The Brewery & Wharf Cottages

Location of the Brewery buildings
View of the Brewery and Wharf Cottages from the canal going towards the locks
The former brewery in Cosgrove - photo taken September 1965
View across the canal and Doctor's Piece to the rear of the Brewery

The Brewery Dock
Rear of the Brewery

The Brewey was later turned into industrial units

Brewery cellar

In the 1780s and early 1790s there was a malthouse in Cosgrove run by a John Franklin. He was succeeded in 1799 by John Pittam, and later in the 1840s what was presumably the same business was under the ownership of a Daniel Warren, who was also a coal merchant, a corn merchant and a wharfinger.

Warren was followed in 1874 by Francis Desvaux Bull, who was solely a brewer and maltster. In 1888 he sold the business to Phipps & Co of Northampton and stayed on as their manager until 1892. The premises came to be used as a store in the early 1900s, and Phipps closed the whole enterprise down in 1912. The buildings were sold to a local builder in 1932, and used by a number of commercial and light industrial users before being largely demolished in 2000.

Possibly the earliest known photo of Cosgrove showing the Warren family
outside their house near the Brewery which Mr Warren built in 1858

Maria Turner Bull (nee Osborn), about 1870
Francis Desvaux Bull, about 1870
By kind permission of John Coales

Twelve Generations complied by John Coales pages 411 & 413


Page 411 & 413
This chapter is rather different to its neighbours. For one thing there are no living descendants from whom information could be obtained. Secondly there is a certain amount of information about the wife's ancestry from which it can be stated that the Osborns originated from Newport Pagnell; this is indicated on the accompanying pedigree and also with more detail in Appendix A and Appendix B at the end of the chapter. Whilst we do not know any more regarding these persons, nevertheless we hope the information may provide clues to others in their researches.

As has been described in Chapter 60, Francis Desvaux BULL (Fig. 227) was the fourth of the seven children of William Bateman BULL and his wife Anne ROGERS. He was born on 26th December 1837 at Newport Pagnell and was educated at Mill Hill from 1849to 1852. On 23rdOctober 1867 he married Maria Turner OSBORN (Fig. 228, born 7th August 1841 at Bradford) at Bradford. Her marriage settlement is given in Appendix C and we are fortunate in that it not only refers to her mother's marriage settlement but also provides information by supplementary deed until it was finally wound up after her death. In this document Francis Desvaux BULL is referred to as a brewer and it is probable that he was employed in the Rogers brewery at Newport Pagnell since he is reputed to have lived in the Brewery House. But he turned out to be a black sheep becoming bankrupt at some date; later he lived at Cosgrove, Northants - where I believe there was once a brewery - and shortly after his death his widow was living at Furtho House, Old Stratford, Northants. He died on 27th March 1910, probably at Old Stratford. His widow made her will shortly thereafter but did not die until 14thJuly 1926 at Stockton in Warwickshire. By this will she directed that the Trust Fund created in 1867 should be divided equally between her children; after bequeathing specific items to various of her children, the residue was to be divided between her three daughters.

Francis and Maria had five children of whom only one married and he did not have any offspring, so this is a line which comes to an end. The children were:

1. Frances Mary BULL born 4th June 1872 at place unknown and died unmarried on 7th March 1937 in the Warwick registration district; it is probable that she died at Southam or Stockton. Her age is recorded as 54 whereas it should be 64. In the marriage settlement no occupation is stated, so it is probable that she lived at home with her parents. She made her will in 1926 leaving personal effects to her two sisters, £50 each to her two brothers, £100 to her sister Annette and the residue to her sister Jessie; the estate was valued at £1,036 gross and £887 nett.

2. Thomas Palmer BULL born 8th October 1873 at place unknown. He married on 9th August in year unknown Nellie MACKINTOSH (date and place of birth unknown) at Inverness, Scotland. By profession he was, I think, an engineer and certainly was manager of the cement works at Stockton, near Southam in Warwickshire. On his retirement he moved to Stirling in Scotland where he died on 31st December 1955; we have no record of the death of his wife. There were no children. He made his will in 1923 leaving everything to his wife; the estate was valued at £1,297 nett.

3. Rowland Francis BULL born 13th February 1875 at place unknown. By profession he was an electrical engineer (I have heard it said 'not a very good one') and at one period lived in Liverpool. As will be seen from the marriage settlement, both he and his elder brother were at one time resident at Sunbury on Thames; it is surmised that they were apprentices to their cousin Harold Frederick COALES (see Chapter 54). He died, probably at Leamington in Warwickshire, on 30th March 1968, aged 93; in his will (see Appendix D) he left numerous pecuniary legacies to various cousins but there was not enough to pay them in full so they had to be scaled down.

