A New Site
A new site and a new chapterCharles Wells died on 18 April 1914, and was survived by his wife Josephine and five sons. Three of them – Ernest, Hayward and Richard took the reins at the company until the third generation, David and Oliver, joined after the Second World War. They added more pub sites in the Fifties and Sixties and then the most important change came in 1976 when the decision was made to build a brand new brewery on a larger site in Havelock Street, Bedford. The old site in Horne Lane became a car park by the river for Bedford Town Hall.
This new site opened in 1976 with state of the art equipment including a brewhouse and vessels that could produce ale and lager, with packaging for casks, kegs and bottled lager beers were seen to be the new trend, although no one then predicted how dominant they would become.
Charles Wells knew that they wanted to have their own brand of lager so in 1977 they secured the UK rights to brew the Jamaican lager, Red Stripe, which is still brewed today.
With great energy, new markets for the beers were explored in the expanding ‘free trade’ of licensed outlets not tied to a brewer, in export markets in Europe and America, and in the national sales to multiple pub chains in the UK.
With an established ale portfolio, Charles Wells’ lager portfolio flourished in the 1990s following an agreement with the Kirin Brewery in Japan and Grupo Modelo in Mexico which brews Corona Extra. These world beers added to the brand portfolio and allowed a reputation for successful sales and marketing to be built.