It is now possible to read 120 issues of the staff magazine of Simonds Brewery, the Hop Leaf Gazette, online. The first magazine was published in 1927 and the last in 1961.
This amazing resource for brewery and pub historians is available on the Simonds website. The volumes cover every aspect of the company and its worldwide operations and give a real flavour of the times.
Simonds public houses and their landlords are often featured in the magazine. There were many Simonds pubs close to the Whitley Pump, and although some survive as pubs, many have not. The Pheasant at the top of Mount Pleasant and Southampton Street was included in the spring 1957 issue. There are photographs of the long serving landlord at the time, Mr RJ Holt, and the comment:
In the small houses in the less prosperous quarters of Reading one found the same atmosphere behind the bar as was evident in the large palatial houses in more fashionable streets.
The Hop Leaf on Southampton Street, the Wellington Arms on Whitley Street, the Red Cow on the corner of Crown and Southampton Streets and the Hook and Tackle (previously the Tanners Arms) on Katesgrove Lane were all once Simonds pubs. If you look closely at the Red Cow and the Wellington Arms you can see where the Simonds hop leaf sign used to be.
One pub that is no longer with us is the Oxford Arms on Silver Street. A whole page of the spring 1958 edition is devoted to the retirement of George Rose after 49 years as landlord. It includes a photograph of him making a presentation to the late Chairman FA Simonds some years before. The site was acquired by Reading Borough Council for development and the pub was demolished in 1959.
St Giles’ Church at the bottom of Southampton Street has a plaque to Chairman Frederic Adolphus Simonds who died in 1953. He had been chairman of the company since 1938 and managing director from 1916. The dedication ceremony on 18 April 1955 is featured in the summer 1955 volume.
The magazine ran from 1927 to 1961, changing format in 1953 with more photographs. There are some gaps in the collection which Raymond Simonds would like to fill. There is a contact form on the website if you can help.