Brewing From A Bygone Age – the tale of Jose Luis Fernandes

Foreword by Mike Field

Some years ago now David and Maureen James set up M & D Homebrew in premises on Kirkgate in Wakefield. I had heard that the premises had been a ‘mailings’ and was not too surprised when in 1997 David started brewing. But why call it Fernandes?  In fact the ‘makings’ had belonged to a nineteenth century brewery of the same name. All brewers pay homage to the past and this was David’s acknowledgement of local history.

Two years later a bar was added to the brewery, with the result that Wakefield has one of the UK’s best brew pubs.

I knew that Fernandes brewed in Wakefield and built a significant tied estate, including the Alma at Thornhill. But just what was the story behind the name? Most breweries have names like Smith (John and Sam’s), Tetley, Webster and, now long ago, Hammonds, Whitakers and Bentleys.

The answer came in the Brewery History Society’s magazine and was told by David Parry.

1850 TO 1920

Fernandes Bridge, so called in earlier times, spanning the Calder and Hebble Navigation, commemorates a remarkable man, Jose Luis Fernandes. The 's' ending to the name denotes a Portuguese, not Spanish, surname.

Jose Luis Fernandes was born in Oporto in 1790, grandson of the Marquis de Tavora. In 1804 it became necessary, for some reason not readily ascertainable, that the male members of the family should flee Portugal. Before this time, a traveller in Portugal, Jeremiah Todd Naylor, agent on behalf of Messrs. John and Jeremy Naylor, cloth merchants of Wakefield, had made contact with Jose Luis Fernandes, who returned to Wakefield with Naylor. Here he was found employment in Naylor’s offices, but quickly rose above that relatively humble calling. 

Indeed, Jose Luis made rapid progress both socially and in affluence. He became a friend of Charles Waterlon (1782 - 1865) of Walton Hall near Wakefield, the famous traveller and conservationist. At the age of 18, Jose Luis married Martha, daughter of Richard Nowell of Warrengate, Wakefield, owner of the Soke Mills, Wakefield, Horbury and Newmillerdam. 

In 1819 Nowell’s interests passed to Jose Luis. It was a very considerable business, as all corn in the surrounding areas was milled by Fernandes. He lived at this time at Craven House, Westgate Common, Wakefield.  By 1820 Jose Luis was describing himself also as a wine and spirit merchant, though still deeply engaged in corn milling.

Naturalised in 1820, Jose Luis moved to the larger Belle Field House and later to Belle Vue Park. By the 1830s he was seriously into civic affairs - Commissioner of Streets, Governor of Charities, Tax Commissioner, captain of cavalry, and keen Tory, freemason and supporter of the Church of England, though raised in the Roman Catholic faith.

Then in the 1840s most of Jose Luis’ businesses declined and collapsed. Coal, cloth and milling all underwent steep decline, and with debts of £42,000, Jose Luis mysteriously disappeared.  Later he is known to have moved to Stonebridge House, Horbury.  Years later he was gradually rehabilitated and began to reappear in local political life.

Then fate took another twist. In 1861 his refusal to give evidence in the Wakefield Parliamentary bribery case, led to a six months sentence. A rebel to the end, Jose Luis died at Horbury, aged 78. He left his sons to guide the brewery founded in his name, 1850.

The eldest son, Nowell Luis Fernandes was the moving force in the brewery’s progress. He lived at Bridge Cottage close to the premises. He and his brother, called Jose Luis Fernandes after the paterfamilias (don’t worry this gets even more complicated) were the joint owners of the brewery when it became a private limited company in 1881, when 28 tied houses were already owned.

More scions of this growing family appeared at this point. Charles Walker Luis Fernandes, brewer of Crofton near Wakefield and Guy David Luis Fernandes both joined the business, while Charles Bathhurst Luis Fernandes, solicitor of Fernandes and Greaves, Wakefield, would, no doubt, be the moving force in the company’s conveyances. George Walker Luis Fernandes was solicitor’s clerk to the above. 

I do not possess the genealogical expertise nor the patience to work out all these relationships, but it is clear why Fernandes & Company remained a family-owned business. The name of Walker appearing in some cases leaves one wondering if there might have been intermarriage with the owners of Walker’s Crown Brewery, also in Wakefield. Perhaps more interesting is Guy David Luis Fernandes who left Wakefield for Burnley to marry the daughter of John Hargreaves and later became owner of the Old Brewery in that town. He died in 1916 and the company was acquired in 1918 by Grimshaw’s of Burnley, with 23 pubs.

The acquisition of tied property, which is the common currency of most brewery companies, continued after 1881. By the end of World War 1 some 50 pubs had been tied. A few had been shed in the interim. Then, in January 1920, an offer was made on behalf of John Smith’s Tadcaster Brewery Ltd. for the business and accepted.

Signing the transaction were: - •

  • Henry Walker Luis Fernandes
  • Charles Walker Luis Fernandes
  • George Walker Luis Fernandes
  • Ramsden Walker Luis Fernandes



* Asterisked - public houses that passed to John Smith’s
b.h. = brewhouses.

