Bubble market: William Gossage & Sons

William Gossage & Sons was the largest soap manufacturer in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world, by 1877.

Early life and Stoke Prior
William Gossage (1799 – 1877) was born in Lincolnshire. After serving an apprenticeship to his uncle in Chesterfield, Gossage commenced trade as a chemist and druggist at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.

William Gossage (1799-1877)

Gossage was appointed chemist to the Stoke Prior Salt and Alkaki Works in Worcestershire from 1830. Gossage sank a shaft that was to prove highly successful in pumping brine. He was eventually appointed a director and managing partner of the business.

Gossage commences the manufacture of soap in Widnes
Gossage established a soda-making plant at Widnes, Merseyside, from 1850. He also produced alkali from crushed limestone. He soon gave up soda-making, and commenced the smelting of copper, which was to prove successful.

Soap prices increased during the Crimean War (1853 – 56) due to inflated tallow prices. Gossage began to manufacture a low-cost alternative soap of similar quality using sodium silicate and palm oil from 1855.

Gossage introduced blue mottled soap from 1857. Mottled soap served no superior utilitarian function, but gave the soap the pleasant aesthetic appearance of marble.

William Gossage was considered a model employer, and was highly popular with his workforce. He employed 80 men by 1861.

The two sons and T S Timmis enter the business
Alfred Howard Gossage (1831 – 1904) and Frederick Herbert Gossage (1832 – 1907), sons of William Gossage, had entered the business as partners by 1861.

Thomas Sutton Timmis (1830 – 1910) joined the business from 1865, and became a partner.

Thomas Sutton Timmis (1830 – 1910) c.1892

A H Gossage retired in 1866.

William Gossage & Sons held a contract to produce dry soap for R S Hudson from 1869.

William Gossage & Sons was the second largest soap manufacturer in Britain by 1870.

William Gossage retired from business due to ill health from 1874.

Frederick Gossage and Thomas Timmis were to drive the business forward. Gossage had the technical expertise, and Timmis possessed a keen aptitude for finance.

William Gossage & Sons was the largest soap manufacturer in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world by 1877, with an output of no less than 500 tons a week.

William Gossage & Sons employed 500 men and 40 boys by 1881.

Over 200,000 tons of mottled soap were produced between 1862 and 1887.

William Gossage & Sons held a contract to produce Sunlight soap during the early days of Lever Brothers. Frederick Gossage was said to have taught William Lever how to make soap.

Gossage and Timmis converted the business into a private limited company, William Gossage & Sons, from 1894.

William Gossage & Sons produced 1,400 tons of soap a week by 1897, and was probably the second largest soap manufacturer in the world after Lever Brothers. The business focused on the overseas trade, and had a large market in China.

Frederick Gossage died with a net personalty of £709,396 in 1907.

Thomas Timmis died in 1910 with a net personalty valued at £643,247.

Thousands of tons of blue mottled soap were produced annually by 1911. William Gossage & Sons accounted for 57 percent of all soap exported from the United Kingdom, and held 33 percent of the foreign soap trade worldwide.

Acquisition by Brunner Mond
Brunner Mond, the largest chemical manufacturer in the world, acquired William Gossage & Sons and Joseph Crosfield & Sons of Warrington, a rival soap manufacturer, in 1911. Brunner Mond was a major supplier of raw material for the soap industry, and the merger was motivated by an intent to create a strong competitor against the increasingly dominant Lever Brothers.

The Widnes site covered about fourteen acres by 1914. About 1,500 people were employed. Exports were strong throughout the British Empire, and in the Far East.

Sale to Lever Brothers
Lever Brothers acquired William Gossage & Sons and Joseph Crosfield & Sons in 1919.

William Gossage & Sons employed around 1,300 people in 1928.

The Widnes site was closed in 1932, and production was transferred to Lever Brothers-controlled plants in Bromborough and Warrington.

William Gossage & Sons was merged with Joseph Watson & Sons, a Leeds soap manufacturer that was also controlled by Lever Brothers, to form Watson & Gossage from 1937.

The English patent: Holloway’s Pills

Hollway’s Pills and Ointment became the highest-selling medicines in the world.

Thomas Holloway establishes his patent medicine business
Thomas Holloway (1800 – 1883) was born at Devonport, the son of a baker. He was apprenticed to a chemist.

Thomas Holloway (1800 – 1883)

Holloway relocated to London from 1828. He established himself as a merchant on Liverpool Street from 1836. One client was a Felix Albinolo (1785 – 1872), the proprietor of Albinolo’s ointment, a patent medicine. The success of Albinolo’s product inspired Holloway to introduce an equivalent.

Holloway’s Family Ointment was introduced from 1837. Holloway’s Pills were launched two years later. Holloway was the first person to advertise medicines on a massive scale, and it was this that would cement the success of his products.

George E Barclay was granted the sole licence to manufacture the pills and ointment in the United States. Between 1857 and 1858 his sales totalled $250,000.

Holloway’s Pills and Ointment claimed the largest sales of any medicine in the world by 1862.

Thomas Holloway became a very wealthy man. He retired in 1873 and, as he was without issue, appointed his brother-in-law, Henry Driver (1830 – 1909) as manager of his business.

Thomas Holloway dedicated much of the rest of his life to charitable ventures; he established the Holloway Sanatorium at Virginia Water, Surrey at a cost of £250,000 in 1873. He later went on to found the Holloway College at a cost of £350,000.

