Emscote Mills

An Aerial View Of Emscote Mills c1930's "Robin Griffiths July 2011"

Compiled for the benefit of Warwickians and others by Anthony James Leahy

with special thanks to Edward Montague (Sam Nelson) Feb 2010


Service to Warwick

Nelson Daleís proud record at home and abroad


The claim to be the oldest firm of manufacturers in Warwick is proudly and rightly made by George Nelson, Dale & Co Ltd., for sin 1837, when the business was founded by George Nelson and his brother-in-law Thomas Bellamy Dale, Nelsonís gelatine has been in continuous production.

The inspiration for the business came from George Nelson, who after studying chemistry, came to Leamington, and opened a chemistís shop at 3, Union Parade. He later lived at Rock Mills, and whilst there took out the first patent for the manufacture of gelatine.

He was moved to experiment by a wish to improve on the centuries-old practice adopted by housewives for making jellies as a culinary delicacy by the troublesome business of boiling up calvesí feet, bones and stock, straining the hot jelly through a bag, clearing it with albumen, and, finally, hoping it would set neither too tough nor too weak.


Lawn House Emscote Mills and Wharves 1851


George Nelson prepared the gelatine from hide, more particularly buffalo hide, which is rich in gelatine; clarified and dried it is so that a known weight of gelatine, when melted in a liquid, would set to the required consistency. He; therefore can be said to be the inventor of the table jelly as it is used to-day the world over.

The sale of the product increased very rapidly, and the firm removed to their present premises, Emscote Mills in 1841. At that time there were some lime burning kilns, lime being an important chemical use in gelatine manufacture, and also a plentiful water supply from two wells sunk 60-70 feet in the Warwick sandstone and connected by a tunnel 50 yards long through which once could drive a horse and cart.

All the liquid gelatine was poured onto glass slabs to set, and at one time there was nearly a mile of them, and, with the lime pits, drying rooms and other buildings, the factory covered over five acres. Since those days much mechanisation has been carried out; new artesian wells have been sunk, and the manufacture concentrated into a smaller area.



Nelson's Ladies from the 1930's

Phillis Townsend - Dorothy Anderson - Gwen Cox



New Development

In 1896 the Warwick Dry Plate Co was formed for the purpose of discovering the right type of gelatine for photographic purposes, and the late Mr Austin Edwards came to Emscote Mills to help with the foundation. For some years afterwards he manufactured at Emscote Mills on his own account, until moving his factory on the Kenilworth Road The knowledge gained by this enterprise played its pat in the growth of the photographic industry as a whole, which has expanded very rapidly over the past 50 years with the roll films and cinematographic film, the X-ray film, and now colour photography.

In their modern research laboratories, Nelsonís have an emulsion making plant where gelatines for all photographic purposes are tested and improved, and their various grades are known and used by all the worldís chief photographic manufacturers.

The emphasis at the factory is on the manufacture of photographic gelatines, although their proprietary brands and their well known gelatine lozenges are still made.

Turning back to the history of the firm and those who have been responsible for its direction, on the death of Mr Nelson in 1850, Mr Dale became the sole head of the firm. He took an active part in local affairs, and was three times mayor of Warwick. A philanthropist in every sense, he was connected with the principle benevolent institutions of Great Britain. He was instrumental in building Christ Church at the top of the Parade in Leamington. He took a great part in the sanitary improvements at Warwick; and in the adoption of the Free Library Act. He was a generous supporter of every useful institution, until his death in 1890, at the age of 82.


Emscote Mills Original Artwork by Barbara Wigmore 1987 (As featured in Emscote 1887 - 1987)


Meat Trade Pioneers

Mr George Nelson had five sons who survived him. The eldest Charles took over the firm Charles Nelson & Co Ltd, cement manufacturers at Stockton. The next George managed the gelatine factory at Warwick, and E.M. Nelson, afterwards Sir Montague, ran the London office.

In 1880 with the two other brothers, William and Frederick, who had emigrated to New Zealand in 1862, Sir Montague formed the firm of Nelsonís Brothers Ltd. which pioneered the frozen meat trade from New Zealand and Australia, and secured an enormous supply of cheap food for the people of this country and troops in the outlying garrisons. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in the year of her diamond jubilee ďFor services rendered in connection with the Australasian Colonies and as a recognition of the public service in the promotion of measures for the benefit of the community.Ē

On the death of Mr Dale, Mr G H Nelson became Chairman of the Company until his death at The Lawn in 1899. He, too, took a keen interest in civic affairs and was mayor for several years.