4. Annette Desvaux BULL (known as Nettie) born 19th December 1876 at place unknown. In the marriage settlement she is described as a schoolmistress and at that time was residing in London. She died unmarried on 14th December 1961 in the Cheltenham registration district of Gloucestershire.

5. Jessie Maria BULL born 4th January 1880 at place unknown. In the marriage settlement she is described, like her sister, as a schoolmistress and at that time was residing in London. She died unmarried on 17th January 1955 at her residence at Southam. Her will was made in 1937 and the estate was valued at £1,115 nett; one-third was to be divided equally between her two brothers and two-thirds was left to her surviving sister, Annette.

I can recollect visiting Nettie and Jessie at the home they shared in Southam. They knew much about the Bull family and had a lot of family items, miniatures and the like as well as Bateman silver. I often wonder what became of these.

As an indication of life early in the twentieth century, the Newport Pagnell Debating Society held a Ladies' Evening in the Town Hall on Thursday, 5th January 1911. One of the items on the programme is 'Cranford' - Scene II - Miss Barker's Tea Party where parts were taken by Miss Jessie BULL, Miss Margaret COALES, Miss Marjorie COALES, Miss Annette BULL, Miss Phyllis TAYLOR and Miss Edith BULL, together with only one outsider.

By kind permission of John Coales

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 02 November 1850

To Brewers, Maltsters and Others




At the Cock Inn, Stony Stratford, on Friday, November 15th,
1850, Two o'clock,

CONSISTING of a blue-slated brick and stone-built DWELLING HOUSE, containing a good parlour, sitting room, kitchen, four comfortable bed-rooms, cellar, and larder also a detached blue-slated and stone-built brewhouse, with convenient malt, and meal rooms, large cellarage, and suitable outbuildings, including a good eight-stall stable, hay sheds, hovels, &c. Belonging are a small garden and commodious yard.

The whole occupied by Mr. Daniel Warren, whose tenancy expires at Christmas next. The purchase will also include a COTTAGE adjoining, occupied by Mrs. Stevens.

A lucrative Brewing trade has long been carried on upon the premises. The aggregate annual rental is £13. 3s. and the only out-going a land-tax of 3s. 4d annually.

To view, apply to the tenants; and for further particulars, Messrs. Hearn and Nelson, Solicitors, Buckingham, or to the Auctioneer.

The following are from the Cleley Hundred Slips by Philip Riden

NRO FS 27/7 Econ Hist Brewery 1862      

7 May 1862 D Warren writing on printed Cosgrove Brewery notepaper about taking the Barley Mow.

NRO FS 27/7 Econ Hist Brewery 1868

18 April 1868. Printed billhead for Cosgrove Brewery, nr Stony Stratford, bought of D Warren, ale and porter, hay, coal and corn merchant. D Warren has been crossed out by hand and Mr Clarke, or possibly W Clarke inserted.

NRO FS 27/7 Econ Hist Brewery 1874      

Billhead of Cosgrove Brewery nr Stony Stratford. Bought of D Warren, ale and porter brewer, hay, coal and corn merchant. Bill for rent dinner, May 1874.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 23 January 1875


Valuable Freehold COAL WHARF, BREWERY,
And PREMISES, on the Grand Junction Canal

At COSGROVE, near Stony Stratford, and within a short distance of Wolverton Station, London and North-Western Railway main line.

Is favoured with instructions


At the Cock Hotel, Stony Stratford, Bucks, on Thursday, February 11th, 1875 at Three o'clock in the Afternoon, in one Lot, and subject to such conditions as will be then read,

THAT valuable and convenient PROPERTY, known as COSGROVE WHARF and BREWERY, admirably situate on the Grand Junction Canal, at Cosgrove, and having a spacious yard, surrounded by substantial brick and stone-built and slated Premises, viz., a comfortable Residence, having three sitting-rooms, office, four bed-rooms, kitchen, and detached wash-house; one other Dwelling-house, and two Cottages, twelve-quarter Malt House, with large Store Rooms over same; Weigh Bridge and Office, Stables, Cart Sheds, covered landing from Canal, with two ton swing lifting crane fixed; excellently arranged Brewery, in which are fixed a Horizontal Steam Engine, with Gearing to Pumps, and other Machinery; ten-quarter mash vat, coppers, coolers, squares, refrigerator, &c.

