Records of M.A. Craven & Son Ltd, confectioners of York

Scope and Content

The archive includes title deeds 1809-1965; memorandum and articles of association 1915; company histories 1948-1949; directors' reports 1921-1945; financial records 1916-1955 (including private ledger and journal 1916; accounts 1916; correspondence relating to shares and profits 1915-1916; share certificates 1915-1955); salary book (office and travellers) 1911-1928; scrapbooks 1948-1966 and 1966-1987; staff guidance booklet, Craven's Candyland; product and factory photos c.1950s-1987; product brochures, trade price lists, promotional material and specimen labels c.1963-1984; price lists 1933-1938; press advert 1949; press articles 1966 and 1987.

Administrative / Biographical History

Craven’s of York was renowned for its sugar confectionery products including boiled sweets, toffees, butterscotch, mints, humbugs and Original French Almonds, as well as its iced cakes, real wine jellies, scented cachous, candied peel and lozenges. The business became synonymous with the name and formidable character of Mary Ann Craven, who ran it from the later 1860s until her death in 1900. The company’s origins and early history are, however, more difficult to trace.
In 1822, Joseph Hick set up a confectionery business at 47 Coney Street, York, which continued to prosper until his death in 1860. On 30 April 1851, his daughter, Mary Ann Hick, married Thomas Craven, a master confectioner with his own business at 31 Pavement, York. Thomas Craven had formerly served as an apprentice to George Berry and Thomas Hide. From its humble beginnings in a shop at 19 High Ousegate in 1843, Thomas Craven’s confectionery business grew quickly, enabling him to relocate to his new premises at 31 Pavement in 1845, purchase the Pavement premises in 1854 and then, a year later, take over the Coppergate premises. By this time, Thomas Craven had achieved great standing among the City of York’s confectionery manufacturers. In 1861, Craven’s employed 50 men and 40 boys. Thomas Craven died in 1862, leaving behind his wife, Mary Ann, his son, Joseph William, 7 and his two young daughters, Annie Isabella, 5 and Susan Adelaide, 3.
Following the deaths of her father in 1860 and her husband in 1862, Mary Ann Craven found herself the owner of both the Hick business in Coney Street and the Craven concern at 31 Pavement and Coppergate. After her initial attempts to sell the amalgamated business were unsuccessful, Mary Ann took over its management herself. She can be found trading as a manufacturing confectioner, under her own name, at Coppergate, 31 Pavement and 47 Coney Street in White’s Trade Directory for 1867. Mary Ann acted as sole proprietor of the business until her son, Joseph William, was old enough to become a partner in 1881, when the company took on the name M.A. Craven & Son. By this time Craven’s was a flourishing York business, employing 110 workers. Mary Ann remained the full force behind the business until her death in 1900. The firm then continued under Joseph William Craven, who visited Paris and bought the recipe for Original French Almonds in 1904, which he kept secret from his competitors on his return to York. French Almonds became so important to Craven’s business that, in 1920, the Coppergate factory was renamed the French Almond Works. There were also four Craven’s retail shops in York, including Mary Ann’s Sweet Shop in the Shambles, which had a sweet museum on the first floor.
After Joseph’s death in 1904, Craven’s passed to his widow. On her remarriage it went to Joseph’s two sisters, Annie and Susan, until, on their deaths in 1941 and 1942, it passed to the grandchildren of Joseph Hick’s sister, Sarah Horsley. Rowntree’s made a takeover bid for Craven’s in 1925 but this was rejected. After this date, the Craven’s business declined until, in 1936, the workforce was reduced to 70. M.A. Craven & Son Ltd. (as the company was known following its incorporation in 1915) was run by managers until 1935 when Michael Horsley, great grandson of Sarah Horsley and great grand-nephew of the founder, Joseph Hick, was appointed chairman and managing director of the company. Of the five directors of the company, three were members of the Horsley family. The Horsley family continued to own Craven's until it was sold to the Hazlewood food group in June 1987.
After moving out of its Coppergate premises in the 1950s, Craven’s produced confectionery from its Foss Islands Road site. The business later revived when, in 1966, Craven’s moved out of York city centre to Candyland, a new 140,000 square foot factory in Low Poppleton Lane, which was extended several times as production increased. By 1980 Craven’s were producing 5,000 tons of sweets annually (including Craven’s French Almonds, Mary Ann Dairy Butter Toffees, Best English Mints, Old Yolk Butterscotch, Mint Imperials, and Buttered Brazils) with a workforce of 380. Fifteen per cent of production was exported, particularly to Canada and the United States, but the bulk of the work was for own-brand products of companies such as Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Marks & Spencer and British Home Stores. Subsequently there have been various takeovers and mergers. Craven’s was sold to Hazlewood in 1987 and taken over by Monkhill Confectionery (part of Cadbury Schweppes Plc) in 1998. Cadbury Schweppes then sold Monkhill Confectionery and the Low Poppleton Lane factory to Tangerine Confectionery in 2008. The Craven brand is currently owned by Tangerine Confectionery and the factory in Low Poppleton Lane is still in production, although the famous Craven’s sweets are no longer being made there. The Valeo foods group acquired Tangerine Confectionery in August 2018.

Access Information

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws. 24 hours' notice is required to access photographic material.

