It was a natural step to turn to brewing beer, which at that time was commonly produced by many pubs and in many more private homes. But it took the foresight of John Arkell to realize the potential market for supplying beer to a string of other pubs as well as his own Kingsdown Inn, which he had just bought.
His timing was perfect. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had just chosen Swindon as the site of his works on the Great Western Railway and the once sleepy market town was already developing into a bustling (and thirsty) industrial centre.
A major expansion into Swindon would come some years later as the town continued to grow, but to begin with he contented himself with leasing just one Swindon pub, the Carriers Arms, (later the Lord Raglan) in Old Town. It was 1856 and so successful was John's makeshift brewery that he was inviting friends to dine inside his new 3,000-gallon barrel.
But the business was already outgrowing the farm and in 1861 a new steam brewery was built behind the original Kingsdown Inn at Upper Stratton.
Arkell's bought The Fox Inn in Highworth in 1862, The Golden Cross at Cirencester in 1864, The Tavern at Greatfield (later renamed The Butchers Arms) in 1866 and supplied The Harrow, Wanborough on a ten-year lease. Soon, John opened his second Swindon pub, The Artillery Arms in Regent Street, which survived until 1936 when it was demolished to make way for a new Woolworth's store.