Holloway College in 2015

Death of the founder and gradual decline of the business
Thomas Holloway died in 1883 with an estate valued at £550,000.

Sole control of the Thomas Holloway business was assumed by Henry Driver, who added the Holloway name to his own to become Henry Driver Holloway.

An analysis of Holloway’s Pills conducted for the British Medical Journal in 1903 found the product to consist of aloes, rhubarb, saffron, sodium sulphate decahydrate and pepper. The pills would have likely had a laxative effect. Holloway’s ointment was found to consist of turpentine, resin, olive oil, lard, wax and spermaceti.

Holloway’s Pills was registered as a company in 1929, with a modest capital of £5,000. Holloway’s Pills had lost considerable market share to Beecham’s Pills, as well as falling prey to an increased scepticism among the public regarding patent medicines.

Holloway’s Pills was acquired by Yeast-Vite Ltd, which itself came under the control of the Beecham Group in 1931.

Production of Holloway’s Pills and Ointment ended in 1951.

Oranges and lemons: Samuel Hanson & Son

Samuel Hanson & Son traded independently for over 200 years.

The early years of the business
Samuel Hanson established premises at 47 Botolph Lane in the City of London from 1747. The Hanson family are believed to have originated from Yorkshire.

Hanson principally dealt in the importation of oranges. He also traded in other similar items, such as lemons and imported dried fruits from the Mediterranean area.

Samuel Hanson’s son, also called Samuel Hanson (1744 – 1829), took control of the business from 1763. He continued the trade in oranges. The business remained modest yet profitable.

Samuel Hanson III
Samuel Hanson (1804 – 1882), grandson of the founder, became the senior partner from 1825. He was a dedicated Evangelical Christian.

Nathaniel Smith Machin (1775 – 1837) had joined the business by 1830. His daughter was married to Samuel Hanson in 1832.

Batger & Co, the sugar refining and confectionery business of Bishopsgate Street, London, was acquired in 1856. Frederick Machin, son of N S Machin, was appointed manager of Batger & Co.

Frederick Machin had assumed full control of Batger & Co by 1864.

Reginald Hanson (1840 – 1905) joined his father in the business from the 1860s.

Merger with Jones, Evison & Barter
Samuel Hanson & Sons merged with Jones, Evison & Barter, tea and coffee merchants of Borough, Southwark, to form Samuel Hanson, Son, Evison & Barter from 1871. Samuel Hanson took the opportunity to retire, and the business was operated by Reginald Hanson, Edward Evison (1833 – 1907) and Henry Barter (1831 – 1889).

A branded coffee, Red White & Blue, was introduced from 1872. It was to prove one of the most successful product lines.

The Botolph Lane premises were enlarged and refronted in 1882.

Samuel Hanson died in 1882. His personal estate was valued at over £134,000.

Edward Evison left the partnership in 1885, and the firm was continued by Reginald Hanson and Henry Barter under the name Samuel Hanson, Son & Barter. Reginald Hanson was the senior partner. The firm traded in fruits, tea, coffee, sugar, spices and wine.

Frederick George Ivey (1845 – 1914) was admitted into the partnership from around 1885.

Supported by able partners, Reginald Hanson was able to pursue outside interests. He served as Sheriff of London in 1881-82, and as Lord Mayor of London in 1886-87. He was knighted in 1882, and created a baronet in 1887.

Sir Reginald Hanson (1840 – 1905) in 1899

Henry Barter died in 1889 with a net personalty valued at £149,000.  Upon his death the name of the firm reverted to Samuel Hanson & Son. That year Thomas Cameron Tanner (1848 – 1930) became a partner.

Francis Stanhope Hanson (1868 – 1910), son of Sir Reginald Hanson, and his cousin, Percy Machin (born 1866), entered the firm as partners from 1899.

Sir Reginald Hanson died in 1905 with a gross estate valued at £495,416.

Edward Evison died in 1907 with an estate valued at £142,916.

Red, White & Blue was one of the most successful branded coffee products in Britain by 1907.

Francis Stanhope Hanson was knighted in 1909. He died the following year, and left a net personalty valued at £159,055. He was the last member of the Hanson family line to work for the business.

Hundreds of people were employed in 1914. The active partners were Frederick George Ivey, Thomas Cameron Tanner, Percy Machin and R C Tanner.

Frederick George Ivey died in 1914 and left an estate valued at £70,667. He left £40,000 for charitable causes and about £10,000 to Samuel Hanson & Son employees.

Noel Percy Machin (1898 – 1977) joined the firm in 1921. He became a partner from 1929.

Thomas Cameron Tanner died in 1930 with an estate valued at £191,094.

Samuel Hanson & Son is incorporated
Samuel Hanson & Son was incorporated as a private limited company in 1932. Noel Percy Machin was made joint-managing director.

Samuel Hanson & Son went public from 1935, with Percy Machin as chairman. The head office was located at the same site as 1747. Share capital amounted to £550,000.

The company had approximately 14,000 regular trade customers on its books. The business had never sustained an annual trading loss.

Samuel Hanson & Son began to import tinned salmon from British Colombia from around 1933. A large trade in tinned lobster from Newfoundland had already been established by this time.

A large canning factory was established at Toddington, Gloucestershire, from 1934.

Samuel Hanson & Son largely supplied the armed forces during the Second World War. Red White & Blue coffee production continued for the duration of the conflict.

