30 million cans of Ben Shaw’s soft drinks are sold every year. The highest selling product is cloudy lemonade.
Benjamin Shaw (1836 – 1901) was born at Kirkheaton, Huddersfield, the son of a farm labourer. He found work in the Huddersfield textile trade, initially as a woollen spinner, and then as a supervisor.
Shaw established a partnership with his brother George in 1871, bottling Pennine spring water from premises on Charles Street, Huddersfield. Soon, the firm expanded into non-alcoholic “botanic” porter and ginger beer, distributing their products by horse and cart.
Benjamin Shaw bought out his brother’s stake in the partnership for £317 in 1876, to become sole proprietor of the business. The firm employed seven men in 1881.
Shaw was a keen advocate of the temperance movement. He supported good causes, such as the establishment of a working men’s club in Huddersfield. He was nominated as a member of Huddersfield Town Council in 1881.
The firm relocated to a new factory on Upperhead Row, Huddersfield in 1883.
Production was relocated to a purpose-built factory on Willow Lane, Huddersfield from 1894. By this time the firm traded as Benjamin Shaw & Sons.
Benjamin Shaw died in 1901, and left an estate of £6,955. He was succeeded in business by his two sons, Ernest (1858 – 1924) and Frank Shaw (born 1870).
Benjamin Shaw & Sons was registered as a private company with capital of £20,000 in 1913.
Ernest Shaw died in 1924 with an estate valued at over £20,500. Beaumont Stephenson (1877 – 1948), a son in law of Benjamin Shaw, took charge of the company.
Clifford Stephenson (1902 – 1992) took control of the company, following the death of his father in 1948.
Distribution was extended into the neighbouring county of Lancashire in 1957.
Ben Shaw’s became the first company in Europe to can soft drinks in 1959.
A new factory was opened at Brockholes near Huddersfield in 1966. It could produce 100,000 cans a day by 1970. The fully-automated factory employed a staff of just 30.
Ben Shaw’s held around three percent of the British carbonated soft drinks market by 1989.
Overexpansion in the early 1990s saw family control lost to the Rutland Trust. It was acquired by Chaudfontaine of Belgium in 1994.
The Willow Lane site was acquired by Britvic in 2004 when it bought the Ben Shaw’s bottled water business, including the Pennine Spring brand.
Cott Beverages of Canada acquired Ben Shaw’s in 2005.
Britvic closed the Willow Lane factory in 2013. Production of the Pennine Spring and Drench bottled water brands was discontinued.