Francis Showering - Obituary

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OBITUARY - MR Francis Showering by Ian Peaty

Francis Showering died on 5 September, 1995 at the grand age of 83. Known affectionately as “Uncle Francis”, he was instrumental in launching the world renowned “Babycham”, an entirely new product created at his beloved Shepton Mallett factory.

One of the four brothers who created the Showerings Ltd business producing cider and perry drinks, he was ultimately to be Chairman of the giant Allied Breweries Group of companies.

The family business in the Somerset town dates back to the 17th century, when the Showerings were hotel keepers with a small brewery behind the Ship Inn in Kilver Street. From this humble beginning developed the business of cider and perry products. One of their bottled beers was called “Golden Drops”, perhaps giving rise to later developments in cider and perry production.

Towering above the valley where the factory now is, was the stone viaduct which carried the old Somerset and Dorset Joint railway to the Town Station. Beneath this viaduct, now owned by the company, are the delightful gardens which visitors and employees can enjoy together. At the old goods station complete train loads of apples were brought to the factory in the autumn. Local farmers also brought their produce in by every conceivable type of transport, causing bedlam in the town. By 1959 the firm employed over 1,000 people and in February of that year the Showerings Ltd shares were floated on the Stock Exchange, making the brothers millionaires overnight.

The leaping Babycham model, based on the Chamois small deer, was in its time a classic and instantly recognisable form of advertisement for which Francis Showering was personally responsible. He led Showerings Ltd, Vine Products and Whiteways (SVPW) Division of the Allied Lyon’s Group whilst still retaining his interest and support in the town of Shepton Mallett. One of his interests was the collecting of antique books and artifacts connected with cider making and these are now housed in the Harvey’s Museum at Bristol.

On a personal note, I well recall passing him on a number of occasions in the lobby entrance of the old Allied House in St John’s Street, London, when he was courteous enough to say “Good Morning”. To us city workers he always appeared as a real Country Gent and I’m sure that many people in the trade will also remember him with similar respect. His Somerset accent belying his many great skills of marketing, finance and running a major corporation. Francis Showering’s most recent invention is “Straight 8”, a strong clear premium perry which was launched in October 1993 and is now sold by Brothers Drinks with Francis’ two great nephews, Matthew and Jonathan, as Operational Directors. His influence in the drinks industry is going to be with us for a great many years to come. A legend in his time.