RHM / Cerebos / Seddon

Henry Seddon and Sons, Cerebos and Rank Hovis McDougal

Henry Seddon and Sons

Over-production of salt by small salt works led to heavy competition and failed enterprises. To stop the decline and raise the prices the Salt Union was formed in 1888. It is estimated that the Union took control of 64 salt manufacturers, closing many of the smaller works including the salt works of Ralph Seddon at Pepper Street and Kinderton. Two newcomers found a way past the salt union and established their businesses, Henry Seddon and George Murgatroyd. In 1892 Henry Seddon leased part of Pepper street works and then expanded his business in 1917. He earned the nickname ‘King of Salt’; the expansion of the business accumulated in Pepper Street, Brooks Lane, Wych House Lane and Croxton Dairy works, employing many people in the town. In 1959 Cerebos merged with Seddon’s and the works were closed in 1968 – 1970.

Henry Seddon and sons: Images taken mainly in the 1960’s recording the salt works and the open pan process.

Cerebos and Rank Hovis McDougal

In 1903, capitalising on George Murgatroyd’s discovery of the high quality brine stream,ng on, Verdin Cooke established Bowfields open pan salt works on Booth Lane. In 1908 the Middlewich Salt Company opened their works on the site and a third works – Tetton Salt – was established at Bowfields by John Sheffield. In the 1920’s a salt vacuum plant was built and the move from the open pan process to the vacuum process began on this site.

The range of works and quality of salt on this site made it a good investment for Cerebos Foods Ltd who took over the whole site in the 1930’s. By the end of the 1950’s Cerebos had over 20 companies as part of its overall business including Seddon’s and Rank Hovis McDougal (RHM). Their product ranges were grocery and catering, pharmaceuticals, meat trades, domestic pet food and animal feeds.

A lot of investments were made at Middlewich, making it a primary site for Cerebos; the bonus was the relocation of British Soda. Cerebos entered a working relationship establishing the new British Salt works partially on Cerebos land and neighbouring ICI (formerly the Electro Bleach and By Products Company). The new works were opened in 1969, and provided salt to Cerebos. This meant that the Cerebos plant could now update its processes and products and the remodelled site was officially opened by Prince Philip who also visited the British Salt Plant.

The site was closed by RHM in 2008, with 280 job losses. Their most popular brands at this site were Bisto and, of course, salt packaged for Sifta, Saxa, Stag, and Cerebos.

The advances and successes of RHM Middlewich live on in our dedicated archive, with thanks to the head office and many of the staff, past and present, especially Helen Ireland and Dennis Holdcroft for their input
The last photographs of the site were taken by the Heritage Development Officer just before its demolition.

In addition to the following selected photographs we also hold information on Cerebos during the 1930’s, such as staff away days and conferences for their different divisions, in which Middlewich would have taken part. We hold group photographs of Cerebos staff, catalogues of the different divisions, and an album of photographs of a staff outing at Wexham Park.

Cerebos: images of the vacuum plant and production lines, especially the new product lines as part of the Cerebos investment, and of the different brands produce with emphasis on the Bisto lines. The photos include Prince Philip’s visit in 1969 to the RHM plant.

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