History bid 'crumbles' in Batley

History bid 'crumbles' in Batley

A BATLEY firm has been outfoxed over its move to mark the place where it was founded with a plaque.

Fox’s Biscuits recently put up a plaque outside a house on Whitaker Street in celebration of where the company started in 1853.

But Batley History Group chairman Malcolm Haigh claims Fox’s Biscuits was not launched there.

And Mr Haigh, who spent two years researching the company’s history in the 1990s, said the bakery began much later.

The former journalist said: “Most certainly 1853 is not the year that the company was started.

“Even in 1861 founder Michael Spedding was living in a cottage in Batley Field Hill with his wife and two children.

“In the census of that year he gave his occupation as a cloth finisher. At the time he was working at a woollen mill in Branch Road.

“Some years later he moved to Spring Gardens and started experimenting with making brandy snaps and biscuits.

“The move to Whitaker Street came after that, so it is somewhat premature for the firm to claim it is celebrating 160 years of business.”

Unveiled by the Yorkshire Society, the plaque is outside the home of current residents Bilal and Shirina Passwala.

They live with Bilal’s mum Nasima, who was a packer at Fox’s Biscuits for nine years until 2010.

Mr Haigh added his research showed their home was built with an attached bakehouse around 1879.

He said: “Mr Spedding started the company while living in Spring Gardens – an area off Upper Commercial Street where the Central Estate is now.

“As the firm grew he looked for bigger premises and in 1877 applied to buy land in what became Whitaker Street.

“It was in this place where he, his daughter Hannah and her second husband Fred Ellis Fox saw the firm grow impressively.

“But it was some years later before Mr Spedding severed his connections with the business and his son–in–law re–named it as FE Fox and Sons.”

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