175 years

Where to begin… it’s a great privilege to share that our family-run independent brewery turns 175 this year, starting our journey way back in 1849.

During this time, it’s fair to say we have hit some milestones, from swapping breweries to acquiring our first pub, to adding 124 more on top of that. We’ve won dozens of awards at brewing competitions and are continuing our long lasting partnership with the Christie charity. So let us explore the remarkable and exciting history and modern era of Joseph Holt, let’s take a look at where and how it all began.


Joseph Holt – Born in 1813 in the textile village of Unsworth, Greater Manchester. He was the son of James Holt, who worked as a Handloom Weaver, buying yarn from local spinners to weave into cloth. During the 1840’s Joseph spent the years working as a Carter (someone who worked on the dray carts that transported barrels to and from the brewery, using a horse and a cart), at Harrison’s Strangeways Brewery, the same place where his elder brother William worked as a brewer.

Catherine Parry – arrived in Manchester sometime in the 1830s, she travelled from the small North Wales village of Llandderfel. At the start of her journey in Manchester, she worked as a governess for a clergyman’s wife in Strangeways, and in 1843 she left this role to start her own school in the city. Catherine has been described as a strong-willed woman with a strong business mind, she certainly played a big part in influencing Joseph Holt to leave his carter role and start his own business.

Joseph Holt 1813 - 1886

Catherine Parry 1810 - 1892

After their wedding in 1849, the Holt’s moved into a small house in the centre of town, Joseph Holt then rented premises behind a pub in the nearby Oak Street and it was here that his historic career as a brewer began.


During the early days of Joseph Holt’s brewing, he mainly supplied small local taverns and pubs near his home. The first major expansion for the business happened in 1855 when Joseph Holt with the help of Catherine, acquired Ducie Bridge Brewery (the area which is now Cheetham Hill Road), a big improvement from his small property attached behind a pub. This move allowed the business to increase its production and revenue, this allowed the company to support and help other enterprises to set up their own beerhouses by lending money, which in turn increased trade.

Derby Brewery

1860 – Present Day

As trade boomed Ducie Bridge Brewery no longer had the capacity to keep up, leading the Holt’s to expand again. In 1860, Joseph took out a 999 year lease on some land (this runs out in the year 2859, we’ll be here for a while), and so began the work on the new larger machine, Derby Street Brewery. The second major expansion of the brewery took place and the Holt’s moved into the larger Derby Brewery. This brewery from the 1800’s remains the same brewery in which we operate today, housing the brewing, the packaging, the distribution and the head office.

Joseph Holt paved the path for future generations and left his eternal mark on the beer industry forever. As old age caught up to him he decided to pass on the baton to his son Edward Holt in 1882, who took the reins at 36 years old after working with his father for the past 7 years. During his time in charge, Edward Holt was elected Lord Mayor of Manchester twice, received a Baronet and in 1920 became Sir Edward Holt after being awarded a CBE.

Sir Edward Holt ran the company for 46 years before passing it to his second son Sir Edward II. During his 40 years running the business, he oversaw the company going public for the first time in 1951 and the opening of our historic Woodthorpe pub which had always been a family home to the Holt’s. At the age of 85 Sir Edward Holt II passed away, and so Peter Kershaw, the nephew of Sir Edward, became the new chairman.

Peter Kershaw fought in World War 2 in the Navy, from 1939 and returned home in 1946, upon arrival he began working in the brewery straight away. After progressing up to brewery manager and then chairman in 1968, during his time in charge saw the brewery expansion which doubled the production capacity for Joseph Holt’s. He also set up the Peter Kershaw Foundation which supports charities through donations across Manchester.

Richard was destined to follow in his fathers’ footsteps, and in 1980 joined the family business, shortly after he became the managing director in 1985. Richard remains the managing director till the present day, having been joined by his children Andrew and Jane who make up the 6th generation and the future of the family business. The company went back into private ownership in 2000, when Richard Kershaw became CEO. The rest is history.

…in 1861, Joseph Holt bought his first pub, Wellington Hotel in Eccles.

175 years later the estate has expanded to 125 pubs including 8 hotels, providing good beer, good food and good times to all.

