Category Archives: Drink

Scotched earth: Hiram Walker & Sons of Scotland

Hiram Walker was a large Canadian whisky distiller. This article traces the history of its British subsidiary, which became the second largest Scotch whisky producer.

Harry Clifford Hatch (1884 – 1946) was a Canadian businessman. He acquired Hiram Walker & Sons of Ontario in 1926. He merged it with Gooderham & Worts of Toronto to form Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts Ltd, one of the largest whisky distillers in the world.

Hiram Walker acquired a 60 percent stake in James & George Stodart Ltd of Glasgow in 1930. The purchase included the Stirling Bonding Company (with the Old Smuggler brand) and George Ballantine & Son Ltd.

The Glenburgie and Miltonduff-Glenlivet malt whisky distilleries were acquired in 1936.

Hiram Walker & Sons (Scotland) Ltd was registered in 1937 with a capital of £1 million. It was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts Ltd. Capital was increased to £1.5 million the following year.

Due to a growing export trade, particularly to the United States, Hiram Walker struggled to procure sufficient grain whisky for blending purposes. As a result, the company opened the largest distillery in Europe at Dumbarton in 1938. The £450,000 investment produced three million imperial gallons of whisky each year, mostly grain whisky, from a nine-acre site.

Harry C Hatch hoped that increased Canadian investment in Britain would help to strengthen the British Empire.

Thomas Scott was general manager and a director of Hiram Walker & Sons (Scotland) Ltd by 1949. He introduced a resident flock of geese to act as security guards at the Dumbarton distillery from 1950.

Workers at the Dumbarton distillery in the 1950s

Bloch Brothers (Distillers) Ltd of Glasgow was acquired in 1954. The acquisition included two distilleries (Scapa, Orkney and Glen Scotia, Campbeltown) and very large reserves of whisky, including some of the oldest in Britain. At that point it was the second largest acquisition in the Scotch whisky industry since the end of the Second World War. Bloch sales were strongest in North and South America.

Hiram Walker & Sons was the second largest producer of Scotch whisky by 1957.

Ballantine’s was a favourite Scotch whisky of John F Kennedy, and during his presidency it was the highest selling Scotch whisky in the United States.

1,100 people were employed at the Dumbarton plant in 1969.

Stephen McCann replaced Scott to become managing director of Hiram Walker of Scotland in 1969. In 1971 McCann became chairman and Alistair Cunningham (1926 – 2010) became managing director.

A new complex for Scotch whisky production was opened at Kilmalid, outside Dumbarton, in 1977. It was the most advanced whisky blending plant in Europe.

Hiram Walker attempted to buy Highland Distilleries in 1979. Highland Distilleries owned the Famous Grouse brand, which would have given the company a foothold in the British market. The Monopolies Commission ruled that the bid was against the public interest.

A new bottling plant was opened at Kilmalid in 1982. Soon, it was handling more than 100 million bottles a year.

Hiram Walker was the third largest Scotch whisky producer in the world by 1984, with nine malt distilleries and one large grain distillery. Ballantine was its large international brand, and although sales had slipped in the United States, it was the market leader in Continental Europe, with particularly strong sales in Italy.

During the 1980s Hiram Walker received criticism for selling bulk malt whisky to Japanese distillers, who used it as the basis for their own blends.

Hiram Walker was acquired by Allied Lyons, a British food and beverages company, in 1987.

Alistair Cunningham retired in 1992.

Allied produced twelve million bottles of Ballantine’s a year from its Kilmalid and Dumbarton plants by 1992. 70 percent of production was destined for mainland Europe.

The Dumbarton distillery was closed in 2002, and demolished in 2008.

Pernod Ricard, a French distiller, acquired Allied Lyons, now known as Allied Domecq, in 2005. Some brands were divested to Fortune Brands and Diageo.

The geese were removed from Dumbarton in 2012.

As of 2014, Ballantine’s is the second highest-selling Scotch whisky in the world after Johnnie Walker.

Dunn & Hewett and the invention of instant cocoa

Daniel Dunn invented instant cocoa powder, and his products were widely imitated. Dunn & Hewett became one of the largest cocoa manufacturers in Britain.

Daniel Dunn
Daniel Dunn (1773 – 1862) was born at Netherton, Dudley, Worcestershire, to modest circumstances. His blacksmith father taught him the value of honesty, and his mother instilled in him a keen work ethic.

Dunn had to earn a living from the age of ten. He joined the Swedenborgian Church in 1796, and remained a keen member throughout his life.

Dunn demonstrated a propensity for invention from early in life. He would eventually be granted eleven patents. One of his early discoveries was a method to improve the manufacture of horse nails. He established a horse nail factory in London, however the business failed following a recession in America.

Dunn counted among his London associates one John Isaac Hawkins (1772 – 1855), the inventor of the upright piano.

Dunn was to instead find success manufacturing instant coffee and instant tea from a factory at Bartlett’s Buildings, Holborn from around 1800. Expanding trade saw him relocate to a larger factory at Pentonville from around 1810.

