Category Archives: Spreads & sauces

Money-making Machin: Batger & Co

By the turn of the twentieth century Batger & Co was one of the largest confectioners in Britain. It was best known for Chinese Figs, Jersey Caramels and Silmos Lollies.

Batger & Co was established by a Miss Batger in 1748. The Batger family were sugar refiners of New Road, St George, Middlesex. By 1783 John Batger had moved to 16 Bishopsgate Street, London, where by at least 1814 he had established a confectionery business.

Batger & Co had a four-storey factory at 15-16 Bishopsgate Street by 1847.

Batger & Co was acquired by Samuel Hanson & Son of Botolph Lane in 1856.

A new factory was established at 103 Broad Street, Ratcliff, London in 1863. The Bishopsgate premises were divested.

Frederick Machin (1826 – 1902) had acquired Batger & Co by 1864. In 1871 the company employed 200 people. “Harlequin” Christmas crackers began to be produced from 1872.

By 1875 the factory covered two acres, all built upon. 450 people were employed; rising to 550 at Christmas and 700 during the English fruit season, when jam was made. Around 2,000 tons of sugar and 1,000 tons of English fruits were used each year. Machinery was used extensively.

From 1855 Frederick Arnold was the general manager of the company. He was a kind man and an effective manager. He led a content workforce, for whom annual excursions were organised. Arnold was dismissed in 1880 for extensively stealing from the company, and sentenced to 14 months hard labour.

Batger & Co employed 400 people (250 men, 100 women and 50 boys) by 1881. They were one of the largest manufacturers of jam and confectionery in London.

14 tons of rotten fruit were seized from the Broad Street factory by the local health authority in 1895.

Frederick Machin died in 1902 with an estate valued at £59,887. Control of the firm passed to his son, Stanley Machin (1861 – 1939).

By 1902 Batger was one of the largest confectionery companies in the United Kingdom. By 1909 the company employed well over 1,000 people. During the First World War the company won a lucrative contract to supply the Army with jam.

Batger & Co was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell in 1920 for £522,902. Batger retained its old management, and in 1923 was the sole profitable Crosse & Blackwell subsidiary. However Crosse & Blackwell directors found that a confectionery firm was a poor fit for a company largely concerned with preserves.

In 1926 Crosse & Blackwell divested Batger & Co Ltd as a private company under the sole control of Stanley Machin and Joseph Hetherington (1873 – 1937), who had both been associated with the firm for over forty years.

In 1926 there was a strike at the Broad Street factory. The striking employees were all dismissed.

Stanley Machin died in 1939. An obituary hailed him as one of the “leaders of commercial life in the City of London”.

The Broad Street factories were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940. A new factory was opened at 44 Southside, Clapham Common.

In 1969 Batger made a loss of £66,000 on a turnover of £1.2 million. Its net asset value was £301,000.

Batger & Co was acquired by Needlers Ltd of Hull, a confectionery firm, for £263,000 in cash in 1970. The Batger factory in Clapham was closed in 1971, with production relocated to Hull. Two Batger directors, J Hetherington and C Machin, joined Needlers.

The last remaining Batger’s product, Chinese Figs, was discontinued around the year 2000.

In 2002 the Needlers business was acquired by Ashbury Confectionery of Corby, which continues to trade.

Sour grapes: Lipton’s jam

Lipton’s was one of many large preserves factories in Bermondsey. Others included Hartley’s, Pink’s and Lazenby’s (Crosse & Blackwell).

Thomas Lipton opened a jam factory at Rouel Road, Bermondsey, London in 1892.

Lipton had 200 shops through which he sold various grocery goods, including his jam, by 1898.

In 1899 the Sanitary Inspector found two tons of fruit that was “rotten, bad-smelling and in some cases maggoty” at Lipton’s factory. The Inspector said there was no doubt that Lipton’s had intended to use the fruit for jam-making.  Lipton received all of its fruit from contract growers, and was perfectly entitled to reject the fruit, but at the time, demand was high and supply was short. A court fined William Shaw Carmichael, managing director of Lipton’s, £50.

