Working at Wrights
How Flour is Made
Being on the edge of London, the mill was constantly under threat of attack and fire watching, nipping into the air raid shelter was the order of the day. We were fortunate enough to miss any direct hits and production continued seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
Originally, records date back to 1086 confirming there was a mill on this historic site. Until the eighteenth century, the mill was known as Flanders Mill. The name was changed to Enfield Mill and then again in 1850 to Ponders End Mill.
The founder, George Reynolds Wright, from where the firm takes its name, was born in 1842.
A new quality control laboratory and test bakery was built in 1995 to ensure consistently dependable flour.
Early records date back to confirm two breast water wheels provided the power to drive seven pairs of millstones at Ponders End Mills.
In 1899, a farm was acquired near Hitchin, this was occupied by Mr. Leonard Wright and at this farm in 1900, Mr. George William Wright was born.
At the turn of the century, the millstones (except for those kept to grind the Company’s speciality flour, Imperial Wholemeal) were dispensed with and a continental roller mill system installed.
The Company purchased its first steam wagon on 31st August 1906, for a sum of £496. The steam wagon was capable of carrying heavier loads than the horse-drawn wagon and often drew a trailer.
In 1909 the water power from the River Lee which for so long had driven the millstones, was withdrawn for the purpose of supplying the reservoir and the Company decided to turn over to a new source of power – electricity – and was one of the first local concerns to do so. It was recorded that the actual changeover from water and steam power to electric power took exactly one day!
During the first World War, all mills were under Governmental control and a time of cut throat competition began. Wright's stood four-square and kept going as a family concern. The Directors’ faith was shown at that time by the erection of a new 90ft high silo in 1920 which, for a long time was the tallest building in the Enfield District.
After the war, the plant was hopelessly out of date and wearing out, having worked night and day for more than five years. The plant was remodelled in April 1950. The capacity of the new plant was 50% higher than the old one and produced over twelve 280lb sacks per hour.
May 1963 Kenneth Wright became Managing Director of G.R. Wright & Sons Ltd. Over the 30 years in which Kenneth Wright ran the business he, and his team transformed it into the modern food factory capable of manufacturing a thousand tonnes of flour a week.
In July 1996 David Wright collected an award from the Home Grown Cereals Authority for using English wheats. The award was given at the Royal Agricultural Show where Wright’s exhibited that year.
In November 1997, during National Bread Making week, Celebrity Chef Ainsley Harriott spent the day at the mill.
In February 1998 the company was recognised as an Investor in People for effective investment in the development it its employees through training and communications.
Wright’s new warehouse was completed in November 2000 and opened by cricketer, Nasser Hussain.
Wright’s were awarded the CMi accreditation to BRC Technical Standard at higher level.
In March of 2004, three cake mixes were launched, Madeira, Carrot and Ginger.
Wright’s won The London Business Awards for Manufacturer of the Year.
Wright’s longest serving member of staff retired at the end of December 2004, Derek Anderson had been with the company for 50 years.
In May 2005, Wright’s scooped up another award! The UK Trade & Investment Passport to Export Award in the category of Entering New Markets.
Wright’s first recipe book was launched – a compendium of 10 years of recipes for use with Wright’s flour, bread and cake mixes.
Battle of Hastings
Excerpts from the Domesday Book in regard to Enfield Mill at the time.
Gold Star advertised on Asian TV channels Zee TV and Star TV.
Watch the ads's online here
HGCA Enterprise Award was won and a new IVA packing line was installed at the mill.
Additional flour storage and bulk flour outloading facility was installed at the mill.
In March 2004, three cake mixes were launched; Madeira, Carrot and Ginger. These were the only type on the market requiring water and oil using whole dried egg. ‘B’ mill was remodelled – the project was carried out by Satake.
Further to the loss of their driver of 33 year’s service Danny Nelson, Wright’s staff, customers, families and friends took to the River Lea for a sponsored walk during the late summer, raising £15,000 for Isobel Hospice.
Wright's won the UK Trade & Investment’s Passport to Export Award in the category of Entering New Markets.
2007 marked the 140th year of trading for the company.
Wright’s were filmed along side Chef, Oliver Rowe who will only source food supplies within the area covered by the London Underground. Wright's also appeared on The Great British Menu programme. Chef, Stuart Gillies wanted to create his signature starter of Pea and Leek Tarts with Glazed Asparagus. The judges were very impressed with the crisp, golden pastry created from Wright’s Sungold Pastry Flour product.
We recruited a full time Food Safety Manager.
Wright’s introduced a range of “artisan” products under a dual branding arrangement with celebrity chef and Judge of Britain’s Best Bakery, Peter Sidwell. Their Reliability Centred Maintenance programme was launched. Involvement of the 6th generation of George, James and Daisy Wright entered the business.
On approach to the Olympic Games in London during 2012, Wright’s found themselves employing over 85 people, many of which have worked at the mill all their life, some in excess of 40 years. G.R. Wright & Sons Ltd is a "people" company reflected in its impeccable after sales and high level of customer service.
Alan Carter retired from the mill in 2001 following 35 years’ loyal service.
Pam Naylor retires from the mill as Office Manager after 31 years’ service.
Tom Field retired after 37 years service with the mill.
Ken Carter, miller of 42 years’ service retired from the mill at the end of February.
We were one of the first mills to obtain BS 5750 accreditation from the British Standards institute, recognised worldwide as a measure of in‐depth commitment to quality.
In 1957 with the expansion of trade, the question of storage accommodation became acute and a new pre‐cast concrete silo with space for some 800 tonnes of wheat was erected on the riverside – the total storage capacity of the mill at that time was bought up to 1,400 tonnes.
During August 1969, one of the old silo’s dating back to 1925 was burnt down by fire. The fire was noticed by passers‐by who woke Mr. Wright at the Mill House. Sixteen fire engines were soon in attendance and production was resumed in a week.
Wright's have been featured on TV a number of times over the years, here are some clips.
Wright's on TV
In January 2013 plans were announced to commence the building of the new mixing and packing facility on the land purchased at Delta Park, in Millmarsh Lane. The activities of the new facility on the Delta Park site remains as a division of the company but operates under the Wright’s Bakery Ingredients brand. Delta Park opened for business in April 2014 to ensure future sales growth in both retail and trade mixes.
Chris Wyle, Technical Director from 1981 stepped down at the end of 2007. Chris was responsible for the development of the various bread mixes – Scofa in 1991. Sunflower (our first yeasted bread mix) 1992 and the rest have followed since. The cakes were launched in March 2004 with Chocolate Fudge and Toffee following. All the cakes and most of the bread mixes are suitable for use in bread making machines. Chris can often be seen on Wright’s exhibition stands as he still continues to assist with the shows.
Lesley Morris, Wright’s Financial Director for 35 years retired in June 2014. Lesley played a vital role in the company’s development over this time and is greatly missed. However, we were lucky to find Lottie Kaye who now takes the financial reins, bringing many strengths to the role. Lesley continues as a non-executive director of the company for another year. Lesley is pictured here with the award given to Wright’s a few years ago at The Evening Standard's London Business Awards which Wright’s won as Manufacturer of the Year.
Our Silo Man, Vic Prior was the first contact for any wheat coming in to the mill. Vic started working at the mill in 1978 – he was never late for work once and retired in 2009.