The Charles Wells Story
In 1856 Charles Wells decided that the only way to see the world was to go to sea. So at the age of 14 he joined the frigate HMS Devonshire as a cabin boy, sailing to India on his first trip. In the late 1860s he was promoted to Chief Officer and had already travelled to Australia and around the Cape of Good Hope.
He then met the woman of his dreams, Miss Josephine Grimbley. Love blossomed and Charles asked for her hand in marriage. Mr Grimbley decreed that no daughter of his was going to marry a seafaring man who would spend so long away from home. So he gave Charles an ultimatum; his daughter or the sea. Fortunately his love for Josephine was too strong and he agreed to hang his sea boots up. He then had to find a way of supporting his bride.
In 1875 a two and a half acre site came up for auction on the banks of the River Great Ouse as it ran through Bedford. The site contained a coal depot and a small brew house. Included in the price were 35 pubs, most of which were in Bedford and the surrounding area. It was this that caught Charles’ imagination - beer!
With the help of his father, Charles bought the site and began work turning the small brew house into a fully fledged brewery which could serve the county.
Water is an absolutely vital ingredient and has a huge impact on the beer’s flavour, so to produce the best beer you need the best water. In 1902 Charles sank his own well to tap into an underground reservoir of water, purified through layers of chalk and limestone.
Today, all Charles Wells beer is still made with water drawn from the well sunk by Charles over 100 years ago.
By 1976, the growing demand for Charles Wells beers meant the original Charles Wells site was not big enough so the company built and moved to the Eagle Brewery in Havelock Street, Bedford. Over the past 40 years we have produced and acquired many different types of beers reaching a peak output from of 900k HL in 2008. However, since then tastes and behaviours have been rapidly changing with consumers looking to experience a much wider range of new styles and flavours.
To address this market change the decision was taken in 2017 to sell the Eagle Brewery and to build a new facility in Bedford that is much better suited to brewing smaller batches of a wider variety of different beer styles, able to deliver the highest quality using the best ingredients. The new brewery will start brewing in early summer 2019 and in the meantime the beers continue to be brewed at the Eagle Brewery.