The 1911 Bermondsey women’s strike won higher wages for the staff at Lipton’s factory.

There were over 550 Lipton shops throughout the United Kingdom by 1921.

An additional jam factory had been opened at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, in Britain’s fruit-growing heartland, by 1923.

200 workers at Rouel Road went on strike for one day as a protest against the employment of non-union labour in 1924.

The Home Secretary ordered Lipton’s to provide cloakrooms, mess rooms and washing facilities for its staff at Rouel Road in 1932.

The Lipton jam-making business was acquired by Allied Suppliers in 1934.

Allied Suppliers acquired T W Beach & Sons, preserve manufacturers in 1941.

Rouel Road and Wisbech had a combined annual capacity of 13,000 tons by 1944.

The Rouel Road factory was demolished in March 1969. The site is now occupied by the Lucey Way housing estate.

T W Beach was acquired by Cavenham in 1972. Preserve manufacture was phased out in favour of soft drinks production, and T W Beach became a part of Britvic.

Plenty of bottle: Fletcher’s Sauce of Selby

Fletcher’s was best known for its Tit-Bits and Tiger bottled sauces. Fletchers sauce was sold in Britain into the 1990s.

The son of a prosperous Silsden coal merchant, by 1901 Joshua Percy Fletcher (1879 – 1960) was a drysalter (pickle manufacturer).

Fletcher initially produced sauce at the Airedale Works in Shipley. He also had a glass bottle manufacturing plant in Leeds.

Fletchers (Shipley) Ltd was registered in 1907 with a share capital of £20,000.

By 1911 J P Fletcher described his principal occupation as sauce manufacturing.

Fletcher’s acquired the rights to produce the popular Tit-Bits sauce from Stamp, Bointon, Jnr & Co in 1913.

The sauce and bottling works were transferred to a model garden factory at Selby near York in 1915.

An employee profit-sharing scheme was introduced in 1917. This followed a larger scheme of employee welfare work, such as the encouragement of gardening and other outside interests.

Millions of bottles of Tiger Indian Sauce were sold each year by 1922. A brown sauce, it was so-named due to its spicy nature, influenced by the spices of the Indian subcontinent.

By 1931 Arthur Lambert Foster (born 1880) was managing director, with J P Fletcher assuming the role of chairman.

HP Sauce of Birmingham acquired Fletcher’s Sauce Co Ltd in 1947. HP was motivated by the opportunity to increase its presence in the North of England, particularly Yorkshire. The old management of A L Foster and Tom Byass Fletcher (1912 – 1994) continued.

J P Fletcher left a net estate of £93,324 in 1960.

As late as the 1970s, Fletcher’s was a leading brown sauce in the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire.

HP sold the Selby site to Hazlewood Foods in 1982, and transferred the production of Fletcher’s sauces (to which they retained the rights) to their Birmingham site. Hazlewood manufactured pickles and cooking sauces at Selby.

Tiger Sauce was discontinued in the 1980s, and Tit Bit sauce was discontinued in the early 1990s.

Hazlewood was acquired by Greencore in 2000, who continue to operate a factory at Selby.

 

The acid test: Slee & Co

Slee & Co was a large London vinegar brewer.

Slee & Co was founded by Noah Slee at Church Street, Horsleydown, London in 1812. He was soon joined by Josias Slee (1773 – 1829), who emigrated to London from Honiton, Devon.

From 1823 until 1838 the firm was owned by John Vickers and Noah Slee. By 1834 Vickers & Slee was the fifth largest vinegar brewer in Britain.

In the 1840s the company was owned by Noah Slee, William Payne and Edward Richardson Slee (1815 – 1878). Payne was a brother-in-law.

In 1842 Noah Slee was declared bankrupt, and the business continued as Payne & Slee.

By 1844 Payne & Slee was the fifth largest vinegar brewer in Britain.

In the 1850s the company traded as Payne, Slee & Payne, after William Payne Jr joined the business.

