Bancroft Confectioners of Halifax

Walter Bancroft and his delivery van - circa 1903

There seems to have been a tradition of Confectionery and Sweet manufacturing in Halifax, Yorkshire in which several Bancrofts were involved.

 The picture at the top shows Walter Bancroft who was born circa 1880 at Halowfield  in Ovenden near Halifax, and who became a wholesale confectioner from premises in Victoria Road Halifax..He was  the son of Fred and Hannah Bancroft, and his father Fred, was listed as a 'Piece Warehouseman" at the time of Walter's birth. Walter married his wife Clara in 1898, but little else is know about how he came into the confectionery trade

A more prominent family in this trade originates from James Bancroft, who was born much earlier around 1815, the son of Anthony and Hannah Bancroft of Ovenden. Anthony was originally a weaver from Warley, later becoming a woodturner.

On the 1841 census, James was listed as a 'Damask Weaver' living at Cavalry Field, Halifax with his wife Ann, and two year old daughter Charlotte, but by the time of the next census in 1851, James and Ann now had four children and had moved to 39 Gibbet Street in Halifax, and had now moved into the confectionery trade because he was now described as a 'Master Confectioner', employing one man' 

The business continued for another 30 years and by 1881 he was now living at 66 King Cross Street with wife Ann, and his occupation was then described as 'Confectioner of Sweets'.

James died on 19th June 1886, and his will [proved on 17th July 1888] bequeathed the sweet business to his wife Ann.The burial register lists his occupation as 'Spice Manufacturer'....'spice' being the local name given to describe sweets. At that time they were still living at King Cross Street. The solicitors of the will were Longbottoms of Halifax, and the executors were his two nephews, William Henry and Frederick Bancroft, who were brush manufacturers in the town.[see my earlier article on their background by clicking here].His wife Ann died two years later on 27th May 1888, and both were buried in the family grave at Lister Lane Cemetery at Halifax.

 His eldest living son Charles, had also gone into the same trade, and he was also described as a 'Confectioner' in the same year, having  married Fanny Walsh in 1865 and by then having had 6 children. At that time the family were living at 1 New Bond Street, Halifax. Charles made toffee and sweets in his basement, and he had a reputation of liking a drink or two, so it was a good job that when Charles took his sweets to market on a horse drawn cart, the horse knew the way home, because Charles had by then, often drunk what he had earned. He died in 1888, when the youngest son Percy was only 12 years old, and his four older sisters did not want to run the business so it was sold to a Mr and Mrs Mackintosh.

The Mackintoshes had a shop in King Cross Lane, which they opened in 1890. John Mackintosh met his future wife Violet Taylor at Queens Road Methodist Church, and he paid for Violet to be apprenticed to a confectionery business. The Bancrofts had their business nearby, so it seems quite likely that this is where she went to learn her skill. She then opened a little shop , and the business went so well that John left his factory job in April 1891 and went full time into the shop. Shortly after this they went into the wholesale sweet business and then things really started to take off. The Mackintosh business went from strength to strength, and eventually merged with Rowntrees of Yorks in 1997.


Mackintoshes first shop on King Cross St

Charles Bancroft's brother Arthur, was also a Master Confectioner in Halifax, who later moved to Hull, where he founded a business called AC Bancroft & Sons, Confectioners. The business was past down through two further generations before finally being sold.

Interestingly, going back to the town of Halifax there are records of a shop with the name 'Bancroft Confectioners' being run at the Arcade Royal, and Southgate in 1936 by a Miss Hilda Jackson, who was born in 1902 and was the unmarried daughter of Arthur William Jackson and Susan Bancroft.

Arcade Royal-Halifax
I am grateful to Malcom Bull, and his Calderdale Companion site for some of the information in this article.

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