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Cliffe's Brewery



Bulwark HillBagshaw's Directory 1847

Archcliffe Road

Cliff's Archcliffe Brewery circa 1912.

The above picture states that the photograph was taken in 1812, but that is an error; the first permanent photograph wasn't invented till 1826. The correct date is 1912, although this may be the year the brewery was started.

The same better photograph is shown below, but I'm leaving the above here also as it shows a little bit more of the brewery in the picture.

Cliff's Archcliffe Brewery circa 1912.


Pigot's directory 1823 lists Edward Kingsford as owning this brewery at that time and the 1824 Pigot's Directory mentions Edward Kingsford again at "Arch Cliff Fort" as the address. But Pigot's 1828-9 mentions Alfred Kingsford running a brewery at Archliffe Fort.


Pigot's Directory of 1840 lists a John Alexander Walker and Son at Bulwark Hill. I wonder whether they were relations of James and Thomas Walker at Dolphin Lane?


Bagshaw's directory of 1847 mentions a Henry F Cliffe at Bulwark Hill. I am unsure whether the brewery was named after this gentleman or from the place name of Archcliffe.


From an email received 22 December 2012.

Paul Isles points out that perhaps the Bagshaw's directory may be wrong here in naming the man as Henry F Cliffe, and perhaps the name should be Henry Winch of the Cliffe Brewery, and included with the email the following passage regarding the death of Goodricke Armstrong Fisher.


From the London Gazette November 18, 1881


Pursuant to the Act of Parliament 22 and 23 Viet., c. 3d,intituled "An Act to further amend the Law of Property, and to relieve Trustees."

*NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any claims or demands against or upon the estate of Goodricke Armstrong Fisher, late of Hillersdon House, Godwyne Road, Dover, in the county of Kent, a Lieutenant-General of the Bengal Staff Corps, deceased (who died on the 23rd day of August, 1881, and whose will was proved by Henry Winch, of the parish of Shepherdswell, in the said county of Kent, and of Bulwark Hill Brewery, Dover aforesaid, Brewer, the executor therein named, in the District Registry at Canterbury of the Probate Division of Her Majesty's High Court of Justice on the 8th day of November, 1881), are hereby required to send the particulars of such claims or demands to the said executor, at the office of his Solicitor, Mr. Thomas Lewis, situate at No. 7, Castle-street, Dover aforesaid, on or before the 15th day of January,1882, after which date the said executor will proceed to distribute the assets of the said deceased among the parties entitled thereto, having regard only to the claims or demands of which the said executor shall then have had notice; and the said executor will not afterwards be liable for the assets, or any part thereof, so distributed to any person or persons of whose claim or demand he shall not then have had notice. And all persons indebted to the estate of the said Goodricke Armstrong Fisher, deceased, are hereby required to pay the amount of their respective debts to the said executor forth-with.

Dated this 15th day of November, 1881.

THOMAS LEWIS, 7, Castle-street, Dover, Solicitor for the said Executor.


Further research and the finding of the following newspaper passage seems to suggest that Henry Winch is indeed a different person than Henry Cliff of this brewery, and only worked for them as brewer. Paul Skelton.


From the Dover Telegraph and Cinque Ports General Advertiser, Saturday, 4 December, 1847. Price 5d.


HENRY F. CLIFFE having enlarged and reconstructed upon improved principles the Plant of this Old-established BREWERY, he can now with confidence solicit a fair trade of the article produced. PALE ALE brewed as for Exportation; and also light, clean, table Ale for Private Families.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 22 April, 1887. 1d.


The quaint and picturesque hamlet of Shepherdswell has unfortunately been the scene of what appears to be a most premeditated act of self destruction. It would seem that the early hours of Saturday morning last Mr. Henry Winch, who for many years has been connected with the brewery of Messrs. Cliff and Co., Bulwark Hill, Dover, took his life by jumping down a well, 350 ft. deep and situated close to his residence. Mr. Winch, who had shown symptoms of suicidal mania, was much respected both at Shepherdswell and at Dover. On the morning in question he succeeded in eluding the attention of Mr. Smith who was nursing him, and got into the garden by the dining room window, and passing out into the road went to the parish well, which is close by, and fell down it. Mr. Smith, who, having been awake the whole of the night, and hat at the time dozed off, went at once aroused by a shriek. He immediately proceeded to the well, and found that the unfortunate gentleman had committed suicide. A man named Bean, of Eythorne, courageously descended the well, and after being there about half an hour succeeded in securing the body to a rope, by which means it was ultimately brought to the surface. An examination of the body by a medical gentleman proved that deceased was dead.

An inquest will be held on the body, at the Parish Schoolroom, Shepherdswell, by the County Coroner (R. M. Mercer, Esq.), on Monday afternoon.

The following were on the Jury:- Mr. Baldwin (foreman), Messrs. F. King, A. Friend, C. Coppen, H. Coppen, H. P. Stone, H. Penfold, T. Minter, A. F. Norris, R. H. Burgess, T. Smith, F. Ayers, and H. Baynes.

Mr. Worsfold Mowll attended on behalf of the relations, and Mr. C. K. Worsfold and Mr. Thomas Lewis were also present.

After the body had been viewed the following evidence was taken:-

John Smith said: I live at Spencer Mount, Priory Hill, Dover, and I am a general agent. I have been attending the deceased since march 10th, and my instructions were to attend on him personally. He had given evidence at times of insanity. My services were employed to watch over him. Dr. Dixon saw him from time to time as late as Thursday and Friday last. Since the 10th of March I have resided in the same house as deceased and slept in the same room. I have also accompanied him when he left the house. I might let him go alone; I had no instructions to always follow him. I last saw him alive at 4.50 on the morning of the 16th inst. He was then asleep. I had been sitting up with him the whole of the night. In then laid myself down and dozed off for a few minutes, and then heard a scream. I jumped up and ran downstairs. I heard someone say, “Mr. Winch has gone.” On looking into the dining room I saw the sash was up and the flowers had been removed. I went out and saw two men standing by the well. They said deceased had put himself down the well and that a woman had told them so. I think this was about 5.15 a.m. The deceased was only in his night shirt. I was present when the man Bean went down the well. I saw him come up, and afterwards the deceased was brought up. I identified the body as that of Henry Winch, of Shepherdswell, brewer, and he was 51 years of age. At times he had fits of depression and suicidal mania. That was known to his medical attendants and also to myself. He was quite capable of transacting business save when these fits were on him. He had transacted business since I had been there on several occasions. The previous evening he had left his room and gone out with only his night shirt on. I had to use force to get him back. I had never seen him go near the well.

The Jury returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased had committed suicide by throwing himself down a well, being then insane.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday, 27 May, 1887. Price 1d.


The well-known Bulwark Brewery, which has been established something like forty years, and was formerly carried on by Messrs. H. F. Cliffe and Co., has been recently purchased by Mr. J. Augustus Rolls, late of Messrs. Nicholson and Sons, the Brewery, Maidenhead.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 26 August, 1887. 1d.


On Tuesday night about eleven o'clock a fire broke out in the back portion of Bulwark Hill Brewery, the property of Mr. J. Augustus. Rolls. The premises are old, consequently the fire soon got a hold, but the alarm having been quickly conveyed to the Police Station by the telephone, the hose reel was soon on the spot, and a party of soldiers with considerable energy dragged down the fire escape, but happily that was not needed. The fire was rather difficult to get at, and the attempt was first made from the road, but soon a better way was found, by taking the hose through Mr. Fuller's House, and playing on the fire effectively from the rear. Fortunately there was not much wind or the adjoining houses would certainly have caught in the conflagration.