By 1861 the company employed 36 people. By 1871, 49 people were employed.

In 1874 the premises were struck by fire.

Batty & Co, sauce and pickle manufacturers of Finsbury Pavement, was acquired in 1874.

From 1878 the business was run by Cuthbert Britton Slee (1818 – 1900) and Herbert Hutton Slee (1853 – 1933) as Slee, Slee & Co.

Export sales began in earnest, principally to New Zealand, from 1889.

The business became a limited company in 1895.

In 1905 Batty & Co was sold to Heinz, who wanted a British manufacturing facility.

Champion & Co, vinegar brewers of City Road, London was acquired in 1907 to form Champion & Slee Ltd. The company had a share capital of £140,000. The takeover was motivated by the scope for economies of scale. The Slee brand was phased out, but all production was relocated to the Slee premises, where there was ample room for expansion.

A large proportion of production was exported to foreign and colonial markets.

In 1929 Champion & Slee was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell, who merged operations with Sarson’s. The Champion brand was phased out in favour of Sarson’s.

The Slee vinegar works was closed in 1992.

Where there’s muck there’s brass: Hammonds Sauce of Shipley

Today, Hammonds is best known for its Chop Sauce, a light and spicy brown sauce that is available across the United Kingdom.

IMG_20151113_161645

Herbert Bowdin Hawley (1880 – 1952) was born in Grassington, Yorkshire, the son of a farmer of 95 acres.

At the age of 21, Hawley left home with just £10. He worked in a Halifax grocer’s warehouse, and later as a salesman. He had established himself as director of a soap manufacturing company in Shipley, near Bradford by 1911.

He entered into partnership with his brother Richard to form H B and R Hawley Ltd, cake flour manufacturers, in 1914. H B Hawley acted as chairman of the company, which in 1920 had a nominal capital of £50,000.

H B Hawley founded a sauce manufacturing company in 1924. From 1933 it took on the name of Hammonds Sauce Co. Hammonds Chop Sauce was its principal product.

H B Hawley was a keen bandmaster and composer, and in 1946 he formed the Hammonds Sauce Works Band.

H B Hawley died in 1952, and left £27,000 in his will. His son, Horace Routledge Hawley (1911 – 1983), took over the company.

Goodall, Backhouse & Co of Leeds was acquired in 1959. Goodall’s were sauce manufacturers best known for Yorkshire Relish.

Horace Hawley retired as managing director in 1975, but continued as chairman.

In 1982 Hammonds was acquired by Pillsbury UK for £2.4 million. In 1985 Pillsbury relocated all Hammonds production to a new £1 million factory in Bradford, and the Goodall factory in Leeds was closed.

In 1988 Pillsbury was acquired by Grand Metropolitan who sold the UK business to Dalgety in 1991. Later that year Hammonds was acquired by Albert Fisher for £12 million. By 1990 Hammonds had an annual turnover of £11 million.

In 1999 Hammonds was acquired by Unigate. In 2002 the Bradford factory was closed and production of the sauces was relocated to a former vinegar brewery in Lancashire.

Hammonds is currently owned by McCormick, the American seasonings company. Chop Sauce largely consists of apple purée, tomato purée and spices.

Golly gosh: James Robertson & Sons

Robertson’s Golden Shred is the leading marmalade brand in Britain, with around a quarter of the market.

Old Metal Advertisements

James Robertson (1832 – 1914) was a grocer in Paisley, Scotland. His wife developed Golden Shred marmalade in 1866, and its popularity soon saw production begin in earnest.

The grocery business was divested in order to concentrate on marmalade production. Rapid expansion of the business saw a freehold site acquired at Paisley in 1873 where a large factory was erected.

James Robertson circa 1890
James Robertson circa 1890

Rising sales in England saw a factory acquired at Droylsden, Manchester in 1891.

A large factory was erected at Catford, Kent in 1900. A factory had been established at Boston in the United States by 1910.

Robertson’s introduced the golliwog character to the label of its products from 1910 onwards.