Our Pubs

Our pubs are a big part of who we are and how we operate. Pubs make up our DNA of connecting with our customers. But what does a pub mean to you? It can be a sanctuary and safe haven to meet and socialise with friends and partners. It can be a community branch in discovering new people, groups and interests. It might be your shelter to watch all the biggest live sporting events. It’s a place where you can enjoy yourself and eat great food and try award-winning ales and lagers.

We’re lucky enough to have 125 pubs across the North West, each one being individual to the local community that surrounds it. We’ve made a real aim of becoming the heart of the community, offering charity fundraisers, support groups for a number of worthy causes, and hosting live events from your favourite quiz to local music acts playing the songs you love… you can always find something to do in our pubs.

The Crown & Anchor (Manchester City Centre)

The Woodthorpe (Prestwich)

ye golden lion blackley

Ye Golden Lion (Blackley)

the railway pub in buxton

The Railway at Buxton

doffcocker inn pub in bolton pub sign

Doffcocker Inn (Bolton)

the mill pub upton chester

The Mill (Upton)

the imperial pub southport beer garden

The Imperial (Southport)

the quadrant pub stretford

The Quadrant (Trafford)

Waggon & Horses (Gorton)

The Lord Nelson (Urmston)

norfolk arms pub glossop joseph holt outside building

Norfolk Arms (Glossop)

the angel pub on king street in knutsford cheshire

The Angel (Knutsford)

bowling green pub joseph holt in charnock richard chorley

Bowling Green (Chorley)

lychgate outside of pub in standish

Lychgate (Standish)

Blue Bell (Moston)

Our Brands

As we’ve grown bigger and bolder, our offering of beers stretches far and wide, from crisp refreshing larger to our darker stouts and ales. Bitter is our first original brew, we continue to use the same recipe as we did back in 1849. As drinking attitudes and trends constantly evolve we have expanded our range of offerings, such as the increased demand for premium lagers. In recent history we have developed our own lager range (you may have heard of the following), our Crystal, Crystal Gold and Diamond Lager.

joseph holt diamond premium lager logo pump clip
Crystal Gold pump clip logo
crystal lager logo pump clip
sixex dark ale logo pump clip
Joseph Holt bitter new badge.
humdinger golden ale logo pump clip
joseph holt black logo pump clip
maple moon logo pump clip joseph holt
Northern Hop logo pump clip joseph holt citrus pale ale
trailblazer stout joseph holt pump clip badge
Smooth Logo
spin doctor indie lager pump clip
chorlton pale ale pump clip logo
fools gold bootleg pump clip

We Brew The Best Beers In The World... officially.


We’ve won numerous beer awards throughout our history, but here are some standouts in recent years to name a few:

Crystal Lager – Our best-selling 3.8% light and crisp lager struck the Gold medal in the International Keg Lager 2.9 – 4.7 ABV (2011).

Sixex – This dark full-bodied ale has carried the same recipe as it was back in 1901, also clinching Gold medal at the International Brewing Awards and the British Bottlers’ Institute (2019 & 2021).

Diamond Lager – Our most premium 5% lager is full-flavoured and refreshing. This has been eternally labeled best in the world at the International Brewing Awards (2013 & 2017).


2024 International Brewing Awards

We Struck Gold twice at the latest installment of this prestigious award. Our traditional Black claimed the top spot again in the Dark Beer category (2.9 – 3.7% ABV), having previously won Gold back in 2015. We also had another victor, our delicious indie lager “Spin Doctor” in the Keg Lager category (4.5 – 6.9% ABV). It’s fair to say, we’re becoming cereal winners at these awards, not bad for a 175 year old. You can read all about our wins here.


It’s no secret that at Joseph Holt, we strive to be the heart of the community in everything we do. Our pubs are always running support and community groups throughout the week for many good causes, from daily menopause groups to numerous fundraisers.

We have a long and important partnership with The Christie’s. In fact, our support for the charity goes back 110 years. Edward Holt, the great grandfather of our managing director Peter Kershaw, started this long lasting partnership back in 1914. The company managed to raise £20,000 (£2.5 million in today’s money) to build The Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute. You can read more about our Christie journey here.

This year we continue our Christie Hospital 175th £500,000 Appeal which started in 2023 and will run into 2025. We have currently raised just over £250,000 meaning we are over halfway. This is an incredible achievement from everyone involved and we are well on our way to reaching our target next year.

Holt Radium Institute

Holt Radium Institute

Unmistakably Northern for 175 years

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