"Nelson's Heritage Walk"

A walk Round About Warwick 2009 2015


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


The Nelsons


A Brief History of The Nelsons Of Warwick





George Nelson Heritage Walk Warwick (The Gelatine Factory)




The Saxon Mill


The Saxon Mill is a former mill in Warwickshire, England situated about one mile northeast of Warwick. It is now a restaurant and bar. It is on the River Avon and it has a waterwheel, although a larger waterwheel has gone. The mill was originally called Gibbeclive Mill in the 12th century. It was the property of St Mary's Abbey, Kenilworth and the Augustinian canons until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was rebuilt in 1822. It was a working mill until 1938, and it was converted into a restaurant and bar in 1952. As of 2008, the restaurant has a glass window cut-away in the floor where the water can be seen flowing under the building.

This is an Ideal Place to start and finish the Walk with an option of a nice meal in the restaurant or a cool beer on completion


The Gelatine Factory


Messrs Nelson, Dale and Co.'s factory is situated at Emscote, a hamlet lying between the towns of Warwick and Leamington, and abuts upon the Birmingham and London Canal. Knowing the extensive business of the firm we were prepared to see a large establishment; but on our arrival the area occupied by numerous buildings, the scale of operations, and the style and finish of the whole took us completely by surprise. The business was founded in 1839, but not a trace of age or of the gradual growth and accumulation of a rapidly-growing business was evident. The numerous handsome workshops and warehouses, occupying a space of fully five acres, have been erected within a few years, with all new machinery, modifications and improvements suggested by thirty years of practical experience, while the whole of the old plant has been discarded. The results have naturally been great improvement in the process of manufacture and great economy of labour; yet the increase of business keeps the number of hands employed up to between two hundred and three hundred.


Nelson Village


"It may be out of place if we refer to the fact that this Company seem to have fully comprehended the proper relations that should exist between Capital and Labour. The firm pay good wages and provide a very large number of their employes with comfortable houses of their own construction, which are built on a large estate adjoining the works, with due regard to comfort and sanitary conditions, and are let to them at most reasonable rents. Indeed, Nelson Village is quite a model colony, containing as it does, twenty-three work-men's cottages and two pretty villas for the Works Managers."  Alfred Barnard 1899


The Managers House

Nelson Village is all but lost in the expanse of the Percy Estate these days but stands as a testament to the vision of the Victorian industrialist George Nelson.


The Lawn

View of the Lawn with Emscote Mills in the Background

The grounds were redeveloped for housing with the house and part of the lawns being retained.

Emscote Lawn Prep School occupied the grounds for many years prior to its controversial sale.


The Nelson Club


At the foot of Charles Street, at the south end of the works, stands the "Nelson's Workmen's Club," a spacious building of handsome elevation, the cost of which was generously defrayed by the firm of G. NELSON, DALE & Co.

The accommodation provided, includes on the ground floor a spacious entrance hall, an office, a public bar, a smoking and games room, library and reading room, lavatories, etc. A handsome staircase leads up from the hall to the first floor of the building, which contains three spacious and well-appointed billiard rooms, containing four tables by Burroughes and Watts, of the most approved kind and superior quality.

At the back of the entrance hall is a fine theatre, 90 feet in length by 36 in width, which is used as a dining hall in the middle of the day, and has attached to it a large kitchen fitted up with furnaces, ovens and ranges on a very extensive scale, where the work people can cook their own dinners.

The theatre or hall, which is fitted up to seat from 400 to 500 persons, possesses a stage fully equipped, with scenery which cost over £100. and a drop curtain recently painted by a London artist; adjacent are dressing rooms, lavatory etc. The stage is also furnished with the usual accessories for concerts, and has a fine toned piano by Collard & Collard.


Rock Mill


Mr. George Nelson, the founder of the firm, was born in Nottingham early in the year 1800, and both his father and uncle, were ruined by the American war.

Of his Younger years little is known but that having shown a disposition to the study of chemistry, he was placed under the care of an eminent chemist at Nottingham, to whom he was afterwards apprenticed. After he had served his time and fully mastered his business, he removed to Leamington, where he started business on his own account, and later on migrated to the Rock Mills, where he started his gelatine factory. Here he was joined by his friend and cousin Mr. Thomas Bellamy Dale, who became a partner in the great business which is inseparably connected with their names.


Old Milverton Church

George Nelson was named after his father, the third child and first son of nine siblings. He married Sarah Philbrick. They lived in the small hamlet of Milverton, situated between Leamington Spa and Warwick. He is buried in St James churchyard overlooking Guys Cliff House and The Saxon Mill.


Nelson's Heritage Walk


Allow Two to Three Hours for this walk (moderate)

(Can be cycled using all terrain/ mountain bike. Recommend walking along the footpath on Emscote road to Rock Mill Lane as the road is busy with traffic most days)

Also route for cars - suggest walking from Saxon Mill to Old Milverton Church though wherever possible.

The Saxon Mill is a good place to start and finish this walk where on completion you can have some ale and a good meal. Caution: the first part of this walk is along the busy Coventry Road.


                                                                                                                              Saxon Mill "Rocks Royal Cabinet" Album of Leamington and Warwick cir 1880

Turn left out of Saxon mill car park heading towards Warwick.

Walkers stay on the left in order to view the remains of the tree lined avenue that led to Guys Cliffe House. There is also a gate to the grounds that is almost hidden by undergrowth. This is a few meters from the Welcome to Warwick sign.

Cyclists are advised to cross over to the right of the road and use the cycleway (traffic is fast on the Coventry Road in and out of Warwick so take extra care when crossing ).


Postcard image by J J Ward of Coventry c1910                                                                                                  Reclaimed by nature 2010


Continue along keeping the wall to your left passing Guys Cliffe Lodge which is the entrance to the grounds leading to the chapel and house.



The following is probably the least interesting of the walk.

Continue towards Warwick passing the traffic island that leads to Percy Estate and Woodloes Park (home of the author of this walk)

Continue past the filling station / Store and on up the rise towards the canal.

Access to the tow path is on the right hand side of the road just before the bridge not quite at the crest of the hill.


Walk down the ramp then turn left (almost double-backing on yourself and continue on your walk passing under Bridge 49.

You will be heading in the direction for Leamington Spa.


Once through the bridge Kate Boat hire is to your right and in the distance Nelson's Gelatine Factory can just be seen.

The first building you come across is a modern extension after passing Delta Marine Boat fitters.



The Gelatine Factory is on the opposite bank and can be best viewed on passing so don't forget to look back.

At the next ramp leave the canal and turn left into Charles Street. (it is a little before bridge 48)


A factory (where the author once worked) is to your left and houses to your right.

Continue past the factory crossing Montague Road at the junction with Charles Street and Nelson Village stands before you.

Continue up the short rise viewing the workman's cottages and the two houses for Nelson's factory managers can be seen in All Saints Road.(top of Charles St)



Retrace your steps returning down Charles street back towards the canal.

Continue over the canal bridge towards Wharf street.



The Nelson Club stands proud opposite the junction of Charles Street and Wharf Street.

After viewing the Nelson Club continue your walk into Wharf Street

Cross over to the left hand pavement

There are houses to your left and the road and stores to your right.

Continue down Wharf Street where the Gelatine Factory will shortly come into view



We shall return to Nelson's Gelatine Factory but first turn left at the rails onto a walkway

and continue passing between two beautiful redwood trees.

A glimpse to the right will reveal the glimpse of the side of the magnificent Lawn (the home of the Nelson family.



Follow the pathway toward the trees and lawn and look toward the house and the lawn can be seen in all its splendour.

Continue (should you wish) to see the beautiful Avenue of trees situated to the west of the Lawn leading toward the house from its left and what appears to be a dead tree which stands a distorted sculpture. The line of Redwoods straddle the lawn and continue across what would have been the grounds when first planted.



Double back keeping the railings to your left and turn left down the path (keep railing to your left and modern cream house to your right.

The Nelson's Family home will be to you left Standing in all of its glory with a glimpse of the Gelatine factory to the rear.


Continue along path into residential parking area.

turn right keeping cottages to your left.

turn left on exiting between the two trees back into Wharf Street.

Nelson's Gelatine Factory stands on the opposite side of the road

before exploring the factory continue along wharf street until you arrive at the Nelson's Offices.



Retrace your steps and explore the wonderful old buildings of Nelson, Dale & Co's Gelatine Manufactury.

After leaving the factory continue back towards Charles street (stores will be on your left).

Turn Left into Charles Street and after the short climb return down the ramp to the Canal Tow Path.

Turn left at the bottom of the ramp heading towards Leamington Spa and the bridge at Emscote.

This view from the tow path once boasted the site of Kench's Mill (later to become Fleur de Lys pie factory)

Continue on passing under bridges 48 and 47.


After passing under bridge 46 climb the steps (or use ramp) and leave the canal.

(alternative (not recommended for cyclists) continue on towpath towards aqueduct and leave the canal following the river walk down the very steep steps to the river bank and through the field back towards the main Warwick to Leamington road. You will need to cross the road here but be warned it is very busy)

If exiting the canal at bridge 46 turn right and follow the pavement to the pedestrian crossing

To your left are the modern residential homes built on the site of Kench's Mill

Further down there are some shops to your right (Victorian) and Owens electrical store on the opposite side of the road



Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing turning right towards and head Leamington.

continue along the footpath after crossing Greville road and a bus stop continue over the old Portobello river bridge.

(Alternatively cut through from Greville Road between the first residential house and new Medical Centre and through the new estate on the old Potterton Site and cross the river at the new bridge)

Leamington side Looking back towards new bridge crossing the river to Greville Road.


Welcome to Royal Leamington Spa.

Keep to the footpath, hedge to you left (Traffic light junction to your right)

At the dip in the road turn left into Rock Mill Lane.

To your right across from the flood plain are the new buildings on the opposite bank of the river built on the old Potterton site.

In the distance lies Rock Mill the place where Nelson's Gelatine Manufactory began

It is best viewed from the new river bridge.




Note: The road that leads to the mill is marked as private (Accessed Left of Rock Mill Cottage)

I would suggest for a closer view of Rock Mill enter the field at the bridge then retrace your steps back to rock mill Cottage.




Follow the track to the right of the cottage there is a gentle climb to the Rock/Quarry which will be on your left. (Don't blink or you will miss it)

You will pass through some small green areas on route

Routes to residential housing are to your right,

keep tight to the left along the pathway

follow the track you will see the river to your left and greyhound track on the opposite bank



Continue down to a brook, crossing at the footbridge

Climb the embankment steps, through the trees and you will emerge into the field

At this point you can either cross the field passing the house on the hill heading towards Old Milverton Church as per route map or continue following the path keeping the field to your right.


Route across field passing Hill House and the Maidens of Milverton Hill



"Seven Maidens wait upon Milverton Hill

Perusing the avon akin to a saxon mill

passage cordoned to exclude their will

one maiden circumvents to attain her fill

her guardian sisters hold breath until

the water subsides and the avon is still"

Mirrormist Poetry



Looking across the river (Leamington to Warwick) to a pasture heading to Old Milverton Churchyard with the riverside alternate walk below. (Looking back where footpaths merge)


Continue on through the gate and on through the churchyard.


If choosing to stay left of the field follow the path to the Saxon Mill the river is on your left.

This route gives a close look at Guys Cliffe Chapel as well as the ruins of the Guys Cliffe House.



                                                                                                                                                                                                      Postcard image by unknown c1910


Continue on the path until you reach the bridge that leads to the Saxon Mill

You will need to take a right turn and follow the path up to Old Milverton Church.

The Grave of George Nelson overlooks the field facing the Saxon Mill.



George Nelson

Chemist and Industrialist

Born Nottingham 1800 - Died Milverton 1850




Retrace your steps back down the hill towards the Saxon Mill.

Cross the "Lovers Walkway" and cobbled pathway leading to the river bridge.


Pause on the bridge and take in the beauty of the river as you look toward Guys Cliffe House.

Toss a coin to the river and wish for nothing.


Retreat to the Mill for a well earned meal followed by a glass of ale




                                                                                                                                                                            Postcard image by J J Ward of Coventry c1910


Upon this bank I plant my foot

My body is bent as seen

And yet I hold my head erect

While blooming in the stream

The blooms I bear are lily white

And purer than real gold

And now alas I must confess

I’m like a tale that’s told J Dancer

The White Lilac Tree at the old mill Guy's Cliff




My walk around Warwick

In Smith Street there is a house with a lilac door

the walls are of white of its purpose I’m unsure

It never fails to catch my eye as I pass on my walk

just down from the castle this dwelling like chalk


I breathe in the Butts and glance at number three

I‘ve teased my mates about this old town boundary

They could surely not be Warwickians' if born at the Cape

but descendants from vagabonds who’d pillage and rape


The old gas works at the Saltisford is a building to see

you know five hundred worked opposite at a hat factory

Near the start of the cut that went all the way to Brum

my beautiful Warwick by gas light must have been fun


On the common the jockeys race horses regal and royal

around hillocks and greenery of the old navigation’s spoil

Though not strictly true its known as the Saltisford Arm

with narrow boats of roses and castles it’s so full of charm


Tall and proud the blue-bricked Governor’s house greets me

the old gaol now gone its roots left in the small blue dairy

Across the locks that lead to heaven the Cape of Good Hope

and through blue bells in the wood and up devils rock slope


Though I know this old castle town is steeped in history

It’s Guy's Cliffe house view from the bridge that pleases me

Simply tossing a coin with a wish watching it spin and spill

and the sound of rushing and falling water at the Saxon mill

Mirrormist Poetry




Click image to view 30 minute Video

The Nelsons of Warwick


A Brief History of The Nelsons Of Warwick

A purchase will help to support the website


The Gelatine Factory

for the benefit of Warwickians and others by Anthony James Leahy 2008

The Nelson Family



In the early 1970’s I began working at English Rose Kitchens in Wharf St Warwick.

Around the same time George Nelson, Dale & Co Ltd was being listed in a local business directory for the very last time.

More than 20 years later in the 1980’s I reacquainted myself with Emscote Mills whilst working as a researcher for the Saltisford Canal Project.

My involvement with that project lasted for a few months only.

I had one keepsake from that time.

A copy of “Nelson’s Home Comforts” dated 1897, a book I obtained for £5 from a shop in Spencer Street Leamington Spa.

I didn’t know it at the time but bookshop was just a stones throw form; the author Mary Hooper’s place of birth.

That book sat on a shelf in my front room for more 20 years before I looked at it again.

Since picking up this book, I have worked on Rediscovering the Gelatine Factory.

I expected it would be completed within a few months or so,

More than 2 years on and there is no end in sight but so far it has been a fascinating journey.




The Saltisford Canal


English Rose Kitchens


Alfred Barnard Round About Warwick





George Nelson

George Nelson was Born in Nottingham in 1800, He studied chemistry in Nottingham

both his father and uncle, were said to have been ruined by the American war.

His Father and Grandfather were both recorded as Sheriffs of Nottingham and bore the name George.

The business was founded by George Nelson and his brother-in-law Thomas Bellamy Dale,

The inspiration for the business came from George, who after studying chemistry in Nottingham, came to Leamington, and opened a chemist’s shop at 3, Union Parade Nelson and White.

As well as, Nelson and Herring, at 33, Bath-Street.

It was there, in a lab, in Regent-Place, that Leamington Salts were said to have been first manufactured - by evaporation from the celebrated saline. (not George Nelson)

He later moved to Rock Mills, and whilst there took out his first patent for the manufacture of gelatine 1n 1837.

