Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,439 pages of information and 233,876 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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July 1887.
Advertising Sign.
Advertising Sign.
April 1939.
November 1942.
Advertising sign.
Advertising sign.
Advertising sign.
Advertising sign.
Advertising sign.

R. S. Hudson of West Bromwich and later of Liverpool. Soap makers

1837 Robert Spear Hudson opened a shop in High Street, West Bromwich. He started making soap powder in the back of this shop by grinding the coarse bar soap of the day with a mortar and pestle. Before that, people had had to make soap flakes themselves.

1850 Started producing Hudson's Dry Soap Powder

In the 1850s, he employed ten female workers in his West Bromwich factory.

1853 His business was further helped by the removal of tax on soap.

This product became the first satisfactory and commercially successful soap powder. Despite his title of "Manufacturer of Dry Soap", Hudson never actually manufactured soap but bought the raw soap from William Gossage of Widnes. The product was popular with his customers and the business expanded rapidly.

1875 In time the factory was too small and too far from the source of his soap, so he moved his main works to Bank Hall, Liverpool, and his head office to Bootle, while continuing production at West Bromwich.

Eventually the business in Merseyside employed about 1,000 people and Hudson was able to further develop his flourishing export trade to Australia and New Zealand. Hudson himself moved to Chester.

The business flourished both because of the rapidly increasing demand for domestic soap products and because of Hudson's unprecedented levels of advertising. He arranged for striking posters to be produced by professional artists (this was before other firms such as Pear's Soap and Lever Brothers used similar techniques).

The slogan "A little of Hudson's goes a long way" appeared on the coach that ran between Liverpool and York. Horse, steam and electric tramcars bore an advertisement saying "For Washing Clothes. Hudson's soap. For Washing Up".

Hudson was joined in the business by his son Robert William who succeeded to the business on his father's death.

1908 he sold the business to Lever Brothers who ran it as a subsidiary enterprise with the soap manufactured at Crosfield's of Warrington. During this time, trade names such as Rinso and Omo were introduced.

1910 Advert on this page for OMO. [1]

The Hudsons brand was retained until 1935 when, during a period of rationalisation, the West Bromwich and Bank Hall works were closed.

R. S. Hudson and Co continued as a company within the Unilever empire for some time after WWII.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] History World
  • [2] Wikipedia
  • The History of Unilever by Charles Wilson. Published 1954 by Cassell and Co