Category Archives: Food

Appeeling: Frank Cooper’s marmalade

Frank Cooper’s is one of the best known marmalade brands in Britain.

Sarah Cooper (1848 – 1932) filled the first jars of Frank Cooper marmalade in 1874, using a recipe from her mother. Her husband, Frank Cooper (1844 – 1927), owned a grocery business on 83-84 High Street, Oxford, formerly the premises of the Angel Hotel.

Sarah Cooper continued to produce the marmalade in the kitchen of the Angel Hotel, Oxford, until she entered retirement in 1899. Production was relocated to a purpose-built factory on Park End Street, Oxford in 1901.

The business was registered as Frank Cooper Ltd in 1913. The company had a Royal Warrant from the King by 1914.

Sarah Cooper died in 1932. In her obituary the Yorkshire Post went as far as to describe her as the founder of the company.

The company employed about 100 people by 1938.

Production of the marmalade was relocated to Botley Road, Oxford, in the former premises of an ice rink, in 1947.

One quarter of the company’s capital of £350,000 was offered to the public in 1961, it’s first public offering.

An eleven acre site was acquired at Wantage to provide additional production capacity in 1963. Around 15 percent of production was exported overseas by 1964.

Frank Cooper Ltd was acquired by Brown & Polson for £866,250 in cash in 1964. The company cited increasing costs and a lack of capital as its motivation for agreeing to the takeover.

Brown & Polson was able to afford Frank Cooper’s range of five marmalades and eleven jams and jellies wider distribution.

Brown & Polson relocated production of Frank Cooper’s to its factory in Paisley, Scotland in 1967.

Heinz acquired the Frank Cooper’s brand in 1997. By this time the product was manufactured at a site in Redditch, Worcestershire.

It was later acquired by Rank Hovis McDougall, a large British consumer foods group. RHM was acquired by Premier Foods in 2006. Premier sold its sweet spreads business to Hain Celestial in 2012.

The NICE biscuit makers: Huntley & Palmer (Part II)

This article continues from Part I. Part II chronicles the decline of Huntley & Palmer.

George Palmer (1818 – 1897), the driving force behind the firm, died in 1897 and the following year Huntley & Palmer was registered as a private limited company. The company had 4,000 employees in 1899.

Huntley & Palmer was the 38th largest British industrial company in 1905, with a capital of £2.4 million (c. £255 million in 2014). It had 6,500 employees.

Huntley & Palmer introduced the coconut-flavoured NICE biscuit in 1904. Iced gems were introduced in 1910. The company pioneered the manufacture of cakes for grocers shops.

Huntley & Palmer, as late as 1910, largely eschewed advertising.

By 1911 the company had a regular staff of 7,000, not counting the additional workers taken on during peak times. That year, Huntley & Palmer was accused of dismissing without notice workers who were affiliated with trade unions, although company officials denied the accusation.

By 1914 almost half of production was exported, 50 percent of which was destined for the Far East and Africa. The export trade was slow to rebuild after the First World War; in 1924 only 25 percent of output was exported. Meanwhile, domestic sales declined as H&P failed to introduce new products or update existing ones. Marketing was poor, with inadequate advertising, fewer salesman than other firms and no depots outside Reading.

It has been argued that Huntley & Palmer had too many product lines to produce efficiently, and that the Palmer family paid themselves overly generous dividends and salaries, funds which might otherwise have been reinvested into the business.

By 1920 Huntley & Palmer operated 24 acres of factories across 36 acres of floorspace. 90 percent of the thousands of tons of flour used annually was grown and milled in the area around Reading. The Osborne (similar to a digestive) was their most popular biscuit, followed by the Marie (rich tea) and the Ginger Nut.

High income tax and death duties persuaded H&P to merge with Peek Frean of London, under a holding company called Associated Biscuit Manufacturers, in 1921. Individual production and marketing strategies were maintained by the two companies.

By neglecting the commodity category of the biscuit market, ABM’s domestic market share had declined to 15 percent.

William Howard Palmer died in 1923 with an estate valued at £536,794.

In 1923 a factory was opened near Paris. At the time it was decried in Britain as the transfer of jobs overseas.