He set out to improve on the centuries-old practice for making jellies

The old  method consisted of boiling calves’ feet, bones and stock, straining the hot jelly through a bag, 

George Nelson prepared his gelatine from buffalo hides.

He set out to create a product that was colourless as well as odourless and didn’t leave an after taste as well as being consistent.

He was said to be the inventor of the worlds first table jelly.

The sale of his gelatine product increased rapidly, and the firm moved to Emscote Mills in 1841.

Lime was an important chemical used in gelatine manufacture, and also a plentiful water supply from two wells on the site.

Liquid gelatine was poured onto glass slabs to set, and at one time there was nearly a mile of slabs.

The factory covered over five acres.

George Nelson died in 1850 and is buried in the churchyard at Old Milverton, overlooking Guys Cliff House and the Saxon Mill.

He had five sons who survived him.

Though his gelatine business was well established, his sons were still young and not able to take an active part at that stage.

The End of the oldest firm of manufacturers in Warwick, George Nelson, Dale & Co Ltd., came to a close in 1972.

Nelson’s gelatine had been in continuous production since 1837, almost 135 years




George Nelson


Genuine Leamington Salts


Rock Mill


Emscote Mills


Old Milverton Church


George Nelson Dale & Co





Thomas Bellamy Dale

Thomas Bellamy Dale was the cousin and partner of George Nelson.

He managed the London business until the death of George in 1850, when he moved to Warwick to head of the firm there.

He like George studied as a chemist and was involved in the business from its beginnings in 1837. 

He also took an active part in local affairs, and was elected Mayor of Warwick on 3 occasions.

He was involved in the sanitary improvements of the borough, as well as, in the adoption of the Free Library Act.

Around 1880 he built The Temperance Hotel and Coffee House. It was designed by architect Frederick Holyoake Moore.

Thomas Dale provided a teetotal establishment with entertainment at the hotel to encourage men away from the numerous public houses.

They were universally held responsible for drunkenness and poor health amongst the working classes.

Thomas Dale is believed to have purchased Christ Church that once stood at the top of the Parade in Leamington Spa, It was demolished in the 1970’s.

He lived in one of the Blue Brick houses in Coten End.




Thomas Dale


The Dale Temperance Hotel


Christ Church Leamington Spa






Gelatine Description and Uses

The word gelatine is derived from the Latin gelo meaning I freeze

Gelatine softens and swells in cold water, but does not dissolve until the liquid is heated; when the solution cools it solidifies to a firm jelly.

Sources of gelatine are hides, calves' feet, and various tissues of animals;

buffalo hides, shipped from Singapore, pre-dried in the sun, were used at emscote

First the hides were soaked cleaned over many weeks; then boiled, then strained, skimmed, and allowed to gelatinize, ,

The hot jelly was taken from evaporating vessels, then poured on massive plate glass slabs, when set it was placed on nets stretched on frames, and taken to a drying room to harden before it was ready for cutting and packing.

Gelatine  was largely consumed as a food; blanc-mange, ices, creams, table jellies  It is also used for consolidated extracts of meat and soups, and in many preparations of confectionary.

"Opaque" gelatine,    finely shredded gelatine,

"Brilliant" gelatine, which was made in thinner sheets than the "opaque," and was cut into very fine shreds, so that it was quickly soaked, and dissolved after being put into water. Mostly manufactured and exported around the world large quantities of gelatine in packets and in bulk.

Amber gelatine was specially manufactured for home consumption, and was used for culinary purposes. Flake or leaf cut into thin sheets; tablet jellies and granulated jellies are of course the same thing, only in a powdered form.

Patent refined isinglass was very finely shredded, and took the place of Russian isinglass for culinary purposes at less cost.




Gelatine and its uses


Gelatine and its uses



Gelatine and its uses


Gelatine and its uses






Emscote Mills

Emscote Mills are situated in Wharf Street on the Grand union Canal – formerly the Warwick to Napton Canal.

I am sure it wasn’t by accident that George Nelson decided to re-locate his business to Emscote Mills

(Road Rail and Canal)

Warwick being on all of the main transport routes to Birmingham and London with rail, road and canal.

This image was taken just outside Warwick and shows the proximity of the transportation links more clearly.

(slide colour impression of mills))

The mills at one time were spread over a much greater area, and the site was probably three times larger than today.

It is difficult to know how accurate this image of the mills actually is, but it does paint a grand impression nonetheless.

(slide 1851 map)

The 1851 map shows the extent of the mills 9 years into the gelatine manufactory at Emscote.

It was printed around the time that George Nelson died.

(Slide overlay 1851 and today)

On this image I have over-layed the 1851 map onto the mills of today.

It doesn’t allow for the buildings to the west. Note the Coal Wharf Area. Today a bridge across the canal forms part of Charles Street.

(slide 1953 Aeriel view)

This 1950’s aerial view gives a good indication of how extensive the mills were to the west.

Out of the picture to the right would have been the east buildings later to become English Rose Kitchens.

The buildings both West and East of the present mills were demolished in the seventies I believe but I am not entirely sure.




Emscote Mills


Emscote Wharves 1851 Map


Emscote Mills 1851 & 2010


Emscote Mills Aerial View c1953





Buildings and Machinery 1899

the main entrance to Emscote mills was the North Gateway.

