THE CAT'S OUT OF THE BAG
Take a trip through the drinking glass to Robinsons’ wonderland of brewing history. Old Tom is the ultimate Cheshire Cat. The legend was born in 1899, when the old brewery cat, Tom, basked in the sunshine, whilst the head brewer sketched him into immortality.
When William Robinson bought the Unicorn Inn on 29 September 1838 he was establishing a company which was to become one of Britain's largest regional brewers. Now run by the sixth generation of the family, the company continues to develop whilst still using traditional brewing methods.
With an estate of over 300 pubs, stretching from northern Cumbria down to North Wales and Staffordshire, together with the expansion of wholesale, free trade, off trade activity and a state-of-the-art bottling facility, Robinsons is well placed to continue its success story.
1827 – 1838
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
William Robinson became landlord of the Unicorn Inn and went on to own the pub. The Unicorn Inn at the heart of Stockport evolved to become Unicorn Brewery, which was built upon the foundations of this first pub. Soon after 1859 Frederic Robinson took over the inn and began to expand the brewing business which eventually became Robinsons Limited.
ROBINSONS BUYS FIRST PUB
The first pub of what grew to become an estate of over 300 pubs across Cheshire, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Stoke-on-Trent, Wales and Cumbria, was originally called The Railway (as it was close to the village station) and located in Marple Bridge. It has since been rebuilt and renamed the Royal Scot, though it's fair to say this pub still has pride of place in the Robinsons estate.
OLD TOM FIRST BREWED
Still brewed using the original recipe - the head brewer's recipe book is a much referenced family treasure.
ALFRED MULTON'S NOTEBOOK
A sample from a notebook page showing details of an Old Tom brew, made on Wednesday the 1st November 1899.
Named after the old brewery cat, this sketch, by the head brewer, captured Old Tom as he basked in the sunshine.
PUSS IN BOOTS
It's a 'rags to riches' tale of a cat whose riches are gained through the trickery of an expert 'con man' - The Puss of the title. The hero of the story receives all his wealth and his Princess bride as a result of a 'Cat Scam'!
A fictional cat popularised by Lewis Carroll's depiction of it in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Known for his distinctive mischievous grin, the Cheshire Cat has had a notable impact on popular culture.
NEW BREW HOUSE
The new coppers to boil the wort and hops arrived in the brewery to work hard for over 90 years, before being replaced, ready for the new brew house launch in 2012.
ACQUIRING SCHOFIELD BREWERY
Robinsons looked to expand and adapt to changes in the market making Schofield’s Brewery their second major brewery acquisition. William bought Schofield’s in 1926, a purchase that included 42 houses – a very useful addition to the growing Robinsons estate. The wine and spirit business that was already incorporated into Schofield’s was a welcome new venture. Brands such as Carmen Sherry and Don Manuel Port continue to this day.
The position of Robinsons as the major brewer in North Cheshire is confirmed by the purchase of Bell’s in 1949.
The proud Leyland Fleet, pictured at the Unicorn Brewery in 1920.