How founder thrived after tough early years

Bingham's founder Charles Bingham.
Bingham's founder Charles Bingham.
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Binghams Foods founder Charles Bingham had a tough start to his life

Born in Heeley in 1893, he and his brother Walter were orphaned when Charles was seven. The brothers later set up a business delivering yeast to bakers and meat products by bicycle.

Bingham's vans outside Autoways.

Bingham's vans outside Autoways.

Binghams was officially founded in 1914, but having a new business didn’t prevent Charles being sent to war, serving with the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

Despite that, Binghams thrived and could later lay claim to being one of the first Sheffield firm’s to have a motor vehicle.

By the 1930s, the company boasted a fleet of vans and had got out of the yeast business to concentrate entirely on potted meat and spreads.

Binghams moved onto the Western Road site in Crookes that it still occupies today back in the 1930s, adding fish to its range with a salmon spread at about the same time. Almost 60 years ago, business had grown sufficiently to warrant building an extension, at a cost of £1,488.50 in modern money.

Charles Bingham continued running the business for another 15 years, selling it, at the age of 76 to Melton Mowbray-based Samworth Brothers, the owners of pork pie manufacturer Parrs and Nottingham pie makers Pork Farms. The deal was completed three years after Charles Bingham’s wife, Beatrice, had died and just two years before Charles himself was to die.

When Pork Farms was acquired by Northern Foods in 1982, Binghams was included in the deal and, within four years the group had appointed Peter Moon, then in his 20s, as the company’s general manager.

Mr Moon left Binghams in 1989, after three years with the firm, and went on from Northern Foods to work for a number of other big food manufacturers – including Unigate, St Ivel and Premier Fresh Foods – before becoming an independent consultant. However, he never forgot Binghams.

“I had been looking for a business to buy – that had always been my dream,” he recalls. “Then, I came here, more for sentimental reasons, in 2006 and found there were still people here who had worked for the business in my time. As I left, I told them that if the business was ever put up for sale they should let me know.”

In 2007, that is just what happened. Pork Farms had been acquired by investment group Vision Capital and was looking to dispose of Binghams. By the end of the year, Peter and his wife, Stella, had bought the business and Binghams was back in family ownership.

“We feel as though we are custodians of the brand – and we are aware that that concept is not lost on the former employees who come back to visit us,” says Mr Moon.

“We are entrusted with the brand and have to build on all the good work that has been done before to produce a high quality, consistent product – and maintain employment in Crookes.”