The Heavitree Brewery PLC is one of the oldest pub companies in the south west, dating back to 1790.
Originally the ‘Heavitree Family Brewery’, it was founded by John Wolland in Church Street, Heavitree. His nephew William then took over, who was followed into the company by his son Thomas.
The family ownership then followed a different line again, when the business was passed to Thomas’s nephew Robert Baker who ran the business until 1890.
On 7 February 1890 ‘The Heavitree Brewery Limited’ was formed. A couple of years later on 19 November 1892, the company purchased The Finch Eagle Brewery in Exeter, followed by the acquisition of the neighbouring Windsor Brewery in North Street Heavitree on 9th January 1899.
Prior to acquiring W S Pinsent’s Newton Abbot Brewery on 30th March 1920, a Mr E W Gall was appointed as Secretary and General Manager on 1 January 1916. Although he was paid a salary of £240 a year, he systematically robbed the company and fled to Canada in 1922. There he was later caught and sentenced to three years penal servitude and his accomplice to 12 months imprisonment.
After this crisis, The Heavitree Brewery Limited turned to John Parnell Tucker, who, as a supplier of malt to the brewery, was already a shareholder and main creditor. Together with former Andover Brewery owner H C Hammans, John Parnell Tucker successfully managed the Heavitree Brewery Limited back to its feet and completed two further purchases of the Dawlish Brewery of R B Ferris on 30th July 1926 and Barlett’s Dartmouth Warfleet Brewery soon after.
John Parnell Tucker was joined in the business by his nephew Edwin Tucker, who later become chairman in 1954.
The company ceased brewing operations in May 1970 and became entirely focused on managing the tenanted pubs estate. The chairmanship was then taken over by Edwin’s son William in 1974.
On 17 December 1981, after EU (then EEC) regulations dictated changes to company classifications, we became The Heavitree Brewery PLC as it is known today.
In December 1984 we completed our move to Trood Lane, and our connection with Church Street, Heavitree, finally ended when the old brewery site in Exeter was sold and redeveloped for sheltered housing.
In 1989 William’s son Nicholas Tucker joined the business and went on to become chairman in May 2007.
Looking to the future, a key priority for us is to continue as an independent, family-run business, which has helped us remain a profitable and stable company for 230 years.
We shall continue to invest in the estate, making sure the houses adhere to all necessary regulations and are maintained to the highest possible standards. And in a world dominated by branded operations, we remain focused on keeping the individual identities of all our pubs, working with our landlords and landladies to deliver successful operations.