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Kendal Site History

Kendal Site History


Posted on: Thursday, 16 October 2014

PiciScan is very proud to be based in Kendal which has a history of many trades conducting their business here. Some firms which are still trading can trace their origins back over centuries.

The Kendal coat of arms has bale hooks and teasels which reflects the wool trade although the last wool carpet weavers in Kendal has now ceased production in recent years.

The famous "Kendal Mint Cake" is still produced within Kendal by 3 firms and every order from PiciScan is returned with a 40gm bar of mint cake produced by Romneys. The original mint cake was produced by Joseph Wiper in 1869 and one of his decendants sold the firm and recipe to George Romney Ltd in 1987.

Robert Wiper, great nephew to the founder realised the potential of Kendal Mint Cake as a source of energy and supplied the 1914.1917 Transarctic Expedition under the command of Sir E Shackleton and the 1st Everest Expedition. These two expeditions gave Mint Cake a whole new image to become a favourite amongst walkers and climbers alike and become as well known as it is today.

An unusual Kendal business is snuff manufacture and its production in Kendal dates from 1792, when Kendalian Thomas Harrison returned home from Glasgow where he had learned the art of snuff manufacture. He also brought with him 50 tons of second hand equipment, all carried on horse back. Pipe tobacco and other tobacco products were subsequently added to the firm's production. Ownership of his firm passed eventually to his son in law, Samuel Gawith, whose firm, Samuel Gawith & Co., continues in business to this day.

Shoe manufacturing in Kendal also goes back a long way due to Margaret Somervell moving to Kendal in 1841, a year after the death of her husband to be with her eldest daughter, Margaret who has married John Ireland in 1830. John was one of Kendal's foremeost woollen manufacturers of the time. In 1842 Margaret Somervell's youngest son, Robert Miller Somervell started his business of "Shoemaking Accessories Merchant and Leather Factor" after having learnt his trade in London with an older brother, William.

The business grew into needing a factory based on the Netherfield site and, whilst the boot and shoe upper parts were stitched together in the factory at Netherfield, the soles were hand stitched to the uppers as outwork. The men took them home to stitch or rivet together, and then brought the completed footwear back for payment. However it was found that the less scrupulous were replacing the high quality factory leather with inferior material, and thereby earning a quiet profit on the side. In 1865 what turned out to be possibly the most momentous decision ever for the company was unconsciously taken. Someone picked up a leather punch which happened to have a "K" on it, and started marking all the soles issued to the outworkers. With forethought it would almost certainly in those times have been an "S", but fortunately "K" it was. This very quickly became associated with Kendal, and soon customers were asking specifically for the shoes marked with a "K". When the first Trade Marks Act came into force in 1875, the Partners immediately applied for its registration. The regulations of the Act forbade registration of single letters unless prior use for 10 years could be proved. This Somervell Brothers were able to do, and as a result the "K" trademark is believed to be the only single letter registration allowed to remain in the British Trade Marks Register.

The firm of C&J Clark bought K Shoes in 1972 and although there is no more shoe manufacturing in Kendal the K Shoes tradename is still used.

PiciScan is based at the Lake District Business Park which was originally the site of the Milk Marketing Board. Glaxo set up a factory on the site to make baby rusks which used milk in the manufacturing. Glaxo bought the Farleys brand in 1968 and sold it to Boots in 1986 which then sold it to Heinz in 1994.

Information and text obtained from:-
www.kendal.mintcake.co.uk/
www.visitcumbria.com/sl/kendal-gawithsnuff/
www.cumbria-industries.org.uk/a-z-of-industries/footwear/k-shoes/
www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/People/Baby-place

Jane is married with one husband, one daughter and 4 springer spaniels at home. She has worked at PiciScan for a year and thinks that you are never too old to learn.

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