Financial difficulties and acquisition by Cerebos
Samuel Hanson & Son entered into difficulties during the Second World War and in the post-war period. Owing to a national dollar shortage, the company was forced to end its £1 million a year trade in California canned fruits and in Alaskan and Canadian tinned salmon, with a consequential loss of around £100,000 a year in gross profit.

Following the Second World War Samuel Hanson & Son acquired Home Grown Chicory, a chicory processing plant at Lakenheath, Suffolk.

Samuel Hanson & Son employed 500 people by 1947.

Samuel Hanson & Son paid its last ever dividend in 1949. Despite its economic troubles, Samuel Hanson & Son maintained its reputation for good quality.

Samuel Hanson & Son had largely made the transition from importing foods to manufacturing finished products by 1951.

Samuel Hanson & Son was subject to a friendly takeover by Cerebos for £195,000 in cash in 1965. By this time Hanson was engaged in citrus processing, canning, chicory processing and wholesale distribution. Hanson also owned a South African subsidiary in Durban.

References
* The British Newspaper Archive
* The Times Digital Archive
* The Financial Times Digital Archive
* Hansons of Eastcheap by George Godwin (1947)

Andrews Liver Salts

Andrews Liver Salts became the highest-selling antacid product in the world.

Scott & Turner introduce Andrews Liver Salts
William Henry Scott (1860 – 1922) and William Murdoch Turner (1862 – 1932) were proprietors of a successful margarine wholesale business based at Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England.

W H Scott was a prominent Wesleyan Methodist. He was a well-liked man, and was held in a high regard by his workforce.

Scott & Turner began to manufacture Andrews Liver Salts, an antacid and stomach reliever, from 1895. The product was named after their office, located at St Andrew’s Buildings.

W M Turner entered into retirement from 1907. Andrews Liver Salts had an annual sale of over two million tins by this time.

Sales of Andrews Liver Salts continued to grow, and the Gallowgate works were repeatedly expanded to accommodate increased production.

Scott & Turner advertised Andrews Liver Salts as the highest-selling antacid in the United Kingdom by 1922. Around 300 people were employed by this time.

W H Scott continued to act as chairman of Scott & Turner until his death in 1922.

Sterling Drug acquires Scott & Turner
Scott & Turner was acquired by Sterling Drug of the United States in 1923.

Andrews Liver Salts were introduced to the Canadian market from 1924.

Andrews Liver Salts were advertised as the highest-selling antacid in the world from 1926.

Staff hours were reduced to five days a week, with no reduction in pay from 1935. A total of 350 to 450 people were employed.

There were around 500 employees by 1944.

A new factory at Fawdon, Newcastle was opened in 1949 in order to meet rapidly growing demand overseas for Liver Salts. 27 percent of Liver Salt production was exported. The Gallowgate site was divested.

Export sales of Liver Salts ran at about £1 million a year by 1952.

Scott & Turner rebuilt the Fawdon site in 1956. The new factory was thoroughly modern, with utmost standards of cleanliness and high levels of automation.

Sterling Drug merged Scott & Turner with another subsidiary, Charles H Phillips Chemical Co, manufacturers of Milk of Magnesia, to form Phillips, Scott & Turner in 1960. The head office was at Acton Vale, London, and the northern sales office was based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Andrews was the clear market leader in stomach remedies in the UK as late as 1978.

Andrews Liver Salts contained sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and magnesium sulphate as of 1993.

Recent ownership and closure of the Fawdon site
Sterling Healthcare was acquired by SmithKline Beecham in 1994.

About 700 people were employed at the Fawdon plant in 1994.

SmithKline Beecham merged with GlaxoWellcome in 2000 to form GlaxoSmithKline.

Andrews Liver Salts was the fourth highest-selling indigestion remedy in the UK in 2011, behind Gaviscon, Rennie and Remegel.

The Fawdon site was closed in 2015.

Andrews Liver Salts are still sold in the UK as of 2020, and are manufactured in Spain.

Notes on the Carlsberg UK merger with Marston’s

Some initial thoughts on the merger of the businesses of Carlsberg UK and the Marston’s Beer Company.

On 22 May 2020 it was announced that Carlsberg UK will merge with the brewing arm of Marston’s. Carlsberg will control 60 percent of the equity in the venture and Marston’s will hold the remainder.

The Twittersphere seems to believe that this is a “classic case” of “Big Beer” exercising control over the British brewing industry. Perhaps it is, but I would characterise it as more of an act of desperation on the part of Carlsberg. Not only will Marston’s continue to hold a large minority stake in the business, but they will receive a one off cash payment of £273 million.

As things stood, Carlsberg UK was undoubtedly in a position of weakness. Despite a major rebrand and overhaul of its recipe, Carlsberg lager remains stuck at third place in the standard lager market, behind Carling and Foster’s. Their only powerful brand in the premium lager market is San Miguel, which admittedly has enjoyed somewhat of a surge in popularity in recent years.

Other than the licence to brew Brooklyn Brewery products, Carlsberg’s most noticeable commitment to craft beer consisted of closing down their Leeds site, the largest cask ale brewery in the world, in 2008. The tie-up with Marston’s effectively reverses this decision, buying into a business that operates six breweries, largely producing cask ale.

Furthermore, the Marston’s tie-up represents a reversal of strategy for Carlsberg. They closed their own distribution network in 2016. Now, four years later, having access to the Marston’s distribution network is an appeal for them.

I honestly wish the venture success. I believe that both businesses are stronger together. Carlsberg has neglected its Tetley cask ale brand, which was the largest in the world as late as the mid-1990s, whereas Marston’s has nurtured and heavily invested in its own. Meanwhile Marston’s lacks strong lager brands, which Carlsberg provides.