Superintendent Sanders was on the spot, and was very energetic in directing the operations of the firemen. Amongst those present were, Councillor Peake, Colonel Court, Mr. Hambrook, Mr. Sergeant, the Curate of Holy Trinity and Mr. Everett, school-master. The Military were also on the spot in force, for across the road was said to be a powder magazine which might have ignited, if the fire had become unmanageable, and then something serious would have happened. As it was the fire was soon got under, and in an hour from the time of the alarm was given, it was practically extinguished. The occupant of the houses each side were in great terror and began to move their furniture , but the fire did not touch the houses. Looking at the brewery now, from Bulwark Hill there is no effects of the fire to be seen, except that a small part of the roof is gone, but looking at the back, it appears to be a complete wreck, and much damage seen to have been done to the stock and utensils of trade as well as to the building. We hear that the whole is insured by the Guardian Insurance Company.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 2 September, 1887. 1d.



An application was made by Mr. W. C. Hume-Williams on behalf of Mr. J. A. Rolls the proprietor of Bulwark Hill Brewery for an additional license to allow him to sell lesser quantities than two dozen bottles of ale, to be drunk off the premises.

Mr. Martyn Mowll and Mr. Woolaston Knocker both appeared to oppose the license.

In reply to a question Mr. Lewis said he did not oppose in this case.

Mr. Stilwell, (Clerk to the Magistrates): I thought that you were a general obstructionist.

Mr. Lewis: I think that is an observation which should not have been made by a person in your position.

Mr. Stillwell: Surely I might make a joke?

Mr. Lewis: I do not regard it as a joke.

Mr. Stillwell: Perhaps you will sit down.

Mr. Lewis: I shall not sit down. I think you should withdraw that observation.

Mr. Stillwell: I shall do nothing of the sort.

Mr. Lewis: Then I must appeal to the Magistrates.

The Chairman, (Dr. Astley): I think Mr. Lewis should have taken it in the spirit in which it was given, and accept it as a laugh.

Mr. Lewis: I accept that from you sir.

Mr. J. A. Rolls was then called to state the facts of the case. He said in reply to Mr. Mowll, that there were a good number of public houses within 400 feet of the Brewery but he did not consider that they affected the case as his customers did not like to go to the public houses to buy bottled beer. In reply to Mr. Knocker, Mr. Rolls said that there was a cottage on the brewery premises.

Mr. Mowll opposed on behalf of the Buckland Brewery Company and also on behalf of the Licensed Victuallers Association.

Mr. Knocker opposed on behalf of the owner of “Archliffe Fort Inn” and he contended that with that cottage on the premises, this license might hereafter be used to carry on a regular jug trade, for which there was no necessity as the neighbourhood had not increased.

The Bench refused the license.


From the Dover Express and East Kent News, Friday 6 April, 1888.


Michael Burns and Frederick Terry, both under 14 years of age , were charged on remand with being on a roof at the Bulwark Hill Brewery for the purpose of committing a felony, namely, stealing lead from the roof.

George Murphy, living at 3, Cuff Cottages, gave evidence, and said that he saw the two prisoners, one on the roof of the brewery and the other prisoner in a shed of the premises, on Saturday 24th March, witness also saw prisoners in the brewery the same night as they were caught.

The parents of the prisoners said they wished the case to be dealt with summarily.

Both prisoners, in answer to the charge pleaded “Guilty.”

The Bench ordered the prisoner Burns, who had been previously convicted, to receive 8 strokes of the birch, and the prisoner Terry to receive 6 strokes.



Alfred Kingsford of the Kingsford Windmill Brewery was definitely brewing beer in 1863 in Buckland, and there is mention of the late William Kingsford at the beginning of 1834 having his  estate disposed of at auction, so the Kingsford's were around at that time. Even previous to that date, April 1798, there is mention of a new windmill being built at the above site in Buckland that was also used in the processing of the malt used in making a variety of beers at the brewery. However, whether Edward Kingsford was related to Alfred is unknown at this time, but I would make a guess that they were.

