Years of beers and tales of ales: The story of town’s old Wyke Brewery

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CHEERS ALL ROUND: The former Wyke Brewery of Matthews and Co, circa 1900. Photo courtesy of Gillingham Museum
CHEERS ALL ROUND: The former Wyke Brewery of Matthews and Co, circa 1900. Photo courtesy of Gillingham Museum

One of the most imposing buildings in Gillingham is the old Wyke Brewery building, originally built in the early 1800s in Italianate style for Matthews and Co to provide ale for its chain of public houses.

The Matthews family owned many of the public houses in Gillingham and the wider area. At its peak under the Mathews family the brewery employed 21 staff.

Brewing ceased in 1963 when the business was bought by Hall and Woodhouse and they rented out the premises to Skona who increased the number of employees to 25.

Skona ceased trading in the 1970s and the building remained unused until 1988 when it was converted into flats.

Mrs Sam Jeffery, 73, has lived in the building for over three years and adores it.

“As soon as you walk in, it takes your breath away. There are beams, two terraces, round attic windows, I have views to the east, south and west. It’s so pretty”

The grain hoist remains a remarkable feature of the building. Currently the cantilever which supports the grain hoist is undergoing repairs.

Gillingham, the old Wyke Brewery building
HOW IT LOOKS NOW: The old Wyke Brewery today. Picture: Sam Jeffery

Mrs Jeffery said: ‘It’s just outside my window, at the moment it’s a little bit scary and a little bit chilly, but it is stunning. I don’t mind the current chill as I’m of the generation that was told to put on a jumper or at the very least a vest.

“A plumber came in and was in raptures; his mother had brought him here when he was four years old when she came to talk to Mrs Matthews.”

Mrs Jeffery is very keen to find out more of the history of this local building and to share this with the wider Gillingham community.

By Kate Knowles

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