Industry, Commerce & Business Entrepreneurs
Bond Co Limited - Tea Manufacturers
Brooke, opened his first shop at 29 Market Street, Manchester
in 1869 to sell his own brands of sugar, tea and coffee. His
products were to become universally known by the name "Brooke
Bond", still one of the major names in tea manufacture today.
Actually, there never was a Mr Bond - Brooke added it to his
name just because he thought it sounded elegant and made his
company seem more important. He was born in 1845 in the flat
above his father's wholesale tea shop in George Street, Ashton-under-Lyne.
As a young man, Arthur went into the textile trade, but this
was short lived as his employer went bankrupt. Therefore, at
the age of 24, with £400 saved up, he opened his first shop.
Operating on a strictly cash basis, he offered his own packaged
blends of tea and coffee at very low prices, and based on a
system of rapid turn around of stock. His teas were particularly
consistent and soon found favour with the public, and his fair
trading impressed local grocers. In 1898 Brooke released his
"True Tea" at 10d (ie, 10 Old Pence - about 4p) a pound. Later,
his PG Tips Teas were selling nation-wide, with new shops opening
in Liverpool, Leeds and Bradford - two further shops opened
in London, (but both failed initially).
He married at age 30 and moved to live in Stonebridge Park,
Willesden. Decline in the tea industry in the 1870s forced him
to sell all of his house, as well as several shops in Scotland.
However, the wholesale bulk trade side of the business survived
and this was where his fortune was eventually made as major
department stores and grocery chains were eager to sell his
Today, Brooke Bond Teas are part of Van Den Bergh Foods Limited
(part of Unilever) and operate a major production factory in
They employ over 3,000 people nation-wide, with 480 based in
the Manchester area. Over 200 million Brooke Bond teabags and
half a million packets of loose tea are consumed in the United
Kingdom every year!
D Williams & Co - Worldwide Wholesale Warehousing
1856 James David Williams set up a wheelbarrow carting business
with the princely sum of £13.10 shillings (£13.50) and a small
loan in Brackwell near Alpeton, and found, much to his pleasure
and surprise, that he earned £10.15 shillings (£10.75) on his
very first day. He realised that there was a fortune to be made
in delivery, and searched for the most promising base from which
to operate. He settled on Manchester as the most rapidly developing
centre of commerce. When the Post Office launched it's Parcel
Post Service in 1882, JD saw the potential of a letter based
or mail order delivery service, and by 1887 he had three delivery
"vans" taking parcels to and fro between his base in Manchester's
Watling Street and the General Post Office.
In 1888 he bought the premises at 34 Charlotte Street, and in
1907 his first purpose built warehouse was completed in Dale
Street. JD Williams became a limited company in 1921, by which
time the business had grown so large that JD's four sons were
effectively co-running the business.
JD, known as "the Governor" to his employees, died in 1925.
In 1963 the company was bought out by Cooper-Taymil Limited,
a subsidiary of Alliance Brothers. Other mail order companies
were added later, including Quality Post from the Burton Group,
Halwins, and the Northern Irish company Aldrex in 1987. Bury
Boot & Shoe Company were acquired, as was Whitfords, and the
small mail order business of Heather Valley. By the late 1980s
the company was publishing specialist clothing catalogues, including
"The Special Collection", "Candid" and "Fashion World".
In 1994 a range of women's clothes appeared in "The Classic
Today, JD Williams is part of the N Brown Group of Companies
whose headquarters are based at 53 Dale Street, Manchester.
It is recognised as a Top 200 company with an annual turnover
exceeding £300 million, with 5 generations of the descendants
of J D Williams having worked in the company.
Kearns had begun a small dairy business, selling just 10 gallons
(about 45 litres) of milk in the 1880s in St Helens (now in
Merseyside, but then in Lancashire). He purchased his milk directly
from local farmers, and transported it by donkey cart from house
to house, ladling out milk sales to residents.
In the 1850s "clean" milk was a rarity and was a common source
of disease. Kearns business steadily grew and he soon had two
successful shops in Liverpool Road, St Helens.
Kearns soon moved to Manchester and acquired the Manchester
Pure Milk Company with premises in Bradford (district of Manchester).
Coincidentally, and as it happens, providentially, a Mancunian
named Anthony Hailwood had exhibited bottled, filtered and medicated
milk, and in 1894 sterilisation process had been introduced
into milk production. By 1894 this so-called "medicated" milk
was growing in popularity and in 1898 the foundation was laid
for Lancashire Hygienic Dairies when Kearns and several local
dairymen formed the company as a collaborative venture.
