Borwick’s was the highest-selling baking powder in the world.
George Borwick establishes the business
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.
Borwick’s brother in law, Robert Spear Hudson (1812 – 1884), had introduced the first successful commercial soap powder in 1837. A trained chemist, Hudson gifted his formula for baking powder to Borwick.
Borwick relocated to 18 Aldermanbury, London, to work as a wholesale agent selling Hudson’s washing and bleaching powder as well as his new baking powder, from 1844.
“Borwick’s German Baking Powder” received a recommendation from the private baker to Queen Victoria in 1849.
The firm traded as Borwick & Priestley, wholesale druggists and drysalters of 24 and 25 London Wall, London, between 1850 and 1852.
Borwick also introduced a successful egg powder.
Dr Hassall (1817 – 1894) 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 sales 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 from 1864.
George Borwick & Sons
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. They were made partners by 1870, and the firm traded as George Borwick & Sons.
George Borwick & Sons was awarded a Royal Warrant for supply of baking powder to the Queen of the Netherlands in 1870.
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 Borwick was knighted in 1902.
George Borwick & Sons was registered as a limited liability company with a capital of £100,000 in 1902.
Joseph Borwick died with property valued at £159,419 in 1913.
Robert Borwick had retired from active management of George Borwick & Sons by 1915. His eldest son, Robert Geoffrey Borwick (1887 – 1961), took over as chairman of the business.
Robert Borwick was created a baronet in 1916, and elevated to the peerage from 1922. He died in 1936 with an estate valued at £361,000.
George Borwick & Sons had its premises at 42-44 Croydon Road, London by 1949.
Takeover and subsequent history
George Borwick & Sons was sold to H J Green & Co of Brighton, a traditional family-managed manufacturer of sponge mixes, in 1955.
H J Green was acquired by Pillsbury of Minneapolis in 1964.
A new factory was established at Rotherham, Yorkshire, in 1979.
Pillsbury was taken over by Grand Metropolitan in 1989. H J Green was sold to Dalgety in 1990. Dalgety sold its food ingredients business, including H J Green, to Kerry Group of Ireland in 1998.
Borwick’s baking powder continues to be sold across Britain.