Craven A cigarette: a history of Carreras

Carreras became the second largest cigarette manufacturer in Britain. The business made its owner, Bernhard Baron, one of the richest men in the world. Carreras introduced the Craven A cigarette brand, which is still sold across the world.

Jose Joaquin de Carreras
Jose Joaquin de Carreras (1824 – 1887) was the son of a Spanish nobleman who had claimed political asylum in Britain. Carreras had established a tobacconist business at 61 Princes Street, later renamed 7 Wardour Street, near Leicester Square, London, by 1853.

Carreras catered towards an affluent market, including George Craven, 3rd Earl of Craven (1841 – 1883), for whom he created a personalised tobacco blend in the early 1860s. The reputation of the product grew through the Earl’s social circle, and it was packaged in tins and sold to the wider public as Craven’s Mixture from 1867.

William Johnston Yapp
William Johnston Yapp (1861 – 1946) acquired the Carreras tobacconist shop for £3,525 in 1896.

The business was to prove successful under Yapp, although he would later claim that he simply got lucky. Business practices were certainly lax by the standards of today, and no financial accounts were kept.

Carreras continued to supply the quality upper-class market. It was a relatively small, though well-regarded business. The “Arcadia” tobacco that J M Barrie praises in My Lady Nicotine (1890) was later revealed by the Peter Pan author to be a placeholder name for Craven’s Mixture.

Bernhard Baron
Bernhard Baron (1850 – 1929) was born to a poor French Jewish family in Brest-Litovsk, now part of Belarus, but then a part of the Russian Empire. When he was a child the family relocated to Rostov-on-Don in Southern Russia. His father was keen for him to avoid military conscription, so the family emigrated to Maryland, United States, in 1866.

Baron worked in a tobacconist’s shop, then a cigar factory. He had established Baron & Co, cigar manufacturers, on Pratt Street, Baltimore by 1879.

An inventive man, Baron designed a cigarette manufacturing machine. After he failed to sell it successfully in the United States, he relocated to England in 1896. He sold the patent rights to John Player & Sons, and other manufacturers, and made £150,000.

Carreras becomes a public company
Yapp had previously approached Imperial Tobacco and the American Tobacco Company regarding a sale of Carreras, but his proposed price of £150,000 was regarded as too expensive.

Yapp registered Carreras as a public company with a capital of £200,000 in 1903. However control of the company largely remained in the hands of John Crowle (1841 – 1906), chairman, Baron, managing director, and Yapp.

Black Cat cigarettes were introduced from 1904.

Crowle died in 1906, and Baron took over as chairman and managing director. Baron struggled for his first five years with Carreras, but maintained his faith in extensive advertising.

From left to right: Louis B Baron; Bernhard Baron; Edward S Baron

Black Cat cigarettes had national distribution by 1908.

A large new factory was established on City Road, London, from 1910.

The Craven A cigarette, based on the Craven blend, had been introduced by 1914. It was to prove an immediate success. Carreras sales increased significantly during the First World War, and the factory had reached capacity by 1916.

The Baron cigarette manufacturing machinery was constantly improved. Baron claimed that Carreras had “the fastest, most efficient, and up-to-date cigarette-making machine in the world” by 1920.

Carreras became one of the first tobacco companies in Britain to package gift coupons with its cigarettes from the early 1920s.

The Carreras share price rose fourfold between 1922 and 1926. Half of production was exported by 1927.

Baron was notable for the exceptional treatment of his employees. He was quoted as saying, “My workpeople I regard as my children. I have only done what I think was right”.

Baron established a new factory in Mornington Crescent in 1928.It was perhaps the largest tobacco factory in the world, with nine acres of floorspace. It was the largest reinforced concrete building in Britain, as well as the largest factory in London, and boasted air-conditioning.

The former Carreras factory at Mornington Crescent (2016)

Baron established a charitable trust for hospitals in 1928 to which he donated £500,000. He gave away over £2 million across his lifetime, and was perhaps the most generous benefactor that Britain had known at the time.

Carreras was the second-largest cigarette manufacturer in Britain by 1928.

Bernhard Baron died in 1929 with an estate valued at £5 million. He was one of the richest men in the world. He was succeeded by his son, Louis Bernhard Baron (1876 – 1934).

Louis Bernhard Baron (1876 – 1934) by William Orpen in 1926

John Sinclair Ltd was acquired in 1930.

Carreras employed 3,500 workers by 1931.

Advertising claimed that Craven A was the most widely smoked cork-tipped cigarette in the world by 1932.

Carreras held 14 percent of the British cigarette market in 1933. The company employed 4,000 people by 1934.

Louis Baron died in 1934, and he was succeeded as managing director by his nephew, Edward Samson Baron (1892 – 1962).

Yapp died in 1946 with an estate valued at £4.3 million. After making some bequests, he dedicated his fortune to charity.

Carreras acquired the valuable trademark rights to Alfred Dunhill cigarettes in the United Kingdom from 1952.

Acquisition by Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation
The end of quota controls in 1955 allowed Imperial Tobacco to increase its sales of Players cigarettes at the expense of Carreras’s Craven A and Dunhill brands. The Carreras share of the cigarette market had declined to just three percent by 1955.

In the face of steadily declining profits, Carreras was acquired by the Rembrandt Tobacco Corporation of South Africa, controlled by the dynamic Anton Rupert (1916 – 2006), for £1.3 million in 1958. Rembrandt merged the business with Rothmans, which it already controlled.