In 1924, 80 percent of the 6,000 strong workforce at the Reading factory went on strike. The dispute, regarding worker efficiency, was settled within three days. Huntley & Palmer agreed to recognise the worker’s union.

By 1927 Peek Frean turnover and profits had exceeded those of Huntley & Palmer. Peek Frean installed automated biscuit plants in the early 1930s, but H&P did not do so until 1938.

In 1935 ABM employed 7,245 people.

Two large rivals emerged: by 1938 the value biscuit manufacturer George Weston Ltd had established production volumes that equalled ABM. In 1948 the Scottish firms McVitie & Price and MacFarlane Lang merged to form United Biscuits, with 3,350 employees.

In 1949 factories were opened in Canada, the United States and Australia. In 1954 the Peek Frean factory employed 3,700 and the Huntley & Palmer factory employed 3,000. A new factory was opened in Huyton, Liverpool in 1955.

The Cornish Wafer was H&P’s highest selling biscuit by 1954. Associated Biscuits concentrated on cream, savoury and assorted biscuits. Around 15 to 20 percent of production was exported in 1959.

Jacob’s, the third largest biscuit manufacturer in Britain, was acquired by ABM in 1960. ABM was reorganised as Associated Biscuits in 1969. In 1972 AB employed 9,856 people. From 1972 the company dedicated the vast majority of its advertising spend on the Jacob’s brand. One third of sales came from overseas, with factories in Australia, Canada and India.

Associated Biscuits had an 18 percent share of the British biscuit market by 1976. It was behind United Biscuits with 40 percent. The Reading factory was closed that year, and production was relocated to Liverpool.

In 1982 Associated Biscuits employed over 14,000 people in Britain, and 3,100 overseas.

Nabisco, the American manufacturer of Shredded Wheat and Ritz crackers, acquired Associated Biscuits in 1982. Nabisco was interested in the Huntley & Palmer brand, as well as its worldwide distribution network, particularly in Singapore, Canada, France and Germany.

The Huyton factory was closed in 1984 with the loss of 770 jobs, and production was relocated to Aintree, Liverpool.

Huntley & Palmer was positioned as the Associated Biscuits premium sweet biscuit brand. However by 1988 it counted for just five percent of company production by weight.

Nabisco did not successfully manage their British biscuit operations. Their market share in biscuits declined to 11.7 percent by 1988, and they were forced to reverse their decision to discontinue production of Bath Oliver biscuits following popular protest.

The Peek Frean factory at Bermondsey was closed in 1989 with the loss of 1,022 jobs. The site was closed due to high overheads and traffic congestion. Production was transferred to Aintree and Leicestershire.

Associated Biscuits was acquired by BSN of France in 1989.

The Huntley & Palmer brand was phased out in favour of the Jacob’s name in 1990. It made sense to concentrate resources behind a single brand, and the Jacob’s name was better known, and believed to have a more contemporary image than the Huntley & Palmer brand. Huntley & Palmer products subjected to a re-branding included Romany and Crumbles.

The head office was relocated from Reading to Liverpool in 1996.

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

Former Huntley & Palmer products such as Lemon Puffs and Cornish Wafers are still sold under the Jacob’s brand, and Thin Arrowroots under the McVitie’s name.

Minted: R S Murray & Co

R S Murray & Co introduced American style caramels to Britain, and is best known for Murray Mints.

Robert Stuart Murray (1854 – 1912), a confectionery salesman from Chicago, found a ready sale for his American style caramels, made from milk or cream and sugar, in Victorian England.

Strong demand for the imported caramels saw Murray establish a factory at 67 Turnmill Street, Clerkenwell, London in 1882. He was joined in partnership by Charles Hubbard and Walter Michael Price.

£8,000 worth of caramel producing machinery was imported from America. The factory employed 300 workers, and five to six tons of confectionery were produced on a daily basis.

R S Murray & Co was registered as a limited company with a capital of £50,000 in 1900.

The company had diversified into chocolate manufacturing by 1911.

There was a strike at R S Murray & Co in 1911. The largely female strikers were agitated by the women’s’ rights campaigner Mary Macarthur.