There are three large Store Cellars, and other Sheds and Buildings, and adjoining the yard is a nice Garden, the whole forming a most compact property, where for many years past the late Mr. Daniel Warren has carried on an extensive business as Brewer, Coal, Corn, and Hay Merchant.

The portion of the Brewery Plant, Steam Engine. &c, which are fixed to the Freehold, will be included in the Sale, and the purchaser will be required to take at valuation in the usual way, the stock of Ales, Beer, Malt, Hops, Coal, and other Stock-in-Trade, and Store Casks, Trade Casks, and other Articles in the Brewery; also, some Coal Weighing Machines, &c, list of which will be produced at the time of Sale.

Land Tax, 6s. 3d.; Quit Rent on inclosure from road, 1s.

For further particulars, apply to John Parrott, Esq., or W. Rose, Esq., Solicitors, Stony Stratford, or the Auctioneer, Buckingham. To view, apply to Mr. John Warren, on the premises.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 10 April 1875

COSGROVE WHARF, near Stony Stratford.

FIVE capital working CART HORSES, a promising well-bred NAG FILLY, three years old ; good FARMING IMPLEMENTS, comprising waggons, cart, and reaping machines, winnowing machine, chaff cutter, iron ploughs and harrows, hay making machine (double action, by Smith and Ashby), iron roll, horse rake, steer drill, with turnip box, long and short ladders, rick and waggon cloths, strong coal cart, grist cart, on springs ; good thiller and trace HARNESS, SPRING CART, WEIGHING MACHINE, large ALE CASKS. TRADE CASKS. BARREL TRUCKS, &c. : several lots of seasoned PLANKS and BOARDS, some HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, and variety of Effects.

Also 15 acres of GRASS KEEPING, on Passenham Farm, near old Stratford, to the 29th September, 1875



On Monday, April 19, 1875, on the Premises, at Cosgrove, by direction of the Executors of the late Mr. Daniel Warren, deceased.

Catalogues will be circulation, and may be had at the Place of Sale; and at the Offices of the Auctioneer, Buckingham and Stony Stratford. Business at 10.30 o'clock.

Northampton Mercury - Saturday 28 June 1879


Cosgrove Brewery Stony Stratford


Buckingham Swan and Castle Hotel : Agent Mr W Betts
Newport Pagnell George Inn : Agent Mr Thom Frost
Waddesdon Agent Mr C Humphrey


RESPECTFULLY informs his numerous customers and the public generally, that he is now prepared to supply WELL SEASONED ALES FOR HAY AND HARVEST PURPOSES, at prices varying from Eightpence to One Shilling and Fourpence per Gallon. He also confidently recommends his SPRING BREWINGS OF PALE ALES at One Shilling and One Shilling and Twopence per Gallon, as pure extracts of Malt and Hops, which for fineness flavour and wholesome qualities cannot be surpassed.

NRO FS 27/7 Econ Hist Brewery 1879      

21 June 1879. Printed letterhead, The Brewery, Cosgrove. Letter from F D Bull to Fisher asking for lease of Barley Mow, which he understands is vacant. Would take it on a lease and would not put in a tenant without securing JCM’s approval. You will remember my predecessors Warren had the house on lease.

NRO SL 246  (NBP 50) Econ Hist Brewery 1888                   

8 Oct 1888, an application for a brewer’s licence for Cosgrove Brewery was signed by all the directors.

26 Nov 1888. Seal affixed to contract for sale of Cosgrove Brewery from F D Bull to P Phipps & Co Ltd (no price stated)

31 Dec 1888. Seal was affixed to mortgage of Cosgrove Brewery securing £3000 and interest at 4% to G S Osborn and W R Bull. Also to assignment of goodwill of brewery business, Cosgrove and business and other debts, dated 21 Dec 1888. Also to agreement for tenancy of messuage at Cosgrove between P Phipps & Co Ltd and F D Bull 21 Dec 1888. Also to agreement as to services as brewer’s travellers between F D Bull and P Phipps & Co.

NRO SL 246  (NBP 50) Econ Hist Brewery 1892                

5 April 1892. Resolved to give F D Bull three months’ notice that his services would not be required after 5 July next but that his position within the company would be considered in the meantime.

