Lightyears Collection
Bush Boake Allen


W.J. Bush & Co.

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to enlarge

Photo of 'Bint El Sudan' perfume by W.J. Bush & Co.

Bint El Sudan, perfume
by W.J. Bush & Co.

"W.J. Bush & Co. was founded by William John Bush in 1850 or 1851. Bush acquired a small factory in London and undertook the steam distillation of herbs, spices, and woods and the preparation of tinctures and essences. W.J. Bush & Co. is credited with being England's first maker of flavorings and essences."

Photo of W.J. Bush
W.J. Bush

"By 1880 the business had moved to Ash Grove where W.J. Bush's Grove chemical works were located."

Over the years, W.J. Bush produced flavorings for foods, essential oils and perfume. Thanks to their worldwide presence, largely in countries that were once part of the British Empire, W.J. Bush & Co. also acted as distributor or agent for other manufacturers in various countries.

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W.J. Bush company outing

Company Outing, Ash Grove Works
Date unknown. Courtesy of Julie Law
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W.J. Bush company outing

W.J.Bush Company Outing
Date unknown. Courtesy of Julie Law

Stafford Allen & Sons

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Photo of Bush Boake Allen plant, Liston, England, 1996

Stafford Allen's original staff, 1833
(From IFF archives)

Stafford Allen & Sons, founded in 1833, evolved into a producer of pure drugs and essential oils. They were known for their sandalwood and clove oil.


A. Boake, Roberts & Co.

Arthur Boake, an Irishman, founded his company in 1869 for the production of brewing chemicals. Boake ran it, as sole owner, until 1888 when a partner was taken into the business. In time the company began to manufacture flavoring essences and to distill essential oils. This evolved into the manufacturing of perfume and flavor chemicals. In 1935, for example, the company published the second edition of "A Handbook for Ice Cream Makers."

Through various business arrangements, A. Boake, Roberts & Co achieved a global reach.


Bush Boake Allen

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Photo of Bush Boake Allen plant, Liston, 1996

Bush Boake Allen plant at Liston, Englnd, in 1996.

In 1966, Stafford Allen & Sons, W.J. Bush & Co., and A. Boake, Roberts & Co. combined their businesses to form Bush Boake Allen. By the year 2000, sales for the new company had reached the $470 million mark.


IFF (International Flavors & Fragrance, Inc.)

In 2000, IFF purchased Bush Boake Allen for $970 million.



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Comments On This Article
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  • susan marchant, 05/06/2021. My grandfather worked for the Bush company in the early 1900s and was sent by the company to work in St Petersburg, Russia in 1910. I have no idea why, or whether any other company personnel also went there. He was brought back just before the start of WW1. Any information on this would be most welcome as I am trying to update family records.
    thanks

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  • Neville Correy, 04/05/2021. 26 March 2021
    Memories come flooding back! I joined BBA at what was previously Stafford Allen at Wharf Road. I joined the FDL-Food Development Lab with Henry Heath as Manager in the mid-60s. Later we moved to Ash Grove. Henry moved to America to set up the operation there and the FDL was then managed by Brian Jackson.We finally moved to Walthamstow. I left BBA in '78 and moved to work for Overseal Foods near Burton-on-Trent. Later in '87 left England for Australia. I met two Australians in Perth, WA many years ago - Ross Smith and Bruce Shenn, both of whom worked at Blackhorse Lane. I still keep in touch with a couple of fellow FDL colleagues by Email.
    Small world!

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  • Neil Dunbar, 02/16/2021. Wonderful to read John McNamara's post. Pat Coleman & John Barnes moved to Walthamstow where I met them along with John Stock in 1980. I was unable to locate John McNamara then. BBA made great contributions to the food industry and it's employees. John Stock taught sugar confectionery at SE London Tech. I was allowed day release to study confectionery at the college & both my wages and John Stock's were covered by BBA.
    A sound investment, as I later purchased many flavours from BBA in my tenure as QA manager for a confectionery manufacturer in Australia. I also studied flavours and essential oils with the Technical services manager Henry Heath at Ash Grove Hackney and last corresponded with Herny in 2016. I hope to hear from John McNamara. My email is n.dunbar@outlook.com.au Perhaps more information about BBA may come from a catch up.

