Lightyears Collection
Bush Boake Allen

W.J. Bush & Co.

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Photo of 'Bint El Sudan' perfume by W.J. Bush & Co.

Bint El Sudan, perfume
by W.J. Bush & Co.

"W.J. Bush & Co. was founded by William John Bush in 1850 or 1851. Bush acquired a small factory in London and undertook the steam distillation of herbs, spices, and woods and the preparation of tinctures and essences. W.J. Bush & Co. is credited with being England's first maker of flavorings and essences."

Photo of W.J. Bush
W.J. Bush

"By 1880 the business had moved to Ash Grove where W.J. Bush's Grove chemical works were located."

Over the years, W.J. Bush produced flavorings for foods, essential oils and perfume. Thanks to their worldwide presence, largely in countries that were once part of the British Empire, W.J. Bush & Co. also acted as distributor or agent for other manufacturers in various countries.

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W.J. Bush company outing

Company Outing, Ash Grove Works
Date unknown. Courtesy of Julie Law
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W.J. Bush company outing

W.J.Bush Company Outing
Date unknown. Courtesy of Julie Law

Stafford Allen & Sons

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Photo of Bush Boake Allen plant, Liston, England, 1996

Stafford Allen's original staff, 1833
(From IFF archives)

Stafford Allen & Sons, founded in 1833, evolved into a producer of pure drugs and essential oils. They were known for their sandalwood and clove oil.

A. Boake, Roberts & Co.

Arthur Boake, an Irishman, founded his company in 1869 for the production of brewing chemicals. Boake ran it, as sole owner, until 1888 when a partner was taken into the business. In time the company began to manufacture flavoring essences and to distill essential oils. This evolved into the manufacturing of perfume and flavor chemicals. In 1935, for example, the company published the second edition of "A Handbook for Ice Cream Makers."

Through various business arrangements, A. Boake, Roberts & Co achieved a global reach.

Bush Boake Allen

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Photo of Bush Boake Allen plant, Liston, 1996

Bush Boake Allen plant at Liston, Englnd, in 1996.

In 1966, Stafford Allen & Sons, W.J. Bush & Co., and A. Boake, Roberts & Co. combined their businesses to form Bush Boake Allen. By the year 2000, sales for the new company had reached the $470 million mark.

IFF (International Flavors & Fragrance, Inc.)

In 2000, IFF purchased Bush Boake Allen for $970 million.

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Comments On This Article
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  • Wendy, 06/18/2019. Thanks for getting in touch.
    Not sure of the make of the car. My great grandfather is the chauffeur, Alfred Lake. Boake Roberts is in the background. I think it was taken down Carpenter’s Lane in Stratford.

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  • Wendy Hammond, 06/18/2019. My grandfather was a chauffeur for Boake Roberts in Stratford East London. I have a great pic of him outside the company with the company car circa 1930s.
    -- end --

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  • Fiona Bower, 03/18/2019. My Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather were the Boake's in Boake Roberts.

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  • Fiona Bower, 03/18/2019. My mother had a selection of her Grandfather's flavourings that we used at home in the 1970's. Nothing modern has matched the wonderful flavours he created.

    I do hope the original formulas and preparation notes have been saved.

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  • Neil Dunbar, 03/15/2019. Hello, I write to express my gratitude and thanks for publishing the two photographs of the W J Bush employees titled company outing.
    I worked at the Ash Grove works in my apprentice years from 67 to 71. I learned much of flavours in my time there. I have for many years sought to find a photograph of the Ash Grove works and I was over joyed to find your photographs.
    I don't recognise any of the people but I knew people from Wj Bush, Boake Roberts & Stafford Allen and I have such wonderful memories of them.
    Thank you so very much for sharing these pictures.

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  • Geoff Richards, 03/15/2019. My father George Edward Richards worked for WJ Bush & Co in the 50's and 60's. He managed a new factory in Nellicuppam (South India)where our family lived from 1956-1962.

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  • Ronnie Ross, 03/15/2019. Hi, just aquired a boxed set of six bottles of essences labelled with Bush & co, ltd, ash grove, hackney, London. Any idea of age please. Thanks

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  • Stephen Smith, 03/16/2018. My Father David E. Smith had the Western Canadian sales agency from 1949-1989. Since passed in 2015.

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  • John Rogers, 03/16/2018. My farther inlaw worked at the Letchworth plant in the war years. He was not conscripted 39/45. Why? What did the plant make?

    -- Good question. Beer? Or likely some war time essential. Thanks for the input. -- Phil

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  • Joy, 01/06/2014.
    My grandfather Montgomery st. Alphonse was the president of wj bush & sons factory in Montreal Canada
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Philip Goutell
Lightyears, Inc.