Subsidiary Companies


Alperton Carton Company

Eighty per cent of the company's cartons (Lyons Bakery, Lyons Maid, Tetley Tea and Henry Telfer) were made by Alperton Carton Ltd. The company, or rather the former box department from which it emerged, was one of the earliest service departments formed at Cadby Hall circa 1900. In those days the department made rigid boxes for chocolates and it was not until after the First World War that production changed from rigid to folding cartons. It was at this time that the Box Making Department moved to new premises in Earlham Street, Covent Garden, London. One of the oldest members of the box making department was Miss E. A. Pates who had joined the company in 1905. When she retired in 1964 she remembered making some 350 different types of rigid boxes for chocolates and cakes. These were often covered in fluted silk and heavily decorated. The department had their own silk screen plant to put designs on the boxes. Among the more unusual boxes Miss Pates made were those shaped like dart-boards, cricket bats, balls and even an aeroplane - to commemorate the first flight from New Zealand to England. She also made special presentation chocolate boxes for nearly every member of the royal family.

After the First World War automation began to take over the process of making boxes and this continued at Earlham Street so that by 1964 the factory employed some 250 staff. Alperton Carton Company Ltd was formed in about 1961 and it is thought they moved to a new factory at Manor Farm Road, Alperton at this time.

In 1966 Alperton Carton Company started their own package design department which they called Alpergraphics. In 1971 they set out to capture 25 per cent of the Groups packaging design. In charge of the department was Eddie Bayliss, a member of the Society of Industrial Artists. He had joined Lyons in 1955 in what was then the Design Department and went to Alperton Carton Company in 1966. With him was Ruth Hall, who also joined in 1966. Both were said to be 'experts' on lettering and creative design. The type of work Alpergraphics provided included design packaging, illustration, house styles, symbols, menus, brochures, publicity and display literature, press advertisements, lettering, and presentation layouts.

Many types of cartons were produced at Alperton and they fell into three main categories: Those printed in up to five colours by lithographic process, transit packs and shrink-wrap trays. In December 1970 production capacity was increased by 15 per cent with the installation of a £120,000 six-colour litho in-line cutting and creasing press. The machine, made by Roland of Switzerland and capable of 6,000 impressions an hour, was the first of its kind to be installed in Britain. The installation took five weeks and was so successful that it ran on two shifts between 6.30 am and 22.00 pm. Its first job was to print Lyons Maid ice cream cartons in six colours which up till then had only been possible in four. Further improvements were made to the factory in February 1977 when a four colour printing press and creasing machine was installed. Two older machines were removed to make way for the new Roland Ultra RUV6 and the new Bobst creasing and cutting machine from Switzerland. The advantage of the new machinery was that the paper-board used was sheet-fed (approximately 1400 x 1000 mm) enabling a large number of cartons to be printed on each sheet. This made the printing process faster and cut down on waste. With the two machines Alperton had the unusual advantage of being able to offer both a full sheet-fed and a reel-fed operation. Having two Roland and two Bobst machines meant the company had a greater degree of flexibility in case of break-downs or sudden, urgent orders. Further changes were made to factory equipment in August 1980 when they acquired a 40 ton, nine year-old second hand machine from Holland called a Wupa. It replaced three old machines and was part of a replacement programme to enable cartons of a higher standard to be produced.

Despite all the investment Alperton Carton Company was hit badly by the recession of the 1980s and ceased trading at the end of August 1981. Most of the staff were made redundant but some stayed on to dispose of plant. At the same time Hogarth Press was closed down it having only moved from its former premises at Hythe Road, Willesden nine months previously. This too had been a very old part of the company and they had been responsible for printing all the company Annual Reports and Lyons Mail magazines for many years.

 © Peter Bird 2002

Examining a pile of cartons ready for the stripping section. From left are Albert Weinthrop, General Manager, G. Beckett, maching Shop Chargehand, Bob Sheppard, Foreman of stripping section and Trevor Russell-Smith, Marketing Manager.

This image is of Eddie Bayliss and Ruth Hall, packaging designers at Alperton Carton Company. Dec 1970.

Photo shows Robert Barnard attending to the Bobst in-line six colour litho cutting and creasing press.