140 years of history, distilled
Romance, business thriller and exotic travelogue – the story of Charles Wells is all this and more.
In the 1870s, Charles Wells arrived back in Bedford after twenty years at sea and fell in love with Josephine Grimbley. He decided to settle down, buying a brewery and thirty-two pubs at auction for £16,700 pounds.
Charles built a thriving business, increasing production from 3,229 barrels in 1876 to 26,000 in 1910, and sinking a well that provides the brewery with natural mineral water to this day. For the next fifty years, his children and his children’s children continued to build the company, acquiring local breweries and pubs across the UK.
In 1976, a new brewery was built at Havelock Street in Bedford. Its state-of-the-art equipment could produce both ale and lager, and accommodate packaging for casks, kegs and bottled beers.
Since the 1980s
Since the 1980s, Charles Wells has added specialist world beers to its portfolio. A licensed brewing deal with the Kirin Brewery in Japan was established in the 1990s and nowadays we also have a contract with Grupo Damm to import and package Estrella Damm, the ‘Beer of Barcelona’.
In 2006, Charles Wells and Young & Co of Wandsworth in London merged their brewing and brands divisions to create the UK’s largest family-owned brewery known then as Wells & Young’s. Just five months later, the company announced the acquisition of the much- loved Courage brands; Courage Best and Directors.
In 2011 the brewery returned to being 100% owned by Charles Wells and later that year acquired the famous Scottish ale brands, McEwan’s and Younger’s. Fast forward to 2015 and the brewing and pubs divisions of the business came back together, operating under the Charles Wells name.