International Women's Day at Joseph Holt

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve taken a deep dive into Joseph Holt’s most influential women to commemorate their long-lasting impact on our brewery.

Since our very start in 1849, women have had a significant and positive influence on Joseph Holt’s history and our standing in the community.

Here we’ll be celebrating four women who’ve helped to make us who we are today:

  • Catherine Parry
  • Lady Elizabeth Holt
  • Lady Margaret Holt
  • Jane Kershaw

You can listen to each of their fascinating stories below.

Catherine Parry - The Woman Beside Joseph Holt

There is no better flagship Joseph Holt lady than Catherine Parry. Without her, there’s a strong possibility that Joseph Holt would have never been established.

Catherine hailed from North Wales and relocated to Manchester in the 1830s to work as a governess for a Clergyman’s wife in Strangeways. By 1843, she had set up, and was running, her own school in Manchester.

In 1849 Parry married Joseph Holt whilst she continued to run her school. Catherine is credited for convincing Joseph to leave his job to set up his own self-titled brewery, as she single-handedly financed both his new endeavour and their home.

During her time working in Manchester, Catherine Parry bought a 999-year lease on land located on Waterloo Road in Cheetham where she built two houses. Catherine used this property to obtain a mortgage to build Joseph Holt’s Manchester Brewery.

After moving around various sites across Manchester, Joseph and Catherine settled on Empire Street in 1860 to house their brewery – and is where we still operate from today.

Catherine passed away in May 1892 aged 82.

Whilst the name of the company boasts Joseph Holt as a singular figure, it was the acts of Catherine Parry which facilitated and funded his dreams of creating the Brewery that exists today. Joseph Holt’s domination is undeniable, from our name to beer recipes, but Catherine Parry was an equal pillar in the legacy of Joseph Holt Brewery.

Lady Elizabeth Holt - The Charitable Chairwoman

Elizabeth married Edward Holt, son of Catherine and Joseph Holt, in 1879. Together the duo acted as a political and charitable powerhouse, making the Holt name known on a national scale. Their impact on Manchester life, which included providing a fresh water supply from the Lake District to Manchester, ultimately led to Edward being knighted and Lady and Sir Holt being inaugurated. You can read more about the story here.

From occasional meetings with the King, to heading many charities and committees, Lady Elizabeth did not lie in the shadow of her husband. Instead, she utilised her position as Lady to bolster her charitable aims and goals.

In 1914, Holt’s ran a £20,000 appeal, where they donated an initial £5,000, to build the Manchester Radium Institute. This led to the creation of a ground-breaking cancer treatment centre, which was later re-named in honour of the family. The Holts’ continued mass donations solidified Lady Elizabeth and Sir Edward Holt as a true benevolent couple.

Alongside donations through fundraising, Lady Elizabeth gave a lot of her time to support and aid both the Holt Radium Institute and the Christie Hospital. Lady Elizabeth chaired both hospital’s respective committees, highlighting her skill and determination in raising funds for such worthy causes. Have a closer read our our history with charity here.

Under Elizabeth and Edward’s leadership, Joseph Holt Brewery hired female employees to work in the Brewhouse during World War One to overcome the male worker shortage. Whilst women already worked in the bottling stores at this time, the war facilitated and expanded the brewery as a workplace for women.

Elizabeth sadly passed away in 1932 – 4 years after her husband the first Sir Edward.

Lady Margaret Holt – The Fundraising Phenomenon

Following on from Catherine and Elizabeth Holts’ legacies is no easy or simple feat, yet Lady Margaret Holt left an everlasting impact that is equally as impressive. The effort-less baton passed between Elizabeth and Margaret surrounding their support of the Christie and Holt Radium Institute was seamless.

Margaret not only utilised the Joseph Holt pubs and brewery as means of raising money for the hospital, but also used local celebrities to support the campaigns. Because of this she has been cited as ‘one of the leading fundraisers for many years’.

Alongside working for the brewery, Margaret was also at the helm of various associations and organisations. Most notably of these was the Women’s Trust Fund, originally known as the Christie Women’s Auxiliary Committee, which she founded and chaired from 1939-1977. She remained president here until 1988.

Through this position, Margaret managed to place herself as a key figure in deciding the progress of the hospital, primarily the Patterson Institute, the new research centre which opened in 1962. This action was noted by her nephew, Peter Kershaw himself as being the culmination of her life work – it’s noted that she laid the foundation stone for the building herself.

If the dedication to helping others her entire life was not enough, when Margaret passed away in 1996, she left £7.5 million worth of Joseph Holt shares in her will to be used for cancer research. At the time, Lady Margaret’s donation was said to be the largest ever legacy to be made to a hospital in the North-West.

Jane Kershaw – The Future of Joseph Holt

In the last decade, Jane has repeatedly broken the glass-ceiling in the brewing industry. Working in breweries across America, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, Jane has showcased her love for the industry on an international stage.

Jane Kershaw’s influence was epitomised by her winning ‘Brewer of the Year’ in 2019, aged only 32. The winner of this award is decided by a vote cast by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Paul Hegarty, Honorary Secretary for the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said that ‘[Jane] works tirelessly and acts and a peer to many others in the brewing world’ and was ‘a worthy winner’ of the award.

Jane also worked tirelessly to become a Master Brewer, an accolade the Institute of Brewing and Distilling cites as being the world’s highest level of recognition in the technical management of the brewing production process.

Since joining Joseph Holt as a company in 2017, Jane has worked in a multitude of roles to prepare her for her future as Director of the company. This has ranged from being an Area Manager, looking after a group of Joseph Holt pubs, to HR Manager, and most recently she took over running the Brewing and Transport departments in 2021. At the same time, Jane also joined the Board of Joseph Holt, becoming the first woman in its 173-year history to hold this position.

Jane Kershaw has already accomplished so much in her brewing career, cementing herself as one of the most influential women in Joseph Holt’s history.

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