BOVRIL FACTORY – OLD STREET, LONDON

This is what my dad wrote about my Grandma’s work at Bovrils.

‘My mum left school at 14 years old, and went to work as a cook in the staff canteen at Bovril’s factory and offices in Old Street. The factory was opposite to Henry Street, where she lived. Everyone said my Mum was a great cook. My children used to love going to her house on a Saturday, as she made a superb tea of egg, bacon, beans and chips. Kevin, my son, tells me he has never tasted better fried eggs, and he hated going to her house on a Sunday as Sunday was the day for cucumber Sandwiches rather than a fry up.’

I looked up the factory and discovered that the Bovril factory was set up in 1889 to produce a meat extract from beef. The name came from Bo (bovinus – ox in Latin), and the suffix ‘vril’ came from an early science fiction novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton‘ called the The Coming Race (1870), in which a superior race of the Vril-ya, gain their powers from an electromagnetic substance named “Vril”. Bovril is therefore the super-power given by eating Ox.

Scott, Shackleton and Edmund Hilary’s expeditions were powered by tea made from Bovril. The beef was from Argentina. In 1924 the company introduced ‘Marmite’ and in 1935 Ambrosia Creamed Rice.


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