Thomas Greenall & Family

Thomas Greenall & Family...

Thomas Greenall became manager of his mother-in-law's brewery in St Helens, Lancashire, in 1754, and went on to build his own in Hardshaw, St Helens, in 1762. In 1786 he bought the Saracen's Head Brewery at Wilderspool, Warrington, in partnership with William Orrett and Thomas Lyon. In 1787, the partners acquired an interest in the brewery of Edward Greenall and Co in Cunliff Street, Liverpool, which ceased trading in 1814. In 1807, Orrett's son sold his interest to Lyon and Greenall. On the death of Thomas Lyon, nephew of the original partner, in 1859, Greenall and Company was formed.

The St Helens Brewery continued to trade as Thomas and Gilbert Greenall. In 1880 the assets of both breweries were transferred to Greenall Whitley and Company Ltd. It became a public company in 1952. In 1982 the company changed its name to Greenall Whitley Plc. Brewing operations ceased in 1989. The company has acquired many other businesses. They include Gilbert and John Greenall, gin distillers and wine merchants in 1923; John Sumner and Co Ltd, brewers, Haigh, near Wigan, in 1931; Chester Northgate Brewery Co Ltd in 1949; Shrewsbury and Wem Brewery Co Ltd, Wem, Shropshire in 1951; David Williams and Co Ltd, Bangor, Caernarfonshire, in 1951; Cambrian Mineral water, Ruthin, Denbighshire in 1954; Magee, Marshall and Co Ltd, Bolton, Greater Manchester, in 1958; Groves and Whitnall and Co Ltd, Salford, Greater Manchester, in 1961; Allied Vintners Investments Ltd in 1971; and Stanneylands Group Ltd, leisure interests, Warrington in 1977.

The Greenall family prospered through their brewing business and subsequently, by purchase of the Walton Estate became country landowners. From this base they became prominent in politics and subsequently entered into the peerage. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, they would have been known to the Cheshire gentry and professional people through their brewing interests and through their involvement in Parr's Bank in Warrington. The family traces its descent from Thomas Greenhalgh who died in 1584 but the name evolved to Greenall. The first brewery was built in St. Helens in 1762 by Thomas Greenall (1733-1805). In 1786, Thomas went into partnership with William Orrett, the owner of a number of inns and Thomas Lyon, a landowner and business partner with Joseph Parr and Walter Kerfoot in a banking business. This partnership started brewing in Warrington and built a new brewery at Wilderspool in 1793.

The eldest son of Thomas Greenall was Edward (1758-1835), who purchased the Walton Hall estate. He had five sons of whom Thomas, Peter and Gilbert entered the family firm. It was Edward's youngest son, Gilbert Greenall (1806-1894) who first lived at Walton Hall. Gilbert was MP for Warrington winning elections for the Conservative interest in 1847, 1852, 1857, 1859, 1865, 1874, 1885 and 1886 and became a baronet in 1876. On the death of his brothers Thomas and Peter, Gilbert assumed control of the family business. He had additional business interests in The St. Helens Canal and Railway Company, a glassworks in St. Helens, and in Parr, Lyons and Greenalls Bank, whose headquarters was in Warrington. Gilbert attended the church at Daresbury but was a benefactor of other local churches; he built the church of St. John the Evangelist at Walton in 1885. His twin brother, Richard Greenall, was rector of the church of St. Matthew's at the nearby village of Stretton from 1831 to 1867.

Gilbert's sister, Isabella, married John Whitley and had five sons, some of whom became partners in the brewing business. In October 1880 the St. Helens and Warrington Brewery businesses became Greenall Whitley and Company Ltd, under the chairmanship of Sir Gilbert Greenall. Gilbert's son, also called Gilbert, became the First Baron Daresbury of Walton. His death in 1938 led to death duties of half a million pounds and this contributed to the decision to sell the Walton estates in 1941. At this time the land involved was about 7000 acres.