Yeovil trades & traders

brutton's brewery

Brewery with a long tradition


Thomas Cave was born 2 January 1781 in Melbury Osmond, Dorset. He was almost certainly the son of Thomas Cave of Melbury Osmond who appears in several Land Tax Returns of the 1790s (the only Cave in the area). In 1824 Thomas established a brewery in Clarence Street (actually behind his house in Princes Street), the company originally started life as Kitson & Cave which was listed in Pigot's Directory of 1824 but by 1830 Pigot's Directory listed Thomas Cave as a 'Brewer & Maltster of Hendford' in his own right (This, in fact, although called Hendford was actually today's Princes Street and Cave's house was (today's) 23 & 25 Princes Street). There was possibly a brewery on this site in the late eighteenth century. Thomas was successful early on and by 1828 at least had acquired the neighbouring property and he owned at least one public house, the White Hart (the later Duke of Clarence) in Stars Lane and was recorded in Land Tax Returns several times between 1828 and 1846.

Pigot's Directory of 1830 listed Thomas as a Brewer & Maltster of Hendford and, in a separate listing, as a Wine & Spirits Merchant. The two listings were repeated in the 1840 Somerset Gazette Directory although he was listed as being in Cattle Market - then the current name of today's Princes Street. Hunt & Co's Directory of 1850 and Slater's Directory of 1852 both repeated the two listings although the address had reverted to Hendford.

Joseph Brutton was born on 25 May 1831 in Exeter, Devon, the son of Joseph Able Brutton (1795-1837), gentleman, and Margaretta née Browne (1797-1874). Joseph senior was in the licensed trade and various leases survive for some of the pubs he owned in Exeter including the Oat Sheaf in Fore Street (1821), the Black Moor's Head in Westgate Street (1825, 1837), the Antelope in St Sidwell (1827, 1837), the Paper Makers' Arms in Exe Lane (1837), the Union in St Carrion (1837), the Jolly Sailor in Holy Trinity (1837), a dwellinghouse and malt house in Preston Street (1837), and the King's Arms in Stoke Canon (1837). By the time of the 1851 census his father had died and Joseph, aged 19, described himself as a brewer.

By 1854 Joseph Brutton had moved to Yeovil and entered into business with Thomas Cave and from that date the business was known as Cave & Brutton. In the 1861 census Joseph, now aged 29, was listed living in Princes Street and described his occupation as 'Brewer, Wine and Spirits Merchant'. In the same census Thomas described himself simply as a merchant and was still living in Princes Street. Thomas Cave died on 10 September 1863 in Yeovil although the Post Office Directory of 1866 listed Cave & Brutton as 'Brewers, Maltsters & Wine Merchants' of Princes Street - the only occasion I could find the company listed in any directory and the last time any local trade directory mentioned brewing!

In the 1871 census Joseph gave his occupation as 'Common Brewer, Wine and Spirit Merchant, Master, employing 20 men'. The Post Office Directory of 1875 listed Brutton & Pope as Wine and Spirits Merchants of Princes Street but this is the only evidence I could find of Joseph's new partnership.

In the 1881 census Joseph and his family were recorded at 7 Princes Street. Living with them were 8 children ranging in age from 20 to 10 months, as well as a cook, general domestic servant, housemaid and 2 nurses. Joseph listed his occupation as "Brewer & Wine Merchant, employing 36 men & 3 boys".

The 1891 census listed him as a "Brewer, Wine & Spirits merchant", at 17 Princes Street. Joseph retired due to ill-health in 1893 and moved to Eastbourne, Sussex. He died on 21 February 1914 aged 82.

The new malthouse was one of the first pneumatic malting houses in the country and was built by 1885.


In the 1891 edition of 'Where to Buy' Joseph Brutton's business was given the following description -

Mr Joseph Brutton
Brewer and Wine Merchant.

The greatest national beverage of England is undoubtedly beer, and it is of national importance that this liquor should be supplied in a sound and wholesome condition.
Among the leading brewers of the West of England, Mr Joseph Brutton, Brewer and Wine Importer, of Yeovil, occupies an honourable position. The business was established in 1825, and since then has continued to hold its own in popular favour throughout the surrounding district, and by the careful selection of the barley, the judicious manufacture of pale malt, and the scrupulous care shown in every detail of the brewing process, has acquired a reputation as a most reliable house.

