Tanners Timeline 1813-1978
The Tanners Story
Tanners is family-owned, family-run and resolutely independent. It is run by James Tanner, Chairman, who is the fourth generation of the family to work in the company. Take a step back in time to see where the story began...
William Pulling & Co
As wine merchants and distillers in Hereford, Pulling's dated from 1813 and have been in the present premises since 1917, but its origins date from 1760 when George Pulling, a Devon cider merchant, leased five 'cyderhouses' in Ledbury.
William Tanner, born in Shropshire in 1839, went to sea and sailed the world visiting places as far flung as Australia and Chile, returning as a ship's captain in 1872.
Thomas Southam & Sons
Thomas Southam & Son, founded at Wyle Cop in 1842 and having an excellent reputation as wine merchants, were taken over by Tanners in 1936. For some years the two businesses were run separately but, when Tanners' cellars were requisitioned during the war as air raid shelters, both businesses were amalgamated at Wyle Cop.
The large dimple in Clive Tanner's cheek was from being shot in WW1 by a German sniper at Ypres while helping a wounded comrade. He came back to Shrawardine, recuperated and went back out to the trenches, commanding a company of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry at the battle of Ypres and Arras! Clive joined the firm after WW1 and successfully built it up with Frank, making several acquisitions along the way...
The Old Brewery
In 1912, Frank & Clive Tanner acquired the Old Brewery at Welshpool, founded in 1860, which by then had ceased brewing beer. This premises on Brook Street served as our Welshpool depot and branch until 2001.
Thos. Whitefoot & Sons
Thos. Whitefoot & Sons dated back to 1825 and was acquired by Tanners in 1926 when the last Whitefoot emigrated to the US. It it now known as our Tanners branch in Bridgnorth.
Tanner & Southam
After Tanners and Thomas Southam & Sons amalgamated in 1936, the firm traded as Tanner & Southam until 1960, when the name Southam was dropped to eliminate the confusion with Southam's Brewery, then still trading.
Tanners bottled almost all the wines that were sold and laid them down to mature until ready for sale. For example we shipped Pipes of Port (112 gallons) from Oporto, whilst Butts of Sherry (108 gallons) and Hogsheads (54 gallons) came from Jerez.
Born 30th November 1938 in Shrewsbury, Richard Tanner joined Tanners in 1959, becoming Director in charge of wine, shipping, bottling and sales the following year. Richard was later Managing Director and Chairman of Tanners (and director of Merchant Vintners buying consortium), who built his family firm into one of the leading wine merchants in Britain and was described by The Times as: ‘One of the best wine buyers in Britain.’ Find out more about Richard Tanner
Many times IWC Welsh Wine Merchant of the Year, Platts was founded in 1964 and acquired by Tanners in 2005.
The Tanners Fleet
All deliveries used to be made from Shrewsbury before the warehouse was moved to Welshpool in 2001. The vans in this picture may look vintage now but were something to be proud of back in their time. Today, local deliveries are still made in Tanners vans but now that we deliver nationwide, we use a courier to send parcels further afield.
Claret & Burgundy
Up until 1976, casks of Claret & Burgundy rested for around three weeks in the Bottom Cellar before being bottled by hand. It was possible to bottle 4 Hogsheads per day. This cellar is prone to flooding and in a bad year (such as 1962 & 2000), the water can come above chest height. Needless to say once we moved our main stock holding to Welshpool, this was the first area to be cleared!
Merchant Vintners Company founded
Tanners is a member of a buying consortium through our part ownership of the Merchant Vintners Company. This 22-strong association of independent wine merchants was founded in 1965 and now has a combined annual turnover of over £400 million.
The Wine Centre
Up until the 1960s, respectable wine merchants had no bottles on show. Everything was ordered off a wine list. Indeed when Richard Tanner opened the first self-select off licence in Shrewsbury it was up town in Mardol and his father Clive insisted it was called 'The Wine Centre' to disassociate it from Tanners!
W. & H. E Tanner founded
William Tanner took his brother H. Edward into partnership and founded the firm of W. & H. E Tanner in Shrewsbury. Its cellars were those of the now demolished Victorian Market Hall; its offices were in Shoplatch.
James was born and bred in the wine trade. He accompanied his father on his first trip to Bordeaux at the age of four. After graduating from Bristol University in 1990, he worked for a couple of years on vintages around the world. This took him to Spain, France, Italy, and all around Australia and Chile. He then completed an MBA at London’s Imperial College before joining the family business as purchasing director in 1992.
Tanners Claret Label Design
Artist, V.J Gregson of Church Stretton was commissioned to design the label for our House Claret - we still use the same label to this day.