Lives Remembered

Coca Cola pioneer Terence Robinson was industry leader

Terence Robinson was a driving force in the growth of the Coca-Cola bottling business in Northern Ireland

Terence Robinson was still a young man when his father Tom wrote a letter to the Coca-Cola company in London expressing an interest in producing the drink in Northern Ireland.

As the first bottles were being sold for four pence each by the new Ulster Iced Drinks Company at Rumford Street, off Belfast’s Shankill Road, Terence was serving during World War II in North Africa and the Mediterranean.

A member of the Royal Naval Reserve, the west Belfast man once jumped into icy water to save the life of a ship’s cook who had fallen overboard. He was decorated for bravery.

On returning to Belfast, Terence said he "first started selling Coca-Cola to hotels around Belfast from the back of an icebox-fitted moped during the 1940s".

Over the years he would be a driving force in the company's growth, becoming managing director in 1960 and serving as chairman of Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) from 1972 to 1987.

Having started with four employees and one brand, the business now employs 850 people and sells a range of soft drinks from an all-Ireland bottling plant in Lisburn.

During celebrations for his 90th birthday, Terence said he was a firm believer in the saying, "If you want your dreams to come true, don't oversleep."

Matthieu Seguin, general manager of Coca-Cola HBC Ireland & Northern Ireland, said everyone would miss 'Mr Robinson'.

"Terence will be fondly remembered for his gentlemanly manner, wise words and great sense of humour and I know he is held in great affection and regard for his achievements by all those who worked with him.

"Up until a few months ago, Terence still made regular visits to Coca-Cola’s Lisburn site and enjoyed catching up with colleagues and keeping up to date with business developments."

Terence Robinson died aged 98 on August 12 and is survived by his wife Phyllis and children Tim, Bobi and Linda.

Lives Remembered