One of five on the site,

It was to the left of the Offices, and had a weigh bridge built into the roadway.

Water was drawn from the sandstone, (two wells) by three-throw pumps, and delivered to an elevated tank,

Machinery was an important factor, and used extensively, copper, iron, Doulton-ware vessels, machines and steam engines etc

A system of trucks and water-barrows were used to transfer raw material from one stage of treatment to another.

Hides were brought by canal to the doors of the receiving houses.

Great open pits were sunk into the pathway, constructed from cement and brick, where Skins were left in the brine of alkali for weeks,

There were many support trades  among them engineers', fitters', cabinet-makers and joiners', painters', plumbers', and carpenters' shops, also saw mills, a metal planer, lathes, drills, boring machines and hydraulic presses.

a packing case manufactory. Blacksmiths and painters',

in 1899 there were thirty-eight steam engines on the premises, varying in size from 1 to 30 h.p.

Four of these were powerful pumping engines for pumping water from the wells,

three for pumping water into the steam boilers,

two for working the filter presses,

three for supplying power to the lifts,

and the remainder for driving the endless belts and various machinery in the factories.

The freezing house contained a refrigerating engine of 30 h.p.

The boiler house contained four Galloway boilers, each 30 feet long

The general offices, were in the centre of the factories facing the road.

The laboratories occupied two rooms on the upper floor of the office building.




Buffulo Hide


Emscote Mills Wallaby Building Charles Street


Emscote Mills from the canal


Emscote Mills Melting House


Emscote Mills Support Trades


Emscote Mills Boilers and Refidgeration


Emscote Mills Steam Engines






Charles Nelson

Charles Nelson was 17 years old when his father died.

He assisted in the business of the lime and cement Works at Stockton until he became of age, when he entered the management.

The Gelatine factory remained with of Thomas Dale, a one third partner with Sarah Nelson widow of George.

Charles Nelson was a manufacturer of Portland Cement, and Blue Lias, living at ‘The Fields, near Southam’.

He later took a more active role in the Gelatine business, in partnership with his younger brothers Edward Montague and George Henry.

He was a very good engineer, even to the extent of drawing plans for some of the buildings.

As in Warwick, Nelson’s constructed houses at Stockton for their workers.

The Village Hall in about 1900, and later the Nelson club in 1914.

The Nelson Club provided a recreational educational facility for the quarry workers.

Baths could be had at the club for two-pence, but only if at least 3 members wanted one on the same night. 

In 1916, women were allowed to have baths also. A concession - probably given as they were working the quarry as their men were fighting for their country.

Towards the end of the war the supply of Bovril had been stopped. So Oxo was sold behind the bar instead.

 In 1924 there was a strike at Nelson's Cement Works

Horse drawn boats were used to transport coal, lime and cement.

These were replaced by some of the very first steam powered narrow-boats, Jason, Juno and Jupiter,

Shire Horses were used originally to move and shunt wagons to the branch line. This was managed by a man called a 'Waggoner’.

The horses were worked two at a time (one behind the other) pulling loaded cement trucks, which were to travel by rail, when connected to the main line locomotive.

There were 3 narrow gauge loco's at Stockton built by Peckett.

GAMECOCK, NIRAS & JURASSIC built (1897) - all scrapped in 1949

Charles Nelson was living at Crackley Hall in Kenilworth where he died aged 45 of Brights disease. A disease of the Kidney.




Charles Nelson


Charles Nelson Cement Works Stockton


Nelson Club Stockton


Charles Nelson Cement Works Stockton Narrowboats


Charles Nelson Cement Works Stockton Gamecock Steam Engine






G H Nelson

George Henry devoted his life exclusively to the Gelatine business at Emscote, which he entered into in 1851 under the guidance of Thomas Dale. He was 14 years old.

George Henry became a partner in the firm nine years later.

He was skilful in management, knowledgeable and expert in every aspect of the process of the business.

George Henry was at the heart of the operation at Warwick

Considering his contribution and importance to the business, as well as his 40 years plus service, very little is known about him.

For the most part he lived at the Lawn Warwick, later retiring to Rousham near Oxford.




George Henry Nelson






The Lawn

The Lawn at Emscote was home to the Nelson Family

being in residence there from the 1840’s up until the 1920’s.

Originally leasing the property, they bought the house outright it in 1880. This was at one of the most profitable periods in the Nelson business history.

Believed to have been built around 1830 it was remodelled and extended in the later part of the nineteenth century mainly by George Henry.

The central portion of the building was the original 5-bay house. The West Wing was the first addition to the house followed by the East Wing.

The interior was redesigned in the late nineteenth century, retaining the cantilevered staircase with cast-iron balustrade.

Later, it became Emscote Lawn prep school.

The School, was run Headmaster Jonathon Riley and his brother Christopher

The Lawn was listed in July 1999 the same year as its sale to property developers

The closing of the school has been much lamented but from a personal perspective I am pleased that this fabulous property is on view to the public.

The house itself was a living thing so its current transformation may be looked upon as just another phase.

The essence of the house and grounds have been retained.

The Lawn is also notable for its many trees, a theme that was a constant with Nelson properties throughout the world.

