George Reed

George Reed was Burnham’s greatest benefactor during the Victorian period and was responsible for a great number of significant changes to the town. He came to Burnham before 1841 as he and his family are listed in the census of 1841, living in the Brunswick Terrace area.

2019 is the 150th anniversary of George Reed’s death.  As a commemoration of  this a research project is underway to fill out further details of his background, life and achievements. The information below will soon be updated and expanded.

Some of his achievements are

  • The National School on the sea front, later to become St Andrew’s.
  • Catherine and Julia Terraces are named after his daughter and granddaughter (Julianne).
  • The Reeds Arms, later to become The Queens Hotel and currently Wetherspoons, which has now reverted to it’s original name. The buildings also incuded what is now The Pier Tavern, although it was originally referred to as The Tap.
  • The Puzzle Gardens was built by George Reed and was firstly known as Lucerne Cottage which later became licensed premises, The Puzzle Garden Inn. Originally built in 1842.
  • The Manor House and gardens
  • As a member of The Harbour Committee he was instrumental in having the Jetty built in 1858 and encouraged trade between South Wales and Burnham.



His son Joseph Haythorne Reed represented Abingdon in Berkshire as an MP between 1854 and 1857,  probably giving rise to Abingdon Street being so-called. He died in 1858 after he bankrupted himself whilst trying to get re-elected

He was born in Westbury-on-Trym about 1805 and christened 16/06/1805 and died in Burnham 22/06/1869. He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at East Brent where he was Lord of the Manor. His wife, Sarah, pre-deceased him in 1866 as did a son George in 1839. Their daughter, also Sarah, died aged 20.

An ornamental plaque in St Andrews church records his family life.







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He donated this window to St Mary’s in memory of his daughter Sarah.


His sadly neglected grave

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Probate records of 1869 says that his estate was less than £18,000. He was a director of the Somerset & Dorset railway and invested heavily in it’s development. Successful legal action was taken against him 20/06/1869 to recover more than £80,000 for losses incurred in the development of railway traffic from South Wales through Burnham to the south coast and then to the continent. He died two days after the court case.








2 thoughts on “George Reed”

    1. A small group of fellow local historians are compiling a booklet about George’s contribution to the town and area to mark the 150th anniversary of his death, 22nd June 1869. We are still looking for documented evidence of his private, business and social life as there seems to be little record of his achievements. Do you have any information that might be of interest?

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