In 1887, John Rolls who also brewed at Sandwich took over the company, but got into financial difficulty by 1890. I assume he was later taken over by the East Kent Brewery Co. by 1899.


Copied from the memoirs of Goodricke C. Fisher, who was born in 1868, in India; grew UP in Kent, England; emigrated to U.S.A. in 1888; spent most of the rest of his life farming in Missouri. His step-father was Henry Winch.


How the beer was produced in my Grandfather Winch's Brewery.


"After I left Cranbrook (school) I helped in the office of my step-father.....

On the west side of Dover was a fort... not far from the well known Shakespeare Cliff. The brewery was just below the cliff on the west part of town. The plant was open on the front to a street called Bulwark Hill, but the storage for the beer was in a long tunnel cut back into the hill. The floor was flagstone, and on either side was lined with barrels of beer, ready for delivery as needed. The tunnel was lighted by gas and was wonderfully dry and cool. I recall that the smokestack of the plant was a very tall affair, and every year they had to pay a tax to the war department because it was in range of cannon fire from the fort. Three wagons were busy all day long making deliveries around town and the neighbouring country, in barrels from 4, 9, 18 to 36 gallons. Lots of times they had to brew day and night to keep up with the rush. Beer and ale were the principle drinks that everyone kept in their cellars, from the cheap beer to the high priced ales.

Every time we brewed, an Internal Revenue Officer came and took a test, and the tax was levied according to strength. The revenue bill was pretty stiff each month. There was a storeroom for malt which was shipped in nearly every week by the carload, and hauled from the train and delivered by the railroad company. Another storeroom was full of long bales of hops, mostly native grown, but a lot shipped from Bavaria, to blend into the fine ales. It was as particular a business to get the right blend and quality as the tobacco people have to do in this country. (U.S.A.) My stepfather was an expert at it, as he had followed it since youth. Then there was the big copper kettle in which the malt and hops were boiled. It was an enormous thing, and after each brewing a man climbed down into it and with long handled brooms and mops cleaned it until it was so bright that you I could almost see yourself in it.

The boiler and cooking vats were on an upper floor, and when the brew had been boiled down to the right strength by test, a big faucet at the bottom was turned on and the contents run into big wooden coolers and passed on from one to another until cold. It was then run into big square wooden vats and yeast was added to it to cause fermentation.

Every day, as the yeast raised to the top, a man with a long-handled wooden scoop would skim it off and put it into  a wooden container, and it was soon all sold out to bakeries and individuals around town. When no more yeast rose to the top, the brew was run off into barrels, holding 70 gallons or more, and put away in the tunnel for ageing, and sale. The refuse malt after the beer had been drawn off, called "groats", was shovelled out of the boiler to the stone floor below, and there were always some dairymen waiting with their wagons, ready to haul it off at a nominal price, to feed to their cows.

There was the stable for the horses, and storeroom for hay and grain. There were about 16 men employed. Another item of expense was coal, of which large quantities were used.

Another thing I used to like to watch was the men washing empty barrels returned. They worked on a stone floor, put hot water in the bung hole, and with the barrel laying down, rocked it from one side to the other. This they did through two waters. When washed, the bung hole was placed over a pipe and steam turned on so strong that the barrel looked as though it was going to blow up!"

Cliffe Brewery Tunnels Cliffe Brewery Tunnels

Above photo by Paul Isles showing the tunnels mentioned above.


From an email 20 August 2012Mineral water bottle

Hi Paul.

I don't know if this could clear up one of your un-answered questions but I found a bottle marked "East Kent Mineral Water Company LTD." in the Cliff Brewery Vault at Archcliff last December. Here's a photo of it.




Stuart Kinnon.


Bagshaw's Directory 1847From Bagshaw Directory 1847


If anyone should have any further information, or indeed any pictures or photographs of the above licensed premises, please email:-