Sir Montague Nelson then left Hanger Hill, Ealing, where he lived and was the Charter Mayor, and came to Warwick and took over the Chairmanship until his death in 1919, at which time he was also Mayor of Warwick.


Wharves Emscote Area of Warwick - Note Emscote Mill (Navigation Mill) - Source "Peter Chater WIAS 20" Wolfe & Partners 1910



Fifth Generation

The eldest son, Mr Edward Nelson, became the Chairman and his eldest son, Alderman Guy Nelson, became Managing director in 1924. Mr Edward Nelson died in 1936, and Mr Harold Nelson, his brother, who was also Chairman to the Nelson Financial Trust, took over for a short period, but he died in the same year. Mr H Howe Graham who had been a Director of the Company since 1930 (and still remains on the board), then took his place until 1948, when he handed over the Chairmanship to Alderman Guy Nelson, who with his brother-in-law, Mr N C Adam, now manages the business, Alderman Nelsonís son, who is present in Nairobi in the Kenya Police Reserve, will be returning from Africa in September to do his National Service and after that will then be the fifth generation to enter this old firm.


The Long Service Board at Nelson's which shows the Firms pride in the good work of its employees.



1861 - 1928

1862 - 1927

1863 - 1925

1865 - 1927

1866 - 1936

1867 - 1926

1871 - 1941

1871 - 1931

1871 - 1946

1874 - 1928

1874 - 1932

1874 - 1929

1876 - 1932

1877 - 1942

1877 - 1943

1878 - 1932

1880 - 1936

1880 - 1933

1881 - 1947

1881 - 1933

1881 - 1940

1882 - 1951

1882 -          

1882 - 1933

1882 - 1936

1885 -          

1886 -          

1888 - 1936

1887 - 1935

1888 - 1927

W Woodfield

H Jordon

W Lovatt

R Harvey

J Reeves

J Edwards

W Garrison

W Russell

T Wright

T Clements

HWE College

W Grimes

W Stock

J Savage

C Davis

G Capers

T Mander

J Wilkins

J Edwards

J Wright

T Didget

C Cleaver

C Burton

R Kent

F Perkins

A Bullimore

J Wright

W Phillips

EW Nelson

G Hall


1888 -          

1889 - 1932

1890 - 1944

1890 - 1938

1893 -          

1894 -          

1895 -          

1898 - 1952

1899 - 1940

1899 -          

1900 -          

1901 -          

1903 - 1937

1906 - 1946


1907 - 1932

1907 -          

1908 -          

1908 -          

1908 -          

1910 -          

1910 -          

1911 -          

1912 -          

1912 -          

1912 -          

1912 -          

1912 -          

1912 - 1939 

1912 -          




R Bloxham

Ellen Nobbis

Eliza Aliband

W Hunt

Jane Eden

J Boswell

AP Morris

W Rawlings

J Clarke

Alice Hopkins

Eliza Stopp

F Elliott

W Radburn

E Rhodes

WH Byerley

AE Lord

H Miles

LJ Burton

F Burton

T Timms

GH Ringrose

J Tilsley

C Hall

F Marshall

J Clarke

T Warrall

H Wallsgrove

E Tracey

J McKay

W Readhead




1912 -      

1913 -      

1915 -      

1917 -      

1917 -      

1918 -      

1918 -      

1918 -      

1918 -      

1919 -      

1919 -      

1919 -      

1919 -      

1920 -      

1920 -      

1921 -      

1921 -      

1922 -      

1923 -      

1923 -      

1924 -      

1925 -      

1925 -      

1925 -      

1926 -      

1926 -      

S Westwood

T Wallsgrove

A Perry

E James

G Underwood

A Bennett

WJ Clarke

W Cox

C Gascoigne

W Burton

W Hickson

L Hunt

D Wallace

GM Nelson

JH Wright

AW Anker

T Wallsgrove

E Carter

H Claridge

J Heritage

EE Lenton

Ivy Kelham

E Bliss

A Fancis

F Cowley

J Cashmore






Nelsonís have always taken a pride in the continuity of service of staff and employees, and in their welfare. Mr G H Ringrose, The Secretary of the Company, started as the office boy in 1914, and Mr Harry Wright, the engineer, who started with the Company in 1920, is the grandson of Tom Wright, who had completed 55 yearsí service in 1900, and his father Jack, worked for the firm from 1886 to 1945. The photograph on the long service board, which was installed in 1925, shows that from that date alone there are 37 employees who have completed more than 50 yearsí service.

Adjacent to the works the firm has built a housing estate for their employees, and also the Nelson Club, which was opened in 1881, and was one of the first of its kind in the Midlands.

Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser June 5th 1953



Nelson's 1950's

Nelson's Offices and Factory 1959

"Nelson's Offices & Factory - PH(N)600/776/21 reproduced by kind permission of the Warwickshire County Record Office"




Nelson's Laboratory 1950's

"Nelson Driver & Crest -  by kind permission of Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson". RH Image Lab Showing Frying cupboard, Melting Pots and Washers...

Nelson Lab Ladies by kind permission of Agnes Faulks (Right)


Agness Faulks Nelson Lab by kind permission of Agnes Faulks


Nelson Ladies by kind permission of Agnes Faulks


Nelson Lab by kind permission of Agnes Faulks

Nelson Ladies - Winifred (Tarver) Meredith (RHS) by kind permission of Agnes Faulks



Nelson Lab by kind permission of Agnes Faulks




Nelson's Transport 1950's - Brian Pheasey (Top Right RH Image)

"Nelson's Transport - PH(N)600/766/20 reproduced by kind permission of the Warwickshire County Record Office"




Nelson's Lorry-driver 1950's

"Nelson Driver & Crest -  by kind permission of Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson".


Beatrix Bastock - Nelson's Packer 1950's

"Nelson's Packer - PH(N)600/766/13 reproduced by kind permission of the Warwickshire County Record Office", etc.




Emscote Mills West Factories







Photography Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson.


Brian Jones's grandfather Gus Payne with Gwen Reynolds and Barbara Jones

)towards Bridge 49 (Demolished West Buildings



Nelson's East Factories


English Rose Kitchens from the canal East Buildings c1960's (believed WRO)



Rail Freight


I worked for the GWR and BR. from 1942-1985, in the Locomotive Department.

I am referring particularly to the years 1943 - 1947.

The only traffic for Nelson's that I can recall were the three or four wagons a week which we put in position on the back road of Coventry Road Goods Yard, for them to unload. The wagons were the standard open five plank type. These were about half full (probably cattle remains) of skins, guts and left over from slaughter-houses. In the summertime, the flies were most certainly attracted by the contents of the wagons!!


The wagons for Nelsons would have been brought to Warwick with other traffic and initially left in Cape Yard. A locomotive was booked to shunt and work in this yard from about 2.00 - 7.00pm every week day. During this time Nelson's wagons were tripped to Coventry Road. There could be other Trader's wagons for the goods shed.

The chief access to the yard was from Coventry Road, but there was also an entrance from Wharf Street which Nelson's used, making it a very short journey to their works. Nelson's men would arrive in a little open lorry and would have to make two or three trips before a wagon was emptied.

To the east of the goods shed are the cattle pens. We used position the wagons just north of cattle pens. Unfortunately the entrance from Wharf Street which Nelson's used is just off map. Where the figures 349 north of map, is the stone quarry.



I do not remember any traffic from Nelson's being forwarded, but if any, it may have been taken by road to Leamington Goods station.

Peter Chater March 2011.

Nelson Employees



Nelson Employees outside the Nelson Club


Sam Nelson's 21st Birthday Party at the Nelson Club 

Invitation Courtesy of Agnes Faulks



Nelson Employee Reunion (Can You identify anyone?)


1. Mrs Thompson

2. ?

3. Mrs Clark ?

4. ?

5. Mrs Lynn Nelson

6. Mrs Hancox

7. Mrs Ringrose

8. Jill Strangward


9. Beryl Hartley

10. Molly Burton

11. Mrs Cashmore (Peggy) ?

12. Grace Thomas

13. Joan Cluff

14. Glad Mcavoy

15. Eddie Cluff

16. Audrey Pheasey

17. Brian Pheasey

18. ?

19. Joan Rosser

20. Mrs Glad Ensor

21. Mrs Nan McKeever

22. Val Neal

23. Gwenda Moore

24. Jackie Horsley


25. Agnes Faulks

26. Verna Vaughn

27. Mrs Fricker

28. ?

29. Mrs Wright

30. ?

31. ?

32. ?


33. Ray Franks

34. Boyd Neal

35. Mr Fricker

36. Charle Hollyoak

37. Sam Nelson

38. Joe Vaughn

39. Dick Strangward

40. Bill Ludlow

41. Jackie Turpin


Queen Elizabeth's Silver Jubilee celebrations at the Nelson club 1977



Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Visits to Works 1910

In the year 1902, in order to bring the mills absolutely up to date, the Company decided to introduce electric light and power. The generating station situated in the centre of the mills contains two 150 h.p. quick-revolution engines of self-lubricating type direct coupled to 100-kw. generators, main switchboard, surface condenser and overhead travelling-crane.

