Nostalgia: Shippams – it all started with sausages

Promotional box of Shippam's Chicken Supreme'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

Promotional box of Shippam's Chicken Supreme'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

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Shippam’s of Chichester became internationally famous for its potted meat and fish spreads, developed at the end of 
the 19th century, but before that – and well into the 20th century – Shippam’s was in fact best known for its sausages.

The Shippam’s ‘sausage season’ was established in the 1830s and, throughout the 19th century, Shippam’s sausages were supplied to individual and trade customers up and down the country, and also on foreign shores.

Still from Shippam's 'Guide to Opera' advert'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

Still from Shippam's 'Guide to Opera' advert'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

Shippam’s produced a number of decorative brochures advertising its range of products and prices for each of its ‘sausage seasons’, a large number of which survive and can be found in the company’s archive at West Sussex Record Office.

The archive also contains some wonderful testimonials from a number of satisfied customers – although it would seem that some people found they preferred the taste of the rival Wall’s sausages; I guess there’s no accounting for taste!

Shippam’s move into the preserved goods market – supplying products such as galantines of wild boar’s head, tinned pies, soups, jugged hares, a range of Indian curries and, of course, its renowned potted meat and fish pastes – saw the business expand rapidly throughout the 20th century, bringing international fame and repute to the Chichester firm.

But it was not until 1970, after some 140 years, that Shippam’s finally ceased production of its once-celebrated sausages, so that it could focus on new 
product lines, including a range of tinned ready meals such as the chicken supreme, which had successfully launched in 1961.

The Sausage Department at Shippam's factory at East Walls, Chichester'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

The Sausage Department at Shippam's factory at East Walls, Chichester'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

I’m sure many Observer readers will remember Shippam’s sausages – not least those who worked on the busy production line – but I wonder if the flavours of the 1950s and 1960s were quite so exotic as those of the 1800s, when customers could enjoy such epicurean delights as the tomato sausage, the Cambridge sausage, the garlic sausage, curried sausages or the famous and popular ‘celebrated Chichester sausage’?

Shippam’s was one of Chichester’s – and the county’s – most important and popular businesses, employing thousands of people locally, and often several generations of the same families.

The company has a long and fascinating history, much of which will be revealed at a special event to be held at West Sussex Record Office on Tuesday, June 20 at 6.30pm.

Based on the company’s archives, The Story of Shippam’s will be told by searchroom archivist Nichola Court, and the evening 
will provide people with the chance to sample and enjoy the firm’s famous pastes, which are now manufactured by Prince’s, at its state-of-the-art factory in Terminus Road, Chichester.

Box of Shippam's Chichester sausages'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

Box of Shippam's Chichester sausages'(Images from West Sussex Records Office)

The evening will also feature a number of Shippam’s famous and innovative adverts from the 1950s and 1960s, including the fondly-remembered Shippam’s Guide to Opera.

To book tickets or for further information, please contact the Record Office by telephone (01243 753602) or e-mail records.office@westsussex.gov.uk, or visit the Record Office in person at 
3 Orchard Street, Chichester.

Former Shippams building at East Walls

Former Shippams building at East Walls