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.

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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.

John Hodge Tobacco Co

The John Hodge Tobacco Company was the largest exporter of dark leaf tobacco from the United States.

John Henderson Hodge (1852 – 1935) was born in Glasgow in 1852 to James Hodge and Catherine (nee Henderson). His father was a partner in J&T Hodge, which operated a tobacco factory employing four men and 18 boys in 1861.

John H Hodge emigrated to the United States in 1876 and established the John Hodge Tobacco Company at Madisonville, Kentucky. He was joined by his brother, Thomas Hodge (born 1859) in 1880.

Hodge married a Kentuckian, Kitty G Hodge (born 1856). His sons included James (born 1881), William R (born 1886) and John H (born 1889).

The Hodge tobacco factory at Henderson, Kentucky was struck by fire in 1895.

In 1902 James Hodge retired from J & T Hodge, tobacco and cigarette manufacturers of St Ninian Street, Glasgow, leaving William Hodge as the sole partner. James R Hodge was a witness to the transaction.

In 1913 the John Hodge Tobacco Co acquired three million pounds of tobacco for about $175,000 in a single transaction.

In 1926 the Hodge Tobacco Co, wholesaler and exporter of Henderson and Hopkins counties, Kentucky, employed 554 people.

John Henderson Hodge died in 1935.

The business was operated by Thomas Hodge (1925 – 2011), the son of William Hodge, until its dissolution in 1972.

Zest for business: L Rose & Co

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

L Rose began to manufacture calcium citrate from 1906.

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

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

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

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

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Lime marmalade production began from the 1930s.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Scotched earth: Hiram Walker & Sons of Scotland

Hiram Walker was a large Canadian whisky distiller. This article traces the history of its British subsidiary, a major distiller of Scotch whisky in its own right.

The Canadian businessman Harry Clifford Hatch (1884 – 1946) acquired Hiram Walker & Sons of Ontario in 1926 and 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, Hiram Walker encountered difficulties procuring 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 on a nine acre site produced three million imperial gallons of whisky each year, mostly grain whisky.

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. In 1950 he introduced a resident flock of geese to act as security guards at the Dumbarton distillery.

Workers at the Dumbarton distillery, taken 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.

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 copany, in 1987.

Alistair Cunningham retired in 1992.

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

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, inventor of instant cocoa

Daniel Dunn invented instant cocoa powder, and his products were widely imitated.

Daniel Dunn (1773 – 1862) was born in modest circumstances at Netherton, Dudley in Worcestershire, the son of a blacksmith. His father taught him 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.

From early in life Dunn demonstrated a propensity for invention. 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.

Among Dunn’s London associates was John Isaac Hawkins, the inventor of the upright piano.

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

Dunn invented soluble cocoa powder in 1819. His method was to add sugar and arrowroot to create a soluble powder. Cocoa could be made in one minute by adding boiling water, whereas previously chocolate had needed boiling for an hour or more.

Charles Hewett (1819 – 1869), also from Dudley, was apprenticed to Dunn by 1841. He had joined Dunn in partnership by 1857, and the firm 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 held to have 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 10 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).

Charles Hewett took over as senior partner of Dunn & Hewett, and continued the tradition of respect and equality with his workforce that Daniel Dunn had initiated.

60 to 70 workers were employed by 1864. The firm was considered a good employer. A workman would be presented with a sovereign upon the birth of a child. The firm organised an annual excursion or dinner for their workers. In 1864 a company funded brass band was established.

Charles Hewett died in 1869, and management of the firm was taken over by 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 in 1876. The firm employed 70 workers in 1881.

Mary Dunn died in 1885.

Arthur Day and John Holm appear to have 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 for Dunn & Hewett at International Exhibitions.

Dunn & Hewett was one of the leading cocoa manufacturers in Britain as late as 1911.

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

Henry Saunders Nunn died in 1925 and left an estate valued at £125,000. The firm was inherited by his son, Henry Thomas Nunn (1878 – 1927), but he died just two years later with a gross estate of £23,102.

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

Just desserts: Pearce Duff

Pearce Duff is the leading blancmange powder brand in Britain.

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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.

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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.