The Story of Shippam’s: so much more than paste!

By Nichola Court, Archivist

Pocket-sized, fold out card listing preserved goods available for export, including galantines, pates, pies, sausages, curries and soups.
Shippams 4/1/2, export price list (c1900)
Two black and white illustrations. Top illustration shows a woman sitting on a picnic blanket with a picnic laid out, holding up a plate of sandwiches for a young girl and man who are running towards her. Bottom illustration shows a male chef in whites and a female home cook, both preparing food, with a large jar of Shippam's inserted between them.
Acc 16974, advertisement for Shippam’s meat and fish pastes (c1955)

One of our county’s best loved brands, Shippam’s enjoyed international fame thanks to its immensely popular, high quality potted meat and fish pastes. However, Shippam’s pastes were only a small part of its business and the firm was responsible for producing many high-end products from the late 19th century and well into the mid-20th century. Shippam’s product lists from this time would have made any epicurean’s mouth water, featuring delicacies such as real turtle soup, galantine of wild boar’s head, the Cambridge sausage, patella of veal and ham, curried lobster, breakfast pate, game pie and jugged hare – to name a mere handful of items from the extensive range.

Shippam’s products were made exclusively at its premises in East Walls, Chichester, which grew almost as rapidly as Shippam’s popularity and product range, resulting in a brand new, state of the art factory in 1912. As the company continued to expand, so the factory was extended throughout the 20th century, most notably in 1922 and 1955, with Shippam’s eventually occupying most of the area fronting the city’s East Walls. Although Shippam’s left its East Walls site in 2002, relocating to more modern premises in Terminus Road, at the southern end of the city, the distinctive factory frontage has been retained, providing us with a link to Chichester’s industrial heritage.

Black and white photograph of factory frontage / facade on East Street / East Walls, including the famous wishbone clock and front door.
Shippams 2/1/4/15, Shippam’s factory at East Walls, Chichester (c1960)
Black and white photograph. Group of 47 staff arranged in five rows.
Shippams 5/6/1 Shippam’s staff in uniform (c1910)

As one of Chichester’s most successful business, Shippam’s made a considerable impact on the city – not least the smell from the factory which often lingered over the city, with many able to identify what was cooking on a particular day! Many local residents – often several generations of the same family – worked for Shippam’s, often spending their entire working lives with the firm. The Shippams were popular employers and strived to create a family atmosphere at the factory, which resulted in staff outings, Christmas parties and a plethora of staff clubs; the Shippam’s social club, a stone’s throw from the factory, was a popular destination for many workers.

You can find out much more about Shippam’s and its fascinating history by joining our online talk, The Story of Shippam’s, on Tuesday 31st August at 7pm. For further information and to book, please visit the EventBrite website by following this link, https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-story-of-shippams-tickets-163872654521?aff=ebdssbeac.

Colour photograph of five jars of Shippam's spread (chicken, salmon, sardine, crab, beef).
Shippams 4/1/2, detail from price list (c1965)

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