Celebrating 195 years


Celebrating an incredible 195 years of McMullen’s! We're looking back at some of our favourite moments in McMullen's history that made us who we are today.
It all started with William McMullen, born in 1756 in County Down Ireland. William was first recorded in Hertford joining a Fellowship Society (a kind of private social security system) in the White Hart, a pub his descendants would buy 118 years later!
Around 1791, William was a gardener working at Hertford Castle, then a steward and was later a seed merchant. He had 11 children, one of those children being Peter McMullen.
In 1827, Peter starts brewing illicitly in the back of the house in Back Street/Railway Street, Hertford. He only goes legitimate after the Beerhouse Act in 1830, on the payment of two guineas. In 1832, the land on what is currently the Woolpack in Hertford was acquired, and King William IV brewery was founded. It was later renamed the Bridge Brewery in 1850.
Portrait of Peter McMullen, the founder.
Mill Bridge was the site of McMullen's first brewery, which stood on the site now occupied by The Woolpack. The original Woolpack stood on the corner of Mill Bridge and Old Cross until 1927, when it was demolished as the road was widened for the new Mill Bridge.
The Woolpack in Hertford has been a McMullen pub since 1856
In 1836, Peter acquires his first pub, the Greyhound in Bengeo. Four years later McMullen's IPA, an East India Pale Ale, is advertised for the first time in the Hertfordshire Mercury.
In 1860 Peter retires having built up a small pub estate and various brands, with Alexander and Osmond H. taking over the business as P. McMullen & Sons. This period saw a growth in pub acquisitions; in 1867 The Wonder - Enfield and The Millstream - Hertford are acquired and the The Sun - Hoddesdon acquired in 1868. 1n 1891, The Salisbury Hotel - Hertford became a part of the McMullen’s portfolio.
1n 1891, the Salisbury Arms became a part of the McMullen’s portfolio.
Portrait of Alexander McMullen

1922 was a period of growth, with Hope Brewery, Hertford in 26 Old Cross acquired and 20 pubs including Queens Head, Bull and Lord Haig. In 1925, Hertford Corporation widened Mill Bridge. Head offices were moved to 26 Old Cross and the Woolpack was built on the old Brewery site. In 1933, we celebrated 100 years of AK - a pint of AK was advertised for 4d.. about £1 in today's money.

In 1965 Nichols Brewery closes in Hertford, leaving McMullen's as the last remaining brewer in Hertford and independent brewer in Hertfordshire at that time.

In 1982, having originally been acquired in 1927 and after 55 years of waiting, the Nags Head trades as a McMullen pub. In 1984, Spice of Life - London is acquired and Fergus McMullen joins the Brewery.
In 2006, land was donated for the Hertford Public Library. In 2010 Tom McMullen joins the business, with Alexander McMullen joining in 2016. 2017 saw a small batch investment in the Brewery and Rivertown beer brand was released.
Although 2020 and 2021 saw pubs being closed by the government and materially restricted for the first time in history due to the pandemic, McMullen’s also saw growth in the portfolio with the openings of Horse and Guardsman, Cambridge Tap and Traitors Gate. Kings Arms in Fitzrovia also provides first rooms in London.
Thank you to everyone in our community that has supported us through our 195 years. We want to raise a massive toast to all of our teams in our pubs and community over the years, and look forward to the journey ahead of us!
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