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Tickler’s Jam Grimsby ~ A Look at the History

Tickler’s Jam of Grimsby in Lincolnshire
A big name locally back in the day, a big name in the jam industry and a big name with our troops . . .

Thomas Tickler set up his preserve making business in 1878 making mainly Jam and Marmalade in what became a big business and a large employer locally.
The factory employed mainly young women who were known locally as Tickler’s Angels and they worked flat out during the time of the Boer War and World War I because Tickler’s won the contract to supply the army with jam!




Staff Outside the Tickler’s Jam Factory in the 1890s

That was a big order and underwrote the factory and business it also became quite a name within the military and one referred to, not always in a complimentary fashion, by the troops in ballad, verse, letters home and general badinage.
One quote from a soldier I’ve seen described it as “coming in two colours, green and red but both tasting the same”

The amount produced must have been mind-boggling and the Jam ‘Jars’ found themselves all over the world and put to all sorts of uses.
In the trenches during WWI they utensils, vases to hold flowers and even containers to make homemade bombs!
You could say Tickler’s did the lot.

The above photograph was taken outside their Grimsby factory in Hope Street and saw huge deliveries of fruit from Lincolnshire coming in by rail and road.
It continued in this fashion, though one imagines on a smaller scale, up until the 1950s still making jam and its famous Nell Gwyn Marmalade.

It was then bought out by a rival and eventually production ceased in the late 1950s. The factory was bought by the world famous Robertson’s brand but in the 1970s the whole thing was gone for good, only a memory, but what a strange legacy . . .

To think the tins shipped to the front during WWI would be used as artillery, in fact the bombs became known as Ticklers Artillery, from Grimsby to the front and from the front to the Germans . . .

Any and all information on Tickler’s Jam of Grimsby would be of great interest.
Yours, a well preserved,
Rod

31 Comments »

  1. Dave said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

    Hi Rod.
    An old Farmer friend of mine (now long gone) who farmed op on the wolds used to tell me that they sold Turnips and Swedes by the lorry load to Ticklers, which all went into their Jam, I suppose it saved on fruit (dont you know theres a war on !!!!), and when it was all mixed up what the heck !!.
    Dave.

  2. v said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 8:46 pm

    A nugget of pure gold !

    19th October 1908
    Tickler’s jam girls went on strike over the way the sticky labels were attached to the jars ( with jam I assume ? ;) ) .
    The girls finding themselves idle for the afternoon decided to protest outside the factory and town hall, where the Mayoress, Mrs Tickler, was holding an afternoon tea party. It was believed that the girls may even “rush” the town hall. But maybe this would not have reached the press had Mr Tickler not been the Mayor!

  3. Rod said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 9:42 pm

    I’ve had this sent to me via my father, fabulous information:

    Tickler’s had their own branch line which joined the railway at Pasture Street and Central Market. They moved from Hope Street to build new premises in the Pasture Street area for access to the railway.

    The jam was supplied in large tins. Ticklers had orchards on the Bradley Road and in the village of Bradley and they lived in the Manor at Bradley.

    After the War at a certain time of the year, hundreds of barrels containing fruit pulp were stored on the runways at Waltham until it was manufactured into jam.
    They may have had another factory in Southall in Middlesex.
    They had commercial travellers all over Britain.

    Jam’s fame was that it was cheaper than butter and formed a staple diet of the poor as bread and jam.
    A daughter of the family married a Lt. Place, a Navel Officer who won the Victoria Cross for attacking German shipping in a harbour in a midget submarine.”

  4. Rod said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

    Dave,
    that’s superb, just the type of anecdote I was hoping we might get, wonderful
    Regards,
    Rod

  5. Rod said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 9:44 pm

    V,
    that’s a belter, well mined :)
    Thanks and regards,
    Rod

  6. Amiguru said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 10:09 pm

    They even had a ditty about it at the front:

    The Passionate Soldier to his Jam

    Tickler’s Jam. Tickler’s Jam,
    How I love Tom Tickler’s Jam,
    Plum and apple in one pound pots
    Sent from England in ten ton lots.

    Every night when I’m asleep,
    I’m dreaming that I am,
    Bombing the poor old Germans’ trench
    With Tommy Tickler’s Jam.

    Regards,
    Neville

  7. pirates daughter said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    I remember the smell in Pasture St in the sixties a mixture of the jam factory and Hewitt’s brewery.