Robert Stuart Murray died in 1912 with an estate valued at £22,844. His stake in the business was inherited by his son, Robert William Murray (born 1885).

Herbert John Norton (1874 – 1958) was nominated managing director in 1912. He was appointed chairman following the First World War.

The works covered over three acres by 1914, and a staff of 1,500 to 2,000 was employed.

A manufacturing subsidiary was established in Australia in 1920, located at De Carle Street, East Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne. The factory employed over 300 people by 1931.

A manufacturing presence was established in Ireland as a joint venture called Clarnico Murray from 1926.

R S Murray & Co was acquired by C & E Morton Ltd, a food manufacturer, in 1936.

The Australian subsidiary was acquired by Rowntree of York in 1942.

C & E Morton was acquired by Beecham, a consumer goods concern, for £180,000 in 1945.

In an attempt to build scale in confectionery, Beecham acquired James Pascall in 1959. Following the takeover, Beecham focused its marketing efforts on Pascall products, rather than the Murray range.

Beecham were successful marketers, but they struggled with the highly competitive confectionery industry, and Pascal Murray was sold to Cadbury Fry in 1964.

Clarnico Murray had around ten percent of the Irish confectionery market by 1969. The Irish factory was closed in 1974, and the market was thereafter served by imports from Britain.

The sweet and sour history of Haywards pickles

Hayward’s is the leading pickled vegetable brand in Britain.


Robert Hayward (born 1847) was born in Lambeth, London. He established his pickle manufacturing business at Montford Place, Kennington, in 1869.

Hayward Brothers was established in 1880 when Robert was joined by his brother Henry (1852 – 1925). Three men and five boys were employed at the firm by 1881.

Relations of the family, George Charles Hayward (died 1931) and Joseph Robert Hayward (1870 – 1933) established a subsidiary at Christchurch, New Zealand in 1890. They sold pickles and sauces under the Flag Brand name. By 1896 it was the largest pickle company in New Zealand with over 50 employees, and exports had commenced to Australia. Factory floor space covered 21,000 square feet by 1903. Hayward Brothers operated the largest malt vinegar brewery in New Zealand by 1908.

A large three storey storehouse on Bowden Street, Kennington, was destroyed by fire in 1895.

Hayward Brothers was incorporated as a limited company in 1898.

200,000 bottles of Haywards Military Pickle were sold in London in 1905. By this time it was the company’s leading product line. By 1911 it was the highest selling pickle in Britain.

In 1914 Robert Hayward was chairman, and his fellow directors were his brother Henry Hayward, and his two sons, George Joy Hayward (1873 – 1953) and Frank Tresidder Hayward (1876 – 1960).

When Henry Hayward died in 1925 he left an estate valued at £28,719.

A V-1 flying bomb caused significant damage to the factory in 1944.

George J Hayward died in 1953 with an estate valued at £16,384.

Edward Manwaring Ltd acquired the Haywards pickles trademark in 1956. They relocated production to their factory on the Bird in Bush Road, London. The Montford Place factory became the production site for Beefeater London Dry Gin in 1958.

Hayward’s Food Products was acquired by the Melbray Group for £473,000 in 1963. The Manwaring family remained the largest shareholders.

In 1964 Melbray acquired Harry Peck & Co, a canned meat concern, and merged it with Haywards to form Hayward-Peck. Peck’s products were canned tongue, and meat and fish pastes, including own-label produce for Harrod’s.

Hayward-Peck had been mainly based in the South East of England, but a national distribution network was established from 1964.

Hayward Peck was sold to Brooke Bond-Oxo for £1.5 million in 1970.

A new pickle factory was opened at Bury St Edmunds in 1978. The company employed 150 people by 1989.

Haywards Pickles was sold to Hillsdown Holdings (later Premier Foods) in 1989 for an undisclosed price. Haywards was the market leader in the sour pickle market, with a 14 percent share and an annual turnover of around £10 million.

Hayward’s main products were sweet, sour and mixed pickles in 1996. The company employed 120 people and had an annual turnover of around £10 million. Haywards sweet Military Pickle was still available as late as 1997, but has since been discontinued.

