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Why Pascall sweets came first when Cadbury's Tasmanian factory opened in 1922

THE first run of confectionery production at the new Cadbury-Fry-Pascall Ltd factory at Claremont in Tasmania in April 1922 wasn’t Cadbury chocolates.

The newly completed Cadbury-Fry-Pascall factory at Claremont in Tasmania.

When the first shipment of 118 boxes left Hobart for Sydney on Saturday 8 April 1922 it consisted entirely of Pascall’s sweets.

Perhaps this wasn’t all that surprising as Wilfrid Pascall, a director of Pascall and Co. Ltd and son of the company founder James Pascall, had been overseeing the commissioning of the factory.

And the Hobart Mercury of Friday 7 April 1922 said it would be some time before any confectionery from the factory became available to consumers as the company wanted to build up stock at its mainland agents:

There is only a limited supply of storing space at the Claremont factory at present and the management desire to have such supplies on hand when they commence selling to merchants as to be able to cater for any demand that may arise.

When construction of the factory commenced in early 1921 the Mercury described it as the most important industrial happening of the year in Tasmania.

The introduction of import tariffs following Federation encouraged many large British companies to establish subsidiary operations in Australia and Tasmania was offering cheap electricity, government incentive and a clean environment.

Other British manufacturing businesses, including big textile producers like Patons and Baldwins and Kelsall and Kemp, were also building factories in Tasmania.

The consortium of Cadbury Bros Ltd of Bournville, J. S. Fry and Sons Ltd of Bristol, and James Pascall Ltd of London, had bought land at Claremont in 1920.

It was part of an estate known as Triffit's Point that had been the site of the training camp for Tasmanian troops during World War I.

Plans for the Cadbury-Fry-Pascall factory estate were presented to the Glenorchy Council on 15 March 1921.

It was expected to employ 1,000 people when completed and there would be benefits for the dairy industry with an estimated 20,000 litres of milk per week being required at times during the year.

Government incentives included extending the railway to the factory and the Hobart wharves and ensuring water, gas and electricity could be connected to the site.

The Cadbury factory at Bourneville in England.

The most startling aspect of the Claremont plans was that it was intended to establish a “garden settlement” for factory workers similar to the Cadbury Bournville worker village in England.

The Cadbury family were Quakers and had followed the example of the model industrial settlement of New Lanark, in Scotland where the planning and architecture of a cotton factory in the late 1700s included worker housing and other facilities to support employee well-being.

It was a milestone in social and industrial history.

The Mercury said that the suitability of the Claremont site and the excellence of the Tasmanian climate were two of the principal factors in the companies’ decision to establish a factory in Tasmania.

When Wilfrid Pascall arrived in Hobart on Thursday 6 October 1921 the Mercury said he would be taking part “in the direction of affairs generally” at Claremont.

Pascall and Co. Ltd had been established in 1852 by Wilfrid Pascall's father as a private company and later became a public company. After Cadbury Bros. and J. S. Fry merged in 1919, Pascall joined them in their Australian project.

The Mercury said that Mr Pascall looked to be a “thorough business man” and one of wide experience. Mr Pascall told the newspaper that he thought the committee from the combined firms had carried out their work up to the present in a manner that reflected great credit on all concerned:

Everything connected with the main factory was nearing completion, and they hoped to commence the manufacture of confectionery there, if not before the end of the present year, then at the commencement of the New Year.

The completion of other sections of the factory would follow quickly thereafter. He had brought out with him six expert hands, who had been specially trained in the work they would have to perform.

These were absolutely necessary in connection with making a start, and they would train others, consisting of local people. The idea was to employ local hands for other than expert work.

Wilfrid Pascall

When asked about the amenities for factory workers Mr Pascall told the Mercury that houses and grounds would be in the style of the celebrated garden city at the Cadbury company’s factory at Bournville in Birmingham:

We hope to develop the place on those lines, making it a garden village. Some 13 or 14 comfortable cottages have already been built, some of which are occupied by experts, and expert men who have come out with me will occupy some of the others, as four of them are married and three of the four have families.

He said the three firms in the Tasmanian venture had always been well to the fore in endeavouring to treat all their employees in the way they should be treated … “and we shall endeavour to carry on the best traditions of the three firms in that respect at Claremont."

He expected no difficulties in obtaining milk supplies but Tasmanian hardwoods were difficult to use for packing cases.

Asked about the cost involved in establishing the enterprise, Mr Pascall stated that the expenditure involved in the scheme amounted to between £300,000 and £400,000, the major portion of which had already been expended.