NRO, NBP 56, 14 Sept 1932      Econ Hist Brewery  

Reported that Cosgrove Brewery, with consent of the chairman, had been sold to R W Dickins, builder, Hanslope, for £1000; Co’s solicitors instructed to convey.

Northampton Mercury - Friday 09 February 1934

A report was read from the engineer (Mr. Dent Young) criticising the water of the Old Brewery Well at Cosgrove, and advising the Council to break off negotiations for the time being. The Clerk said that it was unlikely that the Ministry would pass it. Mr. Ridgway: The whole trouble is the old drains. It was decided to break off negotiations, and the surveyor was instructed to interview the engineer and show him the spring in Cosgrove, the Chairman observing there is plenty of water there.

The members present were: Messrs. H. T. F. Weston (chairman), J. Soper (vice-chairman), 11. Fleming. W. W. Dickens, H. C. Rossiter, C. L. Jackson. J. A. Smith, W. J. Frost, S. North, J. R. Marchant, W. N. Montgomery, and R. LC Ridgway.

NRO, 81p/552 25

Jan. 1989. Deed between Derrick Arnold Cannings of 25 Bridge Road, Cosgrove (1), and J.T. Francis of 4 Mansel Close, Cosgrove, and M.L. Phillips of 11 Mansel Close as members of Cosgrove parish council (2). To define boundaries between two plots. (1) owns western half of old brewery property; (2) owns plot 7 from rectory grounds sale, which abuts old brewery property. Boundary line at rear of these properties defined on plan in deed.

Plan shows layout of out brewery buildings, with a building added at back labelled proposed engineering workshop. Probably executed to settle boundary before this was built on brewery site.

Malcolm Jelly's lived at the old brewery, down Stocks Lane. This is his first bus with which he did weekly trips to London

MFR Robertshaw Caravan Parts

History of the Robertshaw connection with Cosgrove - by John Robertshaw

Michael Robertshaw

Early days

Michael Firth Robertshaw came out of the RAF in the late forties after serving in Burma in the Second World War and started a garage in Duncombe street Bletchley. They moved to Denbigh Road (now the Wayside Garage) just up the road from Jimmy Marshall’s factory in the early 60’s and started the trailer business (Camel trailers) alongside the core business of making caravan window and rooflight fittings, the trailer business was massive and they supplied NATO, WHO, the oil companies, and many local councils, forestry commission and exported world-wide, but Bletchley became an expansion town and the rent and rates escalated, and labour was short so in 1963 my dad found a site at The Stocks in Cosgrove. It was a redundant brewery owned by Bob Bridges.

Cosgrove 1963 to 1989

The development started by pulling down the part of the main building including an 80 foot chimney. There were three wells found underneath the property which supported the brewing process. In the first one they found a dead sheep floating in the well, which had fallen in the canal and had come up through the subterranean tunnels; not a pleasant experience for the guys who had to haul it out. The main production area was built to house the press shop and offices.

John Robertshaw helping the builders - aged 8

The assembly and stores occupied the first two floors and after clearing all the army surplus dumped during the war. Tins of spam, orange juice, jerry cans even stainless steel bolts all greased up, some were sold to Roy Castle of Castle’s Surplus Store in Stony. I think he still had some left when they unfortunately closed in 2020.

James recalls both us boys helping the brickies. In the entrance was an old gatehouse which used to be the offices until Dad knocked it down. There was a big petrol tank that he put in under the car park and we used to fill all the vehicles up from it. Before the Brewery part was refurbished it was full of old cars, jam, barrels and so on. Faulkners had a boat yard at the bottom of the yard and used to build and fix barges. Dad took that over as well.

Mrs May is in the doorway

The staff were recruited mainly from the local villages and some moved up from Bletchley. One a cockney, Ernie Lacy, who started as a lorry driver for dad and remained with us till the late 80’s. Transport was laid on for the outlying villages, like Hartwell, Potterspury, Deanshanger, and a lot of people from the village. Barbara Gayton, Marian Beasley (Gerald Freestone’s sister) Molly Kightley, who drove to fetch the workers, Lorraine Evison and others too many to mention, all worked for Dad.

They all worked very happily at the firm. Dad always paid above the Union rates. The butcher and grocery man (Dan the Van Man) called every week so the ladies could do their shopping during the working day. In its heyday there were fifty or more people employed by the firm.

James Robertshaw, John’s twin

We exported caravan fittings to all European countries, USA, Australia, South Africa, and all major Caravan factories in the UK. Most remained customers till late 2015. The factory had good outings each year to places like Earls Court, for the Caravan Show, the Lord Mayor’s Show in London and Great Yarmouth.