A new factory was opened in Bristol in 1914. Estimated output at the site was 150 tons a week.

The Bristol factory
The Bristol factory

Robertson’s described themselves as the “largest manufacturers of marmalade” in 1919.

Robertson’s introduced its own brand of thick-cut marmalade in 1929.

James Robertson & Sons produced more jam and marmalade than anyone else in Britain by 1964. Success was largely confined to the home market, as only an estimated four percent of production was exported.

The company bought 45 percent of the annual crop of Seville oranges by 1965. The company was spending over £1 million a year on glass jars and bottles by 1966.

The Catford factory was closed in 1970, with the loss of 350 jobs. 207 employees were retained for distribution and administrative functions.

The Paisley factory was closed in 1974.

Robertson’s was the largest manufacturer of jam in the United Kingdom by 1979. That year it announced that it would close the Bristol factory, with the loss of 500 jobs. Production would be concentrated at Droylsden.

James Robertson & Sons was acquired by Avana, a foods company, in 1981. The Droylsden factory employed 764 workers, and produced 86 million jars of jam a year by 1986.

Avana was acquired by Rank Hovis McDougall in 1987, who were acquired by Premier Foods in 2007

The Droylsden site was closed in 2008, with the loss of 253 jobs. Production was relocated to Histon in Cambridgeshire.

In 2009 it was announced that the Robertson brand would be discontinued in jam, except for within the catering industry. Premier Foods announced that it would instead concentrate on the more successful Hartley’s brand.

Premier Foods sold its sweet spreads division to Hain Celestial in 2012.

Sauce code: John Burgess & Son of the Strand

Burgess’ Essence of Anchovies was the first branded sauce to enjoy a nationwide reputation in Britain.

John Burgess (1750 – 1820) was the son of an affluent grocer from Odiham in Hampshire. He served an apprenticeship in London, before establishing his own premises at No. 101, the Strand by 1774. An Italian warehouseman, he sold imported specialty foods such as hams and olive oil.

Burgess developed his reputation due to his keen business skills and his honesty. Growing trade saw the business relocate to larger premises at No. 107 the Strand in 1779.

Burgess introduced his Essence of Anchovies in 1775, and by 1788 it was his best known product. His was the original Essence of Anchovies, but it soon inspired imitations from the likes of Elizabeth Lazenby, who began to sell her anchovy sauce from 1793.

In 1800 his only son, William Robert Burgess (1778 – 1853), entered into an equal partnership with his father, and the firm became known as John Burgess & Son.

In 1805 Burgess products were onboard Admiral’s Nelson’s HMS Victory. In 1817 Lord Byron referenced Burgess’s fish sauce in his poem Beppo. In 1823 the novelist Walter Scott claimed that Burgess made the best fish sauce.

After the death of his father in 1820, sole control of the firm passed to William Robert Burgess.

By the 1850s Lazenby and Crosse & Blackwell were encroaching upon Burgess’s market share with their lower-priced versions of Essence of Anchovies.

Whether stubborn or proud, W R Burgess stipulated that the only change in Essence of Anchovies production that he would allow for would be that twelve days’ pounding by two men could be altered to six days’ pounding by four.

After the death of W R Burgess, the business was taken over by his wife, Elizabeth (1804 – 1884) and his son, Arthur Wellington Burgess (1840 – 1900).

In 1869 a fire broke out at the firm’s pickling vaults and storehouses on the Strand. A large quantity of olive oil was destroyed.

In 1870 Arthur Wellington Burgess was declared bankrupt, and the business was taken over by his mother, and his sisters, Mary Ann Burgess and Louisa Elizabeth Burgess.

In 1874 the business was acquired by the Brooks family, relatives of the Burgesses.

In 1901 John Burgess & Son was incorporated as a limited company.

In 1908 the company relocated its manufacturing and offices to Hythe Road, Willesden.

In 1911 the firm was appointed purveyors to George V. That same year, Robert Falcon Scott took Burgess products with him to the Antarctic.