He said materials, plant, machinery and appliances were costing a lot of money. They were obtaining all the plant and machinery they could in Australia, but a lot of it, being of a special kind, had to come from Europe.

In February 2022 the consortium registered their business in Tasmania as Cadbury-Fry-Pascall Ltd with a capital of £500,000, divided into 500,000 shares of £1 each, with power to issue 250,000 of them as preference shares.

The objects of the company were listed as carrying on the business or businesses of manufacturers of and dealers in cocoa, chocolate, and confectionery.

The registered office of the company was at Claremont and the inaugural directors were William Cooper, of Sydney, agent; Thomas Edward Cooper, of Claremont, Tasmania, agent; Edward Harrison Colleyshaw, of Claremont, Tasmania, agent; and Wilfrid Gover Pascall, of Hobart, manufacturer.

On 22 May 1922, the Mercury reported that the sale of confectionery manufactured at Claremont was about to commence throughout Australia.

Workers at the Cadbury-Fry-Pascall factory at Claremont.

Local agents had received stocks of the lines already made, mostly Pascall goods at this stage, but the well-known brands of Cadbury and Fry chocolates, which were popular before World War I in Australia, would also be made at Claremont and soon would be available to consumers.

Samples of the sweets had been sent to the Mercury office and were judged by the journalist to be “quite up to the standard expected under the perfect conditions produced by nature and science at Claremont.”

In 1923 Cadbury’s chief chemist in England, Norman Parr Booth, was appointed chairman and managing director of the Cadbury-Fry-Pascall operation in Australia.

Norman Booth was an analytical chemist born in 1879. In 1901 he had joined his father Clarkson Booth at Cadbury Bros in Bournville. Norman was involved in the research and development of Cadbury milk chocolate and Bournville cocoa.

He had earned a reputation for his technical skills and fair and compassionate management at Bournville and he arrived in Hobart with his wife Ellen and teenage sons Eric and Robert in February 1924.

In an interview with the Mercury he expressed his delight at the new factory and its location:

I was happy at once in finding the factory so beautifully situated amid such grand mountain and river scenery, away from all the smoke of a populous centre, and from dust arising from road and other traffic; and with the large rooms of the new building open to all the winds of heaven, and bathed in your wonderful Australian sunshine.

I am pleased with the equipment of the factory and its up-to-date plant for making the highest grade cocoa and confectionery and worked by healthy and happy Tasmanian girls and men.

It would be hard to imagine how food products could be produced from start to finish under more hygienic or ideal conditions. May the happy first impressions be maintained and increased with the passage of time.

Norman and Ellen Booth established themselves in Hobart with the purchase of a large house called The Homestead at Rosetta and both involved themselves in a number of business, cultural and community organisations.

Norman and Ellen Booth in their garden at Rosetta.

A talented thespian, Norman helped establish the Hobart Repertory Society and performed in many productions. He became a Rotarian, supported the Hobart Technical College, was involved in the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, the Tasmanian Chamber of Manufactures and was a justice of the peace.

He served on the Glenorchy Council, the government’s food standards committee and became a trustee of the

Tasmanian Museum and Botanical Gardens.

Ellen was involved with the Glenorchy Child Welfare Association and the Tasmanian Sunshine Home Association, which gave needy children a holiday at its property at Howrah.

They made regular and generous donations to many community organisations and public appeals.

Norman was also instrumental in the establishment of the Claremont Golf Club on land next to the factory which was officially opened on Saturday 25 August 1928.

It was initially intended that only employees of the Cadbury Fry Pascall factory would be able to use the new nine-hole course but that was relaxed with an invitation for other golfers to join.

Norman Booth was the first club’s first president.

By the time Norman Booth retired from Cadbury’s at the end of 1938 the Claremont factory was famous in Australia and South East Asia for its confectionery products.

Norman Booth died in Hobart in 1950 after a long illness but his role in the success of the Cadbury factory and his contribution to the wider Tasmanian community continued.

In 1942 his youngest son Dr R. P. (Pip) Booth joined the staff of the Launceston General Hospital as in-patient surgeon. He worked at the hospital and in private practice in Launceston until his death in 1974.

While training in London in 1936 he met Winifred Daphne Denny and they married in Sydney during a short break in his service with the Royal Australian Navy.

The couple didn’t have children and following the death of Mrs Booth in 2000 a charitable trust was established with their considerable estate.

Over the past 20 years the WD Booth Charitable Trust has distributed more than $6 million to worthwhile causes in Tasmania.

The new suburb of Claremont takes shape.


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