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Founded Carlisle (1831 (1831))
Founder Jonathan Dodgson Carr
Headquarters Carlisle, United Kingdom
Products Biscuits (United Biscuits), flour, animal feed, fuel, engineering (Carr’s Milling Industries)

Carr's is the name of foodstuff and agricultural brands historically derived from founder Jonathan Dodgson Carr, but now owned and marketed by more than one separate company.


McVities/ Carr factory in Carlisle.

In 1831, Carr formed a small bakery and biscuit factory in the English city of Carlisle; he received a royal warrant in 1841.[1] Within fifteen years of being founded, it was the largest baking business in Britain.[2] His business was both a mill and a bakery, an early example of vertical integration, and he produced bread by night and biscuits by day.[3] The biscuits were loosely based on dry biscuits used on long voyages by sailors.[3] They could be kept crisp and fresh in tins, and despite their fragility could easily be transported to other parts of the country by canal and railway.[3]

Jonathan Carr protested against the Corn Laws, which imposed steep tariffs on imported wheat, keeping the price of British wheat artificially high. This meant that bread was expensive, even in times of famine.[4] Carr died in 1884, but by 1885, the company made 128 varieties of biscuit and employed 1000 workers.[5]

In 1894 the company was registered as Carr and Co. Ltd., but reverted to a private company in 1908, and Carrs Flour Mills Limited was incorporated after acquiring the flour milling assets.[5][2]

His four sons were less skilled at managing the business, but it remained in the family until 1931 when it came under the ownership of McVities, part of the United Biscuits group.[3]

Among the members of the Carr family who worked for the business was former Commando Capt Richard Carr MBE, who was decorated for repeated escape attempts from Italian and German PW camps during the Second World War.[6]


Since 1972 the Carr's biscuit factory has been part of United Biscuits, and the Carr's branded products are marketed in the USA by the Kellogg Company. The factory today is known officially as McVities but still known locally as Carr's.

Carr's Flour Mills and agricultural supplies business are owned by Carr's Milling Industries plc, which is still based in Carlisle. Its products have recently appeared in UK supermarkets through their Carr's Breadmaker flour range. Carr's Milling Industries also own companies involved in light engineering.[2]

In March 2012, it was announced that Carr's Table Water had lost its Royal Warrant due to 'changing tastes' in the Royal Household.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Story of Carr’s". United Biscuits (UK). Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "Company History". Carr’s Milling Industries. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d Brendon, Piers (11 October 1997). "Baking business history at the biscuit factory". The Independent (London). Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Artingstoll, Belinda (11 March 2010). "A story of Carrs biscuit factory and an old waistcoat". BBC. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Carr and Co". Grace's Guide. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Army captain was real life 'Cooler King' from The Great Escape". The Telegraph (London). 17 Jun 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Story, Chris (2 March 2012). "Carr's Table Water Biscuits Lose Royal Stamp of Approval". Cumberland News. Retrieved 4 December 2013. 

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