Gilbeys, Wine and Horses: A Biography

Hardback
With a father who ran both an inn and one of the last horse-drawn coach runs, driven into the ground by the new-fangled railways, it was perhaps inevitable that Walter and Albert Gilbey should combine a trade in drink with an interest in horses. Seeing a potential for popular-priced wines, and using inventive marketing and pricing strategies, the Gilbeys came to dominate the British trade in wine and spirits, grasping the opportunity to turn the beer-drinking British populace into wine-drinkers. Theirs became one of the best known names in the imbibing world; yet they never forgot their roots among the stables. The first Sir Walter Gilbey was the driving force behind the establishment of the family firm, and a great character in his own right. Standing out from his staid Victorian family and friends, he became one of the most adored of entrepreneurs, with thousands celebrating his eightieth birthday and the national press reporting on his health. A friend of the Prince of Wales, through whose influence he was made a baronet, he was instrumental in founding the Shire Horse Society and in creating many of the other structures within which the horse world still operates. With such a father, Henry Walter had much to live up to. In business he found it difficult, but in his very public private life he showed himself a worthy successor. His colourful comments on correct horse-riding dress in Rotten Row were reported not only in Britain but from New York to Calcutta and from South Africa to Japan. His son, Walter Anthony, continued the tradition, but found himself involved at work in the series of take-over battles that resulted finally in the departure of the last family members from the Board. As well as being full of insight into business history in this century and the last, this book will please lovers of horses; of Victorian and Edwardian characters; and of a glass of Gilbey's gin. The present Walter Gilbey, in the best traditions of his father and grandfather, has stipulated that royalties from the sale of this book will go to the British Horse Foundation, the Dressage Supporters Group, the London Harness Horse Parade and the Gilbey Archive.