Monday 1 June 2009

Eno's fruit salts, made in Hatcham

Men laugh & riot till the feast is o'er
Then comes the reckoning & they laugh no more.

Although this quotation may sound like a reminder of the Last Judgement, in fact it was being used to advertise something far more prosaic: Eno's Fruit Salts. These were made in the Borough of Deptford, at Hatcham.

Their advertisement in Dews's History of Deptford (reproduced above) must have provided good value for money, since it was accompanied by an enthusiastic write-up in the main text. According to Dews,
Mr. J. C. Eno, the sole manufacturer of that refreshing, cooling, and health preserving beverage known as Eno's Fruit Saline, opened his works in this parish, 8th July, 1878, the business having been started at Newcastle some few years previously.

The manufacture of the Fruit Salt - which is an extract of sound, ripe fruit, embodying in a most pleasant form the saline virtue of the richest fruit juices - gives employment at the present time to some fifty people, and if the consumption increases in the same ratio as during the past few years, considerable additions will soon have to be made to the already extensive premises.

Eno's Fruit Saline, as a drink, both refreshes and invigorates. It gives immediate relief in such monitory symptoms as heartburn, sourness of stomach, or light headaches, but its salutary power goes much deeper.

James Crossley Eno had begun making and selling his product from his pharmacy in Newcastle's Groat Market. His fruit salts were sold to sailors, to help them cope with 'sea-sickness, fever and change of climate'. Taking it with them on their voyages, they spread its renown across the world. Demand grew so much that Eno soon established a small factory in Newcastle before moving to the larger site in Pomeroy Street, New Cross. He was known as a good employer who provided staff with a relatively pleasant working environment, a Works Committee and a staff recreation club.

The advertisement in The History of Deptford was part of an ongoing campaign distinguished by Eno's fondness for quotations (apparently he wrote the adverts himself) and use of full-page adverts. His approach was successful, with the brand achieving worldwide recognition. Eno himself became a millionaire, and maintained his links with Newcastle: for example, he was a major subscriber to the Newcastle Infirmary and an investor in the Tyne Steam Shipping Co.

Eno's Fruit Salt is still being manufactured, although it had moved from New Cross by 1940 - first to Brentford, then Watford and later, as part of Beecham's, to St Helen's. The brand is now part of GlaxoSmithKline.


Adam said...

They still make it? And people still buy it? I guess it must really work then!

CarolineLD said...

It probably does - it's mostly bicarb of soda, which will work as a mild antacid on its own, plus citric acid and sodium carbonate. (In fact, it's very similar to Andrews Liver Salts which are also bicarb and citric acid but have magnesium sulphate as their other ingredient.)

It seems to be used a lot as a cookery ingredient in India.

The Grim Reaper said...

Hatcham is stretching things a little; the factory was at the north end of Pomeroy Street, near the junction with the Old Kent Road.

Eno's investment in advertising was massive and constant. His donations to charity also included Guy's Hospital, ex-prisoners welfare and Dr Barnado's Children's Homes.

Eno's Fruit Salts still sell in huge quantities world wide, Brazil is currently the largest market. Do they work? bicarb for fizz and citric acid for a zingy sharpness has to be refreshing if nothing else.

James Crossley Eno's descendent's are a fascinating bunch. His granddaughter Isobel married the Conservative politician Stafford Cripps but was made a Dame in her own right for her humanitarian work in China, and his great, great grandson Kwame Appiah is presently Professor of Philosophy at Princeton.

CarolineLD said...

Presumably he thought Hatcham sounded more classy, distinctive or vaguely bucolic than the alternatives. It's very close, though, to be fair - at least by comparison with modern estate agents' creative expansion of boundaries!

I knew about Isobel but didn't realise that Kwame Appiah is also a descendant.

Anonymous said...

Do you know anyone who would be interested in buying a rather battered copy of "Shooting Homilies" which was made by Eno's (I would be fascinated to know why? Did they have a keen shot who liked the "If a sportman you would be, listen carefully to me" poem about carrying a gun safely!)