Where it all began
Henderson’s Relish, commonly known as “Hendo’s” or “The black stuff”, has been a must have ingredient in Yorkshire households for over 130 years. The iconic brand has a long history. Henry Henderson first concocted this uniquely flavoured liquor back in 1885 at his home on Broad Street Sheffield.
Production of the relish carried on for over 100 years at the famous Leavygreave Road factory in the city centre of Sheffield, not far from where Henry Henderson lived. The company has changed hands over the years, Henry Henderson only owned the company for around 30 years and after frequent attempts to sell, Shawes Pickle Makers of Huddersfield purchased the company in 1910. Coincidently, the company was again sold 30 years later in 1940 to Mr Hinksman who formed the present day company Hendersons (Sheffield) Limited. The company has been owned by the Hinksman/Freeman family since then. Much has changed since they first acquired the company back in 1940 and production has recently moved to a state of the art factory at 2a Parkway Rise Sheffield, yet to this day the secret recipe is only known by a select few family members. The vital ingredients that make the unique flavour of Henderson’s Relish are said to include: Tamarinds, Cayenne Peppers, Vinegar, Garlic, Cloves and…
It is the “and” ingredients along with the quantities that remain secret, however, it’s unlikely that anyone with half a brain would even try to replicate the flavour; you just cannot improve such a perfect blend!
Us Yorkshire folk are happy enough to just get a bottle from the shop, having a spare in the cupboard is always a good idea though. There’s nothing worse than sitting down at the table to enjoy a traditional meat ‘n potato pie only to find that the Hendo’s is in short supply.
Even with the longevity of production and the unquestionable popularity of Henderson’s Relish, although it does have a fan base which includes a diverse range of celebrities, it would still seem that it’s a Yorkshire thing, particularly a Sheffield thing!
Back in January 2014 during a debate on Intellectual Property a rather naive Labour Party MP accused Henderson’s of “Parasitic Packaging”, claiming that the orange label copied that of the also well know sauce Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.
The controversy all started at the Hare and Billet pub in Blackheath when Jim Dowd was served with a bottle of Henderson’s Relish as an accompaniment to the cottage pie he had ordered, the assistant manager of the pub, a Sheffield lad, who actually served him warned the MP of the consequences of slagging off Hendo’s but he obviously took no notice and raised the issue in parliament.
The backlash on social media, especially from Sheffield folk who are loyal consumers of Henderson’s Relish and also from fellow MPs in the know forced Jim Dowd to show some bottle and come up north to see for himself what Henderson’s Relish is all about.
A new era for the iconic Henderson’s city centre factory
The building that has housed Henderson’s iconic city centre factory for over 100 years was purchased last year by the University of Sheffield and will undergo an extensive transformation. The famous landmark is at the heart of the university’s ever expanding city centre campus and will therefore be a popular venue and meeting point, not only for students and lecturers but also the general public, especially Sheffield folk who have so often savoured the enticing aromas emitted from the factory as they passed by.
Any redevelopment project involving a building with such cultural significance to the local community has to be well thought out to achieve a balance between maintaining as much of the building’s original features and characteristics as possible and at the same time ensuring both the efficiency and functionality of its new use. Whilst some of the university’s previous development projects that have been aimed at further expanding the city centre campus have been somewhat controversial this project is an exception.
When the project was first proposed 17 local companies showed interest in the job, from the original 17 a short list of 4 was drawn up. On the 28th of April the university announced that Sheffield‐based architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson had won the contract due to their creative concept for the project and previous experience in similar developments.
Keith Lilley, Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the university is quoted on the university website saying: “We were really delighted with the high quality approach from all our finalists but the concept that Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson developed just really hit the spot with a great design to incorporate the original house into a stunning modern setting.”
In the same article Mrs Pamela Freeman, Managing Director of Henderson’s is also quoted, she and everyone else involved with the company are said to be excited to see the plans developing.
“Having the chance to be part of this project and see the building that was such an important part of our company’s history preserved and brought into public use is fantastic. We love the ideas that the architects have developed and can’t wait to see the new building take shape.”
The final plans are being prepared to be submitted to the planning department over the coming months, some work has already started on the old Henderson’s building and the surrounding footpaths.
We will be following the progress of this exciting project and look forward to having a drink in the new Henderson’s Pub when it is completed!
We would like to say a special thank you to Patrick Byrne, General Manager of Hendersons Sheffield Limited for allowing us to use some of their archive material for this article.