A 1927 advertisement for Craven A cigarettes

Edward S Baron retired as chairman and managing director of Carreras in 1958, but was retained as president and consultant.

Carreras Rothmans opened a new factory in Basildon, Essex, in 1959. The Mornington Crescent factory was unsuitable for modernisation, and was sold off and converted into offices.

Rupert was highly critical of the former Carreras management and board of directors. He suggested that brand sales had suffered due to “a lack of sufficient research, proper planning and packaging”. The company had not downsized its superstructure to reflect its declining sales. Much of the machinery was outdated.

Rupert outsourced some operations to lower costs, and decided to focus on the filtered cigarette market.

Edward S Baron, once reckoned one of the wealthiest tobacco manufacturers in Britain, died in 1962 with a net estate valued at just £20,549.

Carreras had captured six percent of the British filtered cigarette market by 1963. 90 percent of Carreras production for the British market was for filtered cigarettes. The Basildon factory produced half of all cigarettes exported from Britain.

A cigarette factory was opened in Jamaica in 1963.

A factory was opened in Northern Ireland in 1965, which doubled production capacity.

Carreras Rothmans profits increased fourfold between 1960 and 1966. Carreras Rothmans was the third largest tobacco manufacturer in Britain by 1967.

The company held the majority of the Jamaican cigarette market by 1972.

The Basildon factory was among the most modern in Europe by 1973 and employed 2,500 people. Carreras Rothmans accounted for 61 percent of all cigarettes exported from Britain.

A factory was opened in Darlington in 1977 to meet increasing export demands. The Spennymoor factory was opened in 1979.

Craven A cigarettes were produced in 17 factories in 14 countries by 1979. British-made Cravens were exported to a further 82 countries.

The Basildon site was closed with the loss of 1,200 jobs in 1984.

Carreras Rothmans was acquired by British American Tobacco in 1999.

As of 2020, Craven A cigarettes are still sold in various markets, including Jamaica, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The vat of the land: Beaufoy & Co

Beaufoy & Co was the largest vinegar brewer in Britain.

Mark Beaufoy establishes the business
Mark Beaufoy (1719 – 1782) was the son of a Quaker maltster from Evesham, Worcestershire. The Beaufoy family claimed Huguenot ancestry.

Mark Beaufoy was apprenticed to a gin distiller in Bristol. A guilty conscience ultimately convinced him to leave the business, and he re-trained in vinegar brewing in the Netherlands.

Mark Beaufoy (1719 – 1782), from a Thomas Gainsborough portrait

Beaufoy leased a vinegar brewery on the site of Cupar’s Gardens at Strand Bridge, London from 1740. The brewery itself had been established in 1730.

In an age before refrigeration, vinegar was a much more important commodity than it is today, due to its preservative effect on foodstuffs. Beaufoy soon secured contracts to supply the Admiralty with vinegar.

The Dutch vinegar brewers used the waste from their indigenous raisin wine industry to filter and flavour their vinegar. No such industry existed in Britain, so Beaufoy was forced to buy raisins in order to maintain true to the method. He steeped the raisins to extract their sugar and mucilage, and then used the remaining solids in vinegar manufacture.

After Dr John Fothergill (1712 – 1780), a Quaker physician, suggested that Beaufoy might make raisin wine with this juice, he became a leading producer of “British wine”.

Mark Beaufoy died in 1782. His brother, John Hanbury Beaufoy (1761 – 1836), took over management of the business. John H Beaufoy was a cultured and erudite man.

Henry Beaufoy era
Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy (1786 – 1851) became senior partner in the business when he came of age.

Beaufoy & Co was one of the largest manufacturers in Lambeth by 1810.

Henry Benjamin Hanbury Beaufoy (1786 – 1851) by Henry William Pickersgill in 1848

The Beaufoy & Co site was subject to compulsory purchase for £34,705 in order to build Waterloo Bridge in 1812.

The brewery was relocated to Caron Place on the South Lambeth Road. The site was chosen as it was the closest place with a plot of land large enough to accommodate the works.

Beaufoy & Co was the largest brewer of vinegar in Britain by 1832, with 15 percent of the market in Britain and Ireland.

Beaufoy & Co was the fourth largest producer of vinegar in Britain in 1844.

H B H Beaufoy developed one of the finest private libraries in England. A Shakespeare First Folio was acquired in 1851.

H B H Beaufoy was a charitable man; he founded six scholarships at the City of London School, at a cost of £10,000, and spent £14,000 to build a ragged school (school for the poor) in Lambeth in 1851.

H B H Beaufoy died in 1851, and his brother Colonel George Beaufoy (1796 – 1864) took over management of the vinegar brewery. By this time the Caron Place site occupied over ten acres.

Colonel George Beaufoy enjoyed an annual income of around £6,000 by 1852.

Mark Hanbury Beaufoy
Colonel George Beaufoy died in 1864 and left a personal estate valued at under £250,000.

Ownership of the brewery passed to his only son, Mark Hanbury Beaufoy (1854 – 1922), for whom it was placed in trust and managed by his uncle until he came of age.

Dr Samuel Johnson’s armchair was acquired for the library in 1859.

Owing to public preference for a darker vinegar, caramel was added to the product by 1865.

Mark H Beaufoy was a cultured and genial man. He soon effected changes after he took over the business. He scrapped overtime, which had resulted in poor quality control from overworked employees. Beaufoy increased employee wages in order to compensate for the loss of overtime earnings. He argued, “all the work I now paid was for good work; previously a large percentage of it was bad work”.

