The History of WJ King
|In the early 16th Century, Horsham as a market town needed a ready supply of beer and ale. As early as 1538, there were at least 5 brewers recorded in the town and throughout the 16th and 17th century brewing was a flourishing trade. By 1790, there were at least 2 breweries: Rawlinson’s, Usher, Robbins and Company, probably reflecting the increased demand through the army barracks. In 1834, Henry Michell came to Horsham. Michell was an entrepreneur who leased the Carfax Brewery, then moved to the Rawlinson’s Brewery in 1841. This was bought by the Rock Brewery of Brighton who closed it down the following year.
The origins of the King family brewing in Horsham date back to 1860 when James King came to Horsham and started trading as a Maltster in the Bishopric. Years passed and close-trading relationships with the brewers in the town at the time resulted in an amalgamation with Satchell’s brewery that had premises in North Parade, Horsham.
Soon James King acquired a controlling interest in the brewing business and from that point on the destiny of the King family as brewers was set. The business became known as ‘King and Son’ and then soon after ‘King and Sons’.
James King’s sons, Charles, Frederick and John took over the business in 1893 and they formed a limited company called ‘King and Sons Limited’. The brewing business prospered and gradually Public Houses were purchased in Horsham and the surrounding area so long as they were deliverable by horse and cart.
The King family and the Barnes family merged their businesses in 1906 with the closure of the Barnes brewery in 1906 in East Street, Horsham with all the brewing being conducted in the Bishopric, Horsham. Thereafter the company was known as ‘King & Barnes Ltd’. The company built an excellent reputation for its beer and for the quality of its combined estate of 60 pubs.
|The last Barnes family members involved in the brewery died in the early 1960’s. Bill King took over as the last King family member to run ‘King and Barnes Ltd’ having first trained and qualified as a Master Brewer.
After the take over of ‘King and Barnes Ltd’ in the year 2000, Bill King decided to concentrate on quality Cask Ale production. As it would only be possible to sell to ‘Free Trade’ accounts the brewery as it stands today started in a small leasehold premises in Horsham as ‘W J King & Co (Brewers)’.
The brewhouse has been extended over the years and now has the brewing capacity of 65 barrels per week. All of the beers are hand crafted by the WJ King team and produced on site in Horsham using only the finest natural and local ingredients. We also produce 10 bottled-conditioned ales.
The name King has been synonymous with the production of fine ales in Horsham for over 150 years, firstly with ‘King and Son’, then ‘King and Sons’, more recently with ‘King and Barnes’ , followed by ‘W J King and Co (Brewers) and now WJ King.
WJ King is a new style of micro brewery, using only the finest, natural, local ingredients and traditional brewing techniques to produce the finest quality local ales.
With thanks to the Horsham Museum for information relating to the brewing industry in Horsham.