Features: Snapshot of Bristol’s chocolate-making history

Ellie Pipe, April 13, 2017

To mark the return of Taste Chocolate Festival over the Easter weekend, takes a sweet trip down memory lane.

In 1761, Joseph Fry and John Vaughan purchased a small shop from an apothecary and with it, the patent for a chocolate refining process.

By 1795, Fry had patented a method of grinding cocoa beans using a Watt steam engine and in 1847, the family started mixing melted cocoa butter with cocoa powder and sugar and the first ever chocolate bar was born.

Fry’s opened seven factories in Bristol and by 1896 had nearly 4,500 employees – going on to become the largest commercial producer of chocolate in Britain, before merging with Cadbury’s in 1918 and becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company in 1935.

In 1881, former Fry’s employee HJ Packer started out on his own in Armoury Square off Stapleton Road before moving to a larger factory in Greenbank. Packers broke into the high-end chocolate market in 1912 with new subsidiary company Charles Bond.

The new range was an immediate hit and Charles Bond, or Bonds, survived until the 1960s. The 105-year-old 330,000 sq ft factory, most recently known as Elizabeth Shaw, closed in 2006.

Guilbert’s was first opened in 1910 by a French-Swiss immigrant Piers Guilbert in Park Street and – following various changes in ownership and relocation to Small Street.

 

Read more: Bristol: A city of chocolate

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