Barking Brewery - Barking and District Historical Society

Barking and District Historical Society
Go to content

Main menu:

Barking Brewery

Articles > A-D > Barking
Barking Brewery

Tony Clifford

In the Summer 2011 issue, Bill George listed Barking pubs which have recently closed. This was a very welcome update to my Barking pubs past and present, published in 1995. No longer resident in the area, I was particularly interested to see that the  Brewery Tap was not in the list. Known for a while as the James Figg, and currently as the @Barking, this pub is all that remains of Barking Brewery. Thanks to a personal communication from an Australian Glenny, I am able to share the following information  about the Brewery.

Alex Glenny was the last of four Glennys to work at the Barking Brewery. On the sale of the Brewery to Messrs Taylor Walker & Co. Ltd., in 1929, he wrote the following vignette on sixty-five years of Glenny stewardship:

In the days of our grandfathers it was customary for farmers to brew their own beer to supply the workers with refreshments in the fields at harvesting time and on other special occasions. The Barking Brewery had such a beginning. Dr George Glenny started  the Brewery in 1864 to meet the demands of a few farmers who had not the plant 0r the necessary skill to produce satisfactory beer themselves.

The first brew was made in the potato shed of the late Mr. W. W. Glenny and, apart from farm consumption, the first cask of beer was purchased by Dr Galloway, of Cambridge Road, Barking. In those days Dr Glenny had only one assistant, the late Mr H. Prior.

Many yarns are told of the early days of the Brewery. Mr H. Prior, the son of Dr Glenny's first assistant, tells of the following amusing incident. An employee going home to his dinner, neglected to close the brew-house door. A sow and her litter of pigs,  finding the door open and some beer handy in waste tubs, drank freely. When the men returned in the afternoon they found the pigs helpless and the tubs empty. They had to carry the intoxicated pigs into the yard, where they slept off the effects of their  hearty indulgence.

The excellency of the brews soon became known and sales grew apace, but Dr George was satisfied with setting the ball rolling, and sold the business to his brother, Mr Thomas W. Glenny, who acquired a site on the east side of Linton Road, and built the  Brewery.

Trade increased from month to month, licensed houses were acquired, and the business grew to one of considerable importance. In those days the Brewery was run on empirical lines. Mr Thomas W. Glenny saw grounds for improvement and in 1890 introduced his  nephew, Mr George W. Glenny, to the Brewery; when he had grasped the elements of brewing, he served his pupilage under Mr G. D. Atkinson at Messrs Fenwick's Brewery, Sunderland. Later, Mr G. W. Glenny studied under Mr Chaston Chapman, FRS FIC, an illustrious  chemist and scientist. On his return to the Barking Brewery, Mr G. W. Glenny introduced many new methods, and the Brewery was not only run on more scientific lines, but produced an infinitely better beer.

Mr T. W. Glenny died in 1914, six months before war broke out, a most unfortunate time. In his will, he proved as just and generous as in life. Every old servant of the firm was left a legacy with the opportunity of taking up shares in the Brewery in  the event of a Company being formed.

Apart from those who joined the army, the men proved faithful throughout the war and stuck to their work when higher wages were being offered elsewhere. They were hard times. As the Chairman remarked in later  years: " There was a time when I thought the shutters would have to go up". Towards the end of 1917, the Brewery was formed into a private Company, with Mr G. W. Glenny as Managing Director and Mr J. V. Glenny, Mr E. Raven, and Major C. H. Seabrooke as  co-directors, and from that date the Brewery went from strength to strength.

In 1926, Mr A. H. Glenny entered the Brewery, after training somewhat similar to that of his uncle, Mr G. W. Glenny. He took charge of the brewing process. The licensed houses, under the supervision of Mr G. S. Stapley, FSA, have been brought up to modern  requirements. During the last ten years, a sum approaching £70,000 has been spent on rebuilding and alterations.

Until its purchase by Messrs Taylor Walker & Co. Ltd., at the end of 1929, the Brewery stood one of the most prosperous industries in town; employing about 30 hands, possessing 15 licensed houses, and doing a trade of no less than 16,000 barrels a year.  A worthy achievement in so short a time! Despite its growth, the firm maintained its original spirit of co-operation between employer and employee to the very end. The expression could often be heard: "We are more like a happy family than a business concern".

Much could be written on the business sagacity, justice and humanity of the Chairman, Mr G. W. Glenny, JP. Long life and happiness to him in his retirement!

To dilate on the many excellencies of the staff would require a volume of considerable  size, but mention must be made of the late Messrs Prior, Senr., Shelitoe and Ward; also, Davis, Pickrell, Prior, Jnr., Bearman, Heading, Russell and Copp, all of whom have spent almost a lifetime in furthering the interests of the firm.

As an  individual firm, GLENNY'S BREWERY LTD. Is no more; its shutters have gone up – not to failure, but to success.

Transport at Barking Brewery (author's collection)


The first record of the Glenny family in Barking is an entry in the Rate Book for September-December 1759 showing that Alexander Glenny was rated at £15 for Cobb Hall. This was a farmhouse built probably in the early 18th century on or near the site of a "great house" called Wakering Place alias Coblers Hall erected in the reign of Elizabeth I by William Nutbrowne but pulled down between 1653 and 1680. Alexander Glenny (c.1726-1782) had married Deborah Harison at St Mary's Islington on 7th October 1759. According to family tradition he was a farmer/market gardener from Scotland. They had 8 surviving children, and Deborah lived until 1804. The eldest child, John, started farming in Battersea; the second son, Alexander(1765-1843) was blinded in childhood and became organist at St Margaret's. William (1766-1850) and George(1772-1839), who remained single, farmed Cobb Hall. The freehold was bought in 1799, a new house built, and Bifrons estate bought from Gascoyne in 1816. William's son Thomas (1805-1861) inherited, followed by his eldest son William Wallis Glenny (1839-1923), who, being local Conservative leader, renamed the Hall, Cecil House. Edward (1801-1881), William's second son, inherited Bifrons in 1850. (Based on a lecture by Kenneth Glenny to Ilford Historical Society in October 1976).

Readers are also referred to the 3 volumes of the Mr Frogley's Barking series for references to the Glenny family and a portrait of Thomas Wallis Glenny, who built the Brewery.

Barking Brewery, The Brewery Tap
Brewery Tap, 29th June 2011
Barking Tap, 29th June 2011
Brewery Tap, 29th June 2011
Back to content | Back to main menu