History behind award-winning fiery ginger drink

Shirley PAVER wrote in to offer more information about the history of the ginger wine produced by the Gran Stead’s Ginger Co, after reading a story about the company in the Shoreham Herald (August 28).

Gran Stead with her husband in the early 1960s
Gran Stead with her husband in the early 1960s

Gran Stead’s Fiery Ginger, prepared by hand at Mile Oak Farm, Portslade, won an international gold award at the annual British Bottlers’ Institute competition last month.

Shirley said: “I thought you may like some history of Gran Stead, as I am her grand- daughter.

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“I started producing Gran Stead’s ginger wine in the early 1990s as a cottage business, using Gran’s recipe which she had used every Christmas when I was a child.

“Due to spinal surgery, I eventually sold the business to Mr Knox’s father as I could not continue producing it.

“Christiana Stead (née Bradwell) was born on March 2, 1898, in Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham, the youngest of four daughters and three sons.

“She married John George Stead, from Sunderland, in 1919. They eventually moved to Hartlepool, where they settled, and which is my home town.

“My mother, Ivy, was Gran’s second daughter. Gran died on February 5, 1983.

“Nobody knew where Gran’s recipe for the ginger wine came from, but she used to make a batch ready for Christmas and bottle it in the old-fashioned glass lemonade bottles with the rubber stoppers.

“She gave a bottle to each of her grown-up children, hence there was always a glass of it to be had at all the family Christmas festivities and, being non-alcoholic, all of us grandchildren were allowed to have some.

“I know she used to go to the chemist for the ingredients in the days when you could buy small amounts over the counter.

“However, it eventually became increasingly difficult to obtain the small amounts so Gran eventually stopped making it by the mid 1970s.

“I by no means intend to ‘steal the thunder’ from the Knox family, but I wanted to set the record straight, as it states in your article that ‘Granny’ made it in the 19th century.”