Premier Foods sold its vinegar and sour pickles business, including Hayward’s, to Mizkan of Japan for £41 million in 2012.

As of 2016, Haywards vegetables in vinegar are produced at Middleton, Manchester, and Hayward’s pickles are manufactured at Bury St Edmunds.

Edward Manwaring

Edward Manwaring (1842 – 1884) was born in Burwash, Sussex, the son of an innkeeper. He served an apprenticeship with a grocer who dealt in imported foodstuffs.

Manwaring established his own pickles business on Old Kent Road, London in May 1863. He was aided by a £100 loan from the Samuel Wilson Trust. By 1871 he employed eight men and five boys in Camberwell.

Edward Manwaring (1866 – 1931) was born in Camberwell, London. Following the death of his father in 1884 he took over the business.

Edward Manwaring was chairman and managing director of the company until his death in 1931. His estate was valued at £51,431.

Edward Manwaring Limited acquired the Haywards pickles brand in 1956. The company renamed itself Haywards Food Products.

The business was managed by great grandsons of the founder, Edward and Stuart Wade, by the 1960s.

Haywards Food Products was acquired by Melbray Food Group in 1963 for £450,000.

Just desserts: Pearce Duff

Pearce Duff is the leading blancmange powder brand in Britain.


The firm was established by William Pearce and William Henry Duff (1793 – 1874), a Hampshire-born cook, in 1847. Initially the business was operated from a private home. Baking powder and egg substitute powder were the first products.

Pearce Duff were advertising by 1866. At this time the firm was based at 42 Long Lane, Borough, London.

By 1884 control of the firm had passed to George Pearce and Daniel Duff (1837 – 1917).

The business was relocated to Rouel Road, Bermondsey on the former premises of Young & Co, a glue manufacturer, from 1890.

The Pearce Duff factory on Rouel Road/Spa Road, Bermondsey
The Pearce Duff factory on Rouel Road/Spa Road, Bermondsey

In 1914 the partners were Daniel Duff, Mrs Elizabeth Jane Duff (born 1870), Daniel Duff Jr (1879 – 1953), James Thomas Hosking (1856 – 1922) and Leslie George Cockhead (1861 – 1947). Nearly 500 people were employed at Rouel Road factory, which spanned five storeys.

Elizabeth Jane Duff was the granddaughter of William Pearce.

J T Hosking retired from the partnership in 1916.

Daniel Duff died in 1917 with an estate valued at £65,091.

Pearce Duff & Co had been registered as a private limited company by 1937.

Daniel Duff Jr was managing director of Pearce Duff & Co by 1939.

L G Cockhead died in 1947 with an estate valued at £90,327. His nurse, with whom he was romantically involved, was granted an inheritance of £20,000.

Daniel Duff Jr  died in 1953 with an estate valued at £165,026.

Mechanisation and automation of the factory was completed in the mid 1950s. A fully-automated plant for manufacturing custard powder was installed in 1957. Products were exported to 77 countries.

The business remained family-owned, and in the late 1950s four members of the Duff family sat on the board of directors.

In 1961 H G Green & Co Ltd of Brighton, manufacturer of cake mixes and George Borwick baking powder, proposed a merger. However the amalgamation was abandoned following insufficient shareholder support.

Nearly 30 percent of production was exported by 1962.

A factory was acquired at Annan, Dumfriesshire to manufacture jellies in 1965.

Hugh Bidwell (1934 -2013) became managing director of Pearce & Duff in 1970, and was chairman from 1971.

Marela Ltd was acquired from W R Grace of New York in 1973. Marela manufactured pickles and Fardon’s sauces and vinegar. In return, W R Grace and Barings Bank took a 40 percent stake in Pearce Duff. The acquisition gave Pearce Duff an annual turnover of around £4.5 million.

The Bermondsey and Annan factories were closed in 1974, and production was relocated to a new factory at Dunstable, near Luton. 50 jobs were relocated to the new location, but 250 jobs were lost. The Dunstable site employed 250 people.

Pearce Duff won a Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in 1979.

Pearce Duff sorbet mix, probably from the 1980s
Pearce Duff sorbet mix, probably from the 1980s

James Ashby & Sons, tea and coffee importers of London, was acquired in 1983. The purchase took Pearce Duff annual turnover to over £16 million.

