Jeyes of Earls Barton – Reminiscing and Recycilng

Georgina Jeyes discusses the history of Jeyes and its long relationship with recycling.

At Jeyes on The Square, Earls Barton we welcome the opportunity to tell the story of 40 years of dealing with the rubbish of a village chemist, from its beginnings in 1981, up until today as a busy coffee-shop, gift shop and small visitor attraction. There is a second story – the history of recycling shows it goes back to ancient times.

In the 1980s, as Jeyes Chemist,  Wellingborough Council  would, once a week, collect all our commercial waste,  charging us through the rates.  However, over-night the local facility was cancelled -we were left “carrying the can”. We looked to commercial schemes with consideration given to recycling as The Apothocoffee shop had become a thriving day-time restaurant, with the obvious weekly waste.

For years we preserved with expensive, ‘hit and miss’ service, listened to many excuses for non-collections, often featuring broken down vehicles.  Being newly accredited with “Visit England” for our Heritage Centre and Museums – full bins outside were not a welcoming site.  Two years ago, we moved our recycling contract to local family business, Cawleys. Their reliability, efficiency, commitment and guidance to improve our recycling systems – have  been invaluable and saved the day. They accepted our openings and closures as lock-down rules dictated with understanding.  They have for us “Put the Waste in the Right Place!”  Thank you

Frank and Reg Cawley, started their Civil Engineering and Haulage Contracting Company in 1947, in Luton with Reg becoming sole proprietor in the 1960s.  It was a family business then and still is today, 72 years later.  

The younger generations of the Cawley and the Jeyes families most probably claim today’s recycling culture belongs to them but the first recorded paper recycling was in the paper mills of  Japan in 1031. By 1690 in Philadelphia, old fabrics, cloths, cotton and linen were recycled into paper too.  In New York in 1776, after America gained independence from the British, our King George III’s statue was melted, converted into bullets for their war effort.

Back in England, “The Shoddy Process” had begun in 1813 at Batley, West Yorkshire, recycling old wool, clothes and rags to be spun into yarn – by  1860 they were producing over 7,000 tons a year.  Five years later William Booth had founded the Salvation Army, and in 1891 formed the “Darkest England” scheme – creating ”Our Household Salvage Brigade” sorting and reusing from the home.

Rag rugs, made from old clothing, woollen coats, jackets and trousers, were made each Christmas to lay in front of the fire, being thriftily demoted to the kitchen, then as a doormat, the dog kennel and ending its days on the compost heap.  We have an original rag rug in front of the range in our village Museum in Earls Barton.  That is what I call recycling!

In 1810 Philadelphus Jeyes  joined the chemist,  Dr. Perrin as a pharmacist, druggist, inventor, business man and  entrepreneur at 6 The Drapery, Northampton.  Little wrapping or branding was used with prescriptions secured by a seal.  Towards the end of the century there was a shift towards a throwaway society with grocers and meat vendors often distrusted, so ‘safe’ closed packets,  bottles, tins were used and discarded - hence the term ‘Victorian Era Trash’.  Presentation, marketing and advertising the brand became important. Parts of London had a systematic disposal of waste but in rural places such as East Anglia no ‘ash-cats’ were provided so pits were dug and the waste buried.

Philadelphus's younger brother, John was a botanist, nurseryman, analytical chemist and inventor. He  left for the Victorian slums of London, armed with his many disinfectants, including Jeyes Fluid - “The True Germicide, The True Disinfectant, The True Antiseptic”.  His wish was to help cleanse and prevent the spread of disease,  caused  by the vermin feeding in the festering rubbish.  35 folk and their pig would be living together emptying their own waste down the cellar (or the neighbour’s) into The Thames below.  (Not to be recommended for their supply of drinking water!)

During both World Wars the public were canvassed to help recycle and reuse – even waste cooking fats went to local meat dealers to be recycled to fund explosives.  There was an attempt to requisition the famous “Implement Gates” of the Jeyes Family Home, Holly Lodge outside Northampton - they were spared and are still there today.

In the 1960's,70's and 80’s  Drinks Companies  (I remember the Corona Pop- man coming on his rounds)   offered money-back schemes  - charities benefited and it was a rich source of income for pocket money.

The iconic logo as The Universal Recycling Symbol, still used today, was designed in 1970 by 23 year old Gary Anderson, an engineering student in California. He entered a competition and won.

In June 1977, Stanley Race, CBE, as Chairman of The Glass Manufacturers’ Federation, dropped the first glass jar into the Bottle Bank in Barnsley, North Yorkshire – he repeated the task 30 years later. There are over 50.000 banks with 752,000 tons recycled annually.

By 2015 Plastic bags in England were reduced by 80% due to a 5p bag charge

Today, as I write, I have wasted not or wanted not, but having started the day as a conscientious shop-keeper  supporting recycling, and now, having been challenged by the significance of my research, feel  I am entitled to call myself an, older and wiser, garbologist.

The Cawley Family continually endeavour to put recycling at the fore-front of their work ethic whilst The Jeyes Family know they can trust and rely on them, working together for a greener future.

Georgina Jeyes 2021.



Comments are closed.