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People of the Village

Frederick Gibson GARTON

& HP Sauce

by John GARTON


‘The True Story of HP Sauce… That’s the title of a new book – but the Nottingham man who produced the original recipe hardly gets a mention.’


‘Here Mr Garton’s son John reveals the fascinating story of his father to Andy Bucklow….’



Man at the sauce of a recipe

For years Mr John Garton has lived with the knowledge that his father never received the credit he deserved for devising the original recipes for the legendery HP and Daddies Sauces.

Mr Garton who is 75 and lives with his wife at East Bridgford was content to let the matter fade into history – until actor Dinsdale Landen and his actress wife Jennifer Daniel decided to venture into prose to “uncover the real story.”

Their version of events does no justice Frederick Gibson Garton who, whatever tales you wish to believe, was the undisputed brains behind the stuff we pour over our eggs and bacon each moring.


“Everybody in Nottingham knew he invented HP Sauce. But the old man wouldn’t speak about it with anyone because it had gone to the Midland Vinegar Company.” said Mr Garton, who was even nicknamed  ‘HP’ during his days at Nottinghan High School.

“As far as I was concerned, it was history and that was the end of it. But now I think the record should be put straight.”

In the book, Mr Landen and Miss Daniel recount how the owner of the Midland Vinegar Company, a Mr  Edward







From an article appearing in the Nottingham ‘Evening Post’ on Wednesday, January 15, 1986.




Attached to the basket cart was a board, bearing in clumsily painted letters, the magic words ‘Garton’s HP Sauce.’

Mr Garton called the sauce HP because he had heard that his product had been used in the Houses of Parliament.

The book continues: Samson’s excitement knew no bounds. The Houses of Parliament! What more appropppriate symbol could be found for a sauce of national appeal? Within minutes, Mr Garton’s debt had been cancelled and £150 paid for the name and recipe of his sauce.

The jubilant Moores departed for Aston where a week later the little basket cart also arrived.

Mr garton himself leaves our story. Did he, one wonders, regret lacking the means to exploit  the own potential of his sauce.

Or did he perhaps, bask in the self-reflected glory on seeing his own name prominently displayed on the soon-to-be-famous bottles?

If the authors had taken the trouble to consult Mr John Garton of East Bridgford then they might  have found out.

And the copy of that historic original 1899 agreement obtained by the Evening Post  shows that the Moores certainly did Mr Garton no favours.

Samson Moore, “launched” HP Sauce on the world.

In 1899, Mr Garton owed money to Mr Moore and his Midland Vinegar Company.

Samson and Eddie Moore, on a quest for a sauce, decided to pay Mr Garton’s Arkwright Street shop a call. There then followed a “meeting” in the back room.

The book says: Entering the store they were met by a shamefaced Mr Garton. But Samson was no ogre and tactfully suggested that they talked in the back of the shop away from any curious customers.

Mrs Garton was bidden to mind the shop and the Moores were ushered to the rear of the building. Here, in a washhouse cooper, a sauce was brewing, a sauce that smelled uncommonly good. It promised to fulfil Mrs Beeton’s dictum that a sauce should not be ‘too piquant on the one hand, or too mawkish on the other.’

Small Basket

Suddenly Samson’s attention was caught by a small basket cart standing lopsidedly in the yard. In a blinding moment of revelation he knew that his quest was at an end.

-  2  -


John Garton Junior


“It was always a mystery to the family as to why the old man got rid of the HP Sauce.” said Mr John Garton.


“The subject of HP Sauce was forbidden at home. The old man would never have a bottle in the house.


“But during my schooldays I was referred  to as ‘HP’ far more often than my own name. Almost everybody in Nottingham seemed to know about my father and HP and Daddies Favourite Sauces.


“But at home the subject was absolutely forbidden . ‘Why was HP Sauce sold?’ I asked many times – only to incur my father’s wrath.


“The only conclusion I finally came to was that my father must have dined and wined too well one day and sold out . If HP Sauce was ever mentioned he seemed very upset.


“But we now know that Moore came along with the intention of robbing the old man of HP sauce and did so.”


The secret ingredients of the original HP were written by Mr Garton in his 1894 The Grocer Diary.


They included garlic, shallots, ground mace, tomato puree, cayenne pepper, ground ginder, raisns, flour, salt – as well as vinegar.


“My father was slow with his payments for the vinegar he needed to make HP Sauce and because of this he was forced to sell not only his sauces, but also his name.


“He was a kind, proud gentleman. Obviously no match for Samson Moore.


“Mr Garton cites as evidence the 1899 document his father had to sign which transferred his business and which also deprived him of any rights to carry on any trade connected with sauces and chutney.

 Along with HP Sauce and Daddies Favourite went other less famous brand names such as Nottingham Relish, Sandon Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce (although not the original), Banquet Sauce, Yorkshire Sauce and Garton’s Co’s Indian Chutney.








Beck and call


“He was at their beck and call,” said Mr garton junior. “He had to go over to teach them how to make it and his expenses were limited to no more than £1 a day.”


From the date of that agreement on May 25, 1899 – the HP success story gathered pace. And Mr Garton concedes that the Midland Vinegar Company did a brilliant job in promoting the product.


Afterwards his father initially struggled, but eventually made a new name for himself in the provision trade dealing chiefly in Stilton cheese before he died, aged 80, in 1942.


The sauce, now under the giant umbrella of Imperial Foods, is famous not only in Britain, but in many countries throughout the world.


“My father could never have marketed HP like the Midland Vinegar Company did. They built it up to what it is today and I still eat it myself.


“But to insult the old man who invented it….......”


Mr Garton wrote to the authors Landen and Daniel, sending them a copy of the original 1899 agreement. He received an acknowledgement from the publishers, but had no reply from the authors.


But now. More than 85 years after he gave up the secrets behind what was to become a legend, Frederick Gibson Garton’s part in events has at least been placed on record. And that is all Mr Garton Junior wanted.


(Article, graphics and photographs are the 

Copyright of the Northcliffe Newspapers Group)










1851 Census: Normanton-on-Soar, Nottinghamshire

1861 Census: Private House, Costock, Nottinghamshire



1871 Census: Nottingham Road,, New Basford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire



1881 Census:  ‘Royal Oak’, 51 Nottingham Road,, New Basford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire


1891 Census:  47 & 49 Sandon Street, New Basford, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire


1901 Census:  2 Musters Road, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire

1902 C.N.Wright's Directory of the City of Nottingham

Garton Frederick Gibson, grocer & provision merchant;

236-8 Arkwright street; h. 2 Musters road, W.B.


1920 Wrights Directory of Nottingham and Neigbourhood

Garton F. G. provision merchant's agent, Moot Hall chambers, Wheeler Gate

Garton Fred Gibson, grocer, 236 Arkwright street (T.N.1348); h. 27 Millicent road, W.B.


Photographs of  Garton's HP Sauce & Pickle Factory


Article & photographs supplied by David Meredith 2006


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