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24 September 2014

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making tea

PG Tips: A Manchester brew

The chimps' tea of choice is 75 years old. PG Tips is still made here in Manchester and workers at the Brooke Bond plant in Trafford Park celebrated their proud history. A look back at 75 years of the nation's favourite cuppa...

It all started way back in 1869 when tea dealer, Arthur Brooke of Ashton-under-Lyne opened his first shop in a prime location at 29 Market Street, Manchester selling tea, coffee and sugar.

Arthur Brooke
Founder: Arthur Brooke

Above the doors of the shop the words read 'Brooke, Bond and Company'. There was no Mr. Bond but Arthur Brooke liked the sound of it and the name has stayed ever since.

One of Arthur Brooke's early slogans read:- "Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, opens the heart, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse."

Brooke Bond and Co. continued to prosper after Arthur's death in 1918. But it wasn't until 1930, that PG Tips first appeared on our shelves,  first sold as loose tea.

The teabag was invented in 1908 when American Tea importer, Thomas Sullivan sent out samples of tea in tiny silk bags.  Not knowing what to do with them, his customers put them in tea pots and added boiling water.

"Good tea unites good company, exhilarates the spirits, banishes restraint from conversation and promotes the happiest purposes of social intercourse"
Arthur Brooke

PG Tips derives from the name 'Pre-Gestee' tea - a variant of the original name 'Digestive Tea' (tea was thought to have digestive properties). Salesmen thought this long-winded and shortened it to PG Tips.

The Tips refers to the top two tips of the bud of the tea plant which are used in the blend.

The Chimps: PG Tips' chimps advert was the second TV ad ever aired. It started in 1956 and ran for almost 50 years.

The PG Tips chimps are in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest running ad campaign ever. Favourites include Mr Shifter ('Do you know the piano's on my toe, dad?') and the Tour de France ('Avez vous un cuppa?')

PG Tips chimp
Can you ride tandem?

The chimps retired in 2002 and are now living in Wycross Zoo in Leicestershire.

The latest PG Tips ad campaign was created by three times Academy Award winning Aardman who also created the blockbusting Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run animations. The sitcom ads star four plasticine animated birds, the T-Birds.

Tea is the nation's favourite drink: we drink 150 million cups a day - 35 milllion of which are PG Tips. Cattia Waters, brand manager at the Brooke Bond plant says: "Tea really is at the heart of the British nation. People absolutely love it." Listen to the live interview on BBC GMR. [audio link under 'See Also]

Celebrations began at the Brooke Bond factory on Tuesday 01 March. They include the making of a the world's most expensive teabag: Commissioned by jewellers Boodles, it's encrusted with 280 diamonds - 100 inside, 100 outside and 80 on the string.

It will be on display in Boodles on King Street from 15 March before being raffled to raise cash for the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, the charity chosen by workers at PG Tips in Trafford Park.

last updated: 08/03/05
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