This is why Bermonsey is known as buscuit town.
James Peek and George Hender Frean founded the company at Dockhead in 1857. Nine years later they moved to Clements Road where the factory remained until 1989.
Built in 1866, Peek Frean and Co's biscuit factory gave Bermondsey the nickname 'Biscuit Town' for popular creations that included the bourbon and the Garibaldi. It employed generations of local residents.
A Southwark resident who voted for a blue plaque, said: Peek Freans was on my way to school - each morning, walking along Drummond Road, it would be a guessing game. What was being made today? Sweet or savoury? In summer the doors of the factory would be open and you could see the people in white aprons packing the biscuits. The sight, the sound and the smell, it was Bermondsey!
The Peek Frean and Co biscuit factory provided Bermondsey and Rotherhithe with a major source of employment until it closed in 1989 and for decades the area was known as Biscuit Town.
James Peek and George Hender Frean built the factory in 1866 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 brought the company to prominence, when ten million fine navy biscuits were ordered for the troops. Celebrated lines invented by Peek Freans include the Garibaldi (1861), Marie (1875), Chocolate Table (the first chocolate coated biscuit in 1899) and the Bourbon (1910). With the cocktail age came Cheeselets and Twiglets in the 1930s.
The company pioneered the supply of medical, dental and optical services to their staff as well as founding clubs ranging from athletics and cricket to music and drama. Staff magazines including The Biscuit Box and PF Assorted also brought together a workforce which numbered 4,000 by the 1940s.
Peek Freans biscuits can still be purchased in the United States and Canada Odd fact: The Peek Frean factory in Toronto is located in Bermondsey Road.
They also made Queen Elizabeth II's almost two-metre tall (six feet) wedding cake.
It's also the factory that invented the Twiglet!
Its good to read positive things about Peek Freans. My great, great grandfather (John), great grandfather (Arthur) Grandfather (Philip) and Father (Richard) as did I (Chris) worked at Peek Freans and I can still imagine I can smell the Ginger nuts every time, I come in on the train to London Bridge.
I lived in Storks Road for 22 years from birth in 1940 and well recall Peek Freans and the lovely aromas. Also remember the workers waiting at the gate to be let go at 5 or 5.30 each night, like a scene from an old film.
Yes Jan, the dairy was Jones's and run by Mr Jones, a diehard Welshman, and his son David. He used to his calculations on the marble counter, in pencil. Don't suppose Health and Safety would like that nowadays.
Ross, that sweet shop on the corner was Dyballs. I remember going there after the war, in 1947/48 or so, and asking for any sweets that were off ration.
The area has changed somewhat, the bottom end of Storks Road where Jan and I lived was reclaimed by Peeks and the residents all moved elsewhere and, unbelievably, the Concorde pub has been converted to flats
I lived in Storks and Keetons Road from 1944 to 1967.
Our garden backed onto the factory wall and the smells from the daily cooking were mouthwatering. My own Mother and Gran worked in Peeks and over the years we got to know so many lovely people. I can remember collecting wood from Peeks wood yard loading it onto an old pram and taking it home to keep our home fire burning for the coming week and having to wear very strong soled shoes to collect the wood as there would be nails sticking through the wood where it was broken up.
Near to Christmas Peeks would make a huge batch of christmas puddings in china basins and after cooking them these were stored under the railway arches on their property, well one November there was a really bad fire in the arches and as the heat got through to the puddings the basins were exploding well it was just like firework night with the noise.
Also Peeks had a biscuit shop where families with relatives working in Peeks could buy biscuits at a discount, and that was my job to queue up to get a huge bag of broken biscuits for one shilling or half a bag for sixpence. and the pleasure of finding in that bag a broken piece of chocolate biscuit was heaven.
Such lovely times and remebered fondly. Jan Spurgeon
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