Jennings Brewery was founded in the village of Lorton (situated between Keswick and Cockermouth) in 1828 by John Jennings (1783 – 1876), son of William Jennings (1751 – 1848) who was a Maltster by trade.
Some oral traditions claim the original brewery in Lorton was either at Scales or High Swinside. Certainly John Jennings (Snr.) lived and farmed at Scales. He also bought High Swinside in 1845, but more probably the brewery first operated in buildings near to the present Lorton Village Hall which was originally built as a malthouse
John’s son, John Jennings Junior (1813 – 1889) was certainly involved in his father’s business, but by 1851 John Junior’s business was described in the census as thread manufacturer.
The business had outgrown its home-brewed origins in Lorton and there was a need for a larger maltings and a building to house larger fermenting vessels. The nearest market town, Cockermouth, was the ideal base for expansion as it had a larger population with more opportunities to sell beer, and just as importantly the Castle Brewery site had an abundant supply of pure well water which has been used by the Castle as long ago as Norman times.
Between the move to Cockermouth in 1874 and 1881, both sites at Lorton and Cockermouth operated under one proprietorship. in 1881, control was divided with John Jennings Junior’s three sons assuming control of the Cockermouth site. Joseph Henry Jennings (1856 – 1899) became Head Brewer, Isaac Gaitskill Jennings (1852 – 1916) was Chairman and John Brown Jennings (1856 – 1896) was Vice Chairman.
In 1887 the brothers converted the concern into a limited company. At that time the business consisted of 3 maltings and 16 licensed outlets.
Many acquisitions of small breweries and public houses were made over the ensuing years. Four West Cumberland breweries were acquired in 1921 and Faulders Brewery of Keswick in 1926 Including a number of public houses.
There no longer exists any Jennings connection with the business. As the only independent brewer in Cumbria, 2005 saw the acquisition of Jennings Brewery by Marston’s PLC — a move which saw great benefits for the Cockermouth site. Plans were very quickly put in place to further invest in the brewery, which was very much linked to the potential volume growth of the beers.
Today, pure Lakeland water is still used for brewing, drawn from the brewery’s own well, and only the finest ingredients are added.
The real art is in the brewing itself, where the Head Brewer and his team use their years of experience and traditional brewing methods to create a range of superb Lakeland Ales.
The traditional values which the Jennings family instilled in the business are still respected, and combined with a modern day commercial approach, they have undoubtedly contributed to the success of Jennings ales today.
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