At Brakspear, we’re passionate about great pubs. Our family has been running pubs for over 200 years and, while many things have changed in that time, the pub remains at the heart of British life. Today, as ever, it offers great food, great drink, and a place to enjoy the company of others – friends, family or fellow drinkers.
We’re lucky to have beautiful pubs but we think it’s the people inside, running the pub who matter, and that means we do things differently at Brakspear. We are still family-owned and run, which means we make all our decisions for the long-term benefit of our company, our pub tenants and our pub customers.
We think you’ll notice that difference, whichever side of the bar you’re standing, whether you’re popping in for a quick pint, or partnering with us to run one of our 125 wonderful rural, community or town-centre pubs. We look forward to welcoming you soon.
Photo left: The Brakspear team taken January 2022.
I started in October 2004 as a non executive Director, having been with J.T.Davies & Sons for my working life; running 20 Managed Pubs and 80 Wine Shops.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
New York, I have never been and I would love to experience it.Who is your favourite sports team?
England Rugby Team ( They need the support……)What is your favourite tipple?
Red Wine from Bordeaux – St Emilion preferably.If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
I would be able to speak every language in this world and beyond – talking with everybody in their own dialect. I would also have the power to make people get on – wars would never happen.
I started at Brakspear in September 2007 before which I was at Fullers working as a Tenanted BDM.What achievement are you most proud of?
I’m not sure it really counts as my achievement (more my wife Alexa’s!) but I am hugely proud we brought our baby daughter Bella into the world in February 2021. I am thoroughly enjoying being a father for the first time.Who is your hero? Why?
I think hero is pushing it (!) but my Father has been a great inspiration to me and he continues to be a good friend and mentor in his capacity as Chairman.What did you want to be when you grew up?
I suppose I am very lucky in that I have always wanted to work for the family business in some capacity. I am very proud to be the 5th generation of my family to run the business and hope to be able to pass it on in good condition to the 6th.What is your favourite tipple?
Brakspear Gravity of course!
I started at Brakspear in April 2010. I worked previously for an audit & accountancy firm, a retail plc, international glass business and, supply chain & wholesaling business.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
Patagonia … a little bit different!Who’s your favourite sports team?
Leeds United FC.What is your favourite tipple?
It’s got to be Brakspear Bitter.What achievement are you most proud of?
This year … Completing the Three Peaks Challenge with my finance family … when you ‘meet them’ you’ll see why!!
Started in 2010, previously I was in financial services marketing.If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
I would love to spend the day with Michael MacIntyre.What did you want to be when you grew up?
A barrister.Whose your favourite sports team?
I don’t have one I’m afraidDo you have a guilty pleasure?
Yes, Strictly Come Dancing.
I started with Brakspear in May 2017, and before that I was with McMullens for 6 years.Where’s the best place you’ve ever been to and why?
Easily Cape Town. I’m from there and it’s simply the best city in the world.What would be your first purchase if you won the lottery?
A holiday with the kids which didn’t involve me doing too much work!What’s your favourite tipple?
Red wine….although I’m partial to some good ale on occasion.Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I have many!
I originally joined the business in December 2011 and left in December 2017 to work for another family brewer prior to returning in December 2019.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
San Francisco is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I love the US but have never visited the West Coast and it looks awesome.Who is your hero?
David Bowie. Perhaps the greatest ever singer/songwriter who never stood still and constantly reinvented himself.What is your favourite tipple?
Don Papa Rum or a pint of Brakes.If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
I’d love to spend a day on tour with Bernard Sumner from New Order including a back stage view of them playing live!
I joined Brakpear in March 2020 having spent 12 years with Punch Pubs & Co and previously Mitchells & Butlers working with All Bar One, PCDG & others.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I spent a summer in California in my youth and travelled to Mexico for a day, it’s a country I have always found intriguing and look forward to visiting and exploring properly to enjoy its vibrant culture, food and amazing scenery.What skill would you like to learn and why?
Golf, So I could join in with industry golf days without embarrassment…Whose your favourite sports team?
Rugby: Harlequins, Football: Crystal Palace – its ok to like both…What is your favourite tipple?
Must admit I am a fan of a decent G&T, however, can’t beat a nice pint of cask ale.
I started at Brakspear in July 2012. I moved from Manchester for the role, as I was previously marketing manager for JW Lees.What skill would you like to learn and why?
I’d love to be able to bake. I came last in the Brakspear Bake Off we had in the office. I’m always leaving things in the oven too long.Who is your hero?
Mo Farrah. I enjoy running, and he’s good inspiration.If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Canada as then you get to ski in the winter and go to the beach in the summer.What is your favourite dessert?