Giant Redwood, Evergreen oak, Common Limes that still line the former drive,

Sequoiadendron, cedars, and a magnificent Holm Oak, as well as a dead weeping ash.




The Lawn House Emscote


Emscote Lawn


Emscote Lawn (Montague House)


Emscote Lawn Lodge


The Lawn at Emscote





Village and Nelson Club

Nelson Village was a model colony, containing twenty-three work-men's cottages and two villas for the Works Managers, as well as a water tower, which supplied the village and club house with a constant supply.

The village forms part of Charles Street and today is all but lost in the expanse of the Percy Estate.

At one time they were the only buildings on the north side of the canal.

They stand as a testament to the vision of the Nelson Family who fully comprehended the relationships that should exist between Capital and Labour.

Many employees attaining over 25 years service with some reaching 50 years.

One particular family, The Wrights spanned three generations.

In Charles Street, originally part of Wharf Street, stands the "Nelson's Workmen's Club," opened in 1882.

This was an enormous event for the town. The Warwick Advertiser & Leamington Courier Newspapers devoted full page spreads to the event.

The accommodation provided at the Nelson club, included a public bar, a smoking and games room, library and reading room.

On the first floor of the building, there were three spacious billiard rooms, containing four tables by Burroughes and Watts.

It had a theatre, 90 feet in length, which was used as a dining hall in during the day.

It seated between up to 500 and had a fully equipped stage with scenery, and a drop curtain painted by a London artist; and a piano by Collard & Collard.

The Club is still in use.




Nelson Village Charles St Warwick Water Tower


Nelson Village Charles St Warwick Managers Houses and Workers Cottages



Employees of Nelson Dale & Co and Long Service Board



The Nelson Club Charles Street Warwick



The Nelson Club Burroughes and Watts Billiard Tables



The Nelson Club Theatre






Nelson Photographic

Nelson’s involvement in photography was already established by the visit of British Journal of Photography to Emscote in July 1880.

Gelatine was previously known to photographers as one of the substances used to mount prints.

It became of greater importance as one of the chief sensitive agents in the carbon, or, pigment printing process.

At the time of the visit of 1880 it promised to replace collodion as the medium or vehicle for forming the sensitive layer on glass plate used in cameras.

The visitors’ further prophesised that it would replace that plate, and become itself the transparent support of the medium.

In 1896 the Warwick Dry Plate Co was formed to discover the right types of gelatine for improved photographic purposes,

Austin Edwards came to Emscote Mills to help with the foundation. He later manufactured film at Emscote Mills on his own account.

The knowledge gained by this enterprise played its part in the growth of the photographic industry, which had expanded very rapidly by the 1950’s with the roll films and cinema-graphic, X-ray, and the new colour photographic film processes.

In the early 1950’s Nelson’s had research labs, an emulsion making plant where gelatines were developed for photographic film speed purposes and were tested and improved.

Nelson’s Photographic Gelatine was used by all the world’s chief photographic manufacturers.

In the 1950’s the emphasis at the factory was on the manufacture of photographic gelatines, although their proprietary brands and their well known gelatine lozenges were still made.





Nelson Photographic Film Gelatine



Nelson Photographic Film Gelatine



The British Journal Of Photography



Austin Edwards Ensign Film






Nelson Advertising

Nelson’s advertised their products in many ways.

The most popular was probably “Nelson’s Home Comforts” a hard back cookery book that was available for the cost of a stamp. Over a million were distributed between 1880 and 1910.

George Nelson was quick to realise the importance of our local landmarks and utilised Kenilworth Castle in his early advertising as a chemist back in 1830’s.

That theme along with scenes of Warwick castle, Stratford-upon-avon and the Lord Leycester Hospital were used for many years to promote the sale of Nelson’s Lozenges.

Lozenges came in many forms; Milk and Chocolate, Liquorice, fruit essences and even Mutton. Their fruit-lets were sold in penny machines throughout the country.

Nelson’s also seized on the opportunities to promote their products through top Victorian cookery books.

Broadsheets were generally used in the early days when based at Rock mill Leamington.

Manning in “glimpses of our local past”, recalled having printed the first circular by which gelatine was “made known to mankind” as well as the first label that was gummed at the end of the first packet on the market.

The Works at Emscote kept one press at the printing office in Leamington working full time from one year to the next.

He went on to say that “no signature was better known to humanity than that of George Nelson”



Nelson's Home Comforts



Nelson Landmarks used in advertising



Nelson's Gelatine Lozenges and Fruitlet Penny Machines



Glimpses of our local past







Mary Hooper

In 1882 Mary Hooper was invited by Nelson’s, to revise their popular cookery book Nelson’s Home Comforts, running to 23 editions.

It is more than likely that Miss Hooper was sponsored by Nelsons prior to this engagement, as all but one of her cookery books promoted Nelson’s Gelatine exclusively.

Mary Hooper’s association with the Nelsons was probably due to her father, a Carver and Guilder plying his trade in Bath Street Leamington Priors in the 1830’s.

At the same time George Nelson was involved with his Chemist Shops.

Mary was born at 47 Bath Street in 1829 and at one time lived at the cottage that backed on to Aylesford Well in Church Walk, she later lived above her fathers shop at 14 Upper Parade.