Hugh Bidwell and Sir Kenneth Cork had acquired the majority of Pearce Duff when it was sold to Gill & Duffus, the largest cocoa trader in the world, for £4 million in 1984.

Dalgety acquired Gill & Duffus the following year. Dalgety merged Pearce Duff with its own Spillers Homepride division.

Dalgety sold its food ingredients business, including Pearce Duff, to Kerry Group of Ireland in 1998.

Pearce Duff blancmange powder is manufactured in Rotherham, Yorkshire, and as of 2006 sells 700,000 units a year, worth £0.5 million in retail sales.

Pearce Duff is the leading brand of baking powder in West Africa and the Middle East.

Pearce Duff custard powder has been discontinued in Britain, but it is still sold in Pakistan and Spain.

Baking point: George Borwick & Sons

Borwick’s was the highest selling baking powder in the world.

George Borwick (1807 – 1889) was born in Cartmel, Lancashire. He worked as a teacher in West Bromwich and married Jane Hudson (1807 – 1868), the daughter of a Congregationalist minister, in 1831.

His brother in law, Robert Spear Hudson (1812 – 1884), had introduced the first successful commercial soap powder in 1837. A trained chemist, Hudson gifted his baking powder formula to Borwick.

Borwick moved to 18 Aldermanbury, London in 1844 to work as a wholesale agent selling Hudson’s washing and bleaching powder as well as his new baking powder.

“Borwick’s German Baking Powder” received a recommendation from the private baker to Queen Victoria in 1849.

Between 1850 and 1852 the firm was trading as Borwick & Priestley, wholesale druggists and drysalters of 24 and 25 London Wall, London.

Borwick also introduced a successful egg powder.

Dr Hassall analysed Borwick’s baking powder in 1855 and found it to consist of tartaric acid, soda (or maybe potassium carbonate), ground rice, a small amount of wheat flour and possibly a little sugar.

Borwick’s returns averaged £12,000 to £14,000 a year between 1845 and 1857.

Borwick’s baking powder and egg powder became some of the first widely known consumer products in Britain.

George Borwick employed 75 men and boys and 8 girls in 1861.

Growing sales saw premises relocated to 24 Chiswell Street, Finsbury in 1864.

Robert Hudson Borwick (1845 – 1936) and Joseph Cooksey Borwick (1847 – 1913), sons of George Borwick, entered the business in 1865 after a brief period working as manufacturing confectioners. By 1870 they were partners, and the firm traded as George Borwick & Sons.

In 1870 the firm was awarded a Royal Warrant for baking powder from the Queen of the Netherlands.

Borwick’s baking powder won its fifth gold medal at an International Exhibition in 1882.

George Borwick had retired to Devon by 1881, and he died in 1889. The value of his personal estate was estimated at £259,740. The firm was left to Robert and Joseph, whilst his eldest son Alfred (born 1837) inherited his estate at Walthamstow.

600,000 packets of Borwick’s baking powder were sold every week by 1896.

Robert H Borwick was knighted in 1902.

George Borwick & Sons was registered as a limited liability company in 1902 with a capital of £100,000.

Joseph C Borwick died in 1913 with property valued at £159,419.

Robert H Borwick was elevated to the peerage in 1922.

George Borwick & Sons had its premises at 42-44 Croydon Road, London by 1949.

H J Green & Co of Brighton, manufacturer of sponge mix, acquired George Borwick & Sons in 1955. Both were traditional family businesses.

H J Green had been acquired by Pillsbury by 1984. Pillsbury was taken over by Grand Metropolitan in 1989. Green’s of Brighton was sold to Dalgety in 1990. Dalgety sold its food ingredients business, including Green’s, to Kerry Group of Ireland in 1998.

As of 2016, Borwick’s baking powder is manufactured by Kerry Foods at its facility in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Starch in their eyes: Brown & Polson

Brown & Polson corn flour is one of the oldest surviving grocery brands in Britain.

John Polson (1800 – 1843), William Polson (1810 – 1893) and John Brown (1806 -1889) merged their starch manufacturing interests in 1842 to form Brown & Polson with a factory at Thrushcraigs, Paisley.