Well I do have a sweet tooth. Depending on what mood I’m in, I’d say strawberry pavlova in the summer, and sticky toffee pudding in the winter.
I started in August 2021 and previously worked at Big Table Group (previously known as Casual Dining Group), Carlson Rezidor – Radisson Blu and Park Inn by Radisson, and The Restaurant GroupWhat achievement are you most proud of?
I created the world’s first cheese hotel…..What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to work in the local supermarket because I used to love the clicky keyboardWhose your favourite sports team?
Manchester United!What is your favourite dessert?
Terry’s Chocolate Orange
I started Brakspear in March 2020 and before that, I was the Marketing Manager for an engineering company in Reading. But I’ve spent my last 3 years completing a degree in Magazine Journalism & Production at The University of Gloucestershire.If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
It would have to be Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, she’s honestly my muse & an absolute icon.What is your favourite dessert?
This is a hard one to answer, as I have a mega sweet tooth. But my ultimate sweet treat has to be a vanilla and chocolate cannoli (an Italian pastry). However, when it comes to anything sweet, I’m not fussy…If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Anywhere by the beach. As long as there was a view from my window where I can work and paint, close enough to walk down to the beach on my lunch break and dip my toes in the water, and not too far from a bustling town to keep my evenings and weekends busy! If you know where this place is, please tell me!Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I love fancy dress. In my bedroom, I have a box filled with various exciting accessories & items, like a 1930’s cage bag, a pink cowboy hat, a feather bower, ABBA boots & a whole load of other wonderfully wacky outfits! As soon as fancy dress is involved, I get overly excited & tend to plan my outfit down to every last minor detail.
I have been at Brakspear since March 2011. I undertook my professional training at a firm of Chartered Surveyors in London called Drivers Jonas (Deloitte Real Estate).If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I would have a house in New Zealand for their summer and a house in Italy for our summer.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
Antarctica. I have always dreamt of walking to the South Pole.What skill would you like to learn and why?
I would love to learn to sail. It is on my bucket list to sail across the Atlantic.What is your favourite dessert?
Apple crumble and lots of custard.
December 2021. I was previously working in Finance for a Payment Services company, prior to that I was travelling South East Asia.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
South America! I would love to climb Machu Picchu and visit places like Rio,Brazil to experience the culture and food.What skill would you like to learn and why?
I would love to learn how to bake! I enjoy cooking but baking any desserts or sweet treats is not my forte. My grandma makes the most amazing desserts – I would love to have this skill and not just eat them!What did you want to be when you grew up?
A figure skating coach.What is your favourite tipple?
A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
I joined Brakspear in January 2012. I was at an interior design company in London before this working on residential projects across West London. I did my interior design training at KLC School of Design in Chelsea.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’d love to tour South East Asia. I’ve been to Thailand and absolutely loved it so one day I hope to spend a lot more time travelling round the neighbouring countries.What skill would you like to learn and why?
I’d love to be able to sew well and I’d also love to learn floristry.What’s your favourite tipple?
I do like a nice glass of rosé!Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Made in Chelsea!
I started in January 2014, before Brakspear I was studying Interior design at Liverpool John Moore’s university.What did you want to be when you grew up?
An archaeologist…random I know!! I just liked the idea of unearthing something really unusual that no one had seen before.What is your favourite dessert?
Anything with chocolate in it!If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
In the summer months I’d love to live in the French Philippines in a overwater bungalow and for the winter I’d love to live in Canada.If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
I’d like to be able to fly, so I could easily get to and from the French Philippines and Canada.
I joined Brakspear in August 2017, I was previously working for an IT company.If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
An army of puppies.What skill would you like to learn and why?
I wish I could cook, I spend far too much money on takeaways.What is your favourite dessert?
It has to be bread and butter pudding.If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
Anywhere covered in snow.
March 2011What skill would you like to learn and why?
Read minds, because it would amuse me greatly and make me rich.What the first think you would buy if you won the lottery?
An island in paradiseIf you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
I’d like to spend a day with 3 celebrities, Jeremy Clarkson, Tom Hardy and Paul Weller.What is your favourite tipple?
A good full bodied red wine.
I started in November 2018. Before that, I was with Deawoo Electronic Ltd.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I’d love to drive around all the countries in Europe for a month.Who is your hero? Why?
Anyone who’s given up a comfortable life to go and help those in underdeveloped remote corners of the world because I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it myself.If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
On a desert island with my favorites discs!
I joined Brakspear in January 2014 after relocating from Cheshire.Who is your hero?
