Wilkin & Sons
Main factory entrance
|Predecessor(s)||Britannia Fruit Preserving Company|
|Founder(s)||Arthur Charles Wilkin|
|Headquarters||Tiptree, Essex, England|
|Products||Preserves, Jams, Marmalades, Christmas puddings|
The Wilkin family came to Tiptree, Essex and started farming at Tewlands farm in the early 1700s. By 1865, the farm was beginning to move from arable crops to fruit, which were shipped to markets in London. From 1904 this was via the Kelvedon and Tollesbury Light Railway, with the company providing most of the railway station's freight traffic until its closure in 1962.
After Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone commended fruit preserving to the British population, Arthur Charles Wilkin founded the Britannia Fruit Preserving Company in 1885. This produced the first "Tiptree" branded preserves, with all production sold that year to a merchant who shipped it to Australia. 10 years later 400 seasonal pickers were annually producing 200 tons of fruit, of which half was turned in jam and preserves.
Reformed as Wilkin & Sons, the company leased farms as far away as Dagenham and Suffolk. By 1906, the company owned 800 acres (320 ha) of land on farms in Tiptree, Tollesbury and Goldhanger producing 300 tons of fruit per year, and feeding a factory capable at peak production to create 10 tons of strawberry jam per day. The company has continuously held a Royal Warrant for preserves and marmalades since 1911.
With the need for 1 lbs of sugar to 1 lb of fruit to produce 2 lb of preserves, production was halted during World War I due to a lack of essential supplies. But by 1922, and now owning 1,000 acres (400 ha) of farmland across eight farms, the company was back onto creating record outputs of fruit and preserves. An integrated production facility, the company also owned 100 houses, the village's windmill and blacksmith’s forge, the Factory Club and the freehold to the Salvation Army hall.
In 2010, the company celebrated its 125th anniversary, highlighted by a visit from HM Queen Elizabeth II. The company also commissioned a stage play to relate the life of John Joseph Mechi, silversmith, inventor and experimental farmer at Tiptree Hall. Writtle College were also commissioned to create a "Tiptree" garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.
The present chairman of the business, Peter Wilkin, is the great-grandson of the founder. Through a Trust, employees own a significant proportion of the business.
The company farms 1,000 acres (400 ha) in and around Tiptree and grows much of its own fruit, including strawberries, plums, cherries, raspberries, mulberries, quinces, medlars and the unique Little Scarlet, a small fruiting variety of strawberry with a unique and intense flavour. The latter is notoriously difficult to cultivate and is grown only by Wilkin. Turnover exceeded £34 million in 2012, and the business employs over 250 full-time staff with many more during the fruitpicking season.
Wilkin & Sons Limited also operates five tea rooms in Essex, a specialist bakery and patisserie producer (Tiptree Patisserie) and sells fresh fruit grown on the Tiptree estate. The Tiptree Visitor Centre features a tearoom, shop, and museum about the company's history, jam-making, and village life. The visitor centre and museum are located in the grounds of the jam factory.
- Cole's Puddings Ltd: Christmas puddings and other products in a purpose-built facility in Great Chesterford, Essex
- Thursday Cottage: originally a Somerset producer of natural jams, preserves and marmalades. Now located on Trewlands Farm
- 2012 audited Company Accounts
- "Jam Today" available from Wilkin & Sons Limited
- "100 Years of Jam Making" by Maura Benham
- The Tiptree Museum
- "Wilkin & Son in Tiptree". Essex Life (Archant). May 2009. p. 89.
- "History". Wilkin & Sons Ltd. Retrieved 11 March 2013.