Dunn invented instant cocoa powder in 1820. His method was to add sugar and arrowroot to cocoa to create a soluble powder. Hot cocoa could be made in one minute by adding boiling water, whereas previously chocolate had needed to be boiled for an hour or more.

Dunn & Hewett
Charles Hewett (1819 – 1869), also from Dudley, had been apprenticed to Dunn by 1841. Hewett had joined Dunn in partnership by 1857, and the business henceforth traded as Dunn & Hewett.

Iceland Moss Cocoa had been introduced by 1859. It was made from cocoa, moss, farina and sugar. The moss was believed to hold highly nutritious qualities. Competitors such as Rowntree and Fry would later introduce their own competing Iceland Moss Cocoa products.

Dunn employed 47 people in 1861, including 23 men, 14 girls and ten boys.

Dunn was a generous philanthropist throughout his life. He died in 1862, and his estate was valued at under £3,000 (equivalent to at least £260,000 today). His entire estate was inherited by his third wife, Mary Dunn (1810 – 1885).

Management of Dunn & Hewett after the death of the founder
Charles Hewett took over as senior partner of Dunn & Hewett following the death of Daniel Dunn.

Dunn & Hewett employed 60 to 70 workers by 1864. Hewett would continue the tradition of respect and equality with his workforce that Dunn had established. A workman would be presented with a sovereign coin upon the birth of a child. The firm organised an annual excursion or dinner for their workers. A company funded brass band was established from 1864.

Charles Hewett died in 1869, and management of the firm passed to Mary Dunn and two of Daniel’s adopted sons, Arthur Day (1843 – 1918) and John Holm (1840 – 1897), the latter a trained chemist.

Dunn & Hewett employed 65 people in 1871, including 36 men, four boys, 22 women and three girls.

Dunn & Hewett ranked among the largest cocoa manufacturers in Britain by 1876. The firm employed 70 workers in 1881.

Mary Dunn died in 1885.

Sale of Dunn & Hewett to the Nunn family
It appears that Arthur Day and John Holm sold Dunn & Hewett to Henry Saunders Nunn (1848 – 1925), a manager at a rubber manufacturer, following the death of Mary Dunn.

Arthur Day continued to work in a marketing role for Dunn & Hewett, appearing as a representative at International Exhibitions.

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Dunn & Hewett continued to be one of the leading cocoa manufacturers in Britain as late as 1911.

A fire at the extensive factory caused an estimated £14,000 worth of damage in 1916, equivalent to at least £800,000 in 2016.

Henry Saunders Nunn died in 1925 and left an estate valued at £125,000. Control of Dunn & Hewett was passed to his son, Henry Thomas Nunn (1878 – 1927), who died two years later with a net personalty valued at just £17,880.

Control of Dunn & Hewett passed to Oliver Cromwell Nunn (1879 – 1971), who retired around 1930, upon which the Pentonville factory was closed down.

Soda, so good: W A Ross of Belfast

W A Ross was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in Ireland.

William Adolphus Ross (1817 – 1900) was born in Dublin, the son of Henry Ross, a banker.

W A Ross worked as managing director of the Belfast factory of Cantrell & Cochrane for nine years. The branch became the largest soft drink manufacturer in Belfast. Ross was described as “able and courteous” by a visitor from the Northern Whig in 1876.

A dispute arose between Ross and his employer. Cantrell & Cochrane were found to be in breach of contract, and Ross was awarded a settlement of £3,250.

Ross used the cash to establish his own soft drinks manufacturing business at William Street South, Belfast, in 1879. The site was chosen due to its access to spring water and proximity to the docks. He was assisted by his son George Harrison Ross (1845 – 1917), a former sailor.

W A Ross was producing nearly 30,000 bottles a day by November 1879, with production largely destined for export markets such as the United States, the West Indies and Africa.

A depot had been established at Glasgow by 1881.

Another son, William Adolphus Ross Jr (1843 – 1912), settled in Staten Island and worked as the sales agent for New York. 981,840 bottles were imported into New York in 1883.

W A Ross had become one of the largest soft drink manufacturers in Ireland by 1891. Ross’s Royal Ginger Ale was the firm’s principal product. That year the firm became a private limited company, W A Ross & Sons Ltd.

W A Ross & Sons employed 150 people in 1896. The company had depots at Glasgow and Liverpool by 1898.

William Adolphus Ross died in 1900 with an estate valued at £4,449. George Harrison Ross became managing director of the company.

The William Street factory was extended in 1902, and again in 1909.

William Adolphus Ross Jr died in 1912 with an estate valued at £65,000. He was succeeded by his son, Conway Ross (1883 – c.1975).

Brazil, Chile and Argentina were major export destinations by 1914, but the United States remained the most important foreign market. However, the disruption caused by the First World War was to damage the export trade.

The Republic of Ireland gained independence in 1919, and trade to this major market was damaged when import tariffs were introduced.

Conway Ross stepped down as managing director in 1973. He was succeeded by his son, Dermot Conway Ross (1915 – 1979) and grandson, Oscar C Ross (born 1948) as joint-managing directors.

