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

19 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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    • Catherine, we would love to be in touch with you. We have many pictures of the Cambria and may have some pics with your family in it. It is so wonderful to hear different parts of our family history from different sources. In our family, son, grandson and great grand-daughters, Llewellyn is always referred to as TL, although always called Llewellyn elsewhere, no idea why. Our family inherited a love of sailing from TL and hopefully it will long continue. Another story of TL loved in our family is that he used to have a couple of cars, a big one driven by the chauffeur and a small run about that TL drove on the chauffeur’s day off. One time however, the chauffeur’s day off coincided with the small car being at the garage, so TL drove the big car, and promptly crashed it. His small grandsons John and Douglas teased him mercilessly, and apparently he took that in good grace, so still had a wonderful appreciation of humour and humanity in his later years. My father is now dead, but my Uncle Douglas is still alive 80+ and occasionally shares stories of those early days in Brisbane. Cheers, Jennifer

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      • Oh, how lovely to hear from you! These chance findings on the internet are incredible!

        I’m sure my siblings and myself would be so excited to see those photos of the ‘Cambria’! Dad was very nostalgic. That’s a very funny story about the cars – I think cheekiness (and liveliness) must run in the family’s children – I have a granddaughter… Thomas Llewellyn is simply referred to as Uncle Llewellyn or Great Uncle Llewellyn depending. And yes he was always known as a kind man in my family too. The reputation for good working conditions, fairness, community support & activity and Jones’ family politics was more than hinted at… although there was not a lot of chatter in our household about either of my parents’ extended families when I was little – I’m so far behind my 4 older siblings and most of the immediate former generation was gone or nearly gone. (Mum and Dad had their hands very full with the 6 of us so I barely knew I had quite a very large extended family (Dad’s father had over 10 adult siblings), including immediate cousins, except for great aunts and uncles who ended up at our place to be looked after for various periods of time – one great aunt was responsible for telling me my middle name (Jane) – it was only recently I realised I must have been named for Florence Jane Jones, Dad’s mother. There is sooo much I never knew. I had never realised until I did some cursory internet searches recently how very, very extensive and complicated the Foggitt Jones business and Rex brand was. The only one from Dad’s generation left is Aunt Kathleen in Newcastle, who will be 100 this year, in May I think. Mary or our brother Peter would know more about how she is placed. About all I knew for a long while was that Dad was the only male Callaghan descendant, and that we had Welsh ancestry through his mother – off which he was very proud, also of her political leanings.

        I now live near Toowoomba where the intrafamily competitor small goods business was based (KR Darling Downs) – of course it no longer exists having been subsumed, and the factory burnt down a few years ago. But I have met people who worked there! There are a couple of other buildings associated with them – the family home and a building in town. I can find only a trace of one K person in still active in the town. I gather there was a fair bit of bitterness between the families… but I do remember coming up to Toowoomba when I was very young when some lady from that family was dying, and being parked with my mother at Picnic Point while Dad went off to see her!

        My direct email address is cathjc57@bigpond.net.au which would be a better place to share more personal family stores and information!

        Warm thoughts, Catharine!

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  5. My great aunt Evelyn Jones, née Halligan was married to Harry Jones. They did not have any children. I was always told that Harry ran the Foggitt Jones business, so I assume he was a brother of TL? Harry was renowned for walking down Queen Street with his secretary/mistress on his arm. The family seemed to know about it and accept it!

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    • Hello Louise, I was interested to see your post. Harry Jones was my grandmother Florence Jones’s younger brother, and I have a vague memory of her mentioning “Evie” Jones, who must have been your great aunt. I never knew Uncle Harry or Uncle Llewellyn (TL) but I do know that Harry was a journalist, who according to my fathers sister Kathleen was at one time editor of a Broken Hill newspaper. I’ve not been able to confirm this. I’d not heard of his having any involvement in the running of Foggitt Jones, and I rather doubt that he did. The story of him walking out with his mistress on his arm is one that I’m sure my grandmother and great aunts would have taken care not to repeat in my hearing, so that’s a new one for me! I feel for your great aunt, it must have been humiliating. My grandmother Florence married my grandfather John Lawrence Callaghan, a teacher who became a senior Queensland public servant. He wrote a fictionalised memoir of growing up at the turn of the century in Yuleba, SW Queensland, which is available in the Oxley Library, SLQ. TItled “Nannygoats of Eulobah.”

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