The Christmas parties at the Barley Mow were the social highlight of the year and we were a very happy family and a good successful business, until two things happened in the mid-80’s. The local Wolverton trades union put an agitator into the factory. Dad explained the reason why he paid 10 percent over the union rates was to prevent a union trying to control the company staff. He gave them the option to get rid of the union or he would close it down, which was exactly what happened.

In fact, many of the old loyal staff offered to forgo their redundancy money to keep the place running but it was too late, At the same time there was a massive transport strike and our truck with thousands of window fittings destined for Germany and Luxembourg got stuck at Dover for over a week and halted many customers’ production lines so a lot of the orders were cancelled. The production was moved to a sub-contractor and the warehouse to Towcester. This was a very sad day in the company’s history and was the beginning of a very difficult time for the family.

It was also a trying time for me and Ginny. We had bought Longwood house on the Green in 1978, from David and Liz Crewe. Things were tough and work was very hard to keep things going, but we managed to get back on our feet. We were blessed with the boys - David in 1982 and Adam in 1985, Lisa (Ginny’s daughter) all lived happily at Longwood house.

I played for Passenham Cricket Club. We entered into village life and enjoyed it tremendously. We enjoyed the Easter egg race, the village fete and pub events.  Good relationships were maintained with the old villagers like Janet and Paul Hitchcock, Bomber, the Saunders family and David Smith. 

Wolverton Express 31st March 1978

Quality and deliveries on time – that’s the selling technique of Henry Perkins, working director of MFR at Cosgrove. And it’s a sales technique that works, for one of the contracts that Mr Perkins has landed is providing jigs and fixtures for the new Lagonda being produced by Aston Martin at its Newport Pagnell factory.

As in many a small company, it is the boss who is the salesman, and Mr Perkins said he landed the Aston job just “putting my nose round the door and being a nuisance!” But seriously, Mr Perkins feels he captured the contract by being able to guarantee a delivery date, which many large firms are not in a position to do.

MFR was founded 14 years ago and used to manufacture caravan components. Now the firm plans to shut that side down to develop the tooling division. ”We plan, instead of manufacturing ourselves, to make the tools and machines for use by other manufacturing companies,” explained Mr Perkins.

This year will see a complete change for the company. Managing Director Michael Robertshaw will become a shareholder and will be registered under another name as the tooling division is expanded.

The factory was sold to David Moore in the late 80’s who then sold it to Thompson Laboratories and they sold it on for redevelopment to the present day. There are very strong memories the village - my brother and I driving round the field at the back of the Stocks (the Wheatley Cricket Ground) in an old Jowett Javelin when we were in our early teens; the wedding of Ginny and myself at the church in Cosgrove conducted by the great Ted Lurkins; all the children being baptised by him at the church in the mid-80’s and the great relationships and friendships we made in Cosgrove through the village life.

Dad passed in 1989 after a heart attack and the funeral was attended by many from far afield at the church and afterwards at Longwood house for the wake. It was a beautiful late summer day and I made up a “This is Your Life” red book from which I’ve extracted many of the attached photos. It was read by many people that day who were involved or touched by Muffer (Dad’s nickname). So it was with great regret that we then left Cosgrove in the early 2000s. The boys still love to go up to the village and walk round all the great walks we used to do on a Sunday afternoon with the dogs (Barkus and Pegotty), and recall all the good memories we had of our time in Cosgrove.

Ref: Date Occupant
Kelly's Directory 1847 Daniel Warren, corn dealer, maltster, brewer & coal merchant
Census 1851 Daniel Warren
Census 1861 Daniel Warren
Census 1871 Daniel Warren
Post Office Directory 1877 Francis D. Bull brewer & maltster
Census 1881 Francis Desvaux Bull
Kelly's Directory 1890 Phipps & Co. Limited, brewers (Fras. Desvaux Bull, manager)
Census 1891 Francis Desvaux Bull
Kelly’s Directory 1894 Phipps & Co. Limited, brewers (Francis Desvaux Bull, manager)
Census 1901 No occupant
Kelly's Directory 1903 Phipps P. & Co. Limited brewers - Linthwaite George, manager of Phipps' brewery
Kelly's Directory 1903 Linthwaite George, Brewery House
Kelly's Directory 1910 Phipps P. & Co. Limited , brewers
Census 1911 William Herbert Sampson Army Pensioner (Brewery Clerk)