  8. Rod said,

    September 19, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    Neville,
    that’s fantastic, love it, many thanks indeed
    Regards,
    Rod

  9. Rod said,

    September 19, 2013 @ 8:19 am

    PD,
    that’s very evocative, really appreciated, it’s things like this that really do bring history to life
    Regards,
    Rod

  10. minnie said,

    September 19, 2013 @ 5:26 pm

    might be wrong but didnt MaMade tinned oranges for making marmalade originally start at Ticklers? Makes very nice marmalade especially if you substitute half of your sugar with honey

  11. Rod said,

    September 19, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

    Minnie,
    I’ve no idea but I like the sound of it - if anybody knows for sure . . .
    Best
    Rod

  12. minnie said,

    September 19, 2013 @ 9:03 pm

    ok done a bit of searching on this and MaMade was first made by Spring and co from Brigg (Lincolnshire Life August /September 1965 vol 5 no 4) and following on from that it would seem that Spring and co was bought out by Ticklers.Ticklers was bought out in the 50’s by first the St Martins Preserving Company and then passed on again to Robertsons. Hartleys now own the Mamade name and I am still not sure where they come into it. I had no idea jam was such big business!

  13. Rod said,

    September 20, 2013 @ 8:14 am

    Minnie,
    that’s really great, thank you, it’s great to get some solid facts down.
    In appreciation,
    Rod

  14. Richard Oliver said,

    September 21, 2013 @ 2:21 pm

    St Martins jam was around in Grimsby in the mid-60s, but at any rate their mixed friut jam was, I’m sorry to say, a bit bland! Perhaps it didn’t have the Tickler Tickle….

  15. Rod said,

    September 21, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    Richard,
    given what we’ve unearthed already one wonders what the fruit content actually was!!
    Best
    Rod

  16. jean said,

    September 22, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    Hi Rod as a small kid use to go fruit picking at Ticklers farm in Bradley,at the start of summer holidays it was strawberries,the last fruit was apples.The worst to pick for me were the red and black currents.As a small child it was far better than pea picking as we were allowed to eat as much fruit as we liked.There was no fruit at home except rhubarb, so many a day went home with belly ache from eating to much fruit ,who needed syrup of figs.Jean

  17. Rod said,

    September 22, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    Jean,
    that’s spot on - what a great anecdote.
    The things you’ve added to this site Jean have been wonderful, all the more so as they’re always things which are not recorded anywhere else
    In appreciation,
    Rod

  18. Richard Oliver said,

    September 24, 2013 @ 8:56 am

    Purely in the interests of science and of contributing something to an entertaining website, I’ve invested in a jar of Co-Op mixed fruit jam (46p - the jar alone must cost most of that). I can report that it definitely tastes better than I remember the St Martins jam of 50 years ago - the Co-Ops is Glucose-Frutose syrup, 31% apples, 2% plum, 2% rhubarb. Perhaps the secret is going easy on the swedes and turnips…

  19. Paul Rowe said,

    September 24, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

    pirates daughter that is why this site is magical!!!! It takes you back to years and years ago.I remember that smell exactly of the mixture of the jam factory and Hewitt’s brewery! It was not a particularly pleasant aroma! Sad those industries are gone!

  20. Rod said,

    September 24, 2013 @ 5:05 pm

    Richard,
    fantastic, love it, nice to hear there’s some fruit in it!
    A bit of swede may just give it a nice tang :)
    Regards
    Rod

  21. Rod said,

    September 25, 2013 @ 8:36 am

    Kindly sent in by V - what a great find . . .

    Tickler

    He started life at Wythern Mill, a miller’s son was he.
    A lad of splendid character, but with no pedigree
    He sought a wife with common sense from midst the village belles
    This lady’s maiden name you know was winsome Fanny Wells

    Excelsior

    By trade he was an engineer but did not like the pay
    His master said “Alright my man then get along your way.”
    He changed his togs from black to white and was a grocer keen
    Twas said that nowhere could be got more spicy margarine

    Excelsior

    But Grimsby town our hero found of grocers was too full
    And with the kids who ate like men, it soon became a pull
    So Tickler thought and planned and schemed and soon he hit the ram
    Said he, “ I’ll make the world resound with Tickler’s splendid jam”

    Excelsior

    Wasting no time he set to work and built a factory stout
    And quickly put all local firms to a decided rout
    His bankers stared at his account which was by leaps and bounds
    And Tickler smiled and rubbed his hands and put on flesh by pounds
    Excelsior

    Ten busy years had sped along, prosperity it came
    He worked hard as usual and made a famous name
    His jam went on the ships and smacks and over great deep seas
    Where’re it went so good it was it did the people please.

