West Sussex Unwrapped Week 8: Shippam’s

You may know Shippam’s as the purveyors of meat and fish pastes which are sold in supermarkets to this day. They carry a strong nostalgic connection to those who grew up enjoying their products. The company has always had very close ties with Chichester, and had brilliant marketing to help them dominate the market. This week on Sussex Unwrapped we take a look at some of the advertisements and publicity the company produced over its 200 plus year existence.

Shippam’s on Film

Click the gif to go watch the film!

Snippet from the Shippam’s Tea Party on Vimeo by Screen Archive South East, part of the series for West Sussex Unwrapped.

SASE hold other films produced by Shippam’s. We have a blog post from a few years back on ‘Shippam’s Guide to Opera’, 1955 (SASE 3266) which you can read about clicking the link here!

Images should not be reproduced without permission from West Sussex Record Office.

Shippam’s in the Archives

Arguably beginning in 1786, when Charles Shippam opened his grocery store in Westgate, Chichester, members of the Shippam family would go on to set up assorted grocer and butcher shops across central Chichester. The focus shifted from the 1850s onwards towards pork butchery, creating a line of sausages which proved popular. The business moved to 48 East Street, and the Shippam’s sausage earned its own moniker of the “Celebrated ‘Chichester’ Sausage”. The growth in popularity led to Shippam’s customer base growing nationwide, and even internationally.

One hundred years after the establishment of the first shop, Charles Shippam expanded the business to include other meats and the process of canning the produce. The firm had a reputation of embracing new technologies to help continually modernise the business. The expanded line included whole pheasants, ox tongues, soups… and eventually the famous Shippam’s pastes in 1894.

Many members of the Shippam family were merchants in their own right, and following Charles’ death in 1897, five of his sons formed a partnership. By 1913, they had formed Shippam’s Ltd. Shippam’s gained some famous patrons, including the Royal Family, the armed forces and, infamously, Captain Scott’s polar expedition in 1910.

With the growth in popularity and produce, the factory made a series of expansions and purchases in 1912 and 1922, including the East Walls site. Queen Mary – wife of George V – visited in 1924, and in later decades the public were also encouraged to take tours of the premises.

Shippam’s did a fantastic job prioritising their publicity at both a local and national level. Below are just a few examples of published and mock up adverts that Shippam’s designed in the mid twentieth century.

The increase in demand for prepared meals from the 1950s onwards saw Shippam’s cease production of their staple sausages in 1970 and move towards making more of their ready meals, including their popular chicken supreme ready meal. These changes led to more expansion of their sites and resources – not just in purchasing a depot in the Terminus Road industrial estate in 1966, but also by forming partnerships and acquiring manufacturing and processing plants around the country.

The Shippam family’s involvement in the business effectively ended with the retirement of Chairman Charles Shippam in 1996, and in 2001 Princes Limited took over the brand, albeit with the Shippam’s name intact. Whilst the Terminus Road site remains, the East Walls factory site was sold off. However, the Shippam’s sign and clock remain to this day on the site to this day.

Shippam’s use of advertising and positive presence in central Chichester served the company well. Many have fond memories attached to the Shippam’s brand, both within Chichester and beyond.

Display of a variety of Shippam’s produce

This fondness and colourful nature of the records make Shippam’s one of the Record Office’s favourite collections. You can explore what we hold for the business and family by heading on over to our online catalogue, and doing an advanced search for Shippams in the catalogue no field. Happy exploring!

Finally, archivist Nichola Court offers illustrated talks on the history of Shippam’s. If you would be interested in booking the talk for your local group, please send us an email at record.office@westsussex.gov.uk

Keep an eye out for next week’s theme, ‘Railways’, on Tuesday 11th August.

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