Brown & Polson had been appointed starch manufacturer to Queen Victoria by 1853.

John Polson Jr (1825 – 1900) discovered a method for manufacturing pure starch from maize, which he called corn flour. He patented the process in 1854. It was the first corn flour to be manufactured in Britain.


Corn flour was a thickening agent for foods, advertised as a substitute for arrowroot, and used to make custard, blancmange, puddings and cakes.

The Thurscraig works were sold off in 1857, and production was relocated to the Royal Starch Works at Carriagehill, Paisley.

William Polson left the partnership in 1857 to enter into starch manufacture for himself.

In a major promotional coup for the firm, the influential Dr Hassall confirmed the purity of Brown & Polson corn flour in 1858.

Brown & Polson employed 32 men and 60 women by 1861.

A factory fire in 1866 caused damage estimated at £40,000 to £50,000. Two boys lost their lives by venturing too close to the burning building.

Brown & Polson employed around 200 people in 1871. The firm introduced a profit sharing scheme for its workforce from 1873.

In 1879 the partners were John Polson Jr, John Brown and John Armour Brown (1839 – 1924).

John Polson Jr was a practical and thrifty man, as well as a generous benefactor.

John Polson
John Polson Jr (1825 – 1900)

John Armour Brown was head of Brown & Polson by 1881. He was a strong, practical man, with a keen intellect.

Brown & Polson employed 277 people in 1881, including 89 men, 14 women, 86 boys and 88 girls.

Brown & Polson converted the by-product of corn flour manufacture into animal feed, which by 1884 had become a significant part of the business in its own right.

Brown & Polson was considered an enlightened employer. The firm was proud to announce in 1893 that a worker had never encountered the loss of a life or a limb in their factories, and the workforce had never gone on strike.

Brown & Polson office building, Paisley
Brown & Polson office building, Paisley

Currie & Co, starch and corn flour manufacturer of Murray Street, Paisley, was acquired from the executrix of James Currie Auchencloss in 1897.

John Polson died in 1900 with an estate valued at £349,059.

Brown & Polson acquired William Polson & Co in 1904.

Brown & Polson Limited was formed as a private company with a capital of £500,000 in 1920.

William Wotherspoon Ltd, a Paisley starch manufacturer, was acquired in 1923. William Mackean Ltd, another Paisley starch manufacturer, was also acquired.

In 1924 John Armour Brown died with an estate valued at £231,654.

Brown & Polson’s blancmange was being advertised by 1933.

Share capital was increased to £600,000 in 1935.

Corn Products Co of the United States, which had a factory at Trafford Park, Manchester, acquired Brown & Polson in 1935.

In 1946 the head office was relocated to Wellington House, 125-130 the Strand, London.

A strike regarding pay affected all three Paisley starch factories in 1948. A total of 1,000 workers came out.

Brown & Polson sold 200,000 tons of starch a year by 1952.

In 1953 the company redeveloped its factory at Trafford Park to create the largest glucose manufacturing site in Europe.

The William Mackean factory in Paisley was closed in 1954.

George Clark & Son, sugar processor of Millwall, was acquired in 1956.

The Wotherspoon factory at Maxwellton, Paisley was closed in 1957. 40 staff were relocated to the Brown & Polson factory, but 170 jobs were lost.

Corn Products Co merged with Bestfoods of America in 1959.

A massive explosion at the Paisley animal feeding-stuff drying plant killed five men in 1962. 900 workers were employed at the factory, and fatalities would have been much higher if the incident had occurred during the day shift.

Brown & Polson employed over 500 people in 1962. In 1963 the head office was relocated to Claygate, Surrey.

A £750,000 extension of the Paisley site was completed in 1964.

Brown & Polson acquired Frank Cooper, an Oxford marmalade manufacturer in 1964 for £866,250 in cash.

Brown & Polson sold its Millwall sugar business to Tate & Lyle in 1964.

Knorr stock cubes and soups were manufactured at Paisley from the mid 1960s.

From 1965 until 1975, Brown & Polson had the licence to manufacture Gerber baby food for the British market. It held 13 percent of the British baby food market in 1969.