The business employed 125 men in 1881.

M H Beaufoy introduced the eight hour working day for his workforce from 1889. With a half day on Saturday, this created a 45 hour working week. The change was regarded as successful, and Beaufoy was well-regarded by his workforce.

Vinegar production amounted to 790,096 gallons in 1898.*

Pott & Co, vinegar brewer of Southwark, was acquired in 1902.

The library was relocated to the family country residence at Coombe House, Wiltshire, from 1909. Some of the library contents were auctioned off. The Shakespeare First Folio was auctioned off in 1912.

Mergers and consolidation
Beaufoy was the oldest surviving manufacturer of vinegar in Britain by 1919.

Mark Hanbury Beaufoy died in 1922, and left a net personalty of £54,474.

The vinegar industry suffered from falling prices and decreasing demand in the post-war period. Consolidation seemed a reasonable defensive measure.

Beaufoy & Co merged with Grimble & Co to form Beaufoy Grimble, a public company with a capital of £160,000 in 1928. The head office was at Caron Place, South Lambeth. George Maurice Beaufoy (1893 – 1941) was appointed managing director.

Crosse & Blackwell merged their vinegar interests, including Champion & Slee and Sarson, with Beaufoy Grimble and Distillers to form British Vinegars in 1932. Beaufoy Grimble held a 21 percent stake in the venture, and G M Beaufoy became chairman of British Vinegars.

George Maurice Beaufoy was killed in the Blitz in 1941. He left a net estate of £19,678. Beaufoy, who had married in 1940, had no children, and his only brother had died in 1925. His death ended the Beaufoy family association with vinegar.

Beaufoy Grimble & Co was based at Leith, Scotland by 1954.

The Beaufoy vinegar brand was phased out after around 1961.

The Beaufoy site was closed in the 1970s. The brewery building still stands, and has been converted into housing.

The Scottish business was closed in 1983, and all production transferred to British Vinegars plants in England.

Beaufoy Grimble was voluntarily wound-up in 1986.

Source
* ‘Beaufoys of Lambeth’, David Thomas and Hugh Marks, Greater London Industrial Archaeological Society (2014).

Taking the biscuit: a history of Peek Frean (Part II)

Peek Frean pioneered the modern British biscuit. The business introduced the Bourbon, Custard Cream, Marie and Garibaldi biscuit varieties.

You can read the first part of this history here.

Peek Frean becomes a limited company; introduces the mass-market biscuit
Peek Frean was registered as a limited company with a share capital of £500,000 in 1901. Peek Frean biscuits were distributed through 45,000 outlets.

Peek Frean held a Royal Warrant to supply biscuits to King Edward VII.

The shortbread-based Pat-A-Cake biscuit was launched in 1902. It was to prove a major success for the company as the first biscuit marketed at an affordable price. Sales in the first week totalled over twelve tons.

Arthur Carr (1855 – 1947) became chairman and managing director of Peek Frean from 1904. Carr massively increased the company’s advertising budget.

Nearly 400 million Pat-A-Cake biscuits weighing a total of 6.5 million lbs were sold in 1906. Annual sales for this single product line amounted to £160,000. As well as the Pat-A-Cake, 250 different varieties of biscuit were sold.

Peek Frean employed over 2,500 people by 1907.

Production of the long-established Pearl biscuit ended in 1907. The Bourbon, a cocoa-flavoured cream sandwich biscuit, was introduced in 1910.

Peek Freen's Family Circle biscuit assortment. The box likely dates from the 1980s
Peek Frean’s Family Circle biscuit assortment. The box likely dates from the 1980s.

Peek Frean was an enlightened employer for the period. Benefits included in-house medical and dentistry care (to which the company paid £3,000 a year in 1911), and a subsidised staff canteen. A third of company profits were spent on employee welfare by 1911.

A Bermondsey women’s strike in August 1911 saw 1,200 employees refuse to work. The strikers wanted higher pay and the abolition of short shifts. However Peek Frean management countered that strikers had intimidated non-striking staff and that their wages were higher than the Bermondsey average.

Peek Frean produced nearly 100 million shortbread biscuits in just three months in 1912. This was understood to constitute a record for the sale of biscuits.

Over 3,000 people were employed by 1912.

Peek Frean established the Meltis chocolate factory, with a staff of 130 people, in Bedford in 1913.

Peek Frean introduced the Custard Cream biscuit in 1913.

Sales doubled and profits almost quadrupled between 1900 and 1913.

Huntington Stone, a major shareholder, died in 1916 and left a gross estate valued at £239,580. He bequeathed around £200,000 to Christian missionary charities.

The Bermondsey site employed 4,000 people and covered six acres by 1917.

Peek Frean claimed that Pat-A-Cake was the most popular biscuit ever produced. As much as 75 tons, or ten million biscuits, could be produced in a single day by 1920. Other popular biscuit lines included the digestive, milk, petit beurre, thin arrowroot, Marie, ginger nuts and shortcake varieties.

Peek Frean merges with Huntley & Palmer
A high rate of income tax and death duties convinced the directors of Huntley & Palmers of Reading to accept Peek Frean’s invitation to merge in 1921. A holding company, Associated Biscuit Manufacturers, with a capital of £2.5 million, was formed.

Peek Frean acquired Britannia Biscuits of India, with a factory in Mumbai, in 1924.

