East Midlands Food

East Midlands Food

Pea flour, soup and Symington…

A couple of weeks ago I visited the museum in Market Harborough where – amongst many other things, including an exhibition on the Iron Age Hallaton Treasure – there is a display about the local firm of W. Symington & Co. Not to be confused with R. & W.H. Symington, which made corsets and the famous Liberty Bodice, William Symington started in business selling tea and groceries in Harborough around 1827 after moving from Scotland.

Harborough Museum

The company is perhaps best known for its blancmange powder, tables creams, jellies and other desserts, and its soups. These were all on sale by the early 20th century and you will see some of the packages in the museum. William Symington had earlier patented a process for making pea flour, which could be used in cooking or reconstituted with water. In the 1850s this was provided in large quantities to British troops during the Crimean War, and the company also supplied pea flour for Captain Scott’s first Antarctic Expedition in 1901-04. It was among the items found in a store of food and other items fifty years later, and found to be still useable.

Pea soup was the first of several soups to be marketed by Symington’s by the end of the 19th century. Other family members had joined the firm in the meantime, and it continued to operate from its factory in Market Harborough until 1969, when it was acquired by the Lyons catering company. For more information, see the factsheet ‘Industrial Harborough’ at http://www.leics.gov.uk/harborough_museum_factsheet_5.pdf - and if you’d like to know more about the other Symington business, there is another factsheet, ‘Symingtons & the Liberty Bodice’, at http://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/harborough_museum_factsheet_2.pdf.

Harborough Museum is located in part of the former Symington corset factory in Adam and Eve Street. Admission is free, and it is open from Monday - Saturday from 10.30 am – 4. 15 pm. See http://www.leics.gov.uk/museums for a link to this and other Leicestershire County Council museums.

My thanks to Zara Matthews, Keeper of Harborough Museum, for permission to use the photograph above.

 
 

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About this Sponsor

A research project that looked at various aspects of food in the East Midlands, linking them with museum displays and objects in the region, and making the results available to as many people as possible in different formats.

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