Huntley & Palmers Collection
Huntley & Palmers biscuits are one of the 'three Bs' for which Reading was famous, the others being beer from Simonds brewery and bulbs from Suttons Seeds.
Huntley & Palmers started life in 1822 as a small bakery founded by Thomas Huntley in London Street. George Palmer, who was a distant Quaker cousin, entered into partnership with Thomas Huntley in 1841. George was ambitious and in 1846 he opened a large factory on Kings Road.
With the Palmer factory in operation, Huntley & Palmers became the world's largest biscuit manufacturer by 1900. The company was increasingly famous for its innovative and decorative biscuit tins, made by its sister company Huntley, Boorne & Stevens.
At its peak Huntley & Palmers employed over 5000 people. As a result Reading became known as the 'biscuit town' - even the town's football club was nicknamed the 'Biscuitmen'. The factory remained a major employer in Reading until 1976 when production moved to Liverpool.
The Museum's collection has over 7000 items relating to Huntley & Palmers including biscuit tins, photographs, oral histories, films and advertising ephemera dating from 1822 to the 1980s. Many were donated by the company's then owners Nabisco when it finally left Reading, but others have come from local people. The University of Reading Special Collections holds the business records for the company.