16 March, 2007

Let them eat cake! Henry Jones invents self-raising flour. March 17th, 1845

Henry Jones was fortunate amongst inventors in that he actually made a lot of money from his ingenuity, rather than see others turn his ideas into cash. Good for him.

This is from an article by Eugene Byrne for the 2006 Bristol "Festival of Ideas".
" A baker and confectioner in Broadmead (Bristol), Jones patented his self-raising flour in 1845. Until then, the only raising agent used in bread was yeast, which would not keep. This meant that soldiers and sailors, particularly, had to consume bread and biscuit that would become almost inedible. Jones said it was concern for servicemen, just as much as profit, which prompted him to develop his invention".

Henry Jones strove to convince the Admiralty that although a diet of "maggots, weevils and mouldy biscuits" may have suited Nelson’s crews, only good bread, decently baked, would satisfy a modern seaman.

"It was quickly championed by Florence Nightingale, who could see the advantage in soldiers and sailors enjoying a decent diet and Jones also got a warrant from Queen Victoria to supply the royal household. An article in The Lancet in 1846 praised Jones Patent Flour for its “contribution to public health and to the daily comfort of the masses”. Jones made a small fortune, and then another with his arrowroot biscuits, which were cheap and hugely popular"

Here's a link to an interesting website on the history of Bristol firms , which has a longer article on Henry James & Co , which is still going strong.