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September 2011: You're Right to Use Oxo

BPC Oxo packet

This sample packaging for Oxo cubes comes from the archive of the Berkshire Printing Company.

The Berkshire Printing Company used to stand on the Oxford Road in Reading, though it started out on the other side of town as part of the Brooke Bond tea empire.  In 1902, Arthur Brooke purchased a tea dealer's called Salmon, part of whose estate was an old brewery in Kings Road.  Brooke moved the brewing equipment out and the printing presses in to make the packets for his tea bags and loose teas.

The Printing Company thrived in its own right, and diversified its customer base.  It maintained close links with Brooke Bond, and has a special place in the heart of any collector of the picture cards found in Brooke Bond tea from the 1950s to the 1990s.  The Company was eventually a victim to consolidation in the industry, taken over by a multinational which moved its business elsewhere.

BPC Oxo packet


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6 response(s) so far…

Jack Hale
Posted on the : 14 Mar 2012

My grandfather worked for Brooke Bond during and after the war. I have a letter to him dated 5th May 1944, apparently from his boss, sent from Brooke Bond and Company Limited, 254 Kings Road, Reading. Would that be the address of Berkshire Printing Co?

Posted on the : 15 Mar 2012

Hi - the Berkshire Printing Co moved to the Oxford Road in 1932. Brooke Bond kept the old premises at 254 Kings Road though - when your grandfather was there, we think they were used for packing tea. Try the Unilever archives in Port Sunlight to see if they've got any staff records (they bought Brooke Bond later on).

Dave Richardson
Posted on the : 28 Feb 2014

I worked there for around 15 yrs. was a great company to be in was kind of a family of workers , do miss the place and freinds I made. Such a shame to have lost a great factory and a part of readings history.

Andrew Baines
Posted on the : 14 Aug 2014

Any idea what happened to art works for the tea cards? Was the archive moved or destroyed?

Posted on the : 15 Aug 2014

Hi Andrew - no, in short. However, the archive we received was very partial, so the artwork might still be out there somewhere. Unilever bought Brooke Bond, I think - maybe try their archives first?

Posted on the : 15 Aug 2014

And sorry, I should add that we do have a lot of tea card sets here as part of the BPC production archive - just not the original artwork


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