Thursday 17 December 2009

Edwardian christmas cracker making

The 'snow' is sleet, the wind is icy, and it's dark before teatime - but maybe this will get us back into the Christmas mood. A fascinating film from 1910, it shows how crackers were made; it's worth watching the whole film just for the slightly bizarre ending!

Clarke Nickolls & Coombs were confectionery and jam manufacturers, founded in 1872 and based in Hackney. They appear to have been unusually socially responsible employers, having introduced profit-sharing in 1890 as well as providing a convalescent home and social clubs for employees. A provident fund paid pensions, funeral grants and even 'marriage portions' for female employees. In 1946 the company changed its name to Clarnico, and later became part of Trebor Bassett. Presumably the christmas crackers being made here were a seasonal sideline.

This film is from the BFI Archives.


Chris Partridge said...

Love it. Aren't those girls quick?

Bixle said...

Cool. Did you know crackers were invented in London - around 1850 - by a Thomas Smith. There's a memorial to him in Finsbury Square, but it doesn't mention crackers.

CarolineLD said...

I vaguely knew they were invented here, but not the name of the inventor or the memorial: I'll have to look that out.

Hels said...

A person picks up information from all sorts of places. In the Chris Moyles episode of Who Do You Think You Are, his granny worked in Jacob's Biscuit Factory in Dublin. Like Clarke Nickolls & Coombs, granny's factory seemed a socially responsible workplace for its 3,000+ women workers. I know, for example, they had a doctor and nurse on site for all workers. And some holiday cabins.

What made most employers dark, satanic, exploitative mill owners while a few employers managed to look after their workers decently?