Nottingham has a heritage in brewing dating back to the middle ages. Drinking water was known to be so bad that most Monasteries and the aristocracy brewed and drank beer instead. The brewing process sterilised the beers rendering it safe to drink and the alcohol made it pretty enjoyable. The most famous venue for Nottingham’s brewing heritage was at the base of the rocks of Nottingham Castle, where the caves provided perfect cooling cellars for fermentation and storage. The mineral properties of the Nottingham’s water made its beers iconic, and their reputation spread through pubs, restaurants, folk songs and ballads.
When James Shipstone started brewing in 1852 he knew he had a strong reputation to uphold. Brewing in the beginning for him & his friends consumption, his beers soon became known for being the best and he had to take on 3 men to keep up with the demand.
He was an innovator, a man of courage and loved adventure. His ambition soon led to expansion and his application of science developed the business and the industry. The extensive scientific research led to faster production times and larger scale brew batches. This enabled faster than normal growth of the business while keeping his eye on maintaining his reputation for being the best brewery in Nottingham.
Behind the original Horse & Groom pub on Radford Road, Basford is where he developed maltings, brew houses, fermenting rooms, racking rooms and a coopers yard. The pub was then moved to its existing location to make way for the Star Brewery. Offices were built and for nearly 30 years James was at the helm. He conceived, planned, perfected and completed all the early stages of the enterprise until 1880 when his eldest son James Shipstone was taken into partnership.
Four years on another son Thomas joined the business and the firm became James Shipstones and Sons. Under the leadership of the family the business grew and grew and became incorporated into a limited company in 1891.
When the founder died in 1897 James Jr. became chairman. He and his brothers continued his fathers legacy by developing the business even further, expanding the brewery and its other facilities and buying other businesses.
War broke out in 1914 and like many brewers the Shipstone horses were send off to war along with other members of the Shipstone family many of whom were sadly lost. James and Thomas continued the business through the war until James died in 1922 and Thomas became chairman.
Sir Thomas and his two nephews Ronald and James again expanded the brewing with intuitive purchases of Beeston Brewery, Georgel Hooley Ltd and many pubs and off licences.
In 1940 after a lifetime devoted to the business and to Nottingham, Sir Thomas passed away and James Henry and Ronald became the managing directors. The untimely death of Ronald only four years later meant that the third James Shipstone was now at the helm.
After the war the brewery went through a massive development and refurbishment, and after 100 years James Shipstone III handed over the business to his son, the fourth James Shipstone.