Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Chivers and Sons

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June 1922.
1923. Histon Herds.
January 1929.
April 1933.
November 1933.
April 1935.
February 1954.
December 1954. Jellies.
January 1955.
March 1955.
April 1955.

of Histon, Cambridge. Cables: "Chivers, Cambridge." (1929)

of The Orchard Factory, Histon, Cambridge. Telephone: Cambridge 5001. Cables: "Chivers, Cambridge." (1947)

The Chivers family are believed to have descended from Huguenots who settled in Cottenham at the end of the 17th century. They first appeared in Histon when John Chivers, father of Stephen, came to live in Cottenham Road with his brother and sister around 1817.

1850 Shortly after his marriage, Stephen Chivers bought an orchard next to the railway line. Stephen now had easy access to London and northern markets.

1870 When his sons William 18, and John 13, were old enough, he sent them to open a distribution centre at Bradford. The boys soon noticed that their main customers were jam manufacturers.

1873 Because of a fruit glut they convinced their father to allow them to make their first batch of jam in the barn. Within two years Victoria Works were built on the orchard site. At first stone jars of two, four and six pounds were produced.

1885 The still rare glass jars were first used.

1889 To ensure a permanent, not seasonal, experienced workforce, they diversified into marmalade, closely followed by the first clear, commercial desert jelly. All-year-round employment encouraged further diversification into lemonade, mincemeat, custard powder and Christmas puddings.

1895 Chivers became Europe’s first large scale commercial canners, using their own design.

In Charles Lack, Chivers had a genius chief engineer. He developed the finest canning machinery in Europe. He went on to design jam filling, fruit sorting can making and sterilisation equipment which helped transform Chivers into one of the world’s leading manufactures of preserves.

1890 The factory, supplied by their farms and the surrounding area, was self sufficient . It had its own water supply and electrical generation. Not only did they make their own cans, but also they came to have their own engineers, paint shop, sawmill, blacksmiths, carriage works, coopers, carpenters, building department and even basket makers.

1895 Chivers introduced their first pension scheme.

1891 Profit sharing was introduced.

1897 Factory and village doctor, and fire brigade.

1901 The company was registered on 14 March, to acquire the business of jam manufacturers of S. Chivers and Sons. [1]

1948 Workers’ Advisory Council.

1920 Holiday pay for all workers with a year's service.

1929 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Chivers' Jams, Fruit Jellies and Marmalades, Canned Fruits, Fruit Salad, Chivers' Jellies, Jelly Creams, Mincemeat and Christmas Plum Puddings, Custard Powder, Lemon Curd, Pure Honey, Coffee Essence and other Goods. (Stand No. C.61) [2]

1938 One of the founding shareholders in Birds Eye Foods Ltd.

1939 There were three thousand full time employees throughout East Anglia together with factories in Montrose, Newry and Huntingdon.

Although the factory was an important enterprise, the Chivers family is said to have regarded themselves primarily as farmers. In 1896 they owned 500 acres, though they rented far more. This rose to nearly 8000 acres in 1939. All farms were run as independent units concentrating on the rearing of livestock and cereals as well as fruit. They led the world in mixed farming techniques and would only breed pedigree livestock whether they be pigs, cattle, poultry, sheep or their magnificent Percheron horses.

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Jams, Jellies and Olde English Marmalade in jars sealed with Chivers' patent replaceable metal cover. Also Jelly Crystals, Baking Powder, Ground Coffee, Coffee Essence, Vegetables, Apple Juice, Mincemeat, Honey, Curt. (Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 589) [3]

1959 The factories and farms were sold to Schweppes.

1961 The family bought most of the farms back.

Acquired by Premier Brands

  • Written 16/08/04: "The traditional name of Chivers marmalade which has local links going back 120 years is to be scrapped. Premier Foods, which also owns the Hartley jam brand, will no longer be using the Chivers label. A Premier Foods spokeswoman confirmed Chivers marmalade would be rebranded under the Hartley's name." [4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. 1929 British Industries Fair p38
  3. 1947 British Industries Fair p60
  4. [1] Histon and Impington Online
  • [2] Histon and Impington Online
  • [3] Ditto