Generations of brewers in Brentford
During the 19th and early 20th century there were several branches of the Gomm family living in Brentford.
William Gomm (1817-1884) was a beer shop keeper at the time of the 1851 census employing a potman, a maid and a nurse to look after his children and having four lodgers. This would seem to have been the site of the Beehive PH which at the time was not the corner building. Mr Gomm was brewing at the back of the pub and by 1861 was employing 5 men in the business.
At the time of the census in 1871 the family had moved to 18, Catherine Wheel Yard (now Catherine Wheel Road) and William was described as a brewer employing 12 men and 1 boy.
By 1877 he had bought the Grand Junction Brewery in Catherine Wheel Yard which he expanded and named The Beehive Brewery.
They used water from an artesian well 462 feet deep, had a 3 storey malt house, their own cooperage where they made and repaired their own barrels and had their own stables on the site. The buildings were by the canal which provided facilities for loading goods and materials for transporting on the canal or the Thames.
As a prosperous businessman employing 17 men in 1881 he had moved to Caerleon House, Boston Road and his son, also William was the brewer living in Catherine Wheel Yard with his family.
William senior then became involved in local politics and when Brentford Local Board was formed was elected as a Councillor. His name is on the dedication stone of the Sewage Pumping Station which was the first public building that was erected. A large part of the building has been attractively restored and is still standing in Town Meadow to the east of Heidelberg.
William was re-elected to the Local Board in 1883 with the highest number of votes but died the following year.
His son William junior (1844-1887) continued the brewing business but died only four years later in 1887 leaving his sons William John (1867-1908) and Henry Thomas or Harry (1879-1939) running the brewery.
William John (pictured left in 1897) was elected to the District Council in 1894 and his name is on the foundation stones at the Baths in Clifden Road (1895), the Fire Station in the High Street (1897) and the Monument now outside the County Court (1909) although he had died aged only 41 in 1908.
He had served as Chairman of the Council in 1901.
Both he and his brother Harry were rowers in their youth and thus involved with Brentford Football Club when it was formed. They were members of Brentford Philanthropic Society and the Ealing and Brentford Licensed Victuallers Association.
In 1907 when the Half Acre was widened to give access to the trams, the Beehive was rebuilt becoming the Beehive Hotel and the corner building.
The following year the brothers sold the brewery and their 34 licensed premises to Fullers Brewery and as stated above William John died that year.
Harry was landlord of the Princess Royal when he stood for the Council in 1911.
He was advertising that he sold malt liquors, wines, spirits and cigars of the finest quality and had a first class billiard table. Dinners, Teas and Private Parties were catered for at the pub and he advised that if elected he was opposed to the New Recreation Ground Scheme which would mean Higher Rates and Dearer Rents. He was later landlord at the Bunch of Grapes which became known as the Ferry Hotel.
There are photographs of the Beehive on the Brentford Family History website.
As a photograph was taken it’s likely it marked some special event. This might have been the reopening after the rebuild. The building looks much as nowadays but I wonder if any of the men in the picture are the Gomm brothers?
There’s more information about pubs in the town in Brentford and Chiswick Pubs by Gillian Clegg available at the library.
Copies of the newspaper obituaries for these gentlemen are available from
November 21, 2012