Chiswick Polish
Copyright © 2003 G E Stephenson, Reckitt's Heritage / Reckitt Benckiser
Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish
Dan & Charles Mason, pioneers of the shoe polish industry in Chiswick
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Chiswick Polish / Cherry Blossom / Chiswick Products a brief history 1886 to 1998
1886 (approx.):  a small soap factory at the junction of Hogarth Lane and Burlington Gardens was established

1900: by this time the brothers Charles and Dan Mason were running the business under the name Chiswick Soap Company.  They had introduced "Red Poppy" and "Primrose" soft soaps as well as "Forget-me-not" furniture polish and "Buttercup" metal polish 

1901: a serious fire interrupted the business but work continued.

1905: seeking to make use of the many 5 inch circular pieces of tin-plate which were the by-product of their other activities the brothers turned to creating smaller tins in which they could sell a polish for use on boots and shoes which would not rub off on to clothing in the way that the existing 'blackings' did.  A chemist was engaged to produce a suitable formulation.

1906: launch of Cherry Blossom Boot Polish, which under imaginative marketing, became a huge success and ultimately led to the formation (in 1913) of a separate company under the name Chiswick Polish Company Ltd and the transfer of the soap manufacturing operations to Yalding in Kent.

1908: participation in the Franco-British Exhibition at the White City. Above the Company's stand there was a large electric clock which served as a focal meeting point allowing visitors to 'meet under the Cherry Blossom clock'.

1909: Sports Ground and Pavilion opened in Hogarth Lane

1910: participation in the Japan-British Exhibition in July at White City

1911: The whole of the long-running Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was hired by the Company for a full day and the gates thrown open to free admission upon presentation of a lid from a Cherry Blossom tin. The Company built a replica of the Big Ben clock tower which again encouraged people to 'meet under the clock'.  The event was a major marketing coup and, with attendance of more than 200,000 visitors, produced traffic chaos which London had not witnessed to that date.

1912: Mansion Polish launched

1913: formation of Chiswick Polish Company jointly owned by the Mason family and Reckitt & Sons Ltd. The businesses of William Berry Ltd and Master Boot Polish Company (both acquired by Reckitt & Sons Ltd in 1912) were integrated into Chiswick and all metal polish operations transferred to Reckitt's in Hull.

1915: Girls' Club established

1916: staff magazine "Forward" launched 

1916: First liaison between Chiswick Polish Co and Nugget Polish Co. as a joint pooling arrangement is discussed.

1918: 5-day working week introduced on Chiswick site

1919: Pooling agreement between Chiswick Polish Company and Nugget Polish Company put into practice.

1923: Pension Scheme introduced

1924: first 'fish-plate' metal opener introduced on Cherry Blossom lids.

1925: Boston House, Chiswick purchased for use as Girls' Club.

1925: Charles and Dan Mason presented to the employees a ten acre sports ground, "Dukes Meadows", which included a pavilion with changing rooms and a tea room. 

1929: name change to Chiswick Products Ltd upon amalgamation with Nugget Polish Company Ltd. 

1929: Daisy Sander joined the Company to work as an assistant in the Library until 1936. She participated in the Company's Operatic and Drama Societies and was to rise to fame in later years as a stage and screen actress under the name Dandy Nichols.

1930: First occupancy of 50 semi-detached houses in Staveley Gardens (adjacent to the firm's Printing Works), provided for the workforce.

1934: Cardinal Polish introduced: "Cardinal " trade name having been relinquished by Reckitt's

1938: William Wren's polish business acquired bringing with it Lavendo furniture polish; a white cleaner called Puwhite and Wren's Super Wax Shoe Polish.

1954: Chiswick Products Ltd merged into the newly-formed Reckitt & Colman Holdings Ltd.

1958: New Sports and Social Club opened

1960: acquisition of Kay Brothers of Stockport, makers of Zip firelighters

1962: New Laboratory opened. 

1966: Major rebuilding operation adds new manufacturing, office, storage, computer and canteen facilities

1970: Transfer of Group's Head Office from Hull to Chiswick

1972: Manufacturing transfers from Chiswick to Hull

1985: New HQ building opened in September

1998: Head Office transferred from Chiswick to Windsor and, subsequently, Slough

G E Stephenson, 6 February 2003 Reckitt's Heritage / Reckitt Benckiser
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