Few brands are as synonymous with Essex as the jam made at Tiptree. When the Wilkin family made the decision back in 1865 to move from arable to fruit farming, they couldn’t have imagined how well things would turn out. Arthur Charles Wilkin founded the Britannia Fruit Preserving Company in 1885, which would be renamed Wilkin & Sons in 1905.
Pretty much straightaway, the company was a success and quickly became the most significant employer in the village. By 1906, the company owned 800 acres of land; today, the estate includes farms in Tiptree as well as nearby Tollesbury and Goldhanger. After 130 years of manufacturing, it’s hard to imagine Tiptree without Wilkin & Sons.
Although it’s not possible to take a tour of the factory itself for hygiene and safety reasons, Wilkin & Sons has an interesting museum which is well worth a visit. John Wilkin’s collection of preserve-making documents, pictures and machines offers a fascinating insight into the history of the business and the village which welcomed it with open arms. The museum is free to enter, but you’d have to have enormous willpower to leave without spending some money in the well-stocked shop or indeed the popular tearooms. To find out more about visiting Wilkin & Sons, visit their website at http://www.tiptree.com.
Photos reproduced by kind permission of Sally Carpenter at Wilkin & Sons.