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West Hallam

Challenge Crisps Of West Hallam

Following the end of the Second World War in 1945 two enterprising business men, Mr. F. Horton and Mr. J. Robinson decided to open a crisp factory on Belper Road, West Hallam. Giving their product the brand name “Challenge Crisps”. At this time many food items which could easily be purchased before the war were now on ration. Potatoes were a product not affected by rationing, with a local grown supply always available so the businessmen had high hopes in starting this new venture. But nature soon dealt a severe blow to the availability of food supplies, especially between December 1946 and January 1947. This period gave us one of the worst winters on record, with heavy snow fall followed by continuous rainfall. By March 1947 severe flooding occurred, resulting in a total failure of all potato and arable crops throughout the country. Just when everyone wanted the weather to change the sun came out producing one of the hottest summers on record, causing farmers, not being able to supply even basic foodstuffs to the public.

By January 1950 things had got better, potato supplies had recovered and the business was thriving. Then on Tuesday 05 December 1950 the Derby Daily Telegraph reports the following -


Frying Equipment Destroyed

Damage estimated at more than £400 was caused by a fire which broke out at the premises of the Challenge Crisp Co. at 34, Belper-road, West Hallam, at 3 a.m. to-day. The tire was discovered when the night staff Miss E. Bailey, Mrs. and Mr. Lewis—heard "crackling- noises" coming from the room where crisps are fried. They found the frying pans ablaze. Mr. F. Horton, who owns the business in partnership with Mr. J. Robinson, was sleeping upstairs with his wife and two children, "When I was awakened I could see nothing at all, for dense clouds of smoke enveloped everything. A big help was the calm way in which my family moved to safety without any panic," Mr. Horton told a "Telegraph" reporter. In a bedroom immediately above the fire a large hole was burned in the floor and furniture was also damaged. The blaze had a firm hold when Ilkeston Fire Brigade arrived under the direction of Divisional Officer D. A. S. Martin, but by 5 a.m. the fire had been put out and damping down operations completed. All the frying equipment and crisp "chipper" were destroyed. Soon it was business as usual as reported in the Derby Evening Telegraph Monday 11 December 1950. An ex-army vehicle was used to deliver the crisps. Later the premises became a chip shop and then a hardware shop owned by Mr Bert Severn.

Newspaper adverts below.



(With thanks to Roger Wood May 2019)

Addition by Ann daughter of Bert and Lydia Severn

Mum and Dad, (Lydia and Bert), bought the premises on 34 Belper Road, West Hallam in 1958, originally it had been a crisp factory. Dad turned it into a Hardware & Ironmongers shop. He also sold timber and paraffin. My sister Josie was married by this time and her husband Des would help Dad in the shop. Dad commonly known as Pop was very popular, very friendly, and a bit of a charmer. The ladies loved him.

He retired in 1971





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