Bitter sweet memories of a golden age of brewing

Sign of the times ' the derelict Whitbread brewery in Queen Street, Portsea, in 1989, still bearing the Brickwoods sign and one of its advertising slogans
Sign of the times ' the derelict Whitbread brewery in Queen Street, Portsea, in 1989, still bearing the Brickwoods sign and one of its advertising slogans
It would take  someone of the age of 55-plus to remember this scene along Commercial Road at the junction of Church Street.

NOSTALGIA: A Portsmouth scene unrecognisable today: Commercial Road in its pomp

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News that commercial brewing in the heart of Portsmouth is making a comeback reminds us of the great beer tradition in the city, which arose simply to quench the thirst of the Royal Navy.

Brewhouse and Kitchen is turning the White Swan in Guildhall Walk into a craft beer pub featuring a microbrewery.

The Royal Naval Arms in Queen Street, Portsea - one of several Brickwood pubs a stone's throw from the brewery. It was demolished in the early 1970s.

The Royal Naval Arms in Queen Street, Portsea - one of several Brickwood pubs a stone's throw from the brewery. It was demolished in the early 1970s.

Up to 2,800 pints of malt, nutty, brown and other types of beers and porters will be made a week. Customers will be able to watch the process from the bar.

It’s 24 years since the old Whitbread brewery in Queen Street, Portsea, was demolished, an enormous building which dominated the area not only in its size but also with its pungent aroma.

Of course, it had started as Brickwoods, a company which was bought by Whitbread in 1971 and which immediately gained a colossal estate of 670 tied pubs.

Sadly, brewing ceased in 1983 when the brewery closed and production was transferred to Cheltenham.

It was the end of an era which started in 1848 when Henry Brickwood, the tenant of the White Hart in Queen Street, wrote to his sister-in-law Fanny, in London, suggesting she come to Portsmouth and enter the licensed trade.

Mrs Brickwood, busy nursing an ailing husband, apparently found the idea appealing. For she removed her only son, Harry, from his articles to a surveyor, sent him on a week’s brewing course and set in motion the events which founded the firm of Brickwoods.