CHAPTER 4 : 1859-1878


During these years the company was highly profitable. The company's Private Ledger1 records the share of the profits earned by each brother annually. In their worst year, 1861, each brother 'took home' £2,551. Their best year was 1866 when the share of the profits for each brother was £11,570 (over £½ million in today's values). The total profits for the 17 years 1859 to 1875 inclusive were £225,202 which gave each brother an average annual income from the business of over £6,623. In 1875 the property and land owned by the company, including the offices, the buildings forming the works and 24 cottages in Nelson Street, was valued at £13,649. The total assets, including the above, the plant, stock, utensils and a boat (the Mersey flat Camden, valued at £200) was valued at £64,370.

These were years of further expansion of the business. On 3rd February 1869 an area of 3,600 square yards was purchased and on 10th December 1875 a further area of £2,050 was bought, this latter land having been formerly owned by the Johnson brothers2 .

A dinner to celebrate the centenary of Hazlehurst & Sons was held in the Exchange Station Hotel, Liverpool on 7th December 1916. On the wall of the banqueting room, opposite the chairman was hung a portrait of Thomas Hazlehurst, the founder of the company. On each side of this portrait were hung paintings of an old soapery which were said to bear 'a general resemblance to that founded by Mr Thomas Hazlehurst'3 . They were ascribed to J W A Turner, but this attribution has since been denied 4.

Thomas' son George Steward Hazlehurst was not able to be present at the dinner but in its report5 he is quoted as saying that during the period of time it was being run by Thomas junior and Charles the business 'flourished greatly, new offices were built, a large trade in carbonate of soda was done with America, and their soap became known far and wide.'6 . Present at the dinner was a former employee of Hazlehurst & Sons, Edward Jones 7. He had started to work there in 1853, when he was aged 10 (the year when soap duty was finally removed) and his employment continued until the age of 70; a total of 60 years continuous service. Even before this, at the age of 8 he had been carrying drinking water to the works. Soon after he arrived to work there he was able to join in the 'rejoicings' relating to 'soap emancipation' 8 (this is the removal of soap duty).

Edward Jones had a 'warm regard' for Charles Hazlehurst, whom he described as 'a very kindly disposed employer, approachable by all his men'. Charles was 'a noble-looking gentleman, tall and well built...who took care that he kept in the fashion'. He was keen on making improvements to the soap-making process, one of which was the introduction of soap pumps. This replaced the laborious task of carrying the soap around in pails, a hot and unpopular job, particularly in the summer. The idea to introduce pumps was presented to Charles by one of his employees and Charles championed the development and installation of the pumps. It sounds as though Charles was a good employer. Edward Jones described him as being a sympathetic man 'who won men to him and got better work out of them'. Edward told a story about some of his workmates who set up a practical joke for one of their unpopular colleagues. His job was to wheel a wheelbarrow full of sulphur stones along a certain path. They made a hole in the path, filled it with mud and covered this with soil. As it happened the trap caught Charles rather than the workman and his 'beautifully polished' boots were 'plastered with mud'. At first he was angry, but soon got over it when he understood what had happened.

From what Edward Jones said it sounds as though at one time the manufacture of chemicals had been much greater than that of soap, but during the time of Charles' management the soap making part of the business was expanded and in time orders came in so fast that they 'sometimes had to be refused'. After Charles' death Jones states that the business 'rather went back backward than progressed'9 .

Another former employee present at the dinner was W. Heap, who worked at the factory for 35 years. He remembered both Thomas and Charles, describing the former as 'more of a public man' than his brother who was known in his day as 'Prince of the Wesleyans'. Charles was described as being devoted to his business, arriving at his office as early as 6.30 a.m. and having his letters opened before 7 a.m... He also described large exports of their soap to 'Demerara, Trinidad, Malta and Turkey'10 .

Although Charles was willing to make developments in the technical field, this did not necessarily apply to his marketing methods. Sir Frederick Norman describes a visit made by his father, Thomas, to the works in around 187511 . Charles and Thomas Norman 'were great pals' and Charles was very proud of his soap, which he said was made from the finest Russian tallow and pure palm oil. It was being produced in square bars weighing between 2½ and 4 pounds. He expressed strong opinions about what he called 'foolish innovations' in the soap trade such as making soap in tablets, selling these in fancy boxes and advertising them. His arguments were economic; such innovations would increase the cost of soap to the customer, thus raising the cost of living which would in turn drive employers to pay higher wages. He maintained this opinion until his death some 3 years later.

Return to
3.6 other Denominations 1842-59
Forward to
4.2 Thomas Hazlehurst 1859-78
Return to Hazlehurst Index page Return to Main site index