Jane Bartle-Wilson, former member of the British Olympic Dressage Team.What did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional showjumper.If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I would love to live in Buenos Aires.What is your favourite dessert?
Jamie Oliver’s banana and blueberry French toast.
I joined Brakspear in July 2017 as the Deputy Manager for the Bull on Bell St in Henley-on-Thames, I then joined the head office team in October 2018. Previous to this I spent 6 years working for Chiquito.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
My dream is to visit Iceland. I love photography so it would be amazing to explore and photograph the landscapes but most importantly I would love to see the Northern Lights!What is your favourite tipple?
Long Island Ice Tea.If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
Penn & Teller the magiciansWhose your favourite sports team?
I joined Brakspear in July 2014, before this I was working for a telecoms company also based in Henley.If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
Various holiday homes. Somewhere hot, somewhere with snow, and a few for weekend breaks in the UK.If you could spend a day with any celebrity, who would it be?
Gordon Ramsey.What is your favourite dessert?
Cheesecake, any flavour… baked or not…What is your favourite tipple?
In the winter, I love a Malbec, in the summer, Aperol Spritz or a dry rosé with lots of ice.
I started in May 2021. Before then I was working at The Slug and Lettuce as a bartender.What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to sweep up the hair in the hairdressers or be a guinea pig breeder.What’s your favourite dessert?
The Little Angel (in Henley) and their Paris–Brest.What’s your favourite tipple?
Disaronno cranberry.Do you have a guilty pleasure?
The Office USA – I even have the Dunder Mifflin dressing gown!
I joined May 2021. I was a Team Leader at Morrisons after I left University.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
Australia to watch the Ashes.Whose your favourite sports team?
Colchester UnitedWhat is your favourite dessert?
Sticky toffee puddingIf you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
I started with Brakspear in May 2018, prior to this I worked within Casual Dining at Bella Italia for 3 years and Pubs at Mitchells and Butlers for 5 years, starting my hospitality career there on their Graduate programme.If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would buy?
A horse. I love animals and started riding last year.What achievement are you most proud of?
Opening the Frogmill for Brakspear in 2018, I had never done a project of this scale before and the opportunity to work with a product that I loved was fantastic. It’s been great to see the business grow over the years and it still has so much potential.What is your favourite dessert?
Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice creamWhat is your favourite tipple?
Espresso Martini – I love coffee so this is my perfect cocktail
I started with Brakspear in September 2021 and was previously employed by Sally Salon Services for 15 years.What did you want to be when you grew up?
Around the age of 10, I wanted to be a policeman, but thought I would be too short.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I have always wanted to travel to Tokyo, to experience the culture and see Mount Fuji.What’s your favourite tipple?
Jack Daniels & Coke, or a spiced rum.What’s your favourite dessert?
Chocolate fudge cake with clotted cream
February 2017. Prior to this I spent some time at M&B, Oakman Inns and also operated my own small group of pubs in the North West.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
I would love to spend a month trekking through the Amazon Rainforest, I love nature and everything about it!What skill would you like to learn and why?
I would like one day to gain my pilot’s license to fly small aircraft, I love to travel and I feel this would open up even more opportunities to do so freely.Who is your hero?
Probably a controversial answer, but Winston Churchill remains a role model of mine for his tenacity and leadership qualities in the most difficult of times.What is your favourite dessert?
Most definitely a cheese board with a nice glass of port. Hold the blue cheese though.
January 2022. I previously worked with CUBE HR consulting.If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?
South America. It’s somewhere that has always interested me, I’ve just never had the chance to go.What did you want to be when you grew up?
A footballer… I wasn’t anywhere near dedicated enough or crucially good enough!Whose your favourite sports team?
Liverpool FCHave you ever had a nickname?
Imaginatively, Jones or Jonesy.
Nicholas Breakspear, a distant relative of the Brakspear family, was the only Englishman to ever be elected as pope and was also known as Pope Adrian IV. Elected pope on the 3rd December 1154, his papal seal contained the image of a bee, and so that's where our bee logo comes from.
In 1769, nineteen year old Robert Brakspear, became the pub landlord of the Cross Keys, Witney and it's from here Brakspear Bitter was born and started being brewed. Many people were enjoying Brakspear Bitter, so he needed to move to a bigger brewery. Robert joined us uncle Richard Hayward in 1779 and moved to the Bell Street brewery, after Richard had become a partner in 1768.
In 1812 Robert passed away and the brewery moved round the corner from Bell Street to New Street in Henley and had 34 pub leases and Robert's second son, William Henry, joined the business. William became a partner in 1825, and was sole proprietor by 1848 and began trading as W.H. Brakspear. William worked tirelessly to expand the company acquiring more beerhouses and malthouses, before passing away in 1882. William Henry had success within the town; he was mayor of Henley four times, a justice of the peace and an alderman, a very well respected man within the community.
