Founder of Hull’s William Jackson Food Group honoured with Mayor’s Centenary Plaque

A heritage plaque has been unveiled in tribute to William Jackson whose first grocery shop on Scale Lane in Hull led to a business which now employs more than 700 people in the city.

The family business, founded by William Jackson (1828-1912), is now in its sixth generation and is named the William Jackson Food Group. In addition to owning Jacksons Bakery and Aunt Bessie’s in Hull, the Group also owns organic delivery business Abel & Cole, healthy snacking business The Food Doctor and vegetable processing business MyFresh as well as the Ferguson Fawsitt Arms in Walkington – employing a total of 2,000 people nationwide.

William’s great great grandson Nicholas Oughtred is the current chairman. He said: “During the 166 years since the opening of 28 Scale Lane in 1851, the business has pioneered many new ideas within the food industry. We were one of the first to replace counter service with a self-service store on Priory Road in Hull in 1948. In March 1961, the business was the first in the UK to adopt the discounting of food and non-food products from a store in Leeds called Grandways.

“We built our Bakery in Derringham street in 1907 using new equipment which enabled us to bake on a larger scale. This bakery is still going strong and produces an average of two million loaves per week. In 1968, we invented the process for making the first commercially produced Yorkshire puddings and this side of the business became Aunt Bessie’s which today produces around 20 million frozen Yorkshire puddings a week along with many other products.

“We strive to be a business to be proud of and I think William would be proud of the business which has grown from his very first shop in Scale Lane.”

Councillor Mary Glew of Hull City Council, leads on the plaque scheme to commemorate 100 people from Hull who made a difference nationally and internationally said: “I am delighted that a plaque has been unveiled to honour William Jackson. Jackson’s and Aunt Bessie’s, which are just two parts of the group, are names that are renowned among Hull people and are well-known nationally. The business has grown from strength-to-strength and is one of the largest employers in the city. The delicious smell of baking bread is something that many generations of local people have enjoyed and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to honour such a ground breaking Hull businessman.”

William Jackson was the son of a farmer and was born in 1828 in the village of Elstronwick – ten miles or so east of Hull.

On the day he opened his first shop, September 24th, 1851, he married Sarah Brown in morning and opened his first shop at 28 Scale Lane in Hull in the afternoon. He traded as a grocer and tea dealer – the original sign from his Scale Lane shop still hangs in the boardroom at William Jackson Food Group’s headquarters in Hessle.

William died in October 1912 aged 84 – he had been tasting tea in his Carr Lane shop only a day earlier.