In 2018 I was asked if I would paint a mural in Brewery Yard, a cobbled alley way just off Reigate High Street leading down to Morrison’s car park. I had previously painted a mural on the other side of the High St in 2016 on the side of Boots.
The one I painted in 2016 was an image taken from an old Francis Frith photograph. Francis Frith was known for his photographs of high streets up and down the country in the late 19th and early 20th century. Coincidentally his home and offices were located in Reigate.
I painted the Frith mural outside on the side of a boarded up window belonging to Boots. What interested me about the photo and why I wanted to use that particular one was that the wall I was to paint on was in the photograph. People could stand and look and the mural but at the same time are in the mural. I think placement of public artwork is crucial and it should engage people in a positive way which this mural did.
The new mural had been commissioned by local business owner Sunil who thought it would be a great addition to have a mural painted along the long wall that leads down to the car park.
After looking at the space where the mural was to go I decided it would be better to have 3 murals as it was to span a large length of the Brewery Yard Courtyard. I began to think about the history of this courtyard.
Originally the courtyard was the only entrance to what was a vast brewery complex run by brewers Mellersh and Neale. All that remains now are the cobbles. Apparently there are train lines under some of the paving that was used with donkeys to pull the hops and coal in metal carts around the site.
I decided to make the murals about this topic.
Mellersh and Neale Brewery ceased trading in 1938. After that the site was used as lockup buildings, places where car mechanics worked and generally a large area of waste ground. In 1988 the site was cleared to make way for Safeways supermarket and Car Park. Tragically they pulled down an incredible ‘Tun House’ that sat right in the middle of the site.
In the library I found a book called The History of Reigate Brewing by Richard Symonds, a local historian. This was exactly what I had been looking for. This was so concise and also contained brewing history dating back hundreds of years. After looking at all this information I decided to make the murals tell a chronological story of brewing in Reigate.
The murals cover a period of approximately 1000 years of Reigate history incorporating the story a brewing alongside other key historical events.
When I was commissioned to paint the murals I had just been accepted on a full time MA in Painting at Wimbledon College of Arts. The murals took a little longer because of this but on the plus side I think it let ideas develop that otherwise might not have appeared.
The addition of a sound narration by Nicholas Owen is an exciting part of the project. With it you are able to listen to the story of Reigate’s brewing history while enjoying the paintings.
The project is 100% community funded. Please help by visiting