Thomas and Susan Robinson nee Stephenson
Seaview Cemetery Block 10, Plot 184
Robinson Bros in Main Road Stoke was originally an export orchard set up in 1910 by Thomas Robinson.
Thomas was born in Clough, Northern Ireland in 1845 and sailed to New Zealand in 1873. He spent thirty years working in the North Island then moved to Nelson in 1910, where he bought an orchard in Main Road, Stoke.
Thomas was 65 years old by that time, however he developed the land and planted several varieties of apples and pears for export and local use. In 1916 he married Susan Stephenson [or Stevenson as recorded on the DIA births marriages and deaths website] and at the age of 71 he started a family. They had four children - the youngest child (Thomas junior) was born when his father was nearly 80. Thomas Robinson died on 19 September 1936 at the age of 91 and is buried in Seaview Cemetery, Stoke.
Susan Robinson carried on the management of the orchard, which she had named Ardilea (Ardelea) after her hometown in Ireland. Later on, two of the sons, Robert and Thomas took over the formation of the company Robinson Bros. and continued growing apples and pears. Several popular varieties were grown for export and local supply.
Thomas’s sons introduced apple wines in 1947 and apple juice in 1954. Later cider and fruit liqueur were added to the production lines. A wine seller’s license was added to the property in 1958 allowing them to sell New Zealand made grape wines, sherries and ports.
By 1978 Thomas Robinson and his son Colin were well-known for their preservative-free fruit juices, table wines and ciders. In 1984 the father Thomas retired and his son went into a three way partnership with Brian Hirst and Tony Smith, which involved Robinsons Bros merging with Tasman Bay Fruit Juices and Kiwi Juice NZ. By this time the company had been producing apples for 70 years and wines and juices for 40 years.
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