Tag Archives: Caley of Norwich history

A real cracker: A J Caley of Norwich

A J Caley of Norwich was a leading British chocolate manufacturer.

Albert Jarman Caley (1829 – 1895), the son of a silk mercer, opened a chemist shop on High Street, Windsor in 1853. He relocated to London Street, Norwich, where his brother already lived, in 1857.

A J Caley began to manufacture soft drinks from 1862. Soft drinks manufacturing was Caley’s largest branch of trade by 1881.

Due to the seasonal nature of the soft drinks trade, Caley began to produce drinking chocolate from 1883, followed by eating chocolate from 1886.

A J Caley died in 1895 with an estate valued at £22,000.

The firm was converted into a limited liability company, A J Caley & Son, in 1898, with capital of £120,000.

Christmas cracker production commenced from 1898.

700 workers were employed by 1904.

The Caley works in Norwich were built after the First World War at a cost of over £500,000, and employed 1,000 people.

A J Caley & Son was acquired by the Lever Brothers-controlled United Africa Company in 1919. Capital was increased from £120,000 to £1 million. Four new factories were completed at a cost of around £500,000 in 1920, which allowed production capacity to treble.

A J Caley & Son was perhaps best known for its Easter Egg production by this period.

A J Caley & Son was loss-making by the early 1930s, and the factory was about to be closed.

John Mackintosh & Sons of Halifax acquired A J Caley & Son for £138,000 in 1932. Caley mostly manufactured chocolate, but also Christmas crackers and soft drinks.

Mackintosh was motivated by the opportunity to increase its productive capacity, which had outgrown their own Halifax site. In the first year of acquisition the Caley works was greatly expanded.

In order to make A J Caley profitable, hundreds of product lines and several departments were discontinued, and some employee redundancies had to be made. However there were nearly 1,500 employees at Norwich by 1935, more than ever before.

Caley’s expertise in chocolate manufacture allowed Mackintosh to introduce new product lines such as Rolo and Quality Street.

Caley initially operated under independent management, but control was brought under the Mackintosh umbrella from 1939.

The Caley factory was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, and had to be rebuilt.

The Caley’s brand name was phased out in the early 1960s.

The Norwich factory was closed in 1994, and demolished ten years later.