Umbro and the history of The Bulls Head

The history of Umbro starts with the history of one man: Harold Charles Humphreys. Born in Mobberley, Cheshire on 31st January 1902, Harold grew up with his father, a decorator from Lancashire, and his mother Minnie, who was originally from Staffordshire. The family ran a small shop and off-licence, and then later a local hotel.

Growing up, Harold was restless and always getting into trouble. He left school aged just 13¾ for his first job at a textile firm in Manchester, where his first task was to dust and polish the bannisters on a staircase seven-stories high.

A tenacious lad, he worked his way up faster than most, trimming bolts of fabric down to fine–tipped gloves and then working his way up to the haberdashery department. There, he developed an appreciation for the details, quality and craftsmanship of fine tailoring. However, as a depression hit Britain and he was out of work for about a week. This short bout of unemployment made such an impression on him that he vowed “never to be out of work again”.

He soon landed at a small sportswear company called “Messrs. Bucks”, who would later go on to become his chief competitor. At the company, he worked as a travelling salesman, but soon grew weary of this life. Seeing no chance of advancement, he decided to start a small sportwear retail business of his own.

At this period, his parents were running the “Bull’s Head Hotel” in Mobberley, and so his mother gave him a small cupboard in which he could keep stock. His initial stock was £5-£10 worth of sports clothing.

deedsHarold had always had an interest in sport and business, right from the time he had earned pocked money as a golf caddy – earning 7 old pence a day with 3 pence extra for lunch if the player was in a generous mood – and so it was natural extension to move into the sportwear business.

At this time of post-war Britain was going through a difficult and unhappy period, suffering from a Depression and general strikes. Sport though was growing, becoming a popular pastime through which people could have fun and forget their worries. And so there was a steady demand for sports clothing, and Harold’s small enterprise grew. He started out with lady “out-workers” sewing shirts in their own homes in the evenings after the rest of the day’s work was done. In a good evening, each woman could produce 12 shirts.

In 1924, aged 22, Harold decided that he should go into the wholesale market. He teamed up with his brother, Wallace Humphreys, and registered a company under the name ‘Humphreys Brothers Limited’ on the 23rd May. The clothes they produced were labelled with ‘Umbro’, a trade name using the letters from Humphreys Brothers.

By this time, he had outgrown the cupboard in the hotel, and so an 18 square foot old washhouse next to a cobbler’s shop in Wilmslow was rented out as a place to hold stock.

This hard work seemed to pay off. By the time Harold died, Umbro was a big business, with multiple factories producing sportswear that was sold and worn the world over. Upon his death, the company retained a family connection, as Harold’s son, John Humphreys, was its Managing Director.

We believe our pub dates from 1812. What else happened in 1812?

America declared war on Great Britain (thats why we don’t do Budweiser!)

Prime Minister Spencer Perceval was assassinated by John Billingham in the lobby of the House of Commons!

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia begins he reaches the Kremlin on 15th September and then by 19th october retreats from Moscow.

The United States invade Canada!

The year 1812 was made famous by Tchaikovsky and his 1812 Overture written in 1880 to celebrate the Russians defence of Moscow against Napoleon’s ‘Grande Armee’.

Spookily the day after we opened may 30th was the day Napoleon was exiled to Elba (in 1814)!

The Bulls Head re-opened on Saturday may 29th 2010. On this day in 1630 King Charles II was born and the second most popular pub name (after The Red Lion) is The Royal Oak a tree in which he hid from the Roundheads.


Last year we were given a postcard which showed a family sitting in front of Bulls Head Rose Garden in the 1920’s. In celebration of Mobberley’s annual Rose Queen Festival, an event which started in 1922, it was decided that the Rose Garden should be lovingly restored. In 2014 we revealed the 21st Century version of the garden which was restored by Rick and Paul. During the spring and summer the Rose Garden will continue to bloom and develop. We look forward to seeing many more family pictures in front of our beautiful roses.