It’s believed the family relocated to London around 1851

She began her literary career as a Sub editor on the “Household Words” a weekly mid-nineteenth century magazine edited by Charles Dickens;

In the early 1870 she began publishing her own cookery books, including Handbook for the Breakfast Table and Little Dinners.

1n 1873 she was invited to form, cookery courses for Ladies, at the Crystal Palace School of Arts, Science and Literature, she went on to became a professor of domestic economy.

She was involved in the beginnings of the National School for Cookery as well as schools around the country including at Leamington Spa. Portland St or Warwick St.

Mary was an author of novels as well as Children’s books; around twelve in total, though most were related to cookery.




Mary Hooper Cookery Books




Bath Street Leamington Priors



Church Walk and Upper Parade


Upper Norwood



Household Words



Professor Crystal Palace School Of Arts, Science and Literature



School of Cookery Leamington Spa



Mary Hooper Children's Books



Warwick Pudding







Sir Montague Nelson

Edward Montague Nelson was involved in the commercial aspects of the business, based in London.

His business acumen was undeniable, though his technical ability was said to have been limited.

He had some knowledge of chemistry.

He became head of the Colonial Consignment and Distributing Company, and of Nelson Brothers, Limited, New Zealand.

In that capacity he had performed work of national importance in securing an enormous supply of cheap food to the people of this country, and to British troops in outlying garrisons, such as Gibraltar, Malta.

He was a mayor of Warwick, Charter Mayor of Ealing as well as sheriff of Middlesex,

Her Majesty Queen Victoria in her the Diamond Jubilee year, conferred upon him the most distinguished Order of Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George,

"Sir Montague Nelson K.C.M.G., for services rendered in connection with the Australasian Colonies, and recognition of his public services."

2 Jury Street was on the market at the time of the Pageant, and was used in 1905 and 1906 for the purpose by the generosity of Sir E. Montague.

Afterwards it purchased and presented to the town. He had 4 Charles Street built for his gardener David Cooper around 1906 also leaving him the equivalent of £5000 in his will in 1919 (£200).



Sir Edward Montague Nelson



Pageant House







William Nelson

William Nelson, grew up in Warwick, the youngest son of George & Sarah Nelson

He was educated at Warwick and on leaving worked in a tannery, cement works and at Emscote Mills.

He was just 7 years old when his father died

A very practical and hands on man, influenced by growing up with his older brother Charles, an engineer who he referred to as dad.

He wrote a diary which gives a fascinating insight of the times in Warwick and New Zealand.

In 1863 William and his brother, Frederick, left for New Zealand, on the Devonshire

After spending about six months tramping round the country and joining the militia, they settled and worked on a sheep run.

The following year they purchased a property, and set about breaking it in for themselves.

Low wool prices and a plague of grasshoppers made it impossible for the brothers

In 1866 William returned to England, married stayed for a short time then returned to New Zealand with his bride.

He tried milling flax from the swamp on the property he bought but once again falling prices defeated him.

William was forced to return to England in 1872 with his family, where he joined his brothers, George and Montague at Emscote before making his final move to New Zealand in 1879 on the Sorata.

During those years at Warwick, William learnt about meat preservation and industrial management and sought solutions for the problems of combating low wool prices and disposing of surplus stock.

After William’s return to New Zealand he established a tallow and canned-meat factory at Tomoana Hawke's Bay with his brother Frederick.

It was designed for conversion to refrigeration, but William bided his time and let others experiment with the new process first. Learning from his previous failures no doubt.

After the disastrous flood of 1897, he developed his own plans for straightening the Ngaruroro River and for totally diverting the Tutaekuri River.

He was also responsible in the reclamation of land from Napier's swamps.

William Nelson is better known in New Zealand as The Father of Hawke's Bay and is commemorated with Parks in both Napier and Hastings being named after him.




William Nelson of Emscote and Tomoana



William Nelson of Emscote and Tomoana



William Nelson of Emscote and Tomoana










Nelson Brothers


"Tomoana" where they set up their works was named after a native Maori chief Enairi Tomoana.

William Nelson managed the New Zealand operation, where freezing works and village for workers were established on the same principals as in Warwick and Stockton.

After the first cargo of frozen meat was successfully shipped to London in 1882, the Nelson brothers and Williams moved swiftly to establish the new industry in Hawke's Bay.

In May, 1883, the prospectus of Nelson Brothers, Ltd. was issued, by Edward Montague Nelson

Over the next decade Nelson Brothers Limited, won the largest stake in New Zealand's frozen-meat trade.

For the first two years the cargoes were almost entirely sold at Smithfield,

In 1885 stores under Cannon Street Station, were opened by the Brothers,

Steam was supplied by six Babcock and Wilcox boilers, producing 800 horse-power.

Two of Haslam's largest cold-air refrigerators, each capable of delivering 170,000 feet of cold air per hour,

The firm opened additional premises in Lambeth, in 1892, which at the time was, one of the biggest and best-equipped cold store warehouses in the world,

Nelson's had their own wharf on the river Thames, with warehouse, cold stores, and distribution station.

The Brothers purchased the Prince of Wales, a Hulk ship, and fitted her out with refrigeration, and used her at Plymouth as a distribution station for the West of England.

It was eventually taken out to New Zealand 1889 and utilised by William as temporary storage.

