The Weller family
Five generations of brewers in Amersham
This article is based on research done by Gerry Selby for a panel produced for the Museum.
William Weller (1727-1802), a maltster from High Wycombe, bought an interest in the brewery near St. Mary’s Church in Amersham and two local pubs, the Saracens Head and the Old Griffin at Mop End in 1775. He added the old malthouse off the Broadway to the business in 1783. After his death, his sons, John (1759-1843) and William (1764-1843), took over the Brewery. They immediately bought more pubs including the Chequers at Bury End, the Queen’s Head in Whielden Lane and the Red Lion at Coleshill and land at Little Pondwicks opposite the brewery for new stables and a cart shed for their drays.
In 1818 they bought the freehold of the brewery and Barn Meadow where they completed the new Maltings with a water wheel powered by the River Misbourne in 1829. They named their strong dark beer ‘Weller’s Entire’. Even a disastrous fire at the Maltings in 1837 did not hold back the business for long and they soon bought more pubs: 1837 Red Lion, Amersham; 1838 Eagle, High Street, Amersham; 1842 Wheatsheaf, London Road.
John Weller lived at the Firs, now known as Piers Place, until his death in 1843. The Weller family were second only to the Drakes in local importance and wealth.
When the brothers both died in the same year, the business was inherited by John’s son, Edward (1791-1850) and William’s son, also called William (1797-1859). They expanded the number of tied houses buying properties in Aylesbury and Harefield and in 1848 the Boot and Slipper on Amersham Common.
Edward died in a hunting accident leaving William in charge of the Brewery and so in 1859 it was left to his three sons – William, Edward and George. By 1909 only George was involved with the business.
When George Weller died in 1929, his son Gerard sold the Brewery and 133 pubs in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hertfordshire and Middlesex to Benskins of Watford for £360,000. They sold the Brewery buildings at auction in 1930.
The Weller Family were great benefactors to Amersham. William Weller (1840-1908) started ‘Messrs Weller’s Fire Brigade’ in 1874 and in 1886 Edward Weller let a corner of Barn Meadow to the Amersham Lawn Tennis Club and by 1901 the Hockey Club also played there.
The family supported the building of the railway and in 1892 opened the Station Hotel. In 1896 George Weller was involved with providing a footpath through Rectory Wood to the new station. He opened the new Amersham Grammar school building in 1905 and organised the distribution of 800lbs of beef to local families at Christmas in 1905, 1907 and 1914.
William Weller (1797-1859) bought a house on Church Street from Dr Rumsey. This house, known as Rumsey’s until renamed Badminton House, became home to his widow Lydia and provided three offices near the Brewery for his sons.
By 1851 the Brewery employed 45 men and organised its first staff outing to the Great Exhibition in London. It grew to be the largest employer in Amersham and so other excursions followed to the Crystal Palace, Earl’s Court, Windsor, Brighton, Eastbourne, Southampton, Southend and Margate. Christmas dinners were held at The Griffin until 1914 and later at the King’s Arms.
An article appeared in the Bucks Herald on 3rd June 1854 about a dispute between the innkeepers and Mr Weller:
THE INNKEEPERS A circular having been issued to the innkeepers of this town and neighbourhood since the passing of extra duty on malt, recommending a rise of one penny per pot on beer, followed by another circular inviting them to convene a public meeting on the subject, a meeting of innkeepers, variously estimated from 70 to 120, met at The Griffin Inn in this place on Monday last, Mr Day of the Swan Inn in the chair. A resolution was passed to continue the price of beer to the public as it has hitherto been, and offering Mr Weller one shilling per barrel towards the cost of duty; but that gentleman having declined taking less than two shillings, the meeting separated without coming to any other determination.