    Excelsior

  22. pikey pete said,

    October 6, 2013 @ 8:03 am

    i do recall an account of a accidental death at the jam factory a worker slipped and fell into the boiling jam i believe in the 1920,s early 30,s

  23. Paul said,

    January 20, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    I have a slight confusion concerning this article. The Tickler’s Jam Factory I knew was located in Pasture Street not Hope Street. Of course it may have moved before I first came across it. But in the nineteen sixties it was definitely in Pasture Street. Can anyone shed any light on this point?

  24. Tim Suthers said,

    May 28, 2014 @ 6:48 pm

    Hi.
    Quite interested to read the above comments on Ticklers Jam Factory and Marmade. I know for a fact that Marmade was originally made and sold by Springs of Brigg. It was my Grandad Arthur Suthers who invented it. My grandad retired form Springs in 1971, after which the company was sold to John Morell.

  25. Rod said,

    May 28, 2014 @ 6:49 pm

    Tim,
    thanks for this, very interesting and welcome to the site
    Regards,
    Rod

  26. David Grimstead said,

    May 28, 2014 @ 10:22 pm

    I worked at John Morrell’s bardney cannery as microbiologist on industrial training in 1971-72. Another small cannery, like Ticklers, not to survive the onslaught of “progress”. We took canning water from the Witham and just closed the intake sluices in time as the overflow from Lincoln sewage works arrived during the sewerage workers strike of the time. On frosty spring mornings, when canning new potatoes, the steam peeler would shoot steam rings a yard across several hundred feet up over the factory into a clear blue sky. Magic. Nobody sold dried marrowfat (”shimmy lifter”) peas like Morrells. Their ancient, wooden pea shuffling machine was installed in Bardney airfield’s hangars, which also served as warehouses. During the Bardney pop-festival of ‘72, the managers took it in turns to patrol them to stop the long-hairs stealing all the baked beans. I watched as a couple of pop-pickers crept into my dig’s neighbour’s allotment at dawn and ran off with all his cabbages. And truly, the name of Bardney post-mistress at the time was Mrs. Hippie.

  27. Miriam Busani nee Tickler said,

    June 2, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    Loving this site TG Tickler was my great grandfather and my dad was on the board with his father at the Southall factory

  28. Ron Forward said,

    July 30, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    Hi Rod, when I was a young child in the mid 1950’s my mother’s brother, Don Sandvig, came to stay with us for a few weeks and he tought me how to play chess. Although we children didn’t know it at the time he had just been released from prison and had nowhere else to go whilst he re-established himself in society. I later heard that he had served his time for ’selling the jam vats at Ticklers to an American business man’ when of course they were not his to sell. I was never sure whether this was true or not but I did recently encounter an old guy in the Clee Cons club close to Blundell Park who told me that he had worked there as a labourer and could recall my uncle Don being one of the best liked chargehands at the factory and that he did have responsibility for the stock control of the large copper jam pots that were used there. Regs Ron

  29. Rod said,

    July 30, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    Ron,
    thanks for the great comment and welcome to the site
    Regards,
    Rod

  30. john buckledee said,

    August 11, 2014 @ 10:09 am

    Walter Kyme, aged 97 and living today in Brackley, Northants, writes:
    My father, also named Walter Kyme, was foreman at the Tickler factory in Grimsby until around 1952. Today he would be called works manager. He was responsible to Mr Tom Tickler, the firm’s founder. He had started at the firm in around 1914 as a jam boiler, after being discharged from the army where he had served in India.
    He was a strict but fair boss and the workers there nicknamed him Flash because he moved so quickly from one department to another. They was a song about him which went:
    There is a happy land
    Down Pasture Street
    Where Tickler’s lasses worked
    Two bob a week
    Oh how we used to see them run
    When old Kymie come
    Run, run like hell.

    During the First World War he lost his wife, my mum, in childbirth. He employed a girl from the factory to look after me as a baby and later married her. That was Fanny Chapman. They had a daughter Eva who also worked at the factory in the label room when she grew up. And I got a job at Tickler’s in 1933 when I was 16, starting as a labourer loading the jam pans. I was interviewed by Tom Tickler’s son, George. My dad didn’t know I’d gone for a job there and made it clear to me when he heard that I shouldn’t expect any favours!
    In 1945, after serving in the war, I went back and eventually became a supervisor of the new fruit squash drinks department.

  31. Rod said,

    August 11, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

    John,
    thanks for the great comment and welcome to the site
    All the best
    Rod

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