Stonehouse History Group

Welcome to the web site for Stonehouse History Group

- promoting  interest in the History of Stonehouse & the locality.

Do you remember the Stonehouse Jam Factory?

The photograph above shows staff from the old jam factory in Stonehouse, believed to have been located in Orchard Place, in around 1907. Children earned money by gathering blackberries and taking them to the factory in the summer holidays.

The man on the right leaning on the wall with a straw boater hat is Charles Lister Smith who later set up the Severn Valley Fruit Company following on from his father Richard Smith's bakery.The young man on the far right in the long coat is his son Herbert Round-Smith who carried on the firm after his father's death

The Severn Valley Fruit Company, in Orchard Place, founded by local trader Charles Lister Smith in around 1900, was one of the first factories to sell bottled fruit.

Mr Smith’s obituary, published in the Stroud News in March 1945, reveals how he set up the factory to prevent fruit being wasted.

It reads: “It was during Mr Smith’s visit to the local farms in the early 1900s that he was appalled at the waste of fallen fruit that was allowed to lie under the trees and rot.The markets could not absorb it and he started experimenting with bottling.

“He must have been one of the first to commercialise bottled fruit.” After the Second World War, the factory moved on to canned products for catering, including hospitals.

When the motorway opened, the business saw a decline in trade due to increased competition and closed in 1964.

Darrell Webb, from the history group, remembered collecting fruit for the factory during the 1950s.

He said: “When we were about nine or ten, I and many of my friends used to go blackberry picking and then sell them to the local jam factory to make their jam.

"We used to get six pence in old money per pound.”