The shop on the Strand was closed in 1914.

A takeover off from George Mason & Co, the manufacturer of OK Sauce, was rejected in 1928.

The Willesden factory was damaged by German bombs in 1940.

Rayner & Co acquired John Burgess & Son from the company directors, who were the sole shareholders, in 1954. Company operations were relocated to Edmonton, North London in 1960.

Burgess creamed horseradish was launched in 1960, following three years of research.

Rayner & Co had sales of just under £2 million in 1971. Burgess creamed horseradish was by now its leading product, a market leader in its field with sales of £100,000 a year. Sales of Essence of Anchovies had steadily declined from their Victorian heyday. Rayner and Burgess was established in 1972 to jointly handle the increasing sales of both companies.

Essence of Anchovies was still being produced as late as 1999. Latterly, its fans had included the celebrity chef Simon Hopkinson.

Rayner Burgess entered liquidation in 2007. The Burgess brand was acquired by Greencore, a large Irish foods company. Burgess pickles and sauces are still sold as of 2016.

Champion & Co: winning vinegar brewers

Champion & Co was one of the largest vinegar brewers in London.

Champion & Co, vinegar brewers of London, was established in 1705.

William Champion (died 1799) had acquired a brewery on City Road by 1794. Upon his death the business was taken over by his son, Thomas Champion (died 1846).

A bottle of Champion’s Celebrated Pure Malt Vinegar, likely dating from the 1920s

 

From 1813 to 1818 the business was known as Champion & Moore, when a Francis Moore joined in partnership. In 1814 the premises was burgled, with £1,000 of valuables stolen.

From 1821 the business was owned by Thomas Champion and Thomas Green, and traded as Champion & Green. In 1830 they were joined by Guy Champion (1786 – 1846), by which time they were manufacturing mustard as well as vinegar.

Champion & Green was the fourth largest vinegar brewer in Britain by 1834. That year, a fire at the works destroyed the building and stock.

According to Charles James Feret, writing in 1900, Guy Champion chanced upon a slave auction whilst in Albania. There he bought a girl, who he brought back to England and married.

Thomas Green had left the business by 1839.

In 1840 the partnership between Guy and Percival Champion, Arthur Mann and William Henry Wright was dissolved. They had been trading under the name Champions, Mann & Wright. The business was transferred to Thomas Champion.

In the 1840s Willis & Wright took over the company, but the Champion family continued to hold a stake.

By 1872 Champion & Co produced well over 1.5 million gallons of vinegar every year. The firm also produced two tons of mustard per day. The works employed 170 workers, almost all skilled.

James Bigwood (1839 – 1919) was the managing partner by 1883. Bigwood was a strong advocate of purity in food products, and was strongly against adulteration.

A new 53,000 gallon vinegar vat was installed in 1883. It took three months to construct from English oak. It joined 46 other similarly-sized vats at the brewery.

There were nearly 200 workmen employed at the brewery by 1883. Many had followed their fathers and grandfathers into the business.

The City Road premises was described as “imposing” in 1890. The brewery was capable of producing up to 10,000 bottles of vinegar every day by 1894.

A Champion & Co bottle, believed to date from the 1890s. Image courtesy of Tim Gunnink

James Bigwood had been joined in the business by his son, James Edward Cecil Bigwood (born 1864) by 1901.

The firm was the oldest established vinegar brewery in London by 1907.

The brewery site, close to the City of London, became highly valuable, and keen to realise its value, James Bigwood and James Edward Cecil Bigwood sold the business to Slee, Slee & Co, a rival vinegar brewer dating to 1812, to form Champion & Slee Ltd in 1907. The company had a share capital of £140,000. Champion production was relocated to the Slee premises at Church Street, Tower Bridge Road, London, where there was ample room for expansion.

A large proportion of production was exported to foreign and colonial markets.

In 1929 Champion & Slee and Sarson’s were acquired by Crosse & Blackwell.

The Champion vinegar brand continued to be advertised until at least the 1950s.

