Cobb & Co.

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Pale Ale
Letterhead 1948
Courtesy Rod Jones
Courtesy Rod Jones

Cobb & Co. (Brewers) Ltd, Margate Brewery, 27 King Street, Margate, Kent

Founded 1673. Private company registered July 1947. Acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in January 1968 with 40 public houses.

Brewery closed October 1968 and was demolished July 1971.

Cobbs newpaper article.jpg

Peter Moynihan writes:-

We all know that Cobb’s Margate Brewery was purchased by Whitbread in the late 1960s but this newspaper extract has it being offered for sale in the 1930s.

The court case referred to was a family dispute over the administration of the estate of the late Francis Marsden Cobb, who had died early in 1937 at the age of 91. Educated at Tonbridge School, F.M. Cobb had joined the family business in 1864 and acquired sole control about 1893, although he had taken no part in the business since 1927. He was a keen angler, championship shot, a noted horse breeder, hunted with the Thanet Harriers and participated fully in the administrative and social life of Margate. He also appears to have had another great interest in life. He married twice and fathered seven children by his first wife, and a further six by his second! And thereby hangs a tale, he left no Will!

Probate was granted to his widow, Agnes Elizabeth Cobb, and “other family members”. However, Agnes did not long outlive her husband, further complicating the issue; she died in October of the same year.

When the case opened in the Court of Chancery it was stated that the bulk of F.M. Cobb’s gross estate of £319,309 was tied up in the brewery which was valued for probate at £233,000 with a further £13,000 for “stock, etc”.

Rather frustratingly for us now, both parties asked that due to the embarrassment of discussing cold, hard cash in open court, that the case should be heard ‘in camera’, to which the judge agreed!

So why was the Margate Brewery not sold at this time? Well, the answer may lie in the date of the newspaper piece – September 2nd 1939. The following day war was declared on Germany and suddenly everybody had greater concern to think about. The lawyers were still trying to sell the concern in 1941. They offered it privately to Shepherd Neame Ltd, presumably because one of F.M. Cobb's daughters, Maud Kathleen Frances Cobb, had married Harry Sydney Neame in 1899. For whatever reason, Sheps did not take up the offer and finally Cobbs was registered as a private company, Cobb & Co. (Brewers) Ltd, in July 1947 under Francis Rupert Cobb.

Following closure of the brewery, Ian Nairn wrote in the Sunday Times;

"... one of the best Georgian breweries in England ... all gone; the beer absorbed into the Whitbread umbrella - which here seems more like a vacuum cleaner - the brewery demolished in 1970. No developer seems interested in the resulting hole."

Courtesy of Roy Denison

Images of the brewery: