Meet Trailblazer 2 - Sir Edward Holt

Our next Trailblazer up is Sir Edward Holt I.

Sir Edward took over from his father Joseph in 1882. He remained at the top of the company for a mighty 46 years.

As you’ll find out, Sir Edward was a true Manchester trailblazer if ever there was one!

Took over the company in 1882

Created Joseph Holt Ltd in 1922


Elected as Lord Mayor of Manchester

Led the scheme to bring fresh waster to Manchester

The Story Behind Trailblazer 2: Sir Edward Holt

Edward Holt was born in the very same year our brewery was founded: 1849.

Edward grew up in the industry but decided to have a couple of ventures himself before joining his father at the brewery in 1875 at the age of 26.

He would learn the brewery ropes as well as how to run a business from his father for 7 years. In 1882 he took over the reins of the company. It was a position he would remain dedicated to for the next 46 years!

In 1884 Edward, his wife Elizabeth (later Lady Holt) and their young family moved to ‘Woodthorpe’, a large Victorian house in Prestwich where they’d live the rest of their lives. Of course The Woodthorpe is still very much with us today, now converted into our beautiful flagship pub.

Between 1886 and the turn of the century, Edward Holt bought over 60 tied houses. These were mainly based across Salford and the Manchester area.

Trailblazer glass edward holt boardroom 2

The Expanding Brewery

Trailblazer glass edward holt brewery kegs

Thanks to the increase in pubs, beer production increased too – from 16,068 barrels in 1886 to 40,350 barrels in 1899. With more beer needed, it also meant an increase in workforce. The brewery went from 8 employees to 60 people in the early 1900s.

To meet capacity, the brewhouse was expanded, equipment was updated and a new wing was added to the building.

The 5 years between 1895 and 1900 is known as the brewers’ war between publicans and the brewing industry. The Holt brewery didn’t lose out.

Alongside many pub purchase, Edward purchased two smaller breweries in 1897. The first was the Bentley Brewery where the Coach & Horses at Prestwich is, and the second was the Crumpsall Brewery.

Edward Holt took the brewery from a modestly-sized company in the 1880s to a large, successful one in the 1920s. But he was more than just a brewery owner.

More than a businessman

Alongside all that was going on in the 1890s, Edward started a career in local government.

In 1890 he was first elected to the Manchester city council for the new Crumpsall Ward. His career in local government would continue  right up to his death in 1928.

He sat on five committees and worked his way up to Chairman of the Waterworks Committee. It was under his direction at which the Council acquired the Haweswater Estate.

Under Edward’s watch, the waterworks committee enlarged the existing Haweswater lake and linked it to a reservoir at Heaton Park via a 74.5 mile pipe. Sadly, he didn’t live to see the Haweswater Scheme completion.

Thanks to his sterling work he was made an Honorary Freeman of the City in 1916 and in the same year was made a baronet for his work on the Haweswater Scheme.

Sir Edward Holt was also made a CBE in 1920 and more recently in 2007 was named the ‘People’s Champion’ by the Manchester Evening News.

Trailblazer glass edward holt manchester

Lord Mayor of Manchester & Charity Work

Trailblazer glass edward holt brewery

In 1908 and 1909, Edward enjoyed the rare honour of being elected Lord Mayor of Manchester twice in a row.

In the summer of 1909, Edward Holt presided over the royal visit by King Edward VI.

Despite all of the achievements above, perhaps Sir Edward’s biggest success was his pivotal role in building up The Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute.

In the 1910s, scientists started to use radium as a new cancer treatment. It was early days however and funding was urgently needed. Edward Holt resolved to support the cause as best he could.

Holt set up the Manchester and District Radium Fund and acquired a small lab at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. The goal was to raise £25,000, of which Edward donated the first £2,000.

The Holts continued to fund the research centre and buy equipment. The early lab, which developed into a full cancer treatment Institute, joined forces with the Christie Hospital and co-relocated to a new premises in 1931.

In honour of the Holts involved, the new cancer treatment centre would be named The Christie Hospital and Holt Radium Institute.

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Trailblazer 1: Joseph Holt

The story about Joseph


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