135 years of jam making at Tiptree
18th June 2020
2020 marks 135 years of jam making at Tiptree; it was in June 1885 that Mr. Arthur Charles Wilkin made his first batch of Strawberry Conserve from strawberries grown on his farm, a tradition that continues today. During the 135 years everyone in the Wilkin family have seen the company overcome great difficulties and celebrate amazing achievements. The highlights have included three royal visits: H.M. The Queen (2010), HRH Princess Alexandra (1985) and TRH the Earl & Countess of Wessex (2020).
Throughout these years the farm has been at the centre of the business and while innovation has ensured increased crop production, more efficient use of water and easier picking levels, it is the actual taste of the fruit that will always be of prime importance. Our library of images take us through 100 years of picking with girls wearing long dresses as they gathered black currants, enthusiastic farm workers returning from the fields piled into a tractor trailer, picking Little Scarlets at the annual Strawberry Races through to the innovative Tiptree New Growing System opened in 2016.
The innovation on the farm is reflected in the changes in the factory – at one time teams men in flat caps and women with long aprons worked at the open boiling pans, one of these pans can be seen in The John Wilkin Collection at the Jam Museum. The photograph of the flat capped men sorting crates of oranges from Seville was probably taken in the 1920/1930s, the apparel may have changed but the Crate Room name continues; it is the room where all the fruit is washed and checked by hand as it enters the factory before being prepared for the boiling room. The open boiling pans of the 1900s have mostly been replaced by small copper lined boiling pans where batches of jams and marmalades are cooked for a precise time to retain the maximum flavour.
As exporters for 135 years the mini jars of Tiptree marmalades and jams can be found on breakfast tables across the world. Historic order forms show conserves (made with home grown fruit), preserves (made with fruit from another source), bottled fruit and other unusual items that were sold direct to individual consumers in the UK and overseas. Direct sales ceased during war time when rationing was introduced but online home sales have shown a rapid increase during 2020, a circle of sales.
Farming requires long term planning, some strawberries that will crop in 90 days and in contrast we have mulberry trees that were planted more than 100 years ago. The company’s marketing strategy reflects tomorrow’s trends and changes in tastes as new products are introduced: slim bottles of Tiptree Tomato Ketchup, fashionable Salted Caramel Spread organic preserves, reduced sugar jams, fruit juices and an increasing range alcoholic products including the very popular Tiptree Strawberry Gin Liqueur.
The tradition of providing homes for many of the staff helps to build the community feeling and the company has always taken an active part in village life supporting projects and assisting charitable enterprises. Some of those special events have been capture by television and press reporters to share across the UK and overseas.
The royal connection has always been important to the company and to customers across the world and we are proud to have held a Royal Warrant continuously for over 100 years. An accolade that appears on every jar: “By appointment to Her Majesty The Queen purveyors of Tiptree products”.