5 Iconic British brands

Ask someone to name a British brand and they’ll no doubt mention Rolls-RoyceBarbour or HarrodsAnd love it or hate it, it’s rare to find a food that elicits such strong feelings as Marmite.  We thought we’d shine a light on some of our favourite other great British brands. Those whose packaging is a treat to look at. Those who provide us with everyday luxuries. And those who bring us a little moment of joy on a drizzly day.

1. Tunnock's

From its iconic designs and 130+ year heritage, to its simply delicious teacakes, Tunnock’s is a classic in every sense.

Thomas Tunnock bought his Uddingston bakery in 1890, for the staggering price of £80. His business, and family, grew but during the First World War the bakery had to close due to Thomas's ill health. 

Thomas' son Archie returned from the war to find that his father had sadly passed away, and that his dying wish had been for Archie to reopen the bakery. Once reopened, the bakery became a pillar of the community, providing free meals for several schools and opening tearooms above the shop (which is still there today).

In 1952 the Caramel Wafer was born, followed by the Teacake in 1956.

Their values and commitment to community continue into today. During the pandemic, Sales Director, Mr Fergus Loudon, delivered a gift of 2,500 Teacakes and Caramel Wafers to NHS frontline key workers at the new Louisa Jordan hospital Glasgow.

2. Neal's Yard Remedies

Founded by health advocate Romy Fraser in 1981 in Covent Garden. With a desire to help people access natural remedies at a time when this was not the norm, Neal's Yard Remedies was as much about education as it was the products themselves.

The iconic blue glass bottles were designed to protect and preserve the precious natural ingredients within.

Because they were not registered as a pharmacy, people were encouraged to explore and choose remedies for themselves. 

Speaking to the Huffington Post Romy said, "Our success was down to word-of-mouth, someone who’d been successfully treated for back pain would bring a friend who suffered from migraines. Eventually we had queues coming out of the door."

Romy sold the business in 2005, returning to teaching, and Neal's Yard Remedies was bought by the Kindersley family.

3. Twinings

Whether you’re an Earl Grey fan or prefer a mellow English Breakfast Tea, Twinings provides the perfect cuppa. It’s also one of the oldest British brands, dating back to 1706. 

In 1684, the Twining family moved from Gloucestershire to London. Thomas Twining grew up in the city, finding a trade for himself amongst the merchants. He handled some of the earliest shipments of tea, and in 1706 he bought Tom's Coffee House on the Strand (it is estimated that this was the world's first dry tea and coffee shop). So beginning the famous tea company.

Mary Twining, married to Thomas's son, is a great heroine in this story. She took over and ran the business for 21 years, during a time of high taxation where tea was smuggled through Holland and France. Writing in her diary near the end of her life she notes that her proudest achievement was sticking to her commitment of only selling the highest quality of tea. A commitment that has contineud into today.

4. Hendrick's

There are far too many British gin brands to include here, but special mention must go to the grandaddy of them all – Hendricks – for its wry humour and tongue-in-cheek styling.

William Grant, in 1886, established William Grant & Sons, the Scottish distillers which later became Hendrick’s Gin. William and the Grant family not only established the business, but built with their own hands the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Speyside (Glenfiddich in Scots Gaelic translates as Valley of the Deer).

Originally producing single malt whiskey, “the best dram in the glen”, the family didn't start producing gin until the 1980's. By that time there were already a fair few London Dry Gin's on the market and Charles (the great, great grandson of William Grant) realised they would have to do something very special in order to stand out.

Enter Leslie Gracie, a chemist whose love of botanicals at a young age saw her serving new delicacies such as twig tea and grass juice. And David Stewart, the Master Blender, who took inspiration from a summer cucumber sandwich eaten in a rose garden. The pair finally developed the well-known Hendrick's gin recipe in 1998.

5. Romney's

Creator of the Kendal Mint Cake. Romney’s founder, Mr Sam. T. Clarke, started business after being medically discharged from World War I. He purchased an old recipe for the Kendal Mint Cake, and began making the classic cake.

The name George Romney Ltd. comes from the fact that the family home was on Romney Road, and because famous artist, George Romney, had lived in Kendal.

This classic cake was made famous when it was carried on the first ever successful summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

+++

Which is your favourite British brand...?