In a pickle: Holbrook’s of Birmingham

Holbrook’s was the highest-selling Worcestershire sauce in the world. It still holds the majority of the Worcestershire sauce market in Australia.

The English Midlands was rapidly displacing London as the centre of the British malting and brewing industry by the 1860s.

John Leslie Tompson (1841 – 1901) established Tompson & Co, vinegar brewers of Ashted Row, Birmingham in 1868 with financial capital provided by his father, John Tompson (born 1812) a wealthy maltster .

William Daniel Holbrook was appointed as manager of the Manchester sales branch in 1874. Tompson & Co began to manufacture pickles and sauces, such as Worcestershire, from 1875. Holbrook enjoyed a strong reputation in the trade, and the company branded these new products under his name.

Frederic Carne Rasch (1847 – 1914) entered the company as an investor in 1875, with a capital of £10,000. A vinegar brewery was acquired in Stourport, Worcestershire in 1876.

John Tompson retired in 1878, and left the business in the control of John Leslie Tompson and Carne Rasch.

The business was converted into a limited liability company called the Birmingham Vinegar Brewery in 1879. It had a nominal capital of £100,000. John Leslie Tompson was appointed as managing director.

A considerable export trade had been developed in Australia by the 1880s.

Private correspondence reveals that Carne Rasch later came to distrust J L Tompson as a swindler. Due to a series of unfortunate personal investments, Tompson was declared bankrupt in 1884.

Ten million bottles of Holbrook’s Worcestershire sauce were sold in 1888. Advertising claimed that sales were high because, “it is the best and cheapest”. It sold for around half the price of the Lea & Perrins product.

The Birmingham Vinegar Brewery had a capital of £150,000 by 1897. It was the second largest vinegar manufacturer in the world. An American subsidiary was established with a share capital of £100,000 in 1898.

Over 5.5 million bottles of Holbrook’s Worcestershire sauce were sold every year by 1898. It was the leading brand of Worcestershire sauce in South Africa and Australasia. Due to its strong export market and lower price, Holbrook’s was the highest selling Worcestershire sauce in the world by this point.

The name of the company was changed to Holbrooks, Limited in 1900. Worcestershire sauce was by far their most important product, although they also produced vinegar and pickles. There were factories in Birmingham and Southport, Worcestershire. The firm enjoyed a large export market.

John Leslie Tompson died in 1901 due to an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

Holbrooks Ltd was the largest brewer of vinegar in the United Kingdom in 1906.

Holbrooks Ltd had an authorized capital of £170,000 in 1913. The company had 600 employees in 1914.

Holbrooks established a factory in Sydney, Australia in 1920. Sited on three acres, it was the largest Worcestershire sauce factory in the British Empire. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of Worcestershire sauce were stored for maturation at any one time. Several hundred workers were permanently employed. The site included its own vinegar brewery and glass bottle factory.

In 1932 Holbrooks advertising claimed that it took three years to produce their Worcestershire sauce.

The Stourport brewery contained vinegar vats that were among the largest in the world by 1935.

The Holbrooks factory in Ashted suffered bomb damage during the Second World War.

By 1951 a total of over 300 million bottles of Holbrook’s Worcestershire Sauce had been sold over the years. It’s 27 ingredients included brandy and sherry, and it was cold-brewed over a five year process.

A cash-flow shortage forced Holbrooks to sell its loss-making UK business to British Vinegars (a joint venture between Crosse & Blackwell and Distillers) for £100,000 in 1954. Under the name of Sauce Holdings, Limited, Holbrooks would continue to operate its profitable Australian and South African subsidiaries independently.

Reckitt & Colman acquired the Australian and South African subsidiaries of Holbrooks for £422,000 in 1955. The deal also included the rights to the brand outside of the UK and Europe.

Reckitt & Colman extended and improved the Australian factory in 1957.

Goodman Fielder acquired the Holbrooks business from Reckitt & Colman in 1998.

The Stourport factory in Worcestershire, which latterly had been brewing Sarson’s vinegar, was closed in 2005.

