbridge, and also of mineral water.

Below is a photograph of the mineral water department.

In 1957 Starkey, Knight & Ford bought the  business from Tom Holt but were themselves taken over by Whitbreads in 1962.

Brewery in process of redevelopment. Compare with picture at top of main page.

Following successful planning permission in 1965 the site was developed and is now where Broadhurst Gardens, and the Lighthouse Pub stand. The original Holimarine entrance road ran directly from the Highbridge Rd traversing the railway line to meet the entrance on what is now Marine drive.

See More about Holt’s here.

Brewery main page

See also The Lighthouse Inn.


7 thoughts on “Burnham’s Brewery in the 20th Century”

  1. I wonder if the brewery ever produced bottle openers as my interest is now collecting old brewery and cider bottle openers. I used to collect bottle labels and I am fairly certain I have some old Holt’s labels in the attic.

    1. Hello Mark,
      Thanks for your posting. You have raised an interesting topic re bottle openers. All the Holts bottles I have are either with the marble stopper type or the screw in rubber type stopper. It would be interesting to know what stopper the Starkey, Knight & Ford company used when they took over the Brewery in the late 1950’s. Their logo was the white horse. Perhaps some of our other readers can help with an answer.
      Thanks for your interest and please let us know if you find a bottle opener and we would love a copy of any of your bottle labels we don’t have on here.

  2. I also have a Holts marble bottle. My bottle was made by Dan Rylands of Barnsley. A little information for those not familiar with this type of bottle. The “Fizzy Drink” bottle idea was patented by Hiram Codd in 1872. It had a rubber seal in the top lip and the marble, (he called it a globe) when filled, and a pressurised gas forced into the bottle, kept the seal tight and the drink “fizzy”. They were filled upside down. To drink, the marble was pressed down, releasing the gas and the marble then secured behind two little indentations. It was originally used for Mineral water and soft drinks. It may have been Ginger beer in the Holt bottles? Some bottles were made in cobalt blue and are quite rare. Children used to break them up to get the marble out. There is an old wives tale that this is where the saying “Codd’s Wallop” comes from?

  3. I lived in highbridge with my grandmother until 1955 and my grandmothers drink was Holts stout. I had to go to the white hart pub in highbridge and wait until someone I knew went in to get me a couple of bottles. And by the way John your dad taught me at school

    1. Hello Erica,

      Thanks for sharing your memories with us. When the Brewery closed I used to fish in the pond which was located near by where the Lighthouse Pub car park is now.
      My parents moved to Burnham in 1948. My father initially taught in the Technical School before King Alfred School opened. When he retired in the 1980’s he became very active in researching Local History and it was only after his passing in 2009 that I found his collection of archives that I too became interested in the history of Burnham and Highbridge. Please see our Programme of meetings on the ‘about page’ if you are interested in attending.

  4. I have a Holt Brothers Cod bottle (with marble in twisted neck) and a lighthouse embossed on front ~ any idea of the age of the bottle ? Its heavy and thick

    1. Hello Lenny,

      There are several of these types of glass bottles to be found at car boots and charity shops. It is difficult to age them except to say the glass marble/stopper type was among the earliest. So the best I can come up with is that in 1878 the Brewery was purchase by W.S. Holt and his family ran the business until 1957 when it was taken over by Starkey, Knight & Ford. In December 1965 planning permission was granted and that is now where part of Broadhurst Gardens are.

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