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John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff

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PeterB
Mount Nod
1 of 9  Wed 19th Jan 2022 3:59pm  

On 19th Jan 2022 2:47pm, NeilsYard said: Does anyone know much about the Spring Estate in Kenilworth? My dad was evacuated to Kenilworth and I've always wondered about it, given there are quite a few references to it around Upper Spring Lane/Crackley Woods etc. Is it a private estate?
On 19th Jan 2022 3:00, Midland Red said: Does this help?
From the Kenilworth Local Plan "The Spring, Upper Spring Lane. Built in 1870 for Alexander Carter whose father had made his money in the Coventry textile industry. In the 20th century, it was the home of Jack Martin of Smirnoff vodka and Jack Daniels bourbon fame. His sister Helen Martin, who also lived at The Spring made large bequests to the University of Warwick and donated Parliament Piece to the Open Spaces Society. Like Crackley Hall, The Spring is an example of a 19th-century industrialist's residence. It has fine landscaped gardens noted for their azaleas and rhododendrons. There used to be several large houses of this type in Kenilworth. Nearly all of them have been demolished" I've never thought of Smirnoff or Jack Daniels as being local. A good excuse to reassess them! Cheers
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
NeilsYard
Coventry
2 of 9  Wed 19th Jan 2022 4:18pm  

Well you learn something new every day - another Famous Coventrian then! Thanks all. No other British university has been fortunate enough to retain a relationship with a private philanthropic foundation over such an extended period. In 35 years, Warwick has received the equivalent of £19m at this year's prices. And all because of Jack Martin, the man who invented such hindrances to clear-headed thinking as the the Bloody Mary, the Screwdriver, the Moscow Mule and the Black Russian cocktail. Martin's sister, Helen, set up a charitable trust to spend some of the fortune that Jack built. Born in Coventry, he moved to the United States in 1927 and, 12 years later, bought the rights to Smirnoff Vodka for $14,000. By the 1960s, when Warwick was founded, the company was selling 14m crates worldwide. Helen continued to live at the family home in Kenilworth, a mile or two across the fields from Warwick University, until she died in 1988. By that time, her trust had given away many millions, not only to the university but also to a number of local and national charities. She was an unmarried woman who loved pedigree poodles and classical music.
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
NeilsYard
Coventry
3 of 9  Wed 19th Jan 2022 4:20pm  

And from the New York Times, May 31st 1986. “John G. Martin, the man who made vodka popular in the United States, died Thursday at his home in Naples, Fla. He was 80 years old. Mr. Martin was president of the Hartford-based Heublein Inc. in 1939 when it acquired, for $14,000, the rights to a struggling little liquor company named Smirnoff. At the time of the acquisition, Hueblein Inc. was a producer of foods, wines and bottled cocktails. It was the versatility of vodka - which has no color or smell - as a mixer that spurred sales. After World War II, the company promoted the Moscow Mule (ginger beer and vodka), followed by the Bloody Mary, screwdriver, bullshot (vodka and bouillon) and the ice pick (vodka and iced tea). Mr. Martin was chairman of Heublein from 1961 until 1982, when the company was acquired by R.J. Reynolds Industries and he retired. He was born in Coventry, England, and graduated from Cambridge University in 1927. Because his parents, Percy and Alice Heublein Martin, were Americans, he was given dual citizenship until he was 21 years old, when he chose to retain United States citizenshp. He served on the War Production Board in 1941 and in the Army from 1942 to 1946, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was decorated with the Bronze Star, the Legion of Merit and the French Croix de Guerre. He is survived by his wife, the former Jane Weeks, and a sister, Helen M. Martin of Spring Kennilworth, Warwickshire, England.”
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
lindatee2002
Virginia USA
4 of 9  Wed 19th Jan 2022 7:13pm  

What a guy! I like the fact that ginger beer was invented in Yorkshire so he introduced millions (trillions?) to that delicious drink. I'm sure a lot of you did as we did and tried to brew our own, sometimes with explosive results. Tasted ok, though.
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
NeilsYard
Coventry
5 of 9  Fri 11th Feb 2022 12:35pm  

Some footage relating to John Martin's Smirnoff story here. Nice to see the man himself. Shame it doesn't cover his full life story going back to his Coventry birth in 1905 but an amazing life by the sounds of it and good to see the man himself. I'm just surprised I'd never heard of him before and his life it seems isn't known at all here.
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
NeilsYard
Coventry
6 of 9  Fri 11th Feb 2022 1:42pm  

Mods, has to be worth an inclusion in the Famous Coventrians list, although we've only just discovered he was one of 'ours'!
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
Midland Red

7 of 9  Fri 11th Feb 2022 4:03pm  

Found him on ”Find a grave” website Thumbs up
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
Midland Red

8 of 9  Fri 11th Feb 2022 4:21pm  

On 11th Feb 2022 1:42pm, NeilsYard said: Mods, has to be worth an inclusion in the Famous Coventrians list, although we've only just discovered he was one of 'ours'!
Now added Thumbs up
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff
NeilsYard
Coventry
9 of 9  Wed 5th Jun 2024 5:13pm  

Some further info on Mr Martin and his family on this Warwick Uni Press Release - here (P6)
Coventry People - John Gilbert Martin - Smirnoff

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