Search  
search tips advanced search
 
  Home     Themes     Timeline     Partners     Send an e-postcard  
 
   
Factory
 
Theme Sections
Humble Beginnings
Transporting the Biscuits
The Mechanical Biscuit
Expansion
Factory Visits
Early Twentieth Century
1930 to 1960
Farewell Reading
 
 
 
More Themes
The Wider Picture
Biscuits
Biscuit Tins
Factory
Global
Interactives
People
Reading Town
Huntley & Palmers Timeline
  Themes Homepage > Humble Beginnings
 
Factory
Humble Beginnings

go to sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
When George Palmer joined the firm in 1841, all the biscuits were produced in the back room of the shop in London Street, Reading. By 1898 an 'industrial army' of just over 5,000 men and women worked in a complex of factory buildings covering 24 acres on both banks of the River Kennet. It was the largest biscuit factory in the world.
 
The London Street Bakery
In 1822 Joseph Huntley started making biscuits in his small shop in Reading. It stood on the busy London to Bath road, near the Crown coaching inn and each day biscuits were sold from a basket to the hungry coach travellers. As the business grew George Palmer secured the lease on the shop next to 72 London Street. Within 4 years the numbers of employees had increased to 16 and it became clear that the lack of space was a barrier to expansion of the business.
The London Street bakery, about 1850
The London Street bakery, about 1850
 
Plan of factory and surrounds, 1857
Plan of factory and surrounds, 1857

The New Factory
To the East of Reading, on a small section of land between the canal and the river Kennet, was a vacant building which used to be an old silk factory. In 1846 Huntley & Palmers purchased this factory for £1,800 which they borrowed from the vendor. The factory had a floor space of 5,000 square feet and was spread over an area of half an acre.
 
The Grand Opening
The opening of the Kings Road factory represented a landmark not only for Huntley & Palmers but also for biscuit making as a whole. From this point on, biscuits were produced en masse in quantities that had never been seen before. The profits of the business increased dramatically from £969 in 1844-45 to £7,500 in 1849-50 and this enabled Huntley & Palmers to pay off the debt for the purchase of the factory.
Interior of Biscuit Factory, around 1850
Interior of Biscuit Factory, around 1850
 
The London Street bakery continued to produce confectionary until 1861 by which point the new factory had already been expanded on several occasions.
 
 
go to sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
 
  Themes Homepage > Humble Beginnings
 
    Working in partnership with New Opportunities Fund logo
  Copyright Info | Sitemap | About H&P Collection | Contact Us | Links Reading Museum Service logoSoPSE logo