James Simson started his business at the Abbey Brewery in 1839, which had been previously occupied by Francis Vanhagen. By 1851 he was recorded as employing 7 men, and he built up a sufficiently successful business that he was able to expand into Edinburgh, where he opened the St Mary's Brewery in 1864. By 1871 he was employing 17 men at the Edinburgh site. His sons James and Alexander Tudhope Simson both joined the business, and after his death in 1874 it was renamed James Simson & Sons. Amongst the beers produced by the business were Mild Ale, India Pale Ale and Porter.
Active: 1837 - 1874
Breweries and other buildings
The Abbey Brewery incorporated some structures which may have dated to the mediaeval period. The buildings were donated to the nation in 1950 to allow for improvements to the environs of the Abbey, and most of those that survive have been converted to residential properties.
The St Mary's Brewery was built on land which has been developed by the University of Edinburgh.