For many years the business was carried on under the name of Cave and Brutton; the present proprietor has had a long and valuable experience in the trade, and by modernising, when occasion required, the appliances technically called the "plant," by his careful supervision and selection of the ingredients, has fully maintained the high reputation previously acquired. In order to supply the malt, two large malt-houses are kept constantly at work during the season, the most recent improvements having been introduced into every branch of the manufacture. The cisterns in which the barley is steeped are constructed on the best principles, and in the germinating cases the grain is worked and turned by patent machinery. The kilns are provided with self-acting ventilators, and to ensure the utmost efficiency, the kiln floors are double. The malt-crushing mills, the hoists and elevators are worked by engine power, one being a gas engine and the others steam. The Brewery is equipped with two mash-tuns, coppers, backs, coolers and refrigerators, these being of the best and newest character, while the fermenting vessels are provided with attemperators, parachutes, and every appliance to facilitate the work and ensure its being performed in a steady and reliable manner. Storage rooms are provided for malt and hops, and a stock of the best English hops is always kept in reserve.

Attached to the Brewery are large vats and cellars for the storage of beer, while adjoining is the yard for washing and purifying the casks previous to filling them. The water for supplying the brewery is pumped from a artesian well on the premises, and is noted for its purity and perfect suitability for brewing purposes.

The greatest care is taken to time each operation to the requirements of the case, and to preserve the most scrupulous cleanliness throughout. The malt and hops
are of the best quality, and the proportions of same are adjusted with a nicety so as to provide an uniform character in the beverage which it is intended to produce. The result is that Mr Brutton's beers and stout are invariably of a superior quality, and we should say it is extremely rare for a cask to be returned on his hands.

Brewing is now a science, and no greater proof of the success of this manufactory could be adduced than that notwithstanding the extraordinary competition in the trade during recent years, and the immense sums spent in machinery and in procuring skilled scientific managers by the large breweries, Mr Brutton has been able not only to hold his own, but to make advances, and, by offering a superior beer to the public at a moderate price, to practically meet all opposition.

A wine and spirit business is also attached; a long succession of ports of the finest vintages, together with sherries, brandies and champagnes from the most noted shippers, very old Scotch and Irish whiskies, and a choice and varied list of other liqueurs of guaranteed quality being always on hand.

Mr Brutton is also engaged in an undertaking of a far different character; we refer to his model dairy farm, on which over 50 thoroughbred Jersey cows are kept. The dairy is scrupulously clean, one of De Laval's "Separators" being used to separate cream from the milk. This machine is driven by a gas engine, which also supplies the motive power for corn crushing, root and chaff cutting. The greatest care is taken to supply the cattle with pure water, the town water having been laid on to the meadows where they pasture. Mr Brutton's name is well known in the show-yard, exhibits from his herd having been made at the Royal, the Bath and West of England, and other principal meetings. Over 90 prizes, as well as the silver medal of the English-Jersey Cattle Society, the gold, two silver, and bronze medals of the British Dairy Farmers' Association, Thorley's silver cup on two occasions, and a large number of honour certificates, have been awarded to these beautiful animals during the last three years.

After Joseph's death his sons carried on the business and significant improvements to the brewery were recorded in 1893 after Joseph's retirement. The business was listed as Brutton & Sons Ltd, Wine and Spirits Merchants of Princes Street in Collins' Yeovil Directory of 1907 and as Joseph Brutton & Sons Ltd, Wine and Spirits Merchants of Princes Street in Kelly's Directory of 1935.

Mitchell, Toms & Co Ltd of Chard became associated with Joseph Brutton & Sons Ltd around 1935 and took over Brutton's in 1937 and the company was renamed Brutton, Mitchell & Toms Ltd.

The Chard brewery closed in June 1937 and all brewing was concentrated in Yeovil. The company acquired Dorsetshire Brewery (Sherborne) Ltd. of Long Street, Sherborne in 1951 along with 78 licensed houses and three off-licenses. From this date the Dorsetshire Brewery ceased to brew.

It was taken over by Charrington & Co Ltd, London, in 1960 and changed its name to Charrington & Co (South West) Ltd in 1963. The Yeovil Brewery ceased to brew in 1965.