W A Ross & Sons merged with Belfast rival Cochran’s of Ravenhill Avenue to form Ross Cochran in 1975. Dermot Conway Ross took the opportunity to retire, and Oscar Ross was appointed as sales director of the new company.

All production was centralised at Cochran’s. A £300,000 investment was made to double bottling capacity. Around 100 people were employed on a six acre site.

Ross Cochran was acquired by Cantrell & Cochrane in 1986. After a few years the Ross brand was phased out.

The sparkling history of Cantrell & Cochrane

Cantrell & Cochrane was the largest manufacturer of soft drinks in the world.

Thomas Joseph Cantrell (1827 – 1909) was born in Dublin. He qualified as a medical practitioner and became a principal assistant at Grattan & Co, a Belfast firm of chemists. Grattan & Co also manufactured soft drinks, and introduced the first carbonated “ginger ale”.

Cantrell left Grattan & Co in 1852 to form his own chemist business with James Dyas at 22 Castle Place, Belfast.

Dyas & Cantrell manufactured mineral waters, ginger ale, lemonade and soda water, as well as other products. The firm began to manufacture sarsaparilla from 1856.

James Dyas left the partnership in 1859 to establish his own soft drinks and chemists business. Dyas & Cantrell continued to trade as T J Cantrell.

Perhaps no longer restrained by Dyas, Cantrell began to advertise extensively from the 1860s. The firm had depots in Dublin, Liverpool and Glasgow by 1862. The firm retained its headquarters at Castle Place, but expanding production saw soft drink manufacture relocate to 10 Arthur Place, Belfast.

Increasing demand for their products saw T J Cantrell relocate to 25 Bank Street, Belfast, a former brewery, in 1863. The firm commenced export of its ginger ale to America from 1866.

T J Cantrell merged with the soft drinks business of Henry Cochrane (1836 – 1904) of Dublin to form Cantrell & Cochrane in 1868. At this time the premises of the Hibernian Mineral Water Company of Nassau Place, Dublin were acquired.

From this juncture Cantrell became a sleeping partner at Cantrell & Cochrane.

Cantrell & Cochrane held contracts to supply several shipping lines, including Cunard, Inman, Montreal, National and City of Dublin by 1868.

Henry Cochrane continued to manage the Dublin site, and William Adolphus Ross (1817 – 1900) was appointed as manager of the Belfast factory from 1870. Under Ross’s leadership, the Belfast site was to prove far more profitable than the Dublin venture.

From around this time the firm began to add a chemical preservative to their ginger ale, which allowed it to maintain its quality in warm climates.

Cantrell & Cochrane was numbered among the “Big Five” producers of soft drinks in Belfast by 1871.

Across both sites, Cantrell & Cochrane produced 432,000 bottles of soft drinks in a single week in 1876.

Cantrell & Cochrane was the largest soft drinks producer in Belfast by 1876. The Belfast factory employed hundreds of workers. The artesian well supplied 17,280 gallons of spring water a day. The bottle filling machine, which had been designed by W A Ross himself, could fill 48 bottles a minute.

Cantrell & Cochrane successfully trademarked the “Club Soda” name in Britain and Ireland in 1877.

Ross was fired by Cochrane in 1879. Ross was to later win a court hearing for unfair dismissal, and establish a rival soft drinks manufacturing business on his own account.

Cantrell retired from the partnership due to ill heath in 1883. Cochrane remained as the sole proprietor, although the Cantrell & Cochrane name was retained.

According to the Belfast Morning News, Cantrell & Cochrane was the largest soft drink manufacturer in the world by 1884.

The Dublin works employed around 500 people by 1885 and had an annual production capacity of nearly 30 million bottles a year. Almost all of Nassau Place was occupied. The city and suburban trade employed sixteen two-horse vans. The Belfast factory was of a similar size.

The Belfast Morning News claimed in 1885 that what Guinness was to porter, and Bass was to pale ale, Cantrell & Cochrane was to ginger ale, especially in America.

Cantrell & Cochrane became a private limited liability company in 1898. The company was awarded a Royal Warrant by the King of Great Britain in 1901.

By the time Henry Cochrane died in 1904, Cantrell & Cochrane was one of the largest Irish exporters. He was succeeded as chairman by his son, Ernest Cecil Cochrane (1873 – 1952).

Cantrell died in 1909 with an estate valued at £70,045.

The Dublin factory employed around 1,000 people by 1914.

The First World War threatened the firm’s large and valuable American trade, so a factory was established in New York.

Cantrell & Cochrane was sold to E & J Burke, bottlers of Guinness in America, in 1925, and Ernest Cecil Cochrane stepped down as chairman, although he remained as a director.

Cantrell & Cochrane had a capital of £200,000 in 1930.

The end of Prohibition in the United States damaged the Cantrell & Cochrane export trade.

E & J Burke was acquired by Guinness in 1950.

The American subsidiary, with a factory at Englewood, New Jersey, had been sold to National Phoenix Industries by 1953.

