Zest for business: L Rose & Co

L Rose & Co is best known for its lime juice cordial.

Lauchlan Rose (1829 -1885), was born to a family of shipbuilders at Leith, a Scottish port near Edinburgh.

Rose became a merchant, importing products such as grain and wine.

Rose developed and patented a process that allowed fruit juice to be preserved without alcohol. Sulphur dioxide prevented the fermentation process from taking place.

The Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 made it compulsory for British ships to carry lime juice. Advertisements for L Rose & Co’s lime juice and lime cordial began to appear from 1868. Rose’s lime juice appealed not just to sailors as a ward against scurvy, but the growing temperance movement in the domestic market.

The head office was relocated from Leith to London in 1875.

The Bath and Elmshall estates in Dominica were purchased from William Davies in 1891, to provide a source of limes. An old sugar factory was converted for processing; crushing the limes and transferring the juice into barrels for export.

L Rose & Co was incorporated as a limited company in 1898. Factories were operated at 11 Curtain Road, London and 41 Mitchell Street, Leith.

The company had a capital of £150,000. John Barclay Rose (born 1862) was chairman. J B Rose, Charles Morrison Rose (born 1863) and Hugh Gilmour Rose were joint managing directors.

L Rose began to manufacture calcium citrate from 1906.

The Dominica estates covered hundreds of acres by 1909, and the firm was also supplied by independent growers of hundreds of acres.

A factory was erected at the Bath estate for the production of citric acid crystals in 1921.

Lauchlan Rose (born 1895) took over the management of the company from 1924.

A lime estate was established at Asebu, Cape Coast (now Ghana) from 1924.

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Lime marmalade production began from the 1930s.

L Rose & Co dismissed 120 staff because they held trade union membership in 1939. Lauchlan Rose announced that only non-union labour would be hired.

The London premises were destroyed in the Blitz in 1940. Production was relocated to a new site on Grosvenor Road, St Albans.

Additional factories were opened at Boxmoor Wharf, Hemel Hempstead and Liverpool in 1948.

The lime juice was left to settle in 12,000 gallon oak vats at Boxmoor. The pulp and oils rose to the top, and the lime juice was drawn off from the bottom. After filtration and sweetening, the liquid was transported to St Albans for bottling.

L Rose & Co was acquired by J Schweppe in an exchange of shares in 1957.

L Rose & Co discontinued operations in Dominica in 1980, in favour of operations in Cameroon and Ghana.

The Hemel Hempstead factory was closed in 1983 due to high rent, and all production was relocated to St Albans.

 

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