At the time of the 1960 takeover by Charrington & Co Ltd, Brutton's tied pubs in Yeovil were - the Albion Inn, the Alexandra Hotel, the Globe & Crown, the Beehive Inn, the Duke of Clarence, the Half Moon Hotel,  the Hollands Inn, the Manor Hotel, the Market Street Inn, the Milford Inn, the Pall Hotel, the Pen Mill Hotel, the Picketty Witch, the Quicksilver Mail, the Railway Inn, the Red House, the Red Lion, the Royal Standard, the Swan Inn and the White Horse.

Earlier Yeovil pubs known to have been tied to the Brutton's brewery included; the Britannia Inn, the Crown Inn, the Elephant & Castle, the Heart of Oak, the Rifleman's Arms, the Victoria Inn and the Wellington Inn.

The site of the malthouse is now covered by Tesco’s car park. The brewery site was redeveloped for housing in 2004.


Map and aerial photograph


The 1886 Ordnance Survey of the Clarence Street / Princes Street area showing the brewery at centre and the malthouse at centre left.


This 1935 aerial photograph shows Clarence Street running diagonally down the centre of the photograph to join with Park Road at bottom, right of centre. Almost at dead centre of the photograph is the high-level walkway spanning Clarence Street, with the brewery building to the left and the malthouse buildings to the right. At the very, very top right corner the small dark triangle is the start of the Yeovil Town Football Club's ground.




"Cave & Brutton Breweries" painted on the side of one of the early brewery buildings - this must have been painted between 1854 (when the partnership started) and 1863 (when Thomas Cave died), thereby giving a 'latest' date for this particular building.  Photographed in the 1960s.


Again, photographed in the 1960s and seen from a bit further away, this view shows some of the original brewery buildings.


Moving further away still, the rear of the brewery photographed in the 1960s.


Joseph Brutton's advertisement in the 1881 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser.


Brutton's 1913 price list. £3 for a barrel of XXXX Old!!! No wonder my great granddad died propping up a bar in a public house.


From my collection

A J Brutton & Sons' advertisement in a Yeovil Guide of the late 1920s. 


From my collection

An 80-page promotional booklet issued around 1935 (judging by the list of landlords listed within) to promote the association of Joseph Brutton & Sons Ltd with Mitchell, Toms & Co Ltd of Chard. The booklet has an introduction to both firms and descriptions of all the pubs associated with the breweries. Mitchell, Toms took over Brutton's in 1937 and the company was renamed Brutton, Mitchell & Toms Ltd.


From my collection

Brutton's loading-out stage and cask-washing shed, photographed in the early 1930s.


From my collection

An enlargement from the previous photograph showing Brutton's delivery cart (in all fairness, you couldn't really call it a dray).


From my collection. This photograph features in my book "A-Z of Yeovil"

Brutton's brewery yard, again photographed in the early 1930s.


From my collection

A Brutton's Beers cast iron promotional bottle opener. The other side is identical.  Technically known as a 'Crown Cork opener', the marking 'RD 702661' dates it to between 1924 and 1936.


From my collection

A promotional deck of playing cards issued by Brutton Mitchell Toms Ltd, and therefore dating to between 1937 and 1960.


From my collection

A cellar thermometer, presumably issued by the brewery to their tied houses to ensure their beer was kept at the correct temperature.


Courtesy of Tony Rendell

A couple of advertising mirrors to be hung in the company's tied pubs. Each measures two feet high and one foot wide.


A Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd letterhead - note the epithet "Cider Makers".


Courtesy of David Potten

Henry John Walters leading a dray horse of Brutton, Mitchell Toms Ltd, probably in the 1940s or 1950s.


Courtesy of Adrian Lawrence

A metal drinks tray, approximately 18" diameter and dating to around the mid-1950s.


Looking north along Clarence Street in the mid-1960s. With the brewery on the right had side of the road and the malthouse on the left, the high-level covered bridge allowed staff to easily get from one site to the other.


Looking back down Clarence Street from just beyond the covered bridge in the previous photograph, this is a view of the rear of the brewery.


Fermenting vats at the rear and the barrel storage area in the foreground.


An early 1960s brewery tour reaches the area where barrels were filled.


The brewery's resident cooper making repairs to barrels.


A 1960's photograph of part of the brewery buildings.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

The brewery photographed in 1993.


.... and finally


Seven Brutton bottle labels, from (I think) the 1950s and 1960s and lastly some beermats from the 1950s.