Fentimans

Founded: 1905
Founder(s): Thomas Fentiman
Currently owned by: Eldon Robson

Thomas Fentiman, an iron puddler from Cleckheaton in England, was approached by a fellow tradesman for a loan. They struck a deal with Fentiman’s botanically brewed ginger beer as security. The loan was never repaid so Thomas became the owner of the recipe. He’d deliver the drinks door-to-door using a horse and cart. The ginger beer was stored in stone cans known as grey hens.

Thomas’s dog, Fearless, is the famous pooch on the label. She won the Crufts obedience class of 1933 and 1934.

The original business ended in the 1960s and was revived many years later by Thomas’s great grandson, Eldon Robson. His uncle Joe, who ran the factory in Leeds before the company closed, had the recipe on a piece of paper “tucked away in a drawer”.

“So we resurrected this craft process for making soft drinks, and I suppose by doing that I was a little ahead of my time. It’s quite a complicated process but we take great pride in what we do,” he told Chronicle Live.

“It was an absolute nightmare to begin with. Everything went wrong – I put my foot through the ceiling dashing to the telephone one day, I bought a second hand wagon and the gear box fell out the week I bought it. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but we battled through it.”

The company is now based in Fearless House, Hexham.

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