Several premises were soon in operation, in Bradford and Hulme
as well as in Uttoxeter in Staffordshire. Success followed and
a new headquarters was set up at 65 Mulberry Street, Hulme to
co-ordinate the several dairies. In 1909 cheese factories were
acquired in Cheshire and Staffordshire and by 1910, steam delivery
wagons were introduced to replace the horse-drawn milk carts.
Kearns also developed a "model farm" at Oakfield Road, Ashton-on-Mersey.
By 1927, both pasteurised and sterilised milk was made available
to customers, and it had six further dairies - at Sandbach,
Miles Platting, Oldham,
Ashton and Rochdale,
and had become the largest supplier of milk and milk products
in the county of Lancashire. In 1954, Handforth's Dairy was
acquired to serve the Salford
and Eccles areas and in 1957 the Knowsley Street premises were
extended to create a new high technology processing and bottling
In 1995 the company introduced "Shake, Rattle & Roll",
the UK's first thick long life milk shake. Today the company
has a £100 million annual turnover processing 200 million litres
of milk a year for a worldwide market.
Fruit Preserves and Jam Manufacturers
1848, and originally a leather dresser, by 1880 Duerr had moved
on to become a Commission Agent for the grocery trade. Providentially,
Duerr at the age of 24, had married Mary Naylor in 1872, and
this was to be the start of a long and profitable partnership.
From a small kitchen at their home in Heywood,
Mary made jams and marmalades for their own domestic consumption.
When Duerr subsequently met with a buyer from Heywood Co-operative
Society, and learned that he was having trouble finding a good
reliable supplier of jams and preserves, Duerr immediately introduced
him to his wife Mary. As there were no real food standards in
place, many jams contained fillers to add weight and bulk (including
talc, cardboard and wood sawdust - a practice that survived
for many years), and jam was notoriously inconsistent and rather
questionable in quality and contents. Immediately, the Duerr's
were asked if they could supply to the Co-op. Mary did all the
cooking and Fred delivered the finished products to Heywood
A bank loan soon financed the equipping of a small factory at
Guide Bridge in Manchester. Soon the premises were too small
and a purpose-built factory was started at Prestage Street in
Old Trafford, where the factory still exists in production today.
Duerr, a member of the Manchester
Corn Exchange, installed the most up to date, scientific
and hygienic equipment and was known for the generous wages
paid to his employees. Working conditions and relationships
were of the highest quality and works outing were frequently
arranged for day trips to Blackpool. In 1914, Duerr was commissioned
to provide tinned jams and preserves to the troops in the trenches,
and this really established his name on a nation-wide basis.
After the Armistice, returning soldiers were eager to buy the
jams which had often been the only highlight of otherwise hellish
and dangerous existence at the front.
Fortunes have varied from success to near tragedy over the years,
but when Kwik Save Supermarkets placed Duerr's jams on
their shelves in the 1970s their present success was assured.
By the end of the 1980s Duerr's were also manufacturing peanut
butter. In 1996 a new large storage warehouse was bought in
Today, Duerr's remains very much a family run business and still
has three Duerr family members on its board of directors. Duerr's
method of bottling preserves in sealed glass jars which he invented
have become a generic term for the industry. Duerr's jams, marmalades
and preserves now sell in an international market.
Kendal & Milne
Milne & Company Department Store
name of Watts is lesser known, every Mancunian will know of
Kendal and Milne through the department store (still on Deansgate)
which still bears their name. However, the enterprise began
when John Watts, his wife and six sons, were farmers in Burnage,
Manchester, who opened a draper's shop in Deansgate. As business
expanded Watts took on several partners, including Thomas Kendal,
James Milne and Adam Faulkner. Watts' business and commercial
holdings in Manchester continued to grow, as did his ownership
of properties. His greatest legacy is the Watts Warehouse on
Portland Street, which opened at a cost of £100,000 in March
1858, (now the Britannia Hotel).
In 1836 Watts sold out his remaining interest in the partnership
to the others. James Milne was also to become High Sheriff of
Lancashire and Mayor of Manchester, being knighted in 1857.
Meantime, Kendal and Faulkner concentrated on developing the
business, which they bought out when Milne died in 1862. The
business was known from this time on as Kendal, Milne & Company,
and now simply as Kendals,
part of the House of Fraser Group.