Thursday 30 January 2014

The Chivers Story

Panoramic photograph of Chivers - 1910's
In 1806 the Chivers family first came and settled in Histon as farmers and by 1860 the land they cultivated had been extended to 150 acres. At first they produced wheat and other cereals, but during a period of agricultural depression they decided to grow fruit instead. The new venture met with success and as a result most of the fruit ended up being sent to Covent Garden, London. It was at the same time the railway began to develop in Cambridge and Stephen Chivers, who was then in control of the company, found it possible to extend the distribution of the fruit to other markets and this led to him placing his two sons William and John in charge of the wholesale depot at Bradford in Yorkshire.
It is believed that most of the fruit sent to this depot was sold to local jam makers and with this in mind it is thought that upon learning this news the sons suggested to their father that it would be a good idea to make fruit into jam where it was grown, instead of sending it to others for the same purpose.
Their father took to the idea and in 1873 the first Chivers jam was made in a small barn. The jam must of been good quality because the entire production from the first season sold very quickly among local grocers. The making of jam was only seasonal work, so this led to other lines to be added to the firm's list of products. The advantages of this were that the staff could be employed all year round. In 1889 Chivers jellies were introduced, followed by marmalade, custard powder and lemon curd. In 1894, for the first time anywhere in the country, the canning of English fruits was undertaken and by 1906 a large building equipped with an automatic canning machine was erected to meet growing demand. Chivers of Histon grew to become one of the leading jam manufacturers in the United Kingdom.

Click HERE to watch a 1931 Promotional film about Chivers.

*- This information is taken from an article I originally produced for HI Courier - Issue 3 released in September 2009.