B-Pak Pre-packed Vegetables

Photo © Joan Cole 2017

The above picture shows a typical pre pack bag from the 1960's for B-Pak. The actual pre packing of vegetables in this country is believed to have started in Warboys in the 1950's. As the pre packing expanded it moved from Warboys to Bury and then expanded elsewhere. Pupils from the local school visited the company in 1957, while still in Warboys, and wrote an entry to the school magazine as follows:
 
Extract from 'Warboys County Primary School' Summer Magazine 1957

A VISIT TO MR. E. P. BRAND'S CARROT WASHER AND `B PAK' FACTORY.

On March 20th about 30 pupils accompanied by Mr. Hyde and Mr. Woolford visited Mr. Brand's carrot washer situated on the site of the old Reservoir in Station Road. Mr. Brand's firm specialises in carrots and buys about 1,000 acres every year in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs. and Hunts. It grows another 1,000 acres at Swaffham Prior. Carrots-are washed and graded both at Swaffham Prior and Warboys.

It was this process which the children saw when Mr: Brand took them on a conducted tour of his plant. Afterwards Mr. Brand replied to questions from the children.

The following are some of the impressions gained by the pupils:

Derek B.: "The washer uses about 4,000 gallons of water every hour. The water comes from the Reservoir from where it is pumped by an electric motor. There is a system of purifying the water which can be used up to eight times. The filter system is built on the same principle as the old house filters'and the water is cleansed by draining through sand and charcoal."

Hugh E. "The Waste water is eventually drained away by a system of ditches or trenches which have been constructed so as to get the maximum length in a small space. The water runs slowly along this maze of trenches stretch-ing for a considerable distance. By this means the mud silt and waste sink to the bottom of these trenches and are periodically cleared out and carted away. The final outlet leads into a dyke and by the time the water reaches this it is free from sediment and other matter."

Tony L. "The ditch into which the water runs is part of the drainage system ot Warboys. It skirts Wood Farm and approaches Heath Road. It eventually goes under this road and then joins the Gull. From the Gull it joins larger streams and then goes in the direction of Chatteris Docks. It is later carried to Denver Sluice and could be at last traced right down to the sea."

Barry C. "Lorries bring the topped carrots to the washing station. An elevator carries the carrots to a grader. The small ones are taken out and are later sent to the canners. The good ones are put into the washer and all the soil is cleaned from them. In another chamber they are washed again.”

Jeffrey B. "The carrots are now quite clean and now go up an elevator on to a moving belt. Here we found Mrs. Jones, Mr. Norman and Mr. Cowie hand-grading them. Mr. Brand emphasised that great care has to be taken over this grading and all splits and misshapen roots are taken out. Mr. Richardson was supervising this operation."

Heather C. “The washer can deal with 5 tons of carrots per hour and up to 50 tons per day. Mr. Skinner pointed out to us the Red Diamond trade mark of the company which guarantees their soundness. The carrots were afterwards weighed."

Rosemary H. "Mr. Brand employs 150 men. We saw the sheds where bags are mended and dried. Mr. Baker is kept busy at this. In the repair shop Mr. Jones and Mr. J. Hyde were busy overhauling a lorry. The carrots are sent all over the country and to all the big markets, Heinz, Smedleys, Farrows and Hartleys are among the firms supplied."

Joan Huggins. "We then came to the pre-packing unit which operates in the High Street, Warboys where Mr. G. Newton's shop used to be. Here the Red Diamond Brand carrots are put in 1 lb. bags of polythene. There are also containers for potatoes, onions and celery. It all looked clean and appetising."

Roger C. "At the packing station Mr. Newton handed every boy and girl a packet of the 'B Pak' carrots to take home. We were all very pleased indeed.”

All the children seemed very keen to know about any subsidiary uses for carrots or any by-products. Mr. Brand mentioned the possibility of a carrot juice drink which he had heard of in America. Carrotine is used for dyeing butter. Good meal can be made from carrots which is quite as good as grass meal.

Mr. See and all the people concerned did all they could to make this visit of great educational value and abundantly worthwhile.

Carrot Washing 1957


Photo from the photo collection of Joan Cole

The Brand's carrot washer in 1957 before Health and Safety Act (note cigarette).

The above historical information from the records held by Joan Cole (née Huggins) who was also one of the pupils who visited B-Pak factory when in Warboys during 1957.



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