Director of Britain’s oldest brewery Shepherd Neame who fought to keep its independence and launched its bestselling Spitfire beer Robert Neame, who has died aged 85, helped safeguard the independence of Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewery. He was a director from 1957 until 2006 and steered it through the turbulence of the 1960s and 70s, when many family breweries were taken over by national groups keen to acquire more pubs to fill with keg beer and lager. Bobby, as he was known, joined the family business as marketing director in 1956. Shepherd Neame, founded in 1698 in Faversham in the heart of the Kent hop fields, enjoyed a good reputation for its beer, while its large estate of pubs was tempting bait for bigger brewers. In 1967 Shepherd Neame’s rival in Faversham, Fremlin’s, was bought by Whitbread. Bobby and his family were determined that their brewery would not suffer a similar fate.
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