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Company History

C&C History

C&C Group plc, formerly “Cantrell & Cochrane Limited”

C&C Group plc, formerly “Cantrell & Cochrane Limited”

Thomas Joseph Cantrell (1827–1909) was born in Dublin in 1827. Once qualified as a medical practitioner, he became a principal assistant at Grattan & Co, a Belfast firm of chemists. Grattan & Co also manufactured soft drinks. Historians widely credit Dr. Cantrell as the first inventor of ‘ginger-ale’, proudly claiming the rights by embossing the slogan “The Original Makers of Ginger Ale” on its bottles.


In 1852 Cantrell left Grattan & Co to establish his own chemist business with James Dyas at 22 Castle Place, Belfast. There Cantrell & Dyas also manufactured mineral waters, ginger ale, lemonade and soda water.


In 1859 James Dyas left the partnership but Cantrell continued to trade as “TJ Cantrell”.


Cantrell advertised widely during the 1860s and had established depots in Dublin, Liverpool and Glasgow by 1862.


In 1863, with increasing demand, TJ Cantrell relocated to 25 Bank Street, Belfast, a former brewery, with export of Cantrell’s famous ginger ale to the US commencing in 1866.


In 1868, TJ Cantrell merged with the soft drinks business of Henry Cochrane (1836 – 1904) of Dublin, establishing “Cantrell & Cochrane Limited”. The Hibernian Mineral Water Company at Nassau Place, Dublin was also acquired.


In 1877 Cantrell & Cochrane successfully trademarked the “Club Soda” name in Britain and Ireland.


While Cantrell retired in 1883, leaving Cochrane as the sole partner, the Cantrell & Cochrane name was retained.


According to the Belfast Morning News, by 1884 Cantrell & Cochrane was the “largest soft drink manufacturer in the world”.


By 1885 the Dublin works employed approximately 500 people, with an annual production capacity of c. 30 million bottles. The city and suburban trade employed sixteen two-horse vans. The Belfast factory was of a similar size and capacity.


Cantrell & Cochrane became a private limited liability company in 1898 and the company was awarded a Royal Warrant by the King of Great Britain in 1901.


By the time Henry Cochrane died in 1904, Cantrell & Cochrane was one of the largest Irish exporters. He was succeeded as chairman by his son, Ernest Cecil Cochrane (1874 – 1952).


In 1925 Cantrell & Cochrane was sold to E&J Burke, bottlers of Guinness in America. At this time Ernest Cecil Cochrane also stepped down as Chairman.


By 1930 Cantrell & Cochrane had a capital of £200,000, however the end of Prohibition in the United States impacted Cantrell & Cochrane’s export trade.


In 1935, local man William Magner begins commercial cider production in Clonmel, South Tipperary, Ireland. Magner quickly established a successful cidery in Dowd’s Lane, Clonmel.