Seeking to make use of the many 5-inch circular pieces of tin-plate which were the by-product of their other activities, Dan and Charles Mason turned to creating smaller tins in which they could sell a polish for use on boots and shoes. Their goal was to produce a polish which would not rub off on clothing in the same way that the existing ‘blackings’ did. To this end, a chemist was engaged to produce a suitable formulation.
Cherry Blossom Boot Polish was launched, and with imaginative marketing it quickly became a huge success. This success ultimately led to the formation (in 1913) of a separate company under the name Chiswick Polish Company Ltd.
The entirety of the long-running Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was hired by the company for a day, and the gates thrown open to the public. People could claim free admission if they could present a lid from a Cherry Blossom tin. The Company went so far as to build a replica of the Big Ben clock tower! The event was a major marketing coup, and the attendance of more than 200,000 visitors produced a mass of traffic the likes of which London had not witnessed to that date.
Formation of Chiswick Polish Company, jointly owned by the Mason family and Reckitt & Sons Ltd. The businesses of William Berry Ltd., and Master Boot Polish Company (both acquired by Reckitt & Sons Ltd in 1912) were integrated into Chiswick and all metal polish operations transferred to Reckitt’s in Hull.
Workers’ welfare was always high on the list of priorities of the company. As such, the staff magazine “Forward” was launched in 1916. After that, the company promoted a 5-day working week in 1918, a pension scheme in 1923, and in 1930 even made 50 semi-detached houses available for the work force.
The ‘fish-plate’ metal opener introduced on Cherry Blossom lids was a first for all types of tin. This design paved the way for the ‘press to open’ tin we still use today.
Due to a merger with Nugget Polish Company Ltd., there came a name change to Chiswick Products Ltd. This was a merger of the two biggest manufacturers of boot and floor polishes in the world, and created a global brand with factories and warehouses abroad as well as in the UK.
Daisy Sander joined the company to work as an assistant in the Library until 1936. She participated in the company’s Operatic and Dramatic Societies, before rising to fame in later years as a stage and screen actress under the name Dandy Nichols. Daisy/Dandy found fame as Else Garnett in ‘Till Death do us Part’, and later in ‘In Sickness and in Health’.
Cherry Blossom were quick to use commercials on cinema screens, and even on TVs, as that medium became more popular.
Chiswick Products Ltd merged again - this time into the newly-formed Reckitt & Colman Holdings Ltd.
Although the chemistry may have changed, the manufacturing process of shoe polish has changed little since 1956.
In short, purified waxes are shot into great steam-heated vessels called ‘melters.’ In the melters, the wax becomes liquid before it is run through pipes to some mixing pots beneath. In these mixers, which are also steam-heated, the wax is properly dissolved, before dyes or pigments are included and the mixing continues.
When the polish is ‘cooked’ the Laboratory chemists take samples and, if the batch is passed by them, the liquid is run through another pipe system into filling machines on the floor below. Here, a specified filling temperature is maintained. The polish is ejected through lines of nozzles and into containers moving forward on conveyors. As soon as the tins are filled, the conveyors carry them forward where they cool before the lids are applied.
Padawax was first introduced – a liquid polish applied with a sponge.
By the 1960’s, Reckitt and Colman were employing some 1,500 people in Chiswick. These people were not just making and filling polishes, they were also stamping and printing the tins and creating their own packaging. The factories created everything they needed on site to distribute around the world.
Martyn Rose saw Granger’s - the Watford-based chemical firm - as a good opportunity for his first business venture, and promptly bought it.
Employed by Reckitt and Colman for 13 years as a Development Chemist on Toiletries and Household goods, Karolina joined Granger’s in 1989 after answering an advert looking for a chemist who ‘didn’t mind getting her feet wet’.
Granger’s moved to Grange Close in Alfreton, Derbyshire.
Karolina Jones was promoted from Chemist to Technical Director - just in time for Cherry Blossom to arrive at the company in 1994.
Cherry Blossom shoe care manufacture starts in Alfreton, Derbyshire.
Cherry Blossom’s website is brought up to date, and the ‘Premium’ range launched to meet the needs of customers wanting shoe care products that use the finest components.
Cherry Blossom hits a new milestone - not only is it the only remaining British Shoe Polish Manufacturer, it also manages to sell in excess of two million Shoe Polish tins throughout the UK.
For the third year in succession, Cherry Blossom Premium wins the ‘Best Shoe Care and Accessories Brand of the Year’ category at the UK Footwear Industry Awards Dinner during the Spring MODA NEC Footwear Exhibition.
The Brand continues to grow from strength to strength - experiencing double digit growth year on year for the last four years within the Footwear Specialist Trades.