Cantrell & Cochrane opened a new factory on Castlereagh Road, Belfast in 1956. The company employed a total of 1,100 people across the United Kingdom.

Guinness merged Cantrell & Cochrane with the Irish soft drinks operations of Allied Breweries (later Allied Domecq) to form C&C in 1968.

Cantrell & Cochrane (Dublin) had close to 60 percent of the Irish soft drinks market by 1974. Drinks were produced at a modern factory at Ballyfermot, Dublin.

In 1997 C&C employed 1,600 people.

In 1998 Allied Domecq acquired the 49.6 percent stake of C&C it did not own from Guinness for £270 million.

In 1999 Allied Domecq sold C&C to BC Partners for £580 million.

C&C Group became a public company from 2004. C&C sold its non-alcoholic drinks business to Britvic in 2007.

Former C&C drinks are still sold by Britvic in Ireland under the “Club” brand.

The former American subsidiary still operates from New Jersey, and its products include C&C Cola and C&C Ginger Ale.

Welsh fire: Idris & Co

Idris was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in Britain. Its “Fiery” ginger beer continued to be sold until 2019.

Thomas Howell Williams (1842 – 1925) was born at Vallen, Pembrokeshire, the son of a Welsh-speaking Baptist farmer. He was apprenticed to an Ebbw Vale chemist from the age of twelve.

Williams emigrated to London in 1863, and went to work for a well-known firm of chemists. Soon, he entered into business for himself, with a chemist shop on Seven Sisters Road. There, he introduced soft drinks under the Idris brand, named for a Welsh mountain.

Manufacturing chemists of the era often produced soft drinks, which were purported to have medical benefits. Ginger ale, Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper were all created by chemists.

The soft drinks arm was successful, and Williams divested his chemists business and established Idris & Co, soft drink manufacturers, on Pratt Street, Camden Town from 1875.

Idris & Co employed 400-500 men by 1891. That year, a generous profit-sharing scheme was introduced for the employees.

Idris & Co was incorporated with a nominal capital of £100,000 in 1892. The company was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in the world.

Williams added Idris to his surname by deed poll in 1893.

Thomas Howell Williams Idris (1842 – 1925), c.1905

Idris & Co employed two automated carbonated soft drink filling machines, which were designed by T H W Idris himself.

Idris & Co nearly doubled in size between 1895 and 1897. Additional factories had been established at Southampton by 1896 and at Liverpool by 1898. A public offering in 1897 raised company capital to £150,000. The company had a Royal Warrant to supply Queen Victoria by 1897.

An amalgamation was proposed between Idris & Co and the Chemists’ Aerated & Mineral Waters Association in 1898. With a capital of £400,000 the business would have had the scale to rival Schweppes, but ultimately the merger plans did not come to fruition.

Idris & Co had a share capital of £216,000 by 1900. Depots were located at Teddington, Watford, Reigate, Folkstone, Portsmouth and Bournemouth. The company employed almost 1,000 people, including nearly 200 at the Camden Town factory. That year, five million bottles of carbonated soft drinks were sold, as well as millions of non-carbonated drinks. That year, an additional factory was opened at Canterbury.

Motorised distribution was introduced from 1901. Horse-driven carts had previously limited road distribution to within a 17 mile radius.

Politically, T H W Idris was a radical and a progressive. He invited representatives of the Social Democratic Federation and the National Democratic League to inspect his wages bill in 1902. They declared that Idris & Co paid the highest wages in the industry, that retired workers received pensions and that the profit-sharing scheme had distributed thousands of pounds to staff.

IT H W Idris served as the Mayor of St Pancras in 1904-5. He was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Flintshire from 1906 to 1910.

Idris & Co held a Royal Warrant to supply Edward VII by 1908.

120 women and girls at the Camden Town factory went on strike in 1911 in protest at the dismissal of an employee. The strikers agreed to an independent review of the case by the Board of Trade. The review cleared Idris & Co of any wrongdoing.

Idris & Co was distributing soft drinks within a 50 mile radius of its Camden Town factory by 1912. Depots were situated at Watford, Teddington, Enfield and Southend. The company had over one million bottles. The company had 21 lorries by 1914.

Idris “Fiery” ginger beer (2018)

Idris & Co held a Royal Warrant to supply George V by 1916.

Thomas Howell Williams Idris died in 1925 with an estate valued at £30,317. He was succeeded as chairman by his son, Walter Howell Williams Idris (1875 – 1939).

Idris & Co established a new depot at Chelmsford, Essex in 1936.

W H W Idris died in 1939, with a gross estate valued at £20,230. Joseph Edward Southwell succeeded him until 1943, when Ivor Trevena Idris (1911 – 1993), the grandson of the late founder, became chairman.

Idris mineral water was not available during the Second World War due to Government restrictions aimed at rationalising production.

Coca-Cola Bottlers of Scotland was acquired in 1961.

Idris entered into a joint venture with Fuller Smith & Turner, the London brewer, for the 7 Up bottling franchise for London and the South East in 1964.

