Scope and Content

The records of Taikoo Sugar Refinery listed below include a wide range of material on the organisation of the firm, particularly in the Twentieth Century, and the General Correspondence files (JSSV 1) cover all aspects of the management and staffing of the plant. Unfortunately, the series is only complete from 1929-42, the files for the years 1923-28 which, apparently from the numbering system, were created being missing.

Administrative / Biographical History

Taikoo Sugar Refinery [TSR] was established by John Samuel Swire in June 1881 after a thorough investigation into the feasibility and openings for a new refinery in China. His determination to build the largest and most up-to-date plant was initially stimulated by a period of intense rivalry with Jardine, Matheson & Co. who already owned a refinery. A site for the refinery was selected at Quarry Bay, Hong Kong and the capital for the venture was put up chiefly by John Samuel Swire himself, Holt's James Barrow, H J Butterfield, Mssrs Ismay and Imrie, W J Thompson and R N Dale. John Swire & Sons were appointed Managers and Butterfield & Swire [B&S] Hong Kong were responsible for the overall management and as General Agents for the purchase of raw sugars and the selling and distribution of the finished products. China was always the chief market but Australia, Japan and India were also important at different times in supplying additional outlets. TSR faced severe oppositition from Jardine Matheson & Co in its early years but by the 1920s the Japanese had become their greatest competitor. An up-country marketing system was established to counter this and to expand TSR markets in inland China as well as efforts to widen the Far Eastern areas served by TSR. The 1920s was a period of constant difficulties - a strike in 1923, poor markets in 1924 and a three month boycott in 1925. 1925, however, also saw the expansion of TSR into the largest single unit refinery in the world. In December 1941 Hong Kong fell to the Japanese and production ceased until the plant was returned to JS&S hands in the autumn of 1945.

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Archivist's Note


Conditions Governing Use

Copying for personal research purposes is permitted. Please contact the archivist for all publication requests.

Copyright is owned by John Swire & Sons, Ltd, 59 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6AJ

Related Material

Related MaterialFor the Nineteenth Century development of the firm the records in JSSI 1/5-15 and JSSI 2/3-11 cover the discussions and surveys on its establishment and early history and problems. In addition the Director's Correspondence (JSSI 3) includes material relating to the Refinery and Far Eastern affairs affecting its progress and a certain amount of general information concerning TSR affairs, although not on the management of the Refinery itself, can be found in B&S correspondence (JSSII 2). There is very little on the post-Second War period in any of the record series for TSR.