Ref no43258
TitleRecords of HJ Packer & Co, Carsons Ltd and Elizabeth Shaw Limited, chocolate manufacturers
Date1880s-2000s
DescriptionThe records include papers relating to the Packer family, financial records, correspondence, annual reports, historical material, photographs, newsletters, price lists, fabric and plant records, manufacturing and production papers, marketing material including product booklets and point-of-sale items, staff papers.

They cover the history of the company through its various names, products and owners including HJ Packer & Co, Carsons, Charles Bond, Cavenham Foods, Famous Names, Elizabeth Shaw and Leaf.
LevelCollection
Extent30 boxes, 1 shelf oversize and rolls
Administrative historyIn 1881, Edward Packer founded a chocolate manufacturing company in Stapleton Road. In 1884 he entered into partnership with HJ Burrows (hence the name HJ Packer) but trade dipped the following year and all employees other than Packer's family were laid off, leaving Burrows as sole proprietor. In 1886 Bruce Cole was so impressed with the potential of the company that he received a loan from his father to buy the company and all of its assets. The company expanded around St Paul's Street before securing land for a factory at Greenbank, which opened in 1902.

In 1912 Charles Bond was formed as a subsidiary brand to focus on high class chocolates, and a controlling stake in the Glasgow firm Carsons was acquired. The following year Carsons production was moved from Glasgow to a new factory at Shortwood, before being transferred to the Greenbank factory in 1961 when the factory was sold to ES&A Robinson. In 1962 the name HJ Packer & Co Ltd was replaced by Carsons Ltd, by which time Carsons was Britain's largest producer of liquor chocolates.

In 1964 the company, including its Packers, Carsons and Charles Bond brands were bought by Sir James Goldsmith who also acquired several other confectionery companies including Hollands Toffees Ltd (Southport), Yeatmans of London (producers of the brands Goodies and Selesta) and Paramount Laboratories (producers of sweet cigarettes) and combined them under the company Cavenham Foods in 1965. The factory was upgraded so that it could produce this greater range of products.

In 1968 the Elizabeth Shaw brand and recipes were bought (well known for its mint crisps) and in 1972 the company acquired the contract for producing Lindt easter eggs and novelties.

In 1981 Cavenham was bought out by the directors, who renamed the company Famous Names Ltd. In 1985 the company was taken over by Imperial Tobacco and incorporated into Imperial Foods, then by Hanson Trust which acquired Imperial Tobacco the following year. In 1988 the company changed its name to Elizabeth Shaw Limited and the following year another management buyout bought it from Hanson Trust. In 1990 Leaf acquired Elizabeth Shaw Ltd, making it the UK division of Leaf which was the Amsterdam-based confectionery branch of the Huhtamaki Group. In 1991 Elizabeth Shaw became Leaf UK Ltd and in 1999 Leaf was sold to CSM, based in the Netherlands who decided to focus on the sugar confectionery side of the business and dispose of the chocolate brands and factory.

Therefore in 2000 another management buyout occurred, forming PackBond Holdings Ltd. Due to increasing costs of operation and running at spare capacity its owners closed the operation and moved production to other factories in the UK and Europe in 2006 and the factory was sold.

Since then various plans have been put forward for the site but none have yet been fully approved, partly due to local protests against redevelopment. Generator South West acquired the site in 2014 and proposed a mixed use redevelopment of the site. In summer 2015 demolition of some of the buildings on the site was carried out due to concerns over health and safety and the level of asbestos on site.

Further historical information can be found at: www.cems.uwe.ac.uk/~rstephen/livingeaston/local_history/packers.html and www.chocolatememories.org/greenbank_history.pdf
Access statusMixed
Access conditionsAccess to the parts of the collection is restricted by Data Protection requirements
Related materialSee ref. 45403 for records of a public inquiry into use of the Greenbank site in 2006
Custodial historyThe majority of the records relate to Carsons, but most of the above history is reflected therein.
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