The sweet and sour history of Haywards pickles

Haywards is the leading pickled vegetable brand in Britain.

Robert Hayward (born 1847) was born at Newington in Southwark, London, the son of a corn merchant. He was a dedicated Baptist.

Hayward established a pickle manufacturing business at Montford Place, Kennington, from 1869. He initially distributed his wares from a horse and cart.


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

Two nephews of Robert Hayward; George Charles Hayward (died 1931) and Joseph Robert Hayward (1870 – 1933), established a subsidiary at Christchurch, New Zealand from 1890. They sold pickles and sauces under the Flag Brand name. It was the largest pickle business in New Zealand by 1896 with over 50 employees. Hayward Brothers operated the largest malt vinegar brewery in New Zealand by 1908.

Hayward Brothers is incorporated as a private limited company
Hayward Brothers was incorporated as a private limited company in 1898. Robert Hayward was chairman and two of his sons, George Joy Hayward (1873 – 1953) and Frank Tresidder Hayward (1876 – 1960), joined as directors alongside his brother Henry.

Haywards Military Pickle had become the leading product line by 1905. 200,000 bottles were sold in London that year. The pickle was made with whole baby onions, gherkins, sultanas, dates, cauliflower, mangoes, plums and apricots.

The business grew quickly, and the Kennington factory was extended in 1907. Military Pickle was the highest-selling pickle in Britain by 1911.

Henry Hayward died in 1925 and 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.

Subsequent ownership
Edward Manwaring Ltd acquired the Haywards pickles trademark in 1956. Production was relocated to their factory on the Bird in Bush Road, London. The Montford Place factory was sold to James Burrough Ltd and became the production centre for Beefeater London Dry Gin from 1958.

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

Melbray Group acquired Harry Peck & Co, a canned meat concern, in 1964 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 acquired by Brooke Bond-Oxo for £1.5 million in 1970.

A new pickle factory was opened at Bury St Edmunds from 1978.

Haywards held 21 percent of the sour pickle market by 1987.

Haywards Pickles was sold to Hillsdown Holdings (later Premier Foods) for an undisclosed price in 1989. The company employed 150 people.

Haywards Military Pickle was discontinued sometime after 1996.

Premier Foods sold its vinegar and sour pickles business, including Haywards, 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.

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