Peek Frean had introduced Vita-Wheat, the first British wheat crispbread, by 1927.

Arthur Carr retired in 1927.

Twiglets, a savoury snack, were introduced in 1930.

Ellis Carr, a major shareholder, left a personal estate of over £1 million in 1930.

Peek Frean acquired the English subsidiary of Suchards of Switzerland, based at Bedford, in 1932.

Peek Frean had established an Australian subsidiary by 1934.

Peek Frean employed over 4,000 people across a twelve acre site by 1939. Over 300 different varieties of biscuit were produced. The company also manufactured its own biscuit tins; some three million a year.

Arthur Carr died in 1947 with an estate valued at £630,206.

Peek Frean provided one of three wedding cakes for the Royal Wedding of Princess Elizabeth, later Elizabeth II, in 1947. The 600 lb cake stood six-tiers tall.

Peek Frean established a factory across a seven-acre site in Ontario, Canada in 1950. The factory supplied the Canadian and the North Eastern United States markets. Peek Frean was consequently able to reduce its wholesale prices in America by 25 percent due to lower distribution costs.

Peek Frean acquired the Ashley Vale Biscuit Company, with a factory at Avonmouth, Bristol, in 1955.

There were 1,750 employees at Bermondsey in 1964.

Peek Frean closed the Bristol factory in 1965 and relocated production to Bermondsey. 350 to 400 jobs were lost.

The Meltis confectionery site at Bedford covered five acres and employed 1,300 people by 1966. Meltis was the largest producer of Turkish Delight in Britain, and the second largest producer of liqueur chocolates.

Meltis merged with Chocolat Tobler to form Tobler Meltis in 1967. Interfood, the owner of Suchard, acquired Tobler Meltis in 1975.

Sales at Peek Frean grew in the early 1970s, led by the popularity of it shortcake and Christmas puddings.

The loss-making Australian subsidiary, with seven percent of the market, was sold to Arnotts, a rival biscuit manufacturer, in 1975.

Peek Frean is sold to Nabisco; subsequents owners
Nabisco, a large United States biscuit manufacturer, acquired Associated Biscuits for £84 million in 1982.

Peek Frean was the largest manufacturer of Christmas puddings in Britain by 1984. This was due to the fact that they were relatively low-priced, as they did not contain alcohol. Over 4.5 million Christmas puddings were sold every year.

The Peek Frean brand had become primarily associated with commodity and children’s biscuits by the mid-1980s.

Associated Biscuits was sold to BSN of France, manufacturers of the LU biscuit, in 1989. Nabisco retained the Canadian business, where it continued to produce biscuits under the Peek Frean brand.

The Bermondsey factory was closed with the loss of 1,022 jobs in 1989. The biscuit market was in decline, and the factory was operating at just 50 percent capacity. The site also suffered from high overheads due to its inner-city location and age. Production was transferred to Aintree and Leicestershire.

The India and Pakistan subsidiaries were divested for $44 million in 1989. Britannia was the largest biscuit manufacturer in India, and English Biscuit Manufacturers was the largest biscuit manufacturer in Pakistan.

Peek Frean advertising ended in 1990, and the brand began to be phased out from 1991.

BSN (now called Danone) sold its British and Irish biscuit operations to United Biscuits for £200 million in 2004.

Although no longer sold in Britain, Peek Frean branded products continue to be manufactured in Canada and Pakistan.

Various former Peek Frean products are still sold in Britain, including the Family Circle assortment, and the Twiglets savoury snack.

Wheeler & Co

Wheeler & Co became one of the largest soft drinks producers in Belfast.

Walter James Wheeler (1830 – 1890) and Dr Henry Whitaker (1833 – 1912) acquired a chemist’s business at 38 Apothecaries Hall, opposite Bridge Street, Belfast, in 1858. Whitaker had previously served as an apprentice pharmacist with Grattan & Co.

Wheeler & Whitaker acquired the lease to a factory on Murphy Street, Belfast, which had access to the Cromac springs, in 1864.

Wheeler & Whitaker was the first Belfast soft drink manufacturer to utilise the Cromac springs, and it was to prove well-suited for the production of carbonated drinks due to its purity and mineral content.

Wheeler & Whitaker was ranked as one of the “Big Five” producers of soft drinks in Belfast by 1871. An extensive export trade had been developed by 1877.

Wheeler & Whitaker was subject to a break-up in 1882. Dr Whitaker took control of the chemists’s business, and Wheeler took control of the soft drinks business.

W J Wheeler died in 1890 and left an estate of £16,932. He was remembered as a kindly man.

Frederick Wheeler (1862 – 1939) succeeded his father as managing director of Wheeler & Co. A driven and determined man, the business expanded substantially under his direction.

Wheeler converted the firm into a private limited company, with capital of £20,000. He led a focus on the export trade.

The First World War was to have a negative impact upon Belfast soft drink producers. Businesses struggled to import ingredients, and to export produce.

The Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1919, and erected tariffs against imported British goods.

Norman Walter Frederick Wheeler (born 1892), son of Frederick Wheeler, placed the business into voluntary liquidation in 1923.

Wheeler & Co was acquired by George A Davison. He was declared bankrupt in 1927.

Wheeler & Co was still in business as late as 1942.

Magnate personality: John Ellerman

John Ellerman was by far the richest man in Britain. How did he become so wealthy, and why is he so little known today?

Early life
John Reeves Ellerman (1862 – 1933) was born in Hull, a large port town on the Yorkshire coast. He was the son of Johann Herman Ellerman (1819 – 1871), a shipbroker and corn merchant who had emigrated from Hamburg by 1847.