Sun Inn, later Rainbow, Wrengate, Wakefield, Jan 1852*
Royal Oak, later Inns of Court, King St. Wakefield April 1852*
Collier House, later Gate Inn, Outwood, Wakefield Aug 1852*
Pineapple Inn, Warmfield nr. Wakefield Aug 1852*
Property inc. Maltkins, storehouse, also recently erected brewery Wakefield Bridge, July 1853*
Wellington Inn, Micklegate, Pontefract, Dec. 1853*
Old Crown Inn, Northgate, Wakefield, March 1854*
Leopard Inn, Kirkgate, Wakefield, March 1854*
Shakespeare, Kirkgate, Wakefield, March 1858
Black Swan, Castleford Rd., Normanton, June 1858
Hammer & Stithy, Dewsbury Rd., Ossett, May 1868*
George & Dragon, Norton nr. Knottingley, July 1871
Popular Inn, Whitwood Rd., Altofts, July 1871
Dusty Miller, Kirkgate, Wakefield, Sept. 1871*
Railway Tavern, Horbury Bridge, Horbury, Nov. 1871
Heywood Arms, later Railway Hotel, South Featherstone, Dec. 1871*
Mason’s Arms, The Green, Ossett, June 1873*
Angel Inn, Wood St., Wakefield, Aug. 1873*
Golden lion, Beastmarket, Pontefract, Dec. 1874*
Railway Hotel, Outwood, Wakefield, Jan. 1877*
Cross Keys, Stump Cross, Morlcy, July 1878*
Ship Inn, Bottom Boat, Stanley, June 1878*
Woodman Inn, Lofthouse Gate nr. Wakefield, Nov 1878*
Brown Cow, Wakefield Rd., Ackworth, Dec. 1880*
Victoria, Westfield Rd., Horbury, 1865*
Calder Vale Hotel, Millfield Rd., Horbury, by 1880*
Star Inn, Batley Rd., Kirkhamgate, by 1880*
Royal Hotel, Wood St., Wakefield, by 1880
Crown Inn, Batley Road, Alverthorpe. March 1887*
Old Carpenter’s Arms, Bank St., Ossett, May 1888*
Ship Inn, Senior Lane, Royston, June 1888*
Alma Inn, Combs Hill, Thornhill, Dewsbury Sept. 1890* (see below)

old photo of the Alma  Inn, Coombs Hill, Thornhill

Alma Inn, Coombs Hill, Thornhill - photo from 1960s

Old photo of The Rising Sun Inn, Thornhill

The Rising Sun Inn, Thornhill

The Rising Sun Inn. Albion Road Thornhill, circa 1910 (sign, top RH side)
The Albion Hotel (Flat Top) was further up.
Rising Sun Inn, Albion Rd., Thornhill, Feb. 1891 * (see above)
Alexandra Hotel +b.h., Doncaster Rd., Wakefield, Dec. 1891*
Fox Inn, Foxholes Lane, Altofts, July 1892*
Jolly Sailors, Brotherlon, July 1892
Horse & Groom, Heath Common, Wakefield, Jan 1893*
Royal Exchange + b.h., Branch church St., Hunslet, Feb. 1893
Off-licence, Normanton Common, Oct. 1893*
Reindeer Inn, Butcher Row, Wakefield, Jan. 1895 - sold to Wakefield Corp., in June 1908
Ring o’ Bells, Northgatc, Wakefield, Jan 1895 - sold to Wakefield Corp. in June 1908
Victoria, Newton Lane End, Stanley cum Wrenthorpe, April 1895*
Royal Oak,Warrengate, Wakefield, Aug. 1895*
Albion Hotel, Albion Rd., Thornhill Edge, Aug. 1896*
Dillington Inn, Highstone Rd., Barnsley, Nov. 1896. Later Barnsley Brewery Co.
Smith’s Arms, formerly Brewer’s Arms + b.h., Westgate End, Wakefield, Nov. 1896*
New Dusty Miller, Charles St./South St., Wakefield, April 1897*
Off-licence, 1 -3, Haig Moor Rd., Wakefield, April 1897*
Off-licence, 2-4, Matlock St., Wakefield,April 1897*
New Inn, Gawber, Barnsley, Oct. 1897*
Royal Oak, formerly Mason’s Arms, Crofton, Nov. 1897*
Grey Horse, Kirkgate, Wakefield, Jan. 1898
Off-licence + b.h., Wakefield - Leeds Rd., Newton, May 1899*
White Swan, Kirkgalc, Wakefield, May 1899*
Spotted Cow Tavern, Queen St., Horbury, June 1899*
Hope & anchor _ b.h., Thornes Lane, Wakefield, Aug. 1899*
Savile Hotel, Teall St./Savile St., Wakefield, May 1900*
Angel Inn, Brackenhill to Ackworth Moor Top Rd., Nov. 1908*
Black Swan, Flockton Rd., Overton*
Duke of York, Sandal Cross Lane, Wakefield, Dec. 1890*
College Hotel, Northgate, Wakefield.*
Calder Vale Hotel, Calder Vale Rd., Wakefield *
Off-licence, 46 William St., Wakefield*
Off-licence, Elm tree St., Wakefield *
Off-licence, 32, Claredon St., Wakefield *
Off-licence, 1-3, Jacob’s Well Lane, Wakefield*
Black Swan, Green Lane, Thornhill *


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