The antiquated Camden Town factories were closed in 1965, and production was relocated to a new site at White Hart Lane, Tottenham.

Idris & Co made a loss of £348,000 in 1965-6, following problems establishing the new factory, and a fire at the Coca-Cola Scotland plant.

The loss-making company was acquired by Beecham, which owned the Lucozade, Ribena and Corona soft drinks brands, in 1967.

Britvic acquired the Beecham soft drinks business in 1987. Idris “Fiery” ginger beer continued to be sold until 2019.

On the rocks: H D Rawlings

H D Rawlings was one of the largest and most prestigious soft drinks manufacturers in Victorian England.

In press advertising from 1860, Rawlings & Co claimed an establishment date of 1815. John Rawlings (1771 – 1848), ginger beer manufacturer, was certainly based at Nassau Street, Fitzrovia by 1827. The exact address is confirmed as 2 Nassau Street by 1831.

John Rawlings died in 1848 and the business was inherited by his sons, John (1806 – 1853) and James (1814 – 1882). In 1851 James Rawlings lived at 2 Nassau Street and was a ginger beer manufacturer employing 20 men. John Rawlings lived at 3 Nassau Street, and was also a ginger beer manufacturer.

John Rawlings died in 1853 and his stake in the business was inherited by Sarah Rawlings (1819 – 1863), his widow.

The business occupied 2-4 Nassau Street by 1856, and the range of drinks had been expanded to include lemonade and soda, as well as ginger beer.

Sarah Rawlings married her clerk, Henry Doo (1837 – 1904) in 1857, and he took on the name Henry Doo Rawlings.

Premises had extended to include 8 Charles Street, Fitzrovia by 1860.

At the instigation of James Rawlings, a works’ brass band was established in 1862. The firm enjoyed a strong relationship with its workforce, which it treated to an annual dinner or excursion.

Sarah Doo (nee Rawlings) died in September 1863, with an estate valued at under £7,000. H D Rawlings became principal partner in the firm, although James Rawlings also had a stake, and the firm traded as H D & J Rawlings.

Less than four months after the death of his wife, Henry Doo Rawlings married Jane Sewell in Paris.

H D & J Rawlings had a Royal Warrant to supply Queen Victoria with soft drinks by 1864.

Henry Doo Rawlings was described in the Marylebone Mercury in 1866 as “lively, open-hearted and genial, easily approached, with no manifest sense of self-importance”. James Rawlings was described as more reserved, “but thoroughly cordial and kind when the ice was broken”.

The firm was a generous contributor to the Licensed Victuallers Asylum, a charity for retired victuallers.

The firm supplied the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Emperor of France by 1869.

James Rawlings retired in 1870, and the firm was continued under the name H D Rawlings.

There was a gas explosion at the Nassau Street factory in 1877. Henry Doo Rawlings and two other men received burns to their faces and hands, and had to be taken to Middlesex Hospital.

The firm was based at 2 Nassau Street and Berners Street in 1879.

Henry Doo Rawlings was granted the Freedom of the City of London in 1886.

R White & Sons of Camberwell acquired H D Rawlings in 1891.  It was also incorporated as a limited company at this time. The Rawlings brand continued as the “premium” offering alongside the “standard” R White’s soft drinks.

H D Rawlings advertised that it could supply up to 120,000 stone bottles of ginger beer within notice of a few hours in 1892. The Rawlings factory was on Neate Street, Camberwell by 1894.

Henry Doo Rawlings died in Paris in 1904. He left an estate valued at over £47,000.

H D Rawlings was based at 8 Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia and Neate Street, Camberwell in 1914. The company employed about 400 people.

The licensed trade in the London area was the principal customer for H D Rawlings products by 1952.

R White & Sons was acquired by Whitbread, a national brewer, in 1969.

H D Rawlings was based at Winsor Terrace, London by 1975. By this time the brand was primarily being marketed as a mixer for spirits, and was largely affiliated with the on-trade of clubs, hotels and public houses.

Whitbread and Bass merged their soft drinks operations to form Canada Dry Rawlings in 1980. Bass owned 65 percent of the venture and Whitbread owned the remainder. The business concentrated on supplying the licensed trade.

Britvic acquired Canada Dry Rawlings in 1986. Britvic phased out the Rawlings name in favour of the Britvic brand.

Popular: Ben Shaw’s of Huddersfield

30 million cans of Ben Shaw’s soft drinks are sold every year. The highest selling product is cloudy lemonade.

Benjamin Shaw (1836 – 1901) was born at Kirkheaton, Huddersfield, the son of a farm labourer. He found work in the Huddersfield textile trade, initially as a woollen spinner, and then as a supervisor.

benshaw
Benjamin Shaw (1836 – 1901)

Shaw established a partnership with his brother George in 1871, bottling Pennine spring water from premises on Charles Street, Huddersfield. Soon, the firm expanded into non-alcoholic “botanic” porter and ginger beer, distributing their products by horse and cart.

