The brewery has been a landmark in Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, for over 200 years.

Harvey and Son

John Harvey’s sons, Henry, Edwin and William developed “Harvey & Son” at the Bridge Wharf Site (acquired in 1838). By 1859, Henry Harvey was brewing Porters, Stouts and strong Mild Ales for distribution among 17 family owned public houses mostly located in the Eastbourne and Hailsham areas of Sussex. These were prosperous days for enterprising brewers.

The Original Harvey Houses:

  • The Alma Arms, Uckfield
  • The Arlington Arms, Eastbourne
  • The Blackboys, Nr Heathfield
  • The Cricketers Arms, Berwick
  • The Foresters Arms, East Hoathly
  • The Golden Cross, Nr Hailsham
  • The Grenadier,  Hailsham
  • The Halfway House, Isfield
  • The Hurst Arms, Eastbourne
  • The Lamb, Eastbourne
  • The Polegate Arms (Dinkum)
  • The Red Lion, Turners Hill
  • The Red Lion, Stone Cross
  • The Terminus, Eastbourne
  • The Victoria, Eastbourne
  • The White Hart, Crawley

Tragedy Strikes the Harveys in the 1860s

Shortly after John Harvey’s death, Henry and Edwin died within days of each other leaving William alone to run the business. He was no brewer, so he hired Henry Titlow-Barrett from Wethereds Brewery in Marlow to take over the company’s beer production and also went into business with John Maxfield-Smith, the husband of his daughter (Alice Harvey). William too died unexpectedly in 1868.

The transition to the third and fourth generations of the family (the Harveys-Smiths) proved to be far from ideal for the company’s prosperity. The next 60 years witnessed a gradual decline into an effective recession at Harvey’s. However prior to this slump, the present Gothic Victorian brewery was built under the supervision of Titlow-Barrett, having been designed by William Bradford, a renowned brewery architect.

Harvey’s fortunes contrasted dramatically to those of many other contemporary brewing companies.  A few of these were to experience phenomenal growth over the ensuing century emerging as national brewing giants. Companies such as Watneys, Charrington and Whitbread. Paradoxically it was Harvey’s very lack of expansion at this time that may have been a key reason for the company’s long-term survival (and those other great names became memories). At the turn of the 20th century, Harvey’s was so insignificant that it fell ‘below the gaze’ of the large companies that would have swallowed a more dynamic business.