The Holbrooks brand is no longer in use in Britain, but the trademarks are owned by Premier Foods.

The brand is still going strong in Australia, and remains available in South Africa.

Olde English: Chivers & Sons

Chivers was the first large British firm to locate a jam factory within a fruit orchard. By the early twentieth century, Chivers was one of the largest jam manufacturers in Britain.

Stephen Chivers acquired a small freehold farm in Histon, Cambridgeshire in 1806. His son, John, had served an apprenticeship to a fruit grower, and began to cultivate fruit on the estate. However the journey to market in London took fifty hours.

Fruit was also sold at a depot in Bradford, Yorkshire. There it was discovered that much of their fruit was being bought by jam-makers. The family decided to cut out the middleman, and manufacture jam for themselves.

Beginning in 1873, John’s son Stephen (1824 – 1907) made jam in a small barn on the family estate. The recipe came from a relative who was a chef at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

Two years later a factory was built on land adjoining the village railway station. By 1889 the factory had doubled in size. The firm competed on quality rather than price.

From the 1880s, marmalade, custard powder and table jellies (1888) were produced. By the end of the century, lemon curd and custard powder had been added to production, allowing for year round employment of staff.

Inspired by their strong Baptist faith, the Chivers family had a paternalistic attitude towards their staff, and employee-staff relations were good.

From 1894 the firm began to can English fruits. By this year the company had over 400 regular employees, bolstered by seasonal workers during peak times.

By 1900 Chivers had nationwide distribution, and was the largest jam manufacturer in Britain to grow the fruit itself. The company was incorporated in 1901.

In 1906, 1,200 tons of strawberry and raspberry jam were produced.

In 1907, Olde English thick cut marmalade was introduced.

In 1907 a new fruit canning factory was erected. By 1907 over 1,000 workers were regularly employed by the firm, with hundreds more hired during the fruit season. During peak times, 100 tons of jam were produced daily.

From 1908 Chivers was a private company until it was converted into a public company in 1913.

By 1921 the firm had an output of up to 20,000 tons of jam per year. During the busy season between 2,000 and 3,000 workers were employed. Much of the machinery in the factory was built by Chivers’ own engineers. One machine was able to fill 80,000 tins per day.

A raspberry canning factory was opened in Montrose, Scotland in 1925.

By 1925 the Chivers farm extended to over 5,000 acres, of which 1,500 which given over to orchards.

In 1930 a vegetable canning factory was established in Huntingdon.

By 1931 the Chivers estate covered 6,000 acres. By 1935 the firm had 3,000 employees.

By 1938 the firm was England’s largest canner of fruits and vegetables. About 4,500 people were employed across four factories. The farms had been extended to 7,000 acres, with 3,000 given over to fruit. Between four and five tons of marmalade were produced each year.

The company lost its market leading position after 1945, due to a failure to install modern equipment.

A Chivers jam advertisement from 1952
A Chivers jam advertisement from 1952

Until 1952, all of the ordinary shares were held by descendants of the Chivers family. By 1952 the firm had an authorised share capital of £1.5 million. The company had a large export trade, particularly to the United States and Canada.

Factories at Histon, Huntingdonshire and Montrose in Scotland covered a total of 2.5 million square feet. Freehold farms covered 8,000 acres, and leasehold covered 1,000 acres. There were also manufacturing facilities at York and Wisbech, and Newry in Northern Ireland. The management comprised of members of the Chivers family. There were around 4,000 employees.

Chivers was acquired by Schweppes, the British soft drink manufacturer, in 1959. Schweppes merged the company with other large sweet spreads manufacturers: Hartley’s, Rose’s and Moorhouse, but concentrated production at Histon.

Schweppes was able to provide much needed capital and introduced modern management techniques.

The Chivers family bought back the farming estates from Schweppes in 1962.

The Huntingdon factory closed in 1966.

In 2004 the Chivers brand was withdrawn in Britain (although continued in Ireland). Chivers products such as Olde English marmalade were rebranded under the Hartley’s name.