Benjamin Shaw bought out his brother’s stake in the partnership for £317 in 1876, to become sole proprietor of the business. The firm employed seven men in 1881.

Shaw was a keen advocate of the temperance movement. He supported good causes, such as the establishment of a working men’s club in Huddersfield. He was nominated as a member of Huddersfield Town Council in 1881.

The firm relocated to a new factory on Upperhead Row, Huddersfield in 1883.

Production was relocated to a purpose-built factory on Willow Lane, Huddersfield from 1894. By this time the firm traded as Benjamin Shaw & Sons.

Benjamin Shaw died in 1901, and left an estate of £6,955. He was succeeded in business by his two sons, Ernest (1858 – 1924) and Frank Shaw (born 1870).

Benjamin Shaw & Sons was registered as a private company with capital of £20,000 in 1913.

Ernest Shaw died in 1924 with an estate valued at over £20,500. Beaumont Stephenson (1877 – 1948), a son in law of Benjamin Shaw, took charge of the company.

Clifford Stephenson (1902 – 1992) took control of the company, following the death of his father in 1948.

Distribution was extended into the neighbouring county of Lancashire in 1957.

Ben Shaw’s became the first company in Europe to can soft drinks in 1959.

A new factory was opened at Brockholes near Huddersfield in 1966. It could produce 100,000 cans a day by 1970. The fully-automated factory employed a staff of just 30.

Ben Shaw’s held around three percent of the British carbonated soft drinks market by 1989.

Overexpansion in the early 1990s saw family control lost to the Rutland Trust. It was acquired by Chaudfontaine of Belgium in 1994.

The Willow Lane site was acquired by Britvic in 2004 when it bought the Ben Shaw’s bottled water business, including the Pennine Spring brand.

Cott Beverages of Canada acquired Ben Shaw’s in 2005.

Britvic closed the Willow Lane factory in 2013. Production of the Pennine Spring bottled water brand was discontinued.

Alright, R White

R White’s is the leading lemonade brand in Britain.*

rwhite

Robert White (1825 – 1901) was born at Horsleydown, London. He sold homemade ginger beer from a cart in the streets of Camberwell from 1845. Assisted by his wife Mary, he eventually bought a market stall.

Sales grew, and a factory was established at Charles Street, Camberwell. The factory was greatly extended in 1866.

Ginger beer, soda water and lemonade were distributed throughout London. Unfortunately, Robert White overreached himself, and was forced to declare himself bankrupt in 1867.

White was far from discouraged, however, and by 1871 he employed twelve people. By this time he had been joined in partnership by his two sons, Robert James (1849 – 1921) and John George (1851 – 1942), to form R White & Sons.

By 1881 R White & Sons had established a factory at Cunard Street in Camberwell, and employed a workforce of 50.

H Wilcox, soft drinks manufacturers of Rodney Road, Walworth was acquired in 1884.

R White & Sons had a stock of three million stone bottles by 1886. Unlike some manufacturers, the firm had not yet made the transition to glass bottles, which were increasing in popularity.

Artis Capel & Co, soft drinks manufacturers of Neate Street, Camberwell, had been acquired by 1888.

Robert White retired from the partnership in 1888. There were two factories on Neate Street and one on Cunard Street, all in Camberwell; one on Rodney Road, Walworth; one at Kingston upon Thames; and one at Barking. Neate Street was the principal manufacturing site.

R White & Sons grew largely as a result of the low cost of sugar. In 1890 R White’s sold 46.8 million bottles of soft drinks, over 410,000 gallons of soft drinks in casks and over 31,000 gallons of cordials.

H D Rawlings, a prestigious soft drinks manufacturer of Marylebone, London was acquired in 1891.

R White & Sons was incorporated as a public company in 1894, with a share capital of £300,000. By this time it was one of the largest soft drinks manufacturers in London. The company had seven modern factories and thirteen depots in London and the Home Counties. It supplied 40,000 trade customers via a distribution network of 639 horses and 325 vans. The company was largely debt-free (under £3,000).

The business continued to grow rapidly, and an 1897 advertisement claimed that the company was the largest manufacturer of soft drinks in the world.

R White & Sons was awarded the licence to distribute Kops Ale, a non-alcoholic beer in the London district from 1892. The Kops Brewery business was acquired outright in 1898.

R White & Sons had thirteen factories, including sites in Birmingham and Manchester, by 1899. There were also three breweries where Kops Ale was produced. There were 15 depots located throughout the South East of England. That year, share capital was increased to £800,000.

A factory at George Street, Camberwell, used for producing flavouring and preservative chemicals, was destroyed by fire in 1903, with damage estimated at £100,000 to £150,000.

Robert James White and one of his managers were found guilty of avoiding duty on saccharine in 1903, and fined £4,176.

R J and J G White were well regarded as employers, and the workforce was a contented one. An employee sick fund was established in 1895.

R J White was a local philanthropist. He donated £500 to the Camberwell library in 1901. In 1902 he opened the largest and best-equipped soup kitchen in Camberwell at his Albany Road factory. He funded the distribution of 143,000 quarts of soup in 1903. In 1905 he took 1,400 poor Camberwell children on an excursion to his farm at Ewell.

