Clements Hall
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Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe, South Bank and Bishophill areas of York

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Nunthorpe Peel Works

This was the factory of the York Confectionery Company where, between 1870[1] and 1880, they made candied peel and mint rock. The latter was supplied to seaside resorts from their premises near Fenwick Street. After production ceased, the site remained in use as a storage warehouse for some years. It is now in residential use.

The York Herald of 10 June 1876 reported a fire at the Nunthorpe Peel Works. This gives us a description of the premises, as follows: “The works… consist of three large blocks of buildings running parallel with each other, and contain lemon peel, bags of sugar, sweets, and confectionery of almost every description. It was in the centre block of buildings, known as the lemon peel and lozenge departments, at one end of which are a couple of inhabited cottages belonging to Mr Keswick builder, and at the other the offices of the [York Confectionery] Company.” By the time that the fire was extinguished “nothing but the bare and blackened walls of the building remaining. Several tons of lemon peel, lozenges, sugar, etc., were destroyed.”


P1030896The Nunthorpe Peel Works only survived for about a decade. Candied peel grew unfashionable when chocolate became available. This photo shows the housing that was built on the site of the works. (Photo by John Stevens, June 2018)

Backhouse & Company

Cook’s York Directory of 1900 lists some of York’s main cocoa and chocolate manufacturers. These include J. Terry & Sons, giving their registered office as Terry Avenue, Clementhorpe, but also noting their presence at 3-4 St. Helen’s Square. H Backhouse & Co. of Clementhorpe is also listed.

Herbert Backhouse had a colleague called Xavier Marb, and together they ran the Criterion Cocoa Works on Walmgate. There were further links to a business in Ogleforth. They ran these operations together until around 1900, trading as Backhouse & Marb, when they went into liquidation. Some parts of the business continued as separate entities including 'Backhouses' of River Street, Clementhorpe. This business survived 1935, when it too was liquidated.


(Image from the collection of Prof. Gavin H. Thomas)

The Company was mentioned in the local press from time to time:

  • Yorkshire Post 14 November 1900 wanted – ‘An experienced moulder, H. Backhouse & Co., Clementhorpe”.

  • Yorkshire Evening Post 27 October 1899 wanted – “Experienced starch hand well up in fondants, creams and chocolate centres. H. Backhouse and Co., Clementhorpe”.

  • Leeds Mercury 27 September 1898 described a meeting of creditors of Backhouse and Marb, listing all the known liabilities and assets.

  • The Manchester Evening News of 22 January 1901 contained an advertisement for staff placed by H. Backhouse and Co. The company was looking for skilled chocolate moulders.

The 1914 edition of Who’s Who In Business included the following entry which provides us with a second example:

 “Backhouse, H. & Company Limited. Chocolate Manufacturers, Clementhorpe, York. Hours of Business: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 8 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Established in 1899 by H. Backhouse, the present Managing Director. Incorporated as a Private Limited Company in 1911. Speciality: Fine Chocolate.”

Further press references followed:

  •  The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 24 November 1930 had an advertisement for sales representatives at Backhouse and Co. Ltd.‘s chocolate and toffee house. Applicants needed to demonstrate a good connections, and preferably to own a car. Payment would be by commission only.

  •  The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer of 18 June 1934 had an advertisement for Backhouse’s chocolate and fruit dessert “only the purest ingredients.”

  •  On 23 February 1935 the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer reported the liquidation and sale of Backhouses Ltd. of River Street.

  •  The Leeds Mercury of 18 June 1934 had an advertisement which read: “Backhouses Chocolate Fruit Dessert 4d Per Qr. The MOST DELICIOUS SWEETMEAT YOU CAN BUY. Delicious fruit jellies with real fruit flavours covered with that rich, smooth chocolate for which BACKHOUSES have been famous since 1898. Only the best and purest ingredients are used for all BACKHOUSE lines…Backhouses Ltd., Makers of Good Chocolate since 1839.”

  •  The Yorkshire Post of 23 February 1935 contained a notice announcing the sale by public auction of the Backhouse premises in River Street, Clementhorpe. The sale included all manner of chocolate making machinery and equipment.

The owner, Herbert E. P. Backhouse was born in Ilfracombe, North Devon, in 1865. He lived at 110 Bishopthorpe Road in 1911, but by 1939 he was retired and living at Pine Crest, 100 Acomb Road with his wife Florence. He was then described as a retired cocoa and chocolate manufacturer. He died in 1950. The house still stands, opposite the Mormon church.

[1] History of York, Knight, 717.