Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cerebos Ltd.

Before the introduction of free running table salt as we know it today, household salt had to be purchased in blocks.

In 1891 a pharmacist by the name of George Duncan Bowie decided to mix a carefully prepared mixture of phosphates with salt, thereby inventing dry-pouring salt. Another pharmacist named George Weddell experimented further with Bowie's invention and managed to improve upon it, creating a dry, free-flowing salt. He called it Cerebos.

The name Cerebos is derived from the words Ceres (Roman goddess of agriculture and harvests) and os (the Latin word for bone—the phosphates in salt strengthen the bones).

Weddell built a factory close to the salt deposits at Seaton Carew, County Durham. The business soon took off, employing a manager, a chemist, an engineer and a small group of workers for packing. The company also sold baking powder and health salts.

By 1896 salesmen were working throughout the U.K. They sent samples to doctors and chemists for comment and so the name of Cerebos spread.

The Cerebos advertising slogan was "see how it runs" describing how fine the salt was. A boy chasing a bird and pouring salt on it is an icon which became synonymous with the brand.

In 1900, small traces of arsenic found in the phosphates Cerebos were using caused a panic amongst the salt buying public. However, the amounts involved were found to be very small and steps were taken to remove the impurities.

In 1904 the company became Cerebos Ltd and two years later the manufacturing operation was moved to Greatham.

In 1919 Cerebos Ltd acquired Middlewich Salt Co Ltd., giving them a total workforce of 850 women and 150 men.

After the Second World War new methods of production came in and Cerebos Ltd continued to expand. The company was acquired by RHM Ltd in 1968, which in turn was acquired by Premier Foods in March 2007.

By Mark Matlach

Cerebos Ltd. used a variety of different overprint styles, including:
  • For / Cerberos Ltd. on SG 421
  • For / Cerberos Ltd. on SG 442 and 465 (different font)
  • Received for / Cerberos Ltd. on SG 488 (as shown above)
  • Received for / Cerberos Ltd. on SG 506

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