Huntley and Palmers 200 year biscuit heritage in Reading celebrated in new exhibition

Archive of Huntley & Palmers biscuit factory in Reading
Manufacturer Huntley and Palmers was founded in 1822 in Reading. The company produced the Gingernut, Nice and Bath Oliver biscuits.

200 years of Reading's biscuit heritage is being celebrated in a new exhibition.

Manufacturer Huntley and Palmers was founded in London Street in 1822, where it began life as a small baker's shop.

Within 40 years, the company that created the Nice biscuit, Gingernut and the Bath Oliver was exporting its goods across the globe.

Reading became known as Biscuit Town, home to the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world with cakes and biscuit names still known today.

While the company is no longer located in Reading, biscuits have left their mark on the town.

To mark the special anniversary, Reading is re-discovering its biscuit heritage this summer with a series of events and tours.

A special exhibition Biscuit Town: 200 years of Huntley and Palmers in Reading at The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) will explore Huntley & Palmers' impact on the growth of Reading.

The exhibition takes place from Tuesday, May 10 until the September 25.

It will also examine the company's international reach and take a more personal look at some of the people who worked within the innovative King's Road factory.

  • Huntley & Palmers created the Nice biscuit, Gingernut and the Bath Oliver

Drawing on gems from the Huntley and Palmers archive held in the University of Reading's Special Collections, these stories will be illustrated through photographs, packaging, catalogues and more.

Almost 300 decorative tins will be on display in the Huntley & Palmers Gallery at Reading Museum, which will also include the earliest surviving film of a British factory.

Alex Brannen, Reading UK, said: "For well over a century Reading was synonymous with biscuits, gaining its nickname as Biscuit Town.

"The impact of Huntley & Palmers biscuits on Reading has been huge and this summer Reading will be paying tribute to its fascinating biscuit story with a series of special events and activities, starting in May with the new exhibition at The MERL.

"The coming of the railway to Reading in the nineteenth century helped take Reading's biscuits all over the world, so we are delighted that GWR has become the 'Official Travel Partner' for Biscuit Town 2022, bringing people to Reading to retrace the steps of the largest biscuit manufacturer in the world."

GWR Senior Regional Marketing Manager, Gauthier Hardy, said: "We are proud to be partnering with Reading UK to help promote Reading Biscuit Town 2022.

"Great Western Railway has a long association with Huntley & Palmers as its factory was located on King's Road, close to the railway line, and its biscuits were carried by train to London, Bristol and beyond.

"Reading remains one of the busiest destinations on the GWR line and we look forward to welcoming customers keen to get a taste for the town's rich biscuit heritage."