It was claimed that R White’s produced half of all lemonade and ginger beer sold in England in 1908. The London factory covered 20 acres, and the company employed 3,000 horses and 1,000 lorries.

R White’s paid damages of £300 in 1909 after a bottle of hop ale was ruled to have contained zinc chloride, a powerful corrosive.

200 girls went on strike at the Waltham Cross factory in 1912, in protest at the reinstatement of an unpopular supervisor.

Company capital was reduced in 1910, and again in 1914, to £82,000.

Over 600 R White & Sons men were serving in the armed forces by 1918.

In 1920 R White & Sons was found guilty in court of selling a bottle of lemon squash containing a dead mouse, and ordered to pay compensation to the claimant.

In 1921 R White & Sons was fined by Surrey County Council for misleading the public by advertising its lemonade as being made with “Messina lemons”. An analysis found that R White’s lemonade was simply carbonated sugar water acidified with phosphoric acid, four times the maximum amount allowed by the British Pharmacopoeia. There was no trace of lemon juice in it. The company stated that it had used phosphoric acid for forty years as it enhanced the lifespan of the product, and that they used lemon oil for flavouring purposes. The company was fined £41 including costs.

Robert James White died in 1921 with an estate valued at £96,506.

In 1925 company capital was increased to £164,000. R White & Sons was reconverted into a private company in 1927.

Sydney John White (1884 – 1938) died in 1938 with an estate valued at £192,484. He had been a director of R White & Sons and the managing director of H D Rawlings.

John George White died in 1942 with an estate valued at £268,073.

R White & Sons employed 725 people in 1951. In 1952 the company had seven factories in London, the Home Counties and Birmingham, with a production capacity of over 1.5 million bottles per week, and a fully-paid capital of £500,000. Net tangible assets amounted to £847,000. That year, the family-controlled company was forced to go public due to the cost of death duties.

Harold Artis White, a director of R White & Sons, left an estate of £122,933 in 1957.

In 1969 R White & Sons was acquired by Whitbread, a brewer, for £3 million. The takeover was recommended by the directors, who sold their 60 percent stake in the company. It was Whitbread’s first major venture into soft drinks, and was to prove difficult and unrewarding for the brewer, despite substantial investment.

Whitbread divested the R White & Sons factory at Barking in 1972, and transferred production to a new factory at Beckton, East London, where it continues to this day. Built at a cost of £4 million across a 6.5 acre site, it was one of the largest soft drinks bottling plants in Britain.

In 1973 the popular “Secret Lemonade drinker” television advertising campaign was launched. It continued to air until 1984.

By 1975 R White & Sons held a franchise to produce Pepsi-Cola. Between 1975-77 the company held the franchise to produce A G Barr’s Irn-Bru for the London area.

In 1977 R White & Sons held 10 percent of the British market for carbonated drinks (excluding cola), but was the brand leader in lemonade, with a 40 percent share.

In 1980 Whitbread and Bass merged their soft drinks operations to form Canada Dry Rawlings. Bass owned 65 percent of the venture and Whitbread owned the remainder. The business concentrated on supplying the licensed trade.

In 1985-6 R White’s had 2.5 percent of the carbonated soft drinks market (excluding cola).

Britvic acquired Canada Dry Rawlings in 1986. The merger brought together Britvic’s strength in fruit juices and cordials, and Canada Dry Rawling’s strength in carbonated drinks.

In 1989 R White’s had the fourth highest sales for a carbonated drinks brand in Britain, behind only Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Schweppes.

As late as 1994 R White’s produced dandelion and burdock, cream soda and ginger beer, as well as lemonade, but these were soon phased out until only lemonade was available.

In 2009 R White’s was the third highest selling soft drink brand in the British on-trade (sales in pubs and bars).

By 2010, sugar in R White’s had been replaced by artificial sweeteners.

Note: Sprite and 7 Up are lemon-lime drinks, and thus not “lemonade”.

As easy as: ABC tea shops

The ABC tea shop was a ubiquitous part of early twentieth century London life, mentioned by T S Eliot and Virginia Woolf, and lambasted by George Orwell.

Origins
The Aerated Bread Company (ABC) was incorporated in London in 1862 with a nominal capital of £500,000. It was formed to manufacture bread using a new patented process which used carbon dioxide instead of yeast.

As a mass producer, the ABC had a large number of contracts with institutions such as schools and hospitals. It also had a number of retail outlets in London which sold bread and cakes directly to consumers.

Establishment of the ABC tea shop chain
In 1884 a manageress at a ABC bakery shop near London Bridge Station suggested to the directors that on-site sales of tea might increase revenues. This proved successful, and was rolled out across all outlets.

Competitors sold pre-prepared tea from a large container, and the quality was variable. ABC differentiated itself by preparing fresh tea to order.

The tea shops proved popular among clerical workers, who appreciated their affordable prices, and there were around 70 outlets by 1889.

