Gawith Hoggarth & Co
Gawith Hoggarth & Co has been operating since 1887 and 5 generations later is still a traditional family company with the same core values. Now run by Chris Gawith, supported by sister Rachel and with their mother being the major shareholder, you can read about the history of the company below.
The start of the Gawith family tobacco business and its association with Kendal starts with a man called Thomas Harrison, who will have been the Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather of Chris and Rachel. He became interested in the tobacco trade back in 1792 and he went to Glasgow, Scotland, to learn the trade, returning with some second hand mill machinery to grind tobacco. In 1805 he set up a tobacco manufacturer with a chemist called Thomas Brocklebank in Kendal. Following his death his son of the same name took over and in around 1830 the family bought the premises at Lowther Street as a family home and factory. He had two daughters and Jane married Samuel Gawith. Following her father's death, Jane and her family moved into Lowther Street to work in the family trade. When Mr Brocklebank died and Jane's sister Ann died, Samuel Gawith became the sole owner of the company.
Jane Gawith died in 1864 and the following year Samuel Gawith (I) died leaving 6 children. The oldest child, Samuel (II) was 22 at the time and already working in the business. The middle son, John Edward, was also working for the company.
The company was left to three trustees - Samuel Gawith (II), Henry Hoggarth, who was a friend of the senior Samuel Gawith and lived next door at number 29 Lowther Street and John Illingworth, who was a travelling sales representative for the company. In 1867, John Illingworth left to start his own tobacco firm, also in Kendal.
In reality the business was run by Samuel Gawith (II) and his brother, John Edward. The younger Gawith brother, William Henry and Henry Hoggarth's son (Henry Jr) also started to work for the firm in around 1870 after leaving school. The Gawith family lived at number 27 Lowther Street and the Hoggarth's next door. The partnership thrived for over 10 years but in 1878, the two brothers decided to carve up the business and Samuel Gawith (II) took over the snuff mill at Meal Bank and the snuff machinery becoming a snuff manufacturer going on to build and found Kendal Brown House, with John Edward retaining the shop and tobacco business at Lowther Street.
John Edward at first concentrated on producing Twist tobacco but soon decided to also produce snuff, acquiring a mill just south of Kendal. But this business expansion proved too much and his went bankrupt several years later with the business goodwill, trademarks and recipes being bought back by Samuel Gawith (II).
In the meantime, the youngest Gawith son had been working as an apprentice in the tobacco firm, as had his friend from next door, Henry Hoggarth junior. It is likely that following the split of the two older brothers, William Henry along with Henry Hoggarth jr continued to work for John Edward Gawith until the collapse of that business, as William lived at the Lowther Street premises with his older brother and Henry next door. But once Samuel Gawith (II) bought back the business side of the failed tobacco firm, the two men started to work for Samuel Gawith Company.
But this did not last long and in 1887, William Henry Gawith and Henry Hoggarth took over the tobacco manufacturing business of Nobel and Wilson, a small time tobacconists with a snuff grinding mill at Natland Mill Beck on the edge of Kendal and a factory in the Woolpack Yard in the centre of Kendal. Within a year the Gawith & Hoggarth company had leased a mill just a short distance a way at Helsington Laithes and moved the machinery from Natland Mill Beck and some from Lowther Street there.
In 1890 William Henry married his partner's sister, Harriet Hoggarth and they moved to Belmont Terrace in Kendal. But just two years later, John Edward died, leaving 27 Lowther Street un-occupied and with William becoming the main owner of the property. The Gawith Hoggarth partnership had outgrown its premises in the Woolpack Yard and thus moved the factory and offices into 27 Lowther Street.
Just 2 years later, at the age of 39, William died leaving a daughter, Constance Ada and a son, Samuel Henry (IV) who was only 4 years old. In 1905 Samuel Henry left school at 14 and entered the family firm.
In 1923 the partnership was incorporated and became a limited liability company with Samuel Henry Gawith (IV) and Henry Hoggarth Jr being the two directors. Henry Hoggarth Jr had also married and had three sons and two of these, Charles and Frank, also started to work at the company. In 1928 Henry Hoggarth Jr died and a few months later, Samuel Henry was appointed company chairman and managing director with both Charles and Frank Hoggarth also taking up roles as directors.
Samuel Henry Gawith (IV) married Emily Ruth Nelson in 1917, living at 'Runswick' in Kentrigg, a valley just outside of Kendal and they had 4 children – Nancy, Donald, Geoffrey and Alan. It was the second son, Geoffrey that entered the family business at the age of 16 in 1938. In 1946 Geoffrey married Margaret Theressa Hodgson and they had 3 children – Alan, John and Helen.
In 1941 Geoffrey joined the RAF as a pilot and was honoured with the Dutch Flying Cross. After the war in 1946, he became a director of the firm. Frank Hoggarth also carried out war time military service.
Samuel Henry Gawith (IV) retired in 1958, although remained on the board of directors. Charles Hoggarth became a managing director and was joined by Geoffrey in 1959. Frank Hoggarth retired in 1965. Following the death of his father, Samuel Gawith (IV) in 1966, Geoffrey was elected to succeed as chairman.
In 1969 Charles Hoggarth suffered a serious car accident and was unable to return to work full time. Geoffrey was made sole managing director and his wife, Margaret, also became a director. In 1971 John Ruthven Gawith, son of Geoffrey was appointed a management trainee, as was Charles Hoggarth's son, David. In 1973 Charles Hoggarth retired fully.
In 1977 John Gawith was appointed manager and at the age of 28 in 1978, he became director and a board member, along with his parents. In 1979 David C Hoggarth resigned and he and his father sold their shares in the company to Geoffrey Gawith and his son John. In 1981, John's wife, Irene became a director and in 1989 both Geoffrey and Margaret (Margo) stepped down as directors. Geoffrey died in 2001. Margo remained a shareholder until her death in 2017.
John and Irene, had 2 children, Rachel and Christopher. John Gawith continued to run the company until his early death in 2014. There then followed an adjustment period, whereby a board of directors were set up and in 2018 Chris Gawith returned to take over the day to day running of the business, supported by his sister Rachel, who became more involved in 2020. Irene Gawith remains the major shareholder. The family continue to run Gawith Hoggarth & Co Ltd.