Acquisition Information

The archive was gifted to the Borthwick Institute in 2019 by the Horsley family.

Note

Craven’s of York was renowned for its sugar confectionery products including boiled sweets, toffees, butterscotch, mints, humbugs and Original French Almonds, as well as its iced cakes, real wine jellies, scented cachous, candied peel and lozenges. The business became synonymous with the name and formidable character of Mary Ann Craven, who ran it from the later 1860s until her death in 1900. The company’s origins and early history are, however, more difficult to trace.
In 1822, Joseph Hick set up a confectionery business at 47 Coney Street, York, which continued to prosper until his death in 1860. On 30 April 1851, his daughter, Mary Ann Hick, married Thomas Craven, a master confectioner with his own business at 31 Pavement, York. Thomas Craven had formerly served as an apprentice to George Berry and Thomas Hide. From its humble beginnings in a shop at 19 High Ousegate in 1843, Thomas Craven’s confectionery business grew quickly, enabling him to relocate to his new premises at 31 Pavement in 1845, purchase the Pavement premises in 1854 and then, a year later, take over the Coppergate premises. By this time, Thomas Craven had achieved great standing among the City of York’s confectionery manufacturers. In 1861, Craven’s employed 50 men and 40 boys. Thomas Craven died in 1862, leaving behind his wife, Mary Ann, his son, Joseph William, 7 and his two young daughters, Annie Isabella, 5 and Susan Adelaide, 3.
Following the deaths of her father in 1860 and her husband in 1862, Mary Ann Craven found herself the owner of both the Hick business in Coney Street and the Craven concern at 31 Pavement and Coppergate. After her initial attempts to sell the amalgamated business were unsuccessful, Mary Ann took over its management herself. She can be found trading as a manufacturing confectioner, under her own name, at Coppergate, 31 Pavement and 47 Coney Street in White’s Trade Directory for 1867. Mary Ann acted as sole proprietor of the business until her son, Joseph William, was old enough to become a partner in 1881, when the company took on the name M.A. Craven & Son. By this time Craven’s was a flourishing York business, employing 110 workers. Mary Ann remained the full force behind the business until her death in 1900. The firm then continued under Joseph William Craven, who visited Paris and bought the recipe for Original French Almonds in 1904, which he kept secret from his competitors on his return to York. French Almonds became so important to Craven’s business that, in 1920, the Coppergate factory was renamed the French Almond Works. There were also four Craven’s retail shops in York, including Mary Ann’s Sweet Shop in the Shambles, which had a sweet museum on the first floor.
After Joseph’s death in 1904, Craven’s passed to his widow. On her remarriage it went to Joseph’s two sisters, Annie and Susan, until, on their deaths in 1941 and 1942, it passed to the grandchildren of Joseph Hick’s sister, Sarah Horsley. Rowntree’s made a takeover bid for Craven’s in 1925 but this was rejected. After this date, the Craven’s business declined until, in 1936, the workforce was reduced to 70. M.A. Craven & Son Ltd. (as the company was known following its incorporation in 1915) was run by managers until 1935 when Michael Horsley, great grandson of Sarah Horsley and great grand-nephew of the founder, Joseph Hick, was appointed chairman and managing director of the company. Of the five directors of the company, three were members of the Horsley family. The Horsley family continued to own Craven's until it was sold to the Hazlewood food group in June 1987.
After moving out of its Coppergate premises in the 1950s, Craven’s produced confectionery from its Foss Islands Road site. The business later revived when, in 1966, Craven’s moved out of York city centre to Candyland, a new 140,000 square foot factory in Low Poppleton Lane, which was extended several times as production increased. By 1980 Craven’s were producing 5,000 tons of sweets annually (including Craven’s French Almonds, Mary Ann Dairy Butter Toffees, Best English Mints, Old Yolk Butterscotch, Mint Imperials, and Buttered Brazils) with a workforce of 380. Fifteen per cent of production was exported, particularly to Canada and the United States, but the bulk of the work was for own-brand products of companies such as Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Marks & Spencer and British Home Stores. Subsequently there have been various takeovers and mergers. Craven’s was sold to Hazlewood in 1987 and taken over by Monkhill Confectionery (part of Cadbury Schweppes Plc) in 1998. Cadbury Schweppes then sold Monkhill Confectionery and the Low Poppleton Lane factory to Tangerine Confectionery in 2008. The Craven brand is currently owned by Tangerine Confectionery and the factory in Low Poppleton Lane is still in production, although the famous Craven’s sweets are no longer being made there. The Valeo foods group acquired Tangerine Confectionery in August 2018.

'"The Art, Trade and Mystery of a Confectioner", a History of M.A. Craven & Son Ltd., York', reprinted from Confectionery Production, May 1948
M.A. Craven & Son Ltd: A History of the Company compiled by Charles B. Knight, 1948
Paul Chrystal and Joe Dickinson, History of Chocolate in York (Barnsley, 2012)
https://yorkcivictrust.co.uk/heritage/civic-trust-plaques/mary-ann-craven-1826-1900/

Other Finding Aids

The archive is not yet catalogued.

Archivist's Note

Created by A. Jones 03.12.2019

Conditions Governing Use

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Additional Information

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