In South Shropshire, the words Wood, Food and Drink have been linked for generations by the Wood family.
The Wood Brewery was founded by beer-loving Anthony Wood, his brother Edward (the present MD) and their father Basil. They were early players in the real ale revolution that revived the flagging fortunes of traditionally brewed beers as they faced the tidal wave of gas-pumped keg beers appearing in pubs nationwide.
Before that, in 1968, the Wood family actually bought Wistanstow’s sole pub, The Plough, from the Wrekin Brewery to ensure they could continue to enjoy real beer on their doorstep in the village. They started the brewery in The Plough’s outbuildings and it is still there now, but in greatly enlarged form to cope with the growing popularity of Wood’s beers. The Plough itself is the brewery tap and is also a great place to eat!
Food for thought
The family’s association with Food goes back much further. As early as 1881, Edward and Anthony’s great grandfather, Charles Wood, was rearing poultry in Horderley, a couple of miles from Wistanstow. From a game and poultry dealing business in that hamlet, their grandfather and grandmother, John Percy and Jane Wood developed bustling JP Wood & Sons poultry shops in Craven Arms, Ludlow and other local centres.
After World War Two and through the 1950s and 1960s, John and Jane’s sons Basil, Charlie, Jim and Wilmot Wood took the poultry industry to a whole new level, in the process turning chicken from a luxury food to an everyday affordable item for all of us. They founded the giant poultry-production company Chukie Chicken which was based at The Grove, between Wistanstow and Craven Arms and which in its 1960s heyday provided jobs for 1,400 workers.
When Chukie was bought out by Unilever, it paved the way for Basil to think how else he could spend his time. The answer that he, Anthony and Edward, came up with was brewing real ale….