His father died in 1871, and left a relatively modest estate of £600. For reasons that remain obscure, Ellerman subsequently spent much of his childhood in France. He was then educated at the King Edward VI School in Birmingham.

Ellerman inherited around £14,000 from his maternal grandfather in 1879, and with this money was able to train as a chartered accountant under William Smedley of Newhall Street, Birmingham. Smedley was a successful speculative investor, and almost certainly inspired the young Ellerman.

Ellerman subsequently became an accountant at Quilter Ball & Co, headed by Sir Cuthbert Quilter (1841 – 1911), one of the great accountants of the era. Quilter regarded Ellerman as one of the most promising accountants he had ever employed. Ellerman was offered a position as partner, but declined in order to establish himself independently.

J R Ellerman & Co, accountants of Moorgate Street in the City of London, was established in 1887. Ellerman soon enjoyed an annual income worth thousands of pounds.

Shipping interests
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832 – 1892), owner of the Leyland shipping line, died suddenly in 1892. Ellerman capitalised on the opportunity, and with a group of investors acquired the line for £770,000. This was an excellent price, as profits during the previous four years had averaged £121,159.

The new company had a share capital of £450,000. The assets acquired were excellent, and the modern fleet boasted a gross tonnage of 60,511. Existing management was continued.

Hard work, shrewdness and good luck would see Ellerman amass great wealth. He divested his accountancy business in order to focus on capital investment from 1895. Ellerman was the first prominent investor to have received formal accountancy training, and this was to afford him a significant advantage with regards to financial and legal knowledge.

The Leyland shipping line was sold to J P Morgan (1837 – 1913) in 1901. Morgan was paying “reckless prices”, and Ellerman gained £1.2 million in cash for his stake, a sale that represented a 33 percent premium over market prices.*

Ellerman established the London, Liverpool and Ocean Shipping Company with a share capital of £1.3 million. He invested a capital of £500,000.

Ellerman acquired the Leyland Mediterranean fleet of eleven vessels. He also acquired the Papayanni Steamship Co of Liverpool. Both assets were significantly undervalued. These lines formed the basis of the Ellerman shipping line.

Ellerman then acquired the City line, which ran between Glasgow and the West Indies, and controlled 400,000 tons of shipping. It was estimated that the purchase cost nearly £1 million.

Later in 1901 Ellerman acquired the Hall line and the Westcott and Lawrence line (with nine steamers and a gross tonnage of 15,000 tons).

Ellerman extends his interests to include brewing and the media
Ellerman was a quiet, unassuming figure. He avoided leading an ostentatious lifestyle and spent just five percent of his income, and reinvested the remainder. He was a modest man with great attention to the smaller details of a large business. He was remarkable for his kindness in offering business advice towards those who sought it. He retained the most highly-skilled managers from the businesses he acquired, and respected the decisions that they made when he was absent.

Ellerman identified the brewing industry, with the exception of the global brands of Bass and Guinness, as stagnant. Perceiving the industry as undervalued, he began to invest in breweries from 1897.

Ellerman became the largest shareholder in the Financial Times and one of the largest shareholders in the Daily Mail in 1904.

Ellerman was created a baronet in 1905.

Ellerman acquired the Bucknall line, which had 28 vessels and a large freight trade with South and East Africa, in 1908. Following the purchase Ellerman controlled 108 vessels with a combined tonnage of over 420,000.

Ellerman became the third largest shareholder in The Times in 1912. He also acquired the Sphere and Tatler.

Ellerman acquired over a third share of the Illustrated London News and Sketch in 1913.

Ellerman rendered valuable assistance to the Ministry of Shipping during the First World War. He also equipped and maintained the Ellerman Hospital at St John’s Lodge, Regent’s Park, London.

Ellerman made his most significant purchase with the acquisition of Thomas Wilson & Co of Hull for £4.1 million in 1916. Thomas Wilson & Co was the largest privately-owned shipping line in the world, with a fleet of 70 ships.

Following the Wilson & Co acquisition, Ellerman-controlled lines owned 204 vessels.

Ellerman was the richest man in Britain by 1916, worth, at his own estimate, £20 million. His income that year was estimated at £3 million.

Ellerman owned one eighth of British mercantile shipping tonnage by 1917.

Unfortunately, the Wilson purchase was to prove a rare misstep for Ellerman, due to a slump in global shipping following the First World War.

Ellerman was extremely shy of publicity. He sold his house in Eastbourne in the early 1920s after double-decker buses were introduced which would have allowed passengers to glimpse a view of his home.

Ellerman sold his controlling interest in the St Clement’s Press, owner of the Financial Times, to the Berry brothers in 1919. He sold his holding in The Times to John Walter and John Jacob Astor (1886 – 1971) in 1922.

Ellerman divested his illustrated newspapers, which included the Sphere, Tatler and Eve to the Inveresk Paper Company for around £3 million in 1926.

Ellerman controlled over two million tons of shipping and was the third largest owner of shipping in the world in 1927.

The Inland Revenue privately assessed Ellerman as easily the richest man in Britain in 1929, with a fortune valued at more than twice that of the next wealthiest individual.

Ellerman died in 1933 with a British estate valued at £36,684,994. It was estimated that he paid between £17 million and £20 million in wealth taxes during his lifetime.

Notes

  1. ‘J P Morgan in London and New York before 1914’ by Leslie Hannah (2011).
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