Papers of Basil Norman Reckitt and family

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection contains six volumes of collated Reckitt Family Papers, which includes original handwritten letters, photographs and other documents such as will transcripts and the original diary of Ann Reckitt (U DX328/3/1). There are also three war diaries kept by Basil Norman Reckitt between 1939 and 1945 (U DX328/2/1-3). These diaries contain brief descriptions of the events of the day, such as bombing raids on Hull. The collection also includes two copies of a Topographical and Historical Account of Wainfleet, a typescript edition of Ann Reckitt's diary as well as printed copies of The First Minute Book of the Gainsborough Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends 1669-1719.

Administrative / Biographical History

Reckitt and Sons Ltd. was established on 1 October 1840 by Isaac Reckitt. Initially Isaac rented a starch mill on Dansom Lane in Hull, which remains the company's main UK office and its U.K. pharmaceuticals factory. By 1854 the business had begun to produce other household products. The business was taken over by his four sons and was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1888. Reckitt and Sons merged with J and J Colman Ltd. in 1938 to form Reckitt and Colman Ltd. Reckitts continues today as part of Reckitt Benckiser.

Basil Norman Reckitt was the great grandson of Isaac Reckitt, founder of Reckitt and Sons. He was educated at King's College, Cambridge and began his career at Reckitts in 1921, after leaving University. He held various posts at Reckitts including Chief Account and manager of the Advertising Department. From 1937, Basil was a member of the board of Reckitt and Sons. During the Second World War he was part of the Anti-Aircraft Command in Hull and later became the Brigade Major of the Hull and North Lincolnshire area. Before the end of the war in 1945, he travelled with the American Army into Germany attached to the Military Government. He was given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel with his specific responsibility being the trade and industry of the Ruhr.

After the war, he became a director and Vice Chair of Reckitt and Colman Holdings Ltd at its formation in 1953 and became Chairman in 1966. Basil Reckitt was heavily involved in local life and was a member of various associations throughout Hull and the East Riding, including being a member of the Council of Hull University. In 1961 he was also appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of the East Riding and Kingston-upon-Hull.

Basil Norman Reckitt wrote several books including Garden Village, Hull: A History, Charles I and Hull, Brothers at War: Yorkshire Loyalties 1642, A History of the Sir Philip Reckitt educational trust and The History of Reckitt and Sons Limited as well as publishing a transcript of Ann Reckitt's diary. He had three daughters with his wife, Virginia Reckitt. He died on 3 Dec 2005, aged 100.

Ann Reckitt, was born Ann Coleby in Norfolk in 1796. She married Isaac Reckitt in 1819 and they had seven children, five sons and two daughters. She died on 27 March 1875, aged 78.

Conditions Governing Access

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Bequeathed under the will of Basil Reckitt and delivered by his widow, Mary Reckitt in 2007.

Related Material

Records of Isaac Reckitt [U DRA/618-629]

Reckitt & Colman Ltd., Kingston Works, Hull [C DBKC/2/24/9]

Reckitt, Colman & Chiswick (Overseas) Ltd., Kingston Works, Dansom Lane, Hull [C DBKC/2/24/5]