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Independent brewer and pub operator Shepherd Neame has continued the expansion of its estate with the acquisition of three popular Essex pubs.

The addition of The Bellhouse in Leigh-on-Sea, The Exchange in Southend-on-Sea and The Hamlet Court in Westcliff-on-Sea takes Shepherd Neame’s total of pubs and hotels to 303, across Kent, London and the South East.  It follows the company’s acquisition of Urban Reef in Bournemouth earlier this month.

All three Essex properties are freehold and were part of the East Anglia Pub Company portfolio, and the sale officially completed yesterday (Thursday, July 28).

Jonathon Swaine, Shepherd Neame’s Managing Director, Pubs, said: “Following the strong company performance revealed in our latest Trading Update at the end of June, we have been actively looking for opportunities to grow and develop our high quality estate and are delighted to expand our presence in Essex with these unique properties.”

Built as a hunting lodge around the 16th century, The Bellhouse is a large pub and restaurant steeped in original features and charm. Situated in Eastwood, Leigh-on-Sea, The Bellhouse has a large patio area and garden perfect for alfresco drinking and dining, while during the colder months customers can relax by the open fires in the characterful bar and restaurant areas. A popular dining destination, The Bellhouse offers an extensive menu of contemporary and classic dishes celebrating the very best of local and seasonal produce.

The Exchange is a popular pub in the heart of Southchurch Village, Southend-on-Sea. The unique building previously operated as a bank before being developed into a pub in 2002. Named The Exchange in celebration of this financial history, the pub also makes use of the original bank vault as its beer cellar! Recently refurbished, The Exchange serves a delicious home-cooked menu of pub classics and light bites, and is also a popular live music venue.

Located in the centre of Westcliff-on-Sea, The Hamlet Court is a thriving community pub with a warm welcome guaranteed. Recently refurbished, the pub offers a delicious menu of traditional dishes, and is also renowned as a live music venue. Located a short walk from the historic Palace Theatre, it is a popular destination for pre-show dinner and drinks.

Jonathon added: “We are incredibly excited about the purchase of these unique, characterful venues. We look forward to working with the teams at each of the sites to build on their successful reputation and ensure that they continue to go from strength to strength.”

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About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

Press release from Shepherd Neame

For further information please contact Corporate Communications Manager Kathryn Tye on 01795 542259 or email or visit

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