Search  
search tips advanced search
 
  Home     Themes     Timeline     Partners     Send an e-postcard  
 
   
People
 
Theme Sections
The Founding Fathers
The Early Years
Jobs in the Factory
Pay and Conditions
Rules and Regulations
Perks of the Job
The Demise of the First Generation
Strikes and Grievances
The War Years
1945 Onwards
 
 
 
More Themes
The Wider Picture
Biscuits
Biscuit Tins
Factory
Global
Interactives
People
Reading Town
Huntley & Palmers Timeline
  Themes Homepage > The Early Years
 
People
The Early Years

go to first sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
When George Palmer joined the firm in 1841, in addition to the two partners there were seven employees - a shop assistant (George Palmer’s sister), two journeymen, two apprentices and two boys who carried out packing and deliveries. From 1832 Joseph Huntley had also employed Thomas Worth as a ‘travelling representative’ or salesman. Sample case, 1902
Sample case, 1902
 
Trade card, 1868
Trade card, 1868
Travelling Salesmen
To ensure his goods were in the right shops George Palmer engaged several more salesmen across the country. The most successful was John Cooper who secured eighty-two new retailers during his first six months of work. The first full-time salesman was Henry Lea who joined the firm in 1849. He coordinated the existing salesmen and eventually created his own team of wholly salaried sales representatives.
 
Relations between the Partners
The partnership agreement recognised Thomas Huntley as the senior partner but, from the start, George Palmer had effective control of the business. He moved into the flat above the shop with his mother and sister whilst Thomas Huntley rented a house nearby.
The London Street bakery, about 1850
The London Street bakery, about 1850
 
New Recruits
Despite the successful move to the new factory in 1846, Thomas Huntley was increasingly concerned about rising costs which were not being met by profits. At the same time George Palmer wrote to Thomas Huntley complaining that he was not taking his fair share of responsibility. In 1847 George Palmers brother, Samuel, was brought into the firm to run the London office. In 1851 William Isaac Palmer, the youngest brother of George, became factory manager at a salary of £200 per year.
 
Samuel Palmer, 1855 William Isaac Palmer, about 1885
Samuel Palmer, 1855 William Isaac Palmer, about 1885
The Marriage of George Palmer
In 1850 George Palmer married Elizabeth Meteyard, the daughter of a fellow Quaker. They had ten children, with seven surviving infancy. Three of the sons later entered the firm. By 1850 factory suppers had become annual occasions, usually held in April, but that year the event was brought forward to February to coincide with the wedding. All employees, wives and sweethearts were invited to celebrate the marriage.
Palmer family and friends, 1870
Palmer family and friends, 1870
 
Henry Evans Huntley, around 1855
Henry Evans Huntley, around 1855
The Death of Thomas Huntley
In March 1857 Thomas Huntley died. His only son, Henry, lacked the interest and the ability to take over from his father. When George Palmer offered him almost £34,000 for his half of the business, Henry accepted and purchased a country estate in Dorset with his new wife. From that year until his death in 1919, he received an annual Christmas cake from the company.
 
The Second Partnership
In 1857 George Palmers brothers, Samuel and William Isaac Palmer, were brought into full partnership with an entitlement to a quarter of the profits each. Under the new agreement, dated 19 October 1857, the business was given the name of Huntley & Palmers.
This partnership lasted for 17 years until 1874. During this time the annual net profit of the firm rose from £18,000 to more than £84,000 and the partners enjoyed great personal wealth.
George, Samuel and William Isaac Palmer, around 1880
George, Samuel and William Isaac Palmer, around 1880
 
 
go to first sectiongo to previous sectionprevious sectionnext sectiongo to next sectiongo to last section
 
  Themes Homepage > The Early Years
 
    Working in partnership with New Opportunities Fund logo
  Copyright Info | Sitemap | About H&P Collection | Contact Us | Links Reading Museum Service logoSoPSE logo