My interest in the long defunct Swallow Brewery of Arundel started when I discovered some old invoices of theirs on that popular auction site. Scrolling through the listings I came to a halt when I saw that these old-time papers were local history. Arundel is just 20 miles away from my hometown, Horsham, a real gem of a town in West Sussex and a great place to spend the day discovering the castle, the rowing lake, the wetlands and of course, the pubs.
Pubs such as The Red Lion which was once the alehouse for that of Henty & Constable, the brewers that were responsible for the Swallow Brewery located on Queen Street. The brewery was one of many in the area- being a pretty rural place West Sussex didn’t get plumbed in to safe drinking water until relatively late, so the beer was safer to drink than the water and many families drank low abv beers instead. It was invested in by GS Constable & Sons Ltd in 1845 (George Sefton Constable eventually died in 1896) and was one of two breweries run by the company along with The Anchor of Littlehampton (whos production was switched to mineral water processing in 1917). The Swallow Brewery existed long before GS Constable with trade directory entries for the brewery dating back to 1783- the year of the French Revolution.
1921 saw a merger with Chichester’s G Henty & Sons to form Henty & Constable Ltd, although production soon came to an end when in 1922 the last beers were brewed and production was switched to Henty’s Westgate Brewery in Chichester.
Henty & Constable ceased trading altogether in 1955 when the brewery was bought out by Watneys, with half of the properties being sold to Friary’s of Guildford.
In the breweries heyday they were known for their Mild Ale, Special Ginger Beer, Extra Stout and a Milk Punch- said to be a favourite of Queen Victoria- a concoction of milk, lemon juice, sugar and rum, matured for 2 years.
And although the brewery didn’t survive it’s amazing to think that these invoices and receipts did- they’ll be put in a frame soon, it seems a waste to hide them away. The decorative swallow that once swung from the brewery is also still in existence and still in the town, now located in the Town Hall.