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Crosse & Blackwell Factory Peterhead

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Crosse & Blackwell tinned beans
Crosse & Blackwell
Tinned beans

Crosse & Blackwell operated a major factory in Peterhead, until 1998. Producing canned product such as tinned sausages and beans in tomato sauce, the plant was latterly switched to the production of Branston pickle, packaged in glass jars. This change was only to last for a few years, as the owner, Nestlé, surprised the local community in 1997 by announcing the imminent closure of the plant as part of an efficiency drive, with the loss of some 170 jobs.

The closure announcement as it appeared in a local newspaper:

Peterhead's Crosse & Blackwell factory, one of the biggest employers in the town, is to be scrapped with the loss of 170 jobs. The shock announcement that the 150-years-old factory would close by the end of 1998 was broken to workers by Nestle management last week. the company, which has operated the flagship Peterhead factory for more than 30 years, is axing the plant as part of a major efficiency drive throughout the country.

© The Buchan Observer. March 18, 1997.

Crosse & Blackwell - changes over the years

Crosse & Blackwell was a well-established British food brand since its origin in 1706, and had an early history in preserve and canned food manufacture.

Originally founded as West and Wyatt, the company was purchased in 1830 by Edmund Crosse and Thomas Blackwell.

In 1950, Nestlé bought and developed the name across a number of food categories worldwide.

In 2002, Crosse & Blackwell joined Premier Foods.

In 2004, Crosse & Blackwell became part of The JM Smucker Company of America. They say Crosse & Blackwell products reflect a sampling of England’s great culinary influences: unique products with the finest ingredients, exotic recipes and robust flavor.

Site development

The site was taken over by Fresh Catch Ltd, described as "one of Europe’s largest pelagic processors", processing North Atlantic and North Sea caught pelagic fish at its 48,500 m2 facility - said to be the largest of its kind in Britain. Fresh Catch also maintain sales offices in the South of England and in Denmark. (Pelagic: relating to or occurring or living in or frequenting the open ocean; "pelagic organisms"; "pelagic fishing").

An article in Fishing News, November 30, 2001, describes the developments at Peterhead harbour to improve the quality of pelagic fish landed there. A new pump ashore system has been established for herring and mackerel which will minimize the time from pelagic boats arrival to the fish being pumped into the newly established pelagic fish processing factory of Fresh Catch. The new factory will, when complete, be able to process 3,000 tonnes of herring and mackerel a week, and have cold storage capacity for 11,000 tonnes.

2011 Fire

On Thursday, July 14, 2011, a serious fire broke at the premises of Anderson Marine in the Kirk Square area of Peterhead, reported to have led to the loss of two fibreglass hulls nearing completion. This has the same owners as the adjacent Fresh Catch Ltd.[1]

2013 Frech Catch Ltd becomes Northbay Pelagic Ltd

Formerly the Fresh Catch fish factory, the firm was taken over in a joint venture by new company Northbay Pelagic Ltd in 2013.

2015 Fire

On Saturday, January 17, 2015, a serious fire broke out in the fish factory. Up to ten crews were in attendance. Nearby streets were closed, as was the town centre, while residents were evacuated. An investigation later found the fire had started at the nearby Anderson Marine boat builder.[2]

Footnotes

The Crosse & Blackwell factory at Peterhead was a great place to visit and work in. The people of Peterhead were terrific, always helpful, cheery and ready to have a laugh, and the closure of the factory must have come as a blow. My (and no doubt many others) memory of the place will always be of the little pink pork sausages that they canned there, together with beans and tomato sauce. I've no idea how many tins they produced, but reckon the lines I worked on must have been passing around 200 cans per minute, a lot of cans in year, and even more sausages, with four per tin. Latterly, parent company Nestlé switched production to pickle, and my association with the site ended, however, that was no bad thing, as pickle may be nice on a sandwich, but is an evil product in a factory. The acidic vinegar content eats all the machinery unless made of stainless steel, and it can be ever so slightly disconcerting to grab onto a piece of machinery, only to have it disintegrate in your hand. Unlike the previous lines that had canned sausages and beans, the pickle lines were covered over most of their length, otherwise the jars could have contained flakes of rusty metal, shaken loose from the overhead machinery. Anon.

References

1 Peterhead boat builders hit by fire | Aberdeen and North | STV News Retrieved 16 July 2011 17:25:37.

2 Peterhead fish factory blaze brought under control Retrieved January 18, 2015.

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