The boiler house contains two 30-ft. Dank's boilers and all necessary pumping arrangements. The power is distributed to some sixty electric motors varying in size from 1 to 50 h.p. in the several factories, which are also fully installed with electric light. The steam for evaporating, drying, heating and many other purposes is obtained from four Galloway boilers each 30 feet long.



Emscote Mills Plan added July 2011


Warwick Gelatine Factory

                Just before Christmas 1969 a few of us were given the chance of visiting the Warwick Gelatine Factory, which was then due shortly to close down. We were very cordially received and shown around the works by Mr. R. Franks, who had been looking after the steam plant for several years.

         The boiler house contained three Galloway Lancashire boilers dated 1918. The centre one had been converted for use as a steam accumulator and the others converted to oil firing from 1960. Conversion of one of these latter units had only just been completed and looked very fine in itsí new paint. It seems a shame that this boiler will probably be cut up without being fired since conversion.

         The pipiework on and around the boilers was fully painted with red steam and blue water feed pipes, this being very useful in preventing one catching hold of the wrong pipe at the wrong time. Feed water was supplied from the nearby canal via a pair of Weir feed pumps.

         The engine house contained a pair of Bellis & Morcom vertical steam engines, Nos. 8584/85 built 1931. Each drove a Laurence Scott D.C. generator, with 160 psi on the clock, and running at 500 r.p.m., produced 600 A. at 220v D.C.. It was a practical demonstration of a feature shown to some of us during our recent trip to the Leamington Spa Technical College.

                The processing part of the factory had just been modernized and it was interesting to compare the modern equipment with its wide use of stainless steel with the older equipment lying nearby.

         Unfortunately the fires were drawn and the engines stopped on Christmas Eve and so yet another small chapter in the saga of steam in Warwickshire came to an end.

Doug Kempton.





Emscote Mills Plan added Feb 2012...from Sam Nelson's recollections.




Compiled for the benefit of Warwickians and Others by Anthony James Leahy


Rediscovering the Gelatine Factory



The Gelatine Factory

A comprehensive account 1899

from Round About Warwick


George Nelson



Nelson's Emscote Mills 2009



T B Dale


Charles Nelson's

Cement Works at Stockton


The Nelson Brothers


William Nelson


George H Nelson


Sir E Montague Nelson

E M (Sam) Nelson


A Visit to

Messrs. G. Nelson, Dale & Co. 1880



Nelson Works

Tomoana New Zealand


Guy Montague Nelson

Nelson Village

Charles St, Warwick


The Lawn at Emscote


Nelson's Lozenges

 packaging & adds

Nelson's Club

Isinglass Wars

Swinborne v Nelson


Nelson's 1950's

Warwick Advertiser account 1953



Descendants of George Nelson


George Wyatt A city trade jubilee



Nelson's Heritage Walk


Gelatine and its uses


Davis Gelatine


Sir E Montague Nelson's Scrapbook Circa 1882

Nelson Gym

Nelson Patents


The Nelsons of Warwick Timeline





Walter Nelson




Home Comforts


Mary Hooper



Mary Hooper Letters

 Mary Hooper Book Collection


Nelson's Home Comforts

Mary Hooper


Wives and Housewives

Mary Hooper


Little Dinners

Mary Hooper


Cookery for Invalids

Mary Hooper


Every Day Meals

Mary Hooper


Hints on Cookery

Mary Hooper

Good Plain Cookery

Mary Hooper


Handbook for the

Breakfast Table

Mary Hooper


Weekly Telegraph

Cookery Book

Mary Hooper

Our Dog Prin

Mary Hooper

Ways & Tricks of Animals

Mary Hooper


Lily's Letters from the Farm

Mary Hooper

Charles Wentworth Wass

Round About Warwick

Mary Hooper Books Wanted

Fleur De Lys

The Pie Factory at Emscote

Nelson Story

In Brief


Nelsons Story


Nelson's Home Comforts

From Beginning To End


Cookery & Home Comforts

Mrs Wigley

Rock's Royal Cabinet

Leamington & Warwick 1880



Anthony Leahy



Anthony Leahy


Art & Photography

Anthony Leahy


A Major Arcana

Kathleen Forrest


The Drumroom

Anthony Leahy










Compiled for the benefit of Warwickians and Others by Anthony James Leahy








Book Wanted Handbook For The Breakfast Table

Book Wanted Wives and Housewives A Story For The Times


3 The Butts


Sky Blue Heaven