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  • john mcnamara, 01/28/2021. I worked for BBA as an applications assistant with Victor (john) Stock and when he left took over running the confectionery lab. Neil Dunbar worked with me during that time. Dr Cowely was the head of the labs and John Barnes ran the bakery lab and Pat ran the mineral water lab. I left to join Stevenson & Howell and later BBA moved to Blackhorse Lane in Walthamstow. John Stock rejoined the company and ran the confectionery lab until I think IFF took them over in 2000.

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  • john mcnamara, 01/28/2021. I worked for BBA as an applications assistant with Victor (john) Stock and when he left took over running the confectionery lab. Neil Dunbar worked with me during that time. Dr Cowely was the head of the labs and John Barnes ran the bakery lab and Pat ran the mineral water lab. I left to join Stevenson & Howell and later BBA moved to Blackhorse Lane in Walthamstow. John Stock rejoined the company and ran the confectionery lab until I think IFF took them over in 2000.

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  • Sonia York-Pryce, 04/21/2020. William John Bush was my Great Great Grandfather and William Earnest, Baron de Bush my Great Grandfather. He led the company to further greatness before his untimely death in an accident falling from a train in 1903. He was survived by his wife soprano Pauline Joran and his daughter Paulise Marie Louise de Bush. The company had offices all the world at this time, Europe, Australia, USA and Canada. There are some wonderful examples of the company's logos and artifacts in the Hackney Archives, well worth a visit.

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  • Wendy, 06/18/2019. Thanks for getting in touch.
    Not sure of the make of the car. My great grandfather is the chauffeur, Alfred Lake. Boake Roberts is in the background. I think it was taken down Carpenter’s Lane in Stratford.
    Cheers,

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  • Wendy Hammond, 06/18/2019. My grandfather was a chauffeur for Boake Roberts in Stratford East London. I have a great pic of him outside the company with the company car circa 1930s.
    -- end --

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  • Fiona Bower, 03/18/2019. My Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather were the Boake's in Boake Roberts.

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  • Fiona Bower, 03/18/2019. My mother had a selection of her Grandfather's flavourings that we used at home in the 1970's. Nothing modern has matched the wonderful flavours he created.

    I do hope the original formulas and preparation notes have been saved.

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  • Neil Dunbar, 03/15/2019. Hello, I write to express my gratitude and thanks for publishing the two photographs of the W J Bush employees titled company outing.
    I worked at the Ash Grove works in my apprentice years from 67 to 71. I learned much of flavours in my time there. I have for many years sought to find a photograph of the Ash Grove works and I was over joyed to find your photographs.
    I don't recognise any of the people but I knew people from Wj Bush, Boake Roberts & Stafford Allen and I have such wonderful memories of them.
    Thank you so very much for sharing these pictures.

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  • Geoff Richards, 03/15/2019. My father George Edward Richards worked for WJ Bush & Co in the 50's and 60's. He managed a new factory in Nellicuppam (South India)where our family lived from 1956-1962.

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  • Ronnie Ross, 03/15/2019. Hi, just aquired a boxed set of six bottles of essences labelled with Bush & co, ltd, ash grove, hackney, London. Any idea of age please. Thanks

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  • Stephen Smith, 03/16/2018. My Father David E. Smith had the Western Canadian sales agency from 1949-1989. Since passed in 2015.

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  • John Rogers, 03/16/2018. My farther inlaw worked at the Letchworth plant in the war years. He was not conscripted 39/45. Why? What did the plant make?

    -- Good question. Beer? Or likely some war time essential. Thanks for the input. -- Phil

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  • Joy, 01/06/2014.
    My grandfather Montgomery st. Alphonse was the president of wj bush & sons factory in Montreal Canada
Photo of Phil Goutell
Philip Goutell's Signature

Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.