Aston Manor Cider

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Aston Manor Cider (also Aston Manor and formerly Aston Manor Brewery) is a former brewery and current bottling company in Aston, Birmingham, England. Having been started as a beer brewery, the company now produces exclusively cider and perry. In 2008 it was the third largest cider company in the UK by market share, and the fourth largest in the world.[1]


It was managed by Peter Ellis, son of Doug Ellis,[2][3][4][5] until 2013, when Gordon Johncox took over as managing director from Peter Ellis[6], who was executive chairman until his death in December 2017[7]. Peter's son, James Ellis, is Financial Director[8]. Cider Production Director is Rod Clifford[9] whose name is used by Tesco to market a number of its cider products.


Its products include the Frosty Jack's brand of white cider,[10] Kingstone Press Cider, Friels First Press Vintage[11] and Hop Infused Cider[12] Knights Malvern Gold[13], Crumpton Oaks[14] and 3 Hammers.[15]


The company was formed in 1981 by four ex-employees of Ansells, after Ansells closed its Aston Cross brewery. A new brewery was opened in the nearby Thimble Mill Lane (at 52°29′56″N 1°52′22″W / 52.4989°N 1.8728°W / 52.4989; -1.8728Coordinates: 52°29′56″N 1°52′22″W / 52.4989°N 1.8728°W / 52.4989; -1.8728). In 1984, Herefordshire hop farmer Michael Hancocks, one of the company's suppliers, bought into the business. By 1998, Aston Manor was reporting profits of over £1million, with 70% of its sales being cider. Because of a slump in the market and strong competition, by 2001 profits had fallen to £740,500,[3][5][16] but by 2009 had risen to over £3 million, due to a large rise in demand in the UK.[17] In 2009 the company took over the Devon Cider Company, based in Tiverton, Devon and has expanded the manufacturing facilities on that site.[15]

Industrial sabotage plot[edit]

In 2001, Michael Hancocks, then managing director[18] and a major shareholder with 12% of the shares, and whose family owned 44% of Aston Manor, organized a conspiracy to contaminate the cider products of the company's rival, H. P. Bulmer. He recruited a former Aston Manor employee, chemist Richard Gay, to produce a yeast that he planned to introduce into Bulmer's production line, recruited his daughter's partner, Paul Harris, to transport the contaminant, and paid a Bulmer's employee, Russell Jordan, £16,000 to introduce the contaminant. Jordan did not introduce the contaminant, but reported the plot to Bulmers and to the police, and the plot was foiled. If the plot had succeeded, anyone drinking the contaminated cider would have suffered diarrhoea and nausea.[16][19][20][18] Following his conviction for conspiracy to defraud, Hancocks was jailed for 18 months[18] and dismissed from the board of Aston Manor.[21] He is no longer a shareholder.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dennis, Mike (2008-04-07). "Cider increases share of throat, but Magners lags". Nexus Business Media. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  2. ^ "Toasting success: Aston Manor raises a glass to First Quench deal". Birmingham Post. 2003-05-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Cider is rosy as Manor tastes record pounds 1m profit". Birmingham Post. 1998-08-03. 
  4. ^ Ned Halley (2005). The Wordsworth Dictionary of Drink. Wordsworth Editions. p. 239. ISBN 1840223022. 
  5. ^ a b Philip Williams (2003-04-17). "Aston Manor showed rivals it had the bottle". Birmingham Post. 
  6. ^ "Aston manor raises a glass to new MD". Insider Media Limited. 
  7. ^ "Peter Douglas ELLIS's Obituary on The Times". The Times. Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  8. ^ Emma, Wilson,. "Interview: James Ellis, Aston Manor". Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  9. ^ Steven Morris. "Apple growers face grim harvest with worst yield for 15 years | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-06-06. 
  10. ^ Dennis, Mike (2008-05-19). "Frosty Jacks ramps up comedy sponsorships". Nexus Business Media. Archived from the original on 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2008-08-31. 
  11. ^ Day, Record Store. "Record Store Day UK Launch official Cider with Friels First Press Vintage - Record Store Day". Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Hop Infused - Friels Cider". Friels Cider. Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  13. ^ "World Class Cider from Knights | The National Association of Cider Makers". Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  14. ^ "Crumpton Oaks". Aston Manor Brewery - From Orchard to Glass. Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
  15. ^ a b "£8m rescue cider firm set to invest further £4m in Westcountry plant". This is Devon. 8 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-24. 
  16. ^ a b "Bad apple brewed cider plot". BBC News. BBC. 2003-08-07. 
  17. ^ "Sales soar by almost half at family firm Aston Manor". The Birmingham Post (England). 13 October 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-24.   – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  18. ^ a b c "Jailed brewer's appeal dismissed". BBC News. BBC. 2003-12-18. 
  19. ^ "Cider rival's contamination plot". BBC News. BBC. 2003-04-16. 
  20. ^ "Plot to poison Bulmers cider". Beverage Daily. Decision News Media SAS. 2003-04-22. 
  21. ^ "Michael Hancocks was suspended as managing director of Aston". Publican's Morning Advertiser. 2003-04-24. Archived from the original on 2015-01-26. 

External links[edit]