Ushers of Trowbridge

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Ushers of Trowbridge
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
Founder1824–1959: Usher family
1960–1971: Watney Mann
1972–1989: Grand Metropolitan
1990–2004: Independent
Defunct2004, purchased by Punch Taverns
Area served
Key people
Thomas Usher
Footnotes / references
Ushers beers now brewed by Wychwood Brewery

Ushers of Trowbridge was a brewery in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, between 1824 and 2000.


In 1824, Thomas Usher and his wife Hannah acquired a small brewery in Back Street, Trowbridge, renaming it Usher's Wiltshire Brewery.[1] In 1844, the couple's three sons joined the partnership, allowing the parents to retire in 1869. After this, the beers and brand developed a loyal following, facilitating a quick expansion of the company through the 19th century. In 1887, the partnership took over Fanshaw & Palmer of Donnington, Berkshire. This resulted in the registration in 1889 of Usher's Wiltshire Brewery Ltd to combine the two organisations.[1] From its date of formation until the Second World War, the company acquired some fifteen independent breweries and their associated public house premises.[1]

After 1945, the company acquired Conigre House and gardens in Trowbridge, then the home of the local Liberal Club, enabling it to double the scale of its brewery and bottling plant.[2]

Having dropped the apostrophe from its registered name in 1951,[1] in 1960 the company agreed to a takeover bid from the acquisitive Watney Mann. The joint assets included the brewery sites in both London (soon closed) and Trowbridge, together with 900 pubs.[1] In 1964, the company changed its registered name to Ushers Brewers Ltd.[1] Watney Mann itself merged with Grand Metropolitan Hotels in 1972.[3]

In 1990, a management buyout created a reconstituted Ushers Brewers Ltd, together with an estate of wholly owned smaller pubs, deemed by Grand Metropolitan to be too small or not capable of redevelopment. The new company began acquiring pubs to provide a distribution network, under a holding company called Innspired Pubs.


By 1999 the brewery side of the business was "not cost effective" despite running at full capacity.[4] Subjected to an unsuccessful management buyout, the Trowbridge brewery site closed in 2000. The residual pub operator company, renamed Innspired Pubs plc, was itself was bought by Punch Taverns in September 2004.[5]

The brewery equipment was sold for £1.5M to North Korea via German broker Uwe Oehms. It now forms the core of the Taedonggang brewery, located just outside Pyongyang.[6] In 2009, its new brew "Taedong River Beer" made international headlines after featuring in what is thought to be North Korean television's first beer advert.[7][8]

Today, beers are brewed under the Usher name by the Wychwood Brewery for Refresh UK.[4]


The main Trowbridge site was redeveloped into housing (including the Ushers Apartments)[9] and a Sainsbury's supermarket. Ushers also occupied a site behind what is now River Way Industrial Estate, that housed various offices, a black room and workshops related to pub refurbishment/fitting. These buildings are now, for the most part, derelict and facing an uncertain future although the square building overlooking the railway line has been refurbished and houses the south west office of Fastglobe Mastics Ltd.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lesley Richmond, Alison Turton. The Brewing industry: a guide to historical records. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-3032-3.
  2. ^ "Brewery Quarter, Trowbridge". Cotswold Architecture. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  3. ^ Directory of UK Real Ale Breweries
  4. ^ a b "Ushers of Trowbridge PLC". The Directory of Real Ale Brewers. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  5. ^ "Punch buys Innspired pub group". BBC News. 10 September 2004. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  6. ^ "How Ushers' Trowbridge brewery is now the toast of North Korea". Wiltshire Times. 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  7. ^ "North Korea launches beer advert". Wiltshire Times. 2009-07-03. Retrieved 2009-11-21.
  8. ^ "Kim Jong-ale: How did Ushers brewery of Trowbridge end up in North Korea producing Pyongyang's number one beer – and what did it take to set up a taste test back in Wiltshire?". 18 April 2014. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  9. ^ "Ushers Apartments". Newland Homes. Retrieved 2009-11-21.

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