In one year alone they handled in excess of one million carcasses and 50,000 quarters of beef.

In 1895 Nelson sold their English distribution business to the Colonial Consignment and Distributing Co., Ltd., of which Sir Montague Nelson was also chairman and managing director,

Sir Montague became the first president, Frozen Meat Trade Association,



Nelson's Frozen Meat Trade



Enairi Tomoana



Nelson Brothers Offices Tomoana Station



Prospectus 1883



Tomoana Frozen Meat Trade



Smithfield Market 1880



Cannon Street Station 1885



The Nelson Brothers






The Prince Of Wales



Nelson Quay New Zealand







Walter & Edward Wallis Nelson

Walter Nelson and Edward Wallis Nelson were directors in the firm of Nelson, Dale & Co and facilitated Alfred Barnard with his "Peep into the Gelatine Factory at Emscote" from "Round About Warwick" published in 1899. Gen 3


 "Before closing this notice we should add that we are deeply indebted to the late Mr G. H. Nelson and Messrs Edward W. and Walter Nelson (the Warwick directors) who afforded us all the information we desired, and placed us in the position to acquire more than we could use" Alfred Barnard 1899


Walter Nelson was living and working in Paris when war broke out.


He joined the French Foreign Legion and served with them, for several months, before transferring to the British Army.


Second-Lieutenant Walter Nelson served with "B" Company of the 6th South Staffords.


He joined the Staffords in August 1915,


Walter was killed while trying to cut gaps, through the barbed wire, to allow his platoon to move forward. He was 45 years old.




Walter Nelson War Hero







Guy Nelson

Alderman Guy Nelson OBE; DL; JP, became Managing director in 1924. Following his father into the firm and was involved until 1969.

He was given THE HONORARY FREEDOM of the BOROUGH OF WARWICK in recognition of his 40 years eminent service.

This honour was bestowed on just seven others, among them field Marshall Montgomery and Prime Minister Anthony Eden.

No one has received the honour since.

He received the O.B.E. 1959. Awarded for Public Services in Warwickshire.

And was Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Warwick 1967.

Twice Mayor -  1936-37 and 1939-41.

He became an Alderman in 1942.

Alderman Guy Nelson had an active involvement in many charities, among them, Henry VIII Charity, Thomas Oken's, Austin Edwards and Warwick United Charities

He was Chairman of the Governors of Warwick School for many years

Served on Warwickshire Police Authority and Warwickshire County Council.

Appointed Justice of the Peace 1938.

And Warwick Racecourse Chairman since its formation in 1950

The main hall of Warwick School, the Guy Nelson Hall, was built, following an appeal, between 1969 and 1970.

Alderman Guy Nelson, after whom the hall is named, was a long-serving Chairman of Governors (1938 - 1963).

As a young man he played cricket for Leamington and Warwickshire.

Alderman Nelson’s son, Edward Montague was the fifth generation and last to enter the firm in the early 1950’s.




Alderman Guy Nelson



Alderman Guy Nelson OBE



Guy Nelson Cricketer



Alderman Guy Nelson with the Queen Mother





 Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson

 In 1940, Sam with his parents and two sisters, moved to the flat, converted from the works laboratories on the upper floor of the main George Nelson & Dale office block on Wharf Street.

It had four bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room, two sitting rooms, billiards room with full size table, kitchen, scullery, larder and servants “live in” accommodation.

As well as a half acre of walled garden. Some flat!


The factory therefore was his playground, so he knew the overall area in great detail.


Sam went to boarding school from the age of seven, growing up in the belief that he would follow “in his father’s footsteps”.

He left school in 1952


Spending time in East Africa, serving in the Kenyan police force. Next Slide

He started work at George Nelson Dale & Co in late 1953, spending time in all departments under the guidance of the chief chemist, Dr Richard Coleman

Next Page Next Slide

In February 1955 he sailed for Cape Town, to work at the Davis Gelatine plant, near Johannesburg,


In July 1955 he sailed on to Sydney Australia, to work at the Davis Plant in Botany Bay.


In late 1957 Davis Gelatine took a 51% controlling share in George Nelson Dale & Co and as part of that ratification Sam set off, once again, to Sydney to continue with his career.

He returned to England in July 1968 when his father was ill. Next Slide


I met Sam just over a year ago. and we have had many enjoyable chats at the Nelson Club over the winter months.

I am indebted to him for his generosity in sharing his history and for the enormous contribution he has made

in helping me bring to you just a taste of his family

and their legacy to our town,





Nelson Dale and Co Offices Wharf Street Warwick



Nelson Laboratories 1950



Davis Gelatine



The Nelson Club Charles St Warwick









Photography by Anthony James Leahy unless otherwise stated (exceptions Nelson Village & Rock Mill)

Links to Guys Cliffe House Courtesy of Dave Taylor

  Let me know your thoughts 


Anthony Leahy


for in depth information please explore Links below.










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




The Nelsons of Warwick

Click on Program for details

Thursday June 5th 2014 at 2pm  Lord Leycester Hospital High Street Warwick.

Anthony Leahy and Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson

Tickets £9.50 includes Tea & Cake




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




 A Walk in Warwick





Book Wanted Handbook For The Breakfast Table

Book Wanted Wives and Housewives A Story For The Times


3 The Butts


Sky Blue Heaven