An ABC shop at Ludgate Hill, date unknown
An ABC shop at Ludgate Hill, date unknown

Production at a centralised bakery in Camden Town from 1891 helped to keep costs low. The low-margin business received criticism for the low-pay of ABC waitresses, who worked a 62-hour week.

Increased competition from J Lyons
J Lyons opened its first tea shop in 1894. Lyons branches were more upmarket and better managed than the ABC shops, and had more central London outlets than ABC by 1911.

ABC served over 1.25 million customers in 1911. There were 150 branches by 1912. By this time the tea shops had evolved into cheap restaurants. A commentator in 1911 wrote that service was slow, but the quality of the tea was “beyond reproach”.

ABC was far better known for its London tea shops than its bread manufacture by 1913.

New management from Buszard
ABC acquired W & G Buszard, a London bakery chain with 140 shops, including the prestigious Criterion restaurant in Piccadilly, in 1918. ABC were attracted to the merger by the strong management team at Buszard. Buszard directors, led by Charles Cottier (1869 – 1928) and Frederick Hutter (1876 – 1927), quickly came to dominate the ABC board, with Cottier serving as chairman and Hutter as managing director.

Cottier was a forceful personality, and under his leadership ABC undertook numerous acquisitions from 1919. These were Bertram & Co (railway catering), James Cottle (Liverpool and Manchester restaurants), Cabins, JP Restaurants (with 80 outlets around London), Newberys (shop-fitters), Abford Estates (a large property development) and a controlling interest in W Hill & Sons (29 shops), at a combined cost of just under £500,000.

Frederick Hutter was described as the “Napoleon” of the London catering trade in 1921. Hutter had humble origins, beginning his career as a baker’s assistant.

ABC had a total of 200 to 250 tea shops and restaurants by 1922. Over two million people drank tea in either a Lyons or an ABC tea shop in London every week by 1925. The manufacturing site at Camden Town covered over four acres.

ABC had 156 branches across London in 1926. That year also saw the prim black and white “Victorian” waitress uniforms replaced by blue dresses.

ABC built the largest single tea shop in Britain, opposite Victoria Station, in 1926. The site was bought from the Duke of Westminster, supposedly for £500,000.

Hutter died in 1927, and Cottier died the following year. It appears that the business suffered following the loss of their strong leadership.

Following low profits, the well-known accountant Sir W H Peat was contracted to perform an independent review of the company in 1929. Peat argued that the numerous recent acquisitions did not tie in with the core ABC business, and as such, very few economies of scale could be made. He also argued that the company had paid excessive dividends, and had failed to update and modernise its shops, which had become run down.

The manufacture of aerated bread ended in 1954.

Acquisition by Allied Bakeries
ABC, with 164 tea shops, was acquired by Allied Bakeries, controlled by W Garfield Weston (1898 – 1978), for nearly £3 million in 1955. ABC was the second largest chain of restaurants in Britain. Allied Bakeries was motivated by the increase in outlets for its bakery products, and valued the ABC estate at between £1.7 million and £2 million.

Unprofitable branches were quickly divested, and new outlets opened at better locations. Allied Bakeries invested in the outlets to bring them up to the standard of their competitors. The changes worked, and the previously loss-making venture had become one of the most profitable subsidiaries of Allied Bakeries by 1959.

Allied Bakeries sold the Abford House subsidiary, which consisted of a large freehold property in Victoria, London, for over £500,000 to Spiers & Pond, a hotels and catering company, in 1959.

ABC reported a profit before tax of over £850,000 in 1962. A pre-tax profit of £735,000 was reported in 1966.

Decline of the ABC tea shop
Beginning in the 1960s and into the 1970s the trade of the tea shops declined. Rivals with no or limited seating had lower overheads. There were 200 ABC outlets in 1976, but the tea shops were being phased out in favour of take-away bakery shops.

Production of small, hand-finished cakes at the Camden Town site was ended in 1976, resulting in the loss of over 400 jobs. The Camden Town site was antiquated, and unsuited for modern production, and it was closed for good in 1982, with the loss of a further 200 jobs. The ABC tea shops also disappeared at around this time.

The Camden site was demolished a few years later, and a Sainsbury’s supermarket now stands in its place. Any residual ABC trademarks are held by Associated British Foods, the successor company to Allied Bakeries.

Largest brewery in the world: historic claimants

In 1750 to 1760, John Calvert of London had the largest brewery in the world.

From at least 1780 until 1808 Whitbread of London was the largest brewer in the world.

In 1809 Barclay Perkins of Southwark, London became the largest brewer in the world.

In 1858 Allsopp & Son erected the largest brewery in the world at Burton upon Trent in the English Midlands.

By the 1870s Bass at Burton upon Trent was the largest brewer in the world.

By 1886 the Guinness site at St James’s Gate in Dublin was the largest brewery in the world.

By 1929 as many as 10 million glasses of Guinness could be sold in a single day.

In 2015 the Miller Coors facility at Golden, Colorado is the largest single-site brewery in the world.