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Ridley's expanded rapidly and by 1882, the year of Thomas Dixon's death, it had established a chain of inns from the Sun at Saffron Walden (their most Northern outlet) to the Wheatsheaf at Rettendon (their most Southern).

Ridley's were famous for supplying beer in wooden casks, which they maintained well into the 1980s. They brewed two cask beers, Ridley's bitter and Ridley's mild

In their later years Ridley's began to brew a range of different real ales, for example Witchfinder Porter: a dark beer with a strong hoppy finish. They also re-badged their bitter as Ridley's IPA.

Sadly, in 2005, the Ridley family sold the brewery and its 73 pubs to Greene King who ceased production at the historic brewery.

As for The Compasses, Greene King lost interest and put the Inn up for sale. Joss Ridley, a direct relative of the original Ridley brewing family, bought it in March 2008, and his brother Nelion started brewing again in September 2011.


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