Week by week, we will be delving into the back stories of some of the greatest Yorkshire companies – finding out about the people behind them, their humble beginnings, how they became household names, and where they are now. Today we take a look at Terry’s of York, finding out how a pair of citrus peel importers led to the famous Chocolate Orange.
In 1767, Robert Berry opened a shop at Bootham Bar in York, selling cough lozenges, imported candied peel and other sweets. He was joined by William Bayldon to form Bayldon and Berry Confectionery. In the early nineteenth century, Joseph Terry moved from Pocklington to York, taking up an apprenticeship at an apothecary in Stonegate, before setting up his own chemist shop in Walmgate. In 1823, he married Harriet Atkinson, the niece of Robert Berry.
After Robert Berry died in 1825, his son George persuaded Terry to join the family firm, renaming it Terry and Berry. When George Berry left the business in 1828, his partner renamed it Terry’s of York. Thanks to his training as a chemist, he was able to develop new lines of chocolate, confectionery, sugared sweets, candied peel, marmalade and medicated lozenges. His factory was in Brearley Yard, while his shop was in St Helen’s Square, close to the Mansion House, a desirable location. He also took advantage of the developing railways to distribute his products across the country. In 1850 his sons Joseph Jr, Robert and John joined the family business, which became Joseph Terry & Sons. Joseph Terry Sr retired a few years before he died, handing the reins to his eldest son of the same name.
The business expanded and in 1854, they moved to a new site at Clementhorpe. Taking advantage of this new site’s proximity to the River Ouse, where sugar, cocoa and coal could be delivered by steam ship twice a week. They retained the St Helen’s Square shop, and the name Terry’s still adorns the building today. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, Joseph Terry Jr was well known in the city for his civic duty and philanthropy. He served a term as Sheriff of York in 1870, and was Lord Mayor on four separate occasions, before being knighted in 1887. It was in 1923 that the company, now under the leadership of Frank and Noel Terry, bought a large site on Bishopthorpe Road, where they built a new factory in an Art Deco style with its distinctive clock tower. The first new product produced at their new factory, when it opened in 1926, was the Terry’s Chocolate Apple. This was followed in 1931 by the Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and Terry’s All Gold in the following year.
Business went from strength to strength and in 1936, Frank was knighted; before taking office as the High Sheriff of Yorkshire in 1945. During World War Two, confectionery production was halted, and the factory was given over to producing propeller blades. In post war years, rationing and limited imports of cocoa made production difficult, leading to the phasing out of the chocolate apple in favour of the more popular chocolate orange.
The Terry’s Chocolate Orange has become synonymous with the company, due to its unique packaging and flavour. The chocolate, shaped like a real orange contained twenty segments and in order to release them must be “tapped” on a hard surface. The product has also led to numerous “spin offs,” including a Chocolate orange bar, containing six segments, “minis,” which contain smaller pieces of the confectionary and Easter eggs.
Over the last fifty years, the company has changed hands on a number of occasions. It has been owned over the years by Trust House Forte, Colgate-Palmolive, United Biscuits, and ultimately Kraft Foods. In 2005, Kraft moved production of the Terry’s brand products to various sites in Eastern Europe. On the 30th September of that year the last ever Terry’s Chocolate Orange was made in the city of York, ending 238 years of history since the company’s humble beginnings in 1767. The magnificent buildings have been renamed The Chocolate Works, and are currently being developed into a mixed retail and residential development. The former factory site, just off Bishopthorpe Road will always be part of York’s chocolate story.
In the next post in this series, we will look at KP Foods.
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