Brown & Polson produced at least one third of the United Kingdom’s glucose in 1971.

Brown & Polson was renamed CPC (United Kingdom) Ltd in 1971.

3,200 people were employed in 1973.

Brown & Polson introduced an instant custard powder in 1978. The launch was supported by a £1 million television advertising campaign.

Brown & Polson blancmange mix was discontinued in Britain in the 1990s.

The Paisley factory employed 450 people in 1992, mostly in the manufacture of Knorr stock cubes and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

345 Paisley workers lost their jobs when Knorr production was relocated to moderner plants in France and Italy in 1993.

Unilever acquired Corn Products Co (by now known as Bestfoods) in 2000.

The Paisley factory was closed in 2002. 66 jobs were lost as mayonnaise production was relocated to the Netherlands.

Unilever sold Brown & Polson to Premier Foods in 2003.

Brown & Polson corn flour is still available in Britain. In 2011 the brand was valued by its owner at £2.75 million.

Brown & Polson is the market leading custard powder brand in India, where it is owned by Hindustan Lever, a Unilever affiliate.

Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs

Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs was the largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in Britain.

Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs was founded as a peel manufacturer at Hackney Wick in 1872. At the instigation of Robert Coombs (1836 – 1919), the partners established a confectionery subsidiary called Clarnico.

The company employed 300 people by 1881. Clarnico was one of the largest confectionery companies in Britain by 1886. Clarke, Nickolls & Coombs was incorporated with a share capital of £80,000 in 1887.

The company introduced a profit-sharing scheme for its workforce in 1890. After paying a six percent dividend, the company split the remaining profit equally between the shareholders and the workforce. 840 people shared a total of £1,700 in 1893.

1,000 men were employed in 1891. Around 1,300 people were employed by 1892. This had risen to 2,000 by 1899.

Between the wars, Clarnico was the largest sugar confectionery company in Britain. Over 700 different varieties of sweets were produced.

A manufacturing presence was established in Ireland as a joint venture called Clarnico Murray from 1926.

By 1967 the company had an issued capital of £250,000. The confectionery arm of the company made a profit loss for the 1967-8 year. The company had failed to adapt, and it was acquired by Trebor of London for £900,000 in 1969.

Clarnico Murray had around ten percent of the Irish confectionery market by 1969. In 1974 the Irish manufacturing presence was closed down, and the market was thereafter served by imports from Britain.

Clarnico Mint Creams are still manufactured by Bassett’s, a subsidiary of Cadbury.


Yeast resistance: Marmite

Marmite is a thick, black yeast extract product. Around 25 million jars are sold every year.


Marmite was invented by German scientist Justus von Liebig (1803 – 1873) in the late nineteenth century.

The Marmite Food Extract Company was incorporated in Britain in 1902, headed by a retired Swiss sugar merchant called Frederick Wissler. Marmite was initially produced at Mincing Lane, London.

By 1906 production had been relocated to a disused malt house at Cross Street in Burton upon Trent, and a Mr Schmidt was manager of the company. Mincing Lane House, London, became the company headquarters. As a centre of British brewing, Burton provided ample supplies of yeast, the principal ingredient of Marmite.

The product’s reputation grew as a health product, and during the First World War it was added to soldiers’ rations to prevent Vitamin B1 deficiency.

Following the death of the company’s first chairman, Marmite was acquired by Bovril in 1924.

In 1927 a second factory was opened at Vauxhall, London.

The Burton factory relocated to Wellington Road, Burton, in 1952.

The Vauxhall factory closed in 1967.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company, acquired Marmite in 2000.

In 2006 a less viscous version of Marmite was launched in squeezy bottles.

As of 2015, the Burton factory produces 25 million jars of Marmite every year. Around 15 percent of the total is exported, mostly to former British colonies. Sri Lanka is a major market, where it is mixed into porridge.

A mixture of ale and lager yeasts are used to create Marmite. Much of the yeast is still sourced from the Molson Coors (formerly Bass) and Marston’s breweries in Burton. The automated factory employs around 60 people. Before distribution, Marmite is matured for seven days.