It was Mr Henry Henderson who first started producing the spicy Yorkshire sauce which we still proudly produce in the heart of Sheffield today. Founding the business between 1881 and 1883, Henry Henderson owned the company for just short of 30 years, before selling it in 1910 to pickle makers Shaws of Huddersfield.
Born in the Nottinghamshire village of Walkeringham in 1850 the (not so unlucky) 13th child of Joseph and Hannah Henderson, Henry’s early life was spent on the 110 acre working farm owned by his father. Henry seems to have adopted his father’s entrepreneurial spirit and hard work ethic in his future business success- according to the 1891 Census Joseph was still working as a farmer at the age of 79!
By the age of 21, Henry had left home and was working as an apprentice Miller for Robert Brock, the Master Miller, with whom he was also lodging in the town of Haxey, nearby to Walkeringham.
Henry married his first wife Clara Cornthwaite on the 1st June 1874 in Ecclesall Bierlow, most likely at Ecclesall Parish Church- suggesting Henry had moved away from Nottinghamshire by this point. They had three daughters- Edith born a year later in 1875, Clara Ellen in 1877 and Beatrice in 1884. When Clara died in 1898, Henry was a widow for six years before remarrying in 1904 to Eliza Ann Swinterton. His middle daughter Clara Ellen married in the same year to Frederick Fox and had a child, Winifred, in the same year.
Henry also seems to have had a love for Skegness. Henry passed away at the age of 80 whilst staying at Granby Hotel on Rutland Road. Located directly opposite the sea, Henry seems to have passed his last few weeks close to the pier, perhaps able to enjoy the fresh sea air before his eventful life came to an end.
Unfortunately, less is known about the history of the company itself- the law of the time stated that only companies which had more than 25 members, or with shares which were freely transferable, were to be registered. Since Henderson Relish Manufacturers (the name Henry gave his spicy sauce) has always been a relatively small company, he was not required to register centrally and appears not to have done so.
Nonetheless we do know that between 1881 and 1883, Henry changed careers from being a Miller (during which time he lived on Furnival Street) to a ‘Drysalter’- somebody who supplied salt or chemicals for preserving food, and also often sold pickles, relishes and perhaps even dried meat. Henry began to produce his relish out of his home at 35 Broad Lane.
In an advert commissioned by Henry himself in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph in August 1893, he said that he wanted ‘A Girl, about 14 years old, to fill relish bottles’, referring to himself as a ‘Wholesale Druggist’. This suggests an upsurge in the production of Henderson Relish, and an advert placed by H. P. Wells, a Biscuit Agent who had a store on Cambridge Street in the centre of Sheffield, confirms this, saying that it stocked ‘Henderson’s at list price’ as a way to attract customers.
Henry’s home and business were at risk one night in April 1901, as calls were made to the Sheffield Fire Brigade concerning a fire discovered ‘on the roof of 35 Broad Lane’ and caused by ‘sparks from a neighbouring chimney’, before it was extinguished by the firemen ‘without difficulty’ (reported in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph).
Although Henry did not sell his business until 1910, it appears that he was trying to do so for some time. He placed an advert in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph on Wednesday 5th December 1906 which stated he was selling a ‘General Grocery, doing £16 weekly, near Millhouses’ and wanted ‘immediate possession’.
Advertisements publicising his wish to sell were frequent over the next four years, with similar messages published in August 1907, December 1908 and February 1909 describing Henry and the business as a ‘Relish Manufacturer, Wholesale Druggist and Smallwares Dealer’. The 1909 advertisement also stated that illness was the cause of leaving, and so it was perhaps primarily for this reason that Henry sold his business and living premises to Shaws in 1910, and retired to 1 Kenbourne Road in Nether Edge.