Ham and cheese please

20150912_101801 (2)Half the city each day pass almost within touching distance of its brown brick walls. Its high, empty spaces tell a tale of capitalism joining old labor for brilliant business achievement. The Foggitt Jones & Co Limited heritage building in South Brisbane. It’s a century old reminder of one of the great commercial successes.

The company was founded in 1904 when Charles Emanuel Foggitt and Thomas Llewellyn Jones left food manufacturer J.C.Hutton. Together they took over the floundering Oxley factory. Within five years their trade in ham, bacon, cheese, and related foodstuffs, was worth over £1,000,000 a year. They paid over-award wages, premises were scrupulously clean, and their products filled banquet halls and kitchens across the country.

Foggitt ran the processing. He was born to a farming family in Yorkshire, England, in 1865. Two of his sons served on the western front in the First World War, and his third son in the Second World War earning a Distinguished Service Cross and Mentioned in Despatches. His brother-in-law was William Bertram, the long-time Labor member and speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

Jones ran the business. He was born to a radical family in Welshpool, Wales, in 1872. His father was a strong radical before the labor movement was founded, and his grandfather was a militant chartist who narrowly escaped transportation. Jones was elected as a Labor member to the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 1915, defeating the then premier. He was subsequently appointed to the Legislative Council. In his spare time he served as commodore of Royal Queensland Yacht Club.

The South Brisbane building you see today was built about 1919 for canning luncheon cheese. Business continued to flourish. Foggitt didn’t live to witness the crowning glory however. He died in 1926, the year before his company with partner Thomas Jones as chairman of directors, took over his old employer J.C.Hutton.

Jones himself passed away in 1946. With the founders gone, after a while so too was the passion. The holding company United Provisions Ltd changed its name to Huttons, eventually selling its operations, and delisting from the stock exchange. Today it remains as a private company Australian Resort Developments Limited based on the southernmost tip of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

The old Foggitt Jones & Co Limited building is surrounded by new residential developments. It’s perfect for cafes and specialty food. The kind of places that serve quality hams and luncheon cheese. Quite appropriate, don’t you think?

TL Jones - Daily Standard Brisbane Wed 19 May 1915 p3
T.L. Jones in 1915 the year he ousted a Premier

Photo credits:
Foggitt Jones & Co building, South Brisbane, 2015 – my own
TL Jones – Daily Standard (Brisbane) Wed 19 May 1915 p3

15 comments

  1. Thank you so much for this article, which I have just discovered, purely by chance…TL Jones was my great uncle, the elder brother of my grandmother Florence. My father used to sail on his yacht in the 1930s. He was wonderfully generous to all his siblings; for sure he never forgot the poverty of their early years in Brisbane, on account of the illness and early death of their father. I’m not a direct descendent, but I’m very proud of him as a family member!

    My question…where in South Brisbane is the building? Oh, and another – your sources for the family background? I knew there was Chartism, but didn’t realise that I’m descended in a direct line from a Chartist! I’m thrilled, actually – just want to confirm the details.

    Thanks again

    Mary

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    • Thanks Mary for your kind comments. The wonderful building is right beside Go Between Bridge on Lanfear Street, South Brisbane. It’s a few years since I write the story, however I remember that the Chartist connection was from a workers newspaper article about Charles Emanuel Foggitt, promoting his ancestry amongst their constitutency I’d say, much like some politicians try to do today!

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      • So glad that my Cousin Mary shared this with my sister Wendy & I, TL Jones was our great grandfather, although we had no idea that our great great grandfather was a radical. Thanks for sharing that little bit of history!

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  2. Found an old wooden box at grandfather’s house with carved name on front Rex Cheddar Cheese – Foggit Jones Pty Ltd Brisbane Queensland Australia. Was really interested to learn history of company from this page & from where the box originated. No idea how geandfarher acquired it…

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  3. I came by a box of old wood chisels, the wooden box is stamped you guessed it “Foggitt Jones Pty Ltd Packers of Pork Delicacies Ham & Bacon Curers. Brisbane Australia”

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    • Oh my goodness! That’s my great uncle Llewellyn (TL) Jones’s company! What do you plan to do with the find? Could you share pics? His great granddaughters in Adelaide would be chuffed – as am I. What’s the story? Where did you find them? – Mary

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  4. And just to make a circle, Jill Lay (above) and I went to Griffith University at the same time (different intakes) in the late 1970s when it was just the one campus in Toohey Forest. I am one of Mary Okello’s sisters, Catharine. In the 1970s I was vaguely aware of some of this family history, but was not aware that Jill and I had this connection – I gather she knew little about her family history until recent years. Jill and I have kept in vague contact over the years so when she posted to FB that her family history included this same company I could not but laugh at the smallness of the world!

    As Mary related our father used to sail on Moreton Bay on Llewellyn Jones’ Yacht, the ‘Cambria’. Dad loved it a great deal, noting it was a very handsome and a fine sailing vessel. He related that it was commandeered for service during WWII and was eventually sunk in the Coral Sea. There is a photo of it floating around the family somewhere (we are a fairly large family, so I will have to make some enquiries about who has these records).

    Another story our father used to tell was that Llewellyn Jones had a very fine singing voice (being Welsh) and was frequently invited to sing at concerts in Brisbane City Hall. However he could not remember the words beyond a short way into the rendition. At that point Dad used to crack up laughing, so I never learned how TLJ overcame this shortcoming in the middle of a song. Huuuum, I suppose?

    Foggit Jones was also involved in a number of High Court cases (that are long and tedious to read – so I haven’t!) but I gather they had a great influence on the early interpretation of clauses in the relatively new Australian Constitution in the areas of trademarks and trade between the states.

    A light browsing of the Internet also reveals how active and well regarded the Foggitt Jones company was across Australia for its innovative and enlightened operations, looking after both employees and suppliers well. It established an enormous web across Australia in business buildings, processing facilities and railway sidings (to save farmers the necessity to travel to markets and enabling purchase of animals directly from them – thus saving farmers costs, and making animal welfare a priority)…

    TL Jones died 11 years before I was born, Mary would have been but a babe in arms. I grew up in a handsome house that had been built for one of TL Jones’s sisters and her husband at Herston in 1921, so I imagine that he was a frequent visitor there as well and walked on the well worn carpets and verandahs. The house was removed and lives on elsewhere, but trees planted in those early years are protected under covenant.

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