& Gurden Ltd
Oliver & Gurden bakery in Oxford
became part of the Lyons Group in 1968.
Their factory, appropriately named Quality
House, this specialist cake company
produced a wide range of fine cakes and
pastries for the top end of the market.
Altogether their range consisted of 47
different cakes and pastries under their
own name and 31 under the Fullers label.
company was formed in 1919 by William
James Oliver and Aubrey Edward Gurden who
were chefs at Keble College. They
converted the stables of a public house
into a bakery and after duties at the
college walked to Summertown to start
baking cakes. After baking was completed
they slept on camp beds to be ready to
take cakes out by horse and cart in the
early hours to wholesale grocers and
Oxford colleges. News of their quality
goods soon spread and they branched out,
supplying grocers in Reading.
entering into partnership Oliver &
Gurden bought into the public house and
turned it into a bakery with an original
frontage of 26 feet. Business continued to
grow and piecemeal extensions were made as
nearby properties were bought. A major
development took place in 1936 with the
issue of preference shares to the public
and the building of a large three storey
factory extension. After the Second World
War business began to expand again and
ordinary shares were issued in 1948. By
1959, when Oliver & Gurden changed to
direct van sales, until then sales had
only been issued on orders from customers,
their market extended to a sixty-mile
radius of Oxford.
following year the company was taken over
by Scribbans-Kemp Ltd. It operated as an
independent company within the larger
group until 1964 when it came directly
under the control of Scribbans-Kemp and
several of their lines were marketed under
the Scibona label.
September 1968 Oliver & Gurden took
over the production and distribution of
Fullers cakes from Fuller/Kunzle as well
as part of Scribbans-Kemp. Then, in
November 1968 Oliver & Gurden became
part of the Lyons Group when they bought
Scribbans-Kemp bakery interests for
£5.5 million. In April 1969 it was
made a subsidiary of Lyons but by February
1972 it became part of Lyons Bakery. D. R.
Morse was appointed General Sales Manager
responsible for sales, marketing and
distribution and reported to H. Salmon. J.
H. Thomas became production manager
responsible for all manufacturing and
despatch at Oxford, reporting to Lyons
Bakery Operations Manager R. W. P. Hare.
M. Peacock was appointed Administration
Manager responsible for all administration
matters and accounts and reported to Lyons
Bakery's Administration Director, Desmond
final change occurred in September 1973
when Oliver & Gurden changed their
trading name to Fullers Cakes Ltd
following extensive market research.
Carried out over eighteen months the
research revealed that 50 per cent of
housewives were aware of Fullers name,
whereas only 10 per cent knew of Oliver
& Gurden. Fullers Ltd were also a
quality cake manufacturer, family founded
at the turn of the twentieth century, with
bakeries in Hammersmith and Dublin. They
had been acquired by Lyons in 1968 when
the Scribbans-Kemp deal had been struck
and the Fullers-Kunzle brands came into
the Lyons Group.
the time Lyons acquired Oliver &
Gurden's, cakes were being produced at
their bakery in Middle Way, Summertown
some two miles north of Oxford's city
centre by a production staff of 130. Many
were skilled bakers and confectioners and
long service was a tradition. The factory
had won many awards and medals during
their 50 production years. Many of these
medals and awards were on display in the
company's reception area at Oxford. Oliver
& Gurden were one of the first bakers
to use to use electric travelling ovens.
Two were installed with 44 trays on each.
There were also five twelve-tray double
peel ovens and a forty tray reel oven.
high quality was maintained by strict
checks at all stages of production and
freshness was achieved by an efficient
sales and distribution system of 25 vans.
Goods were distributed through eleven
reception bases sited throughout southern
England, Oliver & Gurden's main market
area. Fuller's cakes, delivered from
Oxford, were sold in Lancashire and
southern Scotland. Most products were sold
through department stores and high class
grocers as well as supermarkets. One of
the best selling items with a high
reputation at home and abroad were their
Christmas puddings. Made to a traditional
recipe, they were lighter in texture and
appearance than most mass-produced
competitors. Many of the products bore the
name of Oxford which was considered an
important selling point, particularly for