The Chocolate Factory History – The Chocolate Factory

The site has a long association with chocolate dating back over a century. Throughout those years thousands of employees, millions of chocolates and more than a few owners have left their mark in Greenbank. From Packers to Cavenhams to Carsons, one name that continues to be associated with the site is Elizabeth Shaw. Read more about her story below, courtesy of John Penney.

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The origins of the Elizabeth Shaw brand can be traced back to 1937. In the early 1930’s the Smith family relocated from Somerset to Teddington, Middlesex, where their daughter Elizabeth married Patrick Joice, an employee of local confectionary company Page & Shaw. Unfortunately the young couple soon fell on hard times and were forced to move in with Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, Mr Bellchamber. Keen to pay her way, in 1937, Elizabeth Joice had the idea of marketing a mint flavoured chocolate made from honeycomb crisp. It was a favourite treat she made for her family, and one which she had developed from a recipe given to her by an American friend. So it was that Elizabeth started to produce Mint Crisps and Langes de Chat on her sister’s stove to sell in the Bellchamber’s shop.

As the venture was successful the Joice’s decided to create a brand name for the new products by combining Elizabeth’s first name with the Shaw of Page & Shaw to form a combination that was pleasing to the ear. Patrick then began to distribute the chocolates further afield. In 1938, to cope with increased sales, a small kitchen was set up in premises at the rear of 25 High Street, Teddington, where the company’s first machine was also installed. In 1939 a new factory known as Mint House was established on an estate at Commerce Road, Brentford because demand was always outstripping supply. After World War Two a larger building adjoining the existing premises was taken over and more equipment acquired.

The Chocolate Factory History


Unfortunately fire struck twice, one of their laboratories burnt down and then in January 1953 everything except for a few offices was destroyed in a fire causing £20,000 worth of damage and taking with it all of the Joice’s investment. As a result the family were forced to sell the business to another concern who continued to manufacture the Elizabeth Shaw products using the original recipes re-locating production to new and larger premises in Camberley. According to a newspaper report Elizabeth died an unhappy woman in July 1957, aged 54.

In 1968 Cavenham Foods acquired the right to manufacture the products of Elizabeth Shaw Ltd following the destruction of their Camberley factory in a devastating fire. So it was that Bristol became responsible for making both large and small Mint Crisps, which consisted of dark mint-flavoured chocolate to which had been added small pieces of ‘sugar crisp’. Likewise, the production of the entirely hand made Digestive Mint Creams, along with After Dinner Mints, was initially undertaken at Doncaster, although by the late 1970’s the Greenbank factory was manufacturing all three Elizabeth Shaw lines.