In 1875 John Thomas Davies moved to London, from Llanarthly, Wales, and borrowed money to build The Mansfield pub, which is now known as the Gospel Oak. In 1913 John died, after building another 11 pubs. These 12 pubs passed to his son Alfred, who formed the limited company J.T. Davies & Sons ltd. Alfred increased the number of pubs to 64 managed pubs in London and the South East, with most of them leased from breweries. Alfred was elected MP for Lincoln in 1918 - 1924 and was knighted too. In 1913 Sir Alfred died at a young age following a stroke and his younger son Tony took over. Tony predicted correctly that breweries would start managing their own pubs, and so he established a chain of off-licenses and wine merchants called Davisons.
William Henry's sons Archibald and George had become partners before their father's death. This marked the move from the family as the managers to them just being the owners but they did introduce a new coopers shop in 1886 and new brewhouse in 1892. In 1896 Brakspear's bought out their main local rival, the Grey's Brewery. As keen sports fans, they also joint founded Henley Cricket Club in 1869 which still remains today. Archibald passed away in 1909. The Henley Standard, a local newspaper that he helped found and are still around today, said of him that he retained the respect, admiration and esteem of the whole community among whom he lived.
After his father's death Archibald Roswell became chairman until his death in 1933. Ronald, son of George, and his brother F.G. Brakspear were also on the board. It's fair to say these members of the family weren't as business-minded as their fathers and things began to drift. More time was spent at Henley United Rowing Club and at Henley Golf Course than worrying about business. John Chalcraft joined the company in 1914, becoming head brewer, then managing director in 1928 for a staggering 41 years until 1969 and later the first company chairman who was not a member of the family. He remained as chairman until 1974.
John's son Michael was a keen brewer and joined the board in 1963 where he remained until 1996. In this time, many pubs were bought that still make up the Brakspear pub estate today. By 1979 Brakspear had 130 pubs, as well as some free houses but then began a period of rationalisation. 20 years later the pub estate was just over 100. A new distribution yard was opened in 1986, but otherwise there was little change with the brewery until production ceased in 2002.
In 1971 the original J.T. Davies offices in Russell Square, London was relocated to Aberdeen road, Croydon, along with a new bottling warehouse. In the 1980s a new distribution centre was built. By the early 1990s there were 85 stores and a good handful of free-of-tie pubs. It had been a time of contraction for the JT Davies pubs as they had lost all the tenanted houses from Bass and Courage as a result of the 1989 Beer Orders. They were left with those pubs that had been bought individually or built. Tony Davies died, having passed the business to his son Michael seven years earlier, who joined the business in 1973. The company acquired 18 freehold pubs from Bass, the start of the tenanted pub business.
In 1994, J.T. Davies acquired Mayor Sworder wine merchants then two years later the off-licenses were sold to Unwins. These shops had run alongside the J.T. Davies pubs for just under 50 years. The company now owned 50 tenanted pubs. In 2000, J.T. Davies bought its first stake in W.H. Brakspear, adding to it in 2002 to secure a 30% share. In 2002, Brakspear moved away from direct brewing and Marstons took the reins at their Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, right around the corner from where Brakspear bitter began at the Cross Keys.
In 2007, J.T. Davies acquired W.H. Brakspear in its entirety and turned it back into a private company, with 150 tenanted and leased pubs. Michael's son Tom joined the business as Commercial Director and the fifth generation of the Davies family to enter the business. J.T. Davies sold Mayor Sworder to Davy & Co of London. A year later Tom became Chief Executive of Brakspear with Michael becoming Chairman for W.H. Brakspear. The pub company side of Brakspear's head office moved to Bell Street, still in Henley on Thames, and the same street where the Brakspear brewery originally was. J.T. Davies then began to re-brand their 50 pubs as Brakspear, presenting one united company again.
In 2013, Brakspear opened its first managed pub, the Bull on Bell Street in the office. Managed houses differ to the standard tenanted and leased pubs as all employees in managed houses also work for Brakspear. In 2014, Brakspear won best tenanted and leased pub company from the Publican, the highest accolade you can get in the pub world!
We welcomed a fresh new look for the Brakspear brand in 2019 along with a new name for Brakspear Bitter. Introducing Brakspear Gravity!
At the end of 2021, Brakspear now has 9 managed houses under the Honeycomb Houses brand and 115 tenanted and leased pubs. It's a business of two sides creating a balanced approach that benefits both sides.