The way we were: Keen as mustard


You greedy, furry pig. Such was my outraged admonishment to Herbie, the pooch, who having made a lightning lunge beneath the table snatched the piece of choice sausage, which had inadvertently skidded off my dinner plate, and made an equally lightning retreat back to his lair, where no human dares venture.

But I’ll fix him; with a tempting morsel liberally coated with mustard. Yep, that’ll learm ’im. And not any old mustard but Taylors mustard of course, sadly of no family connection.

It was in 1825 that William Taylor began in business next to the old fire station in the High Street, Newport Pagnell, moving a few years later to premises across the road in the High Street.

There he continued as a chemist, druggist and soda water manufacturer and in 1830 from a secret recipe he developed the first ready prepared English mustard. This was made in a factory in Union Street and 1863 he passed his business to his sons Thomas and Frederick James Taylor, trading as ‘T. & FJ Taylor’.From Matthew Featgherstonehaugh, a woolstapler, in 1876 Frederick purchased workshops and premises in Silver Street and on the land in 1877 built Lovat Bank, with Edward Swinfen Harris as the architect. At his own expense he had the street widened to remove a dangerous corner and at the palatial house he would live with his mother, Catherine, and his three sisters Emma, Clara and Fanny.

They were all chemists while, as for Frederick, he retired from active business 10 years later. Apart from the manufacture of soda water and mustard the family would also achieve military renown, for in June 1917 news arrived that as a captain in the 13th Manchesters one of the sons had been awarded the MC. This was for having lead his men with great dash, coolness and courage during heavy fighting in Salonica on April 24, when British troops stormed and captured Bulgar trenches. In fact, a height captured by his company would be named Taylor’s Hill. As for the factory in Newport Pagnell, this closed in 1990.

However, the product is still manufactured elsewhere to the original recipe, to the potency of which one greedy hound is about to testify.