Mill Bay Soap, Plymouth

Mill Bay Soap was an advertiser in many old walking guides and guides to Newquay and Cornwall in the late 1880s. As the railways opened up Newquay and the North Cornish coast, many travel writers wrote books for the newly arriving tourists – and, contained within these walking guides were advertisements.

Most adverts were Newquay companies, but some were from further afield. One prominent advertiser was Mill Bay Soap, West Hoe Road, Plymouth and, later, Millbay Road.
Mill Bay Soap Logo
Local advertising gives us an insight into the products that people were buying at the time and it’s likely that many locals and Newquay hotels were using Mill Bay soap during the 1880s.

One, full page, advert taken out by the Mill Bay Soap in a popular Newquay Guide and Visitors Book of 1884/1885 was the following:
Mill Bay Soap Advert

Captain Frank Tregarthen and his Pig

One story that was told was of Captain Frank, who owned Tregarthen’s Hotel, described as “There was then only one hotel of any pretensions on the Islands, known as ” Tregarthen’s Hotel,” and kept by a Captain Frank Tregarthen.”

The tale is of a practical joke, that ended in tragedy.

” Cappen Frank,” as he was familiarly called, was
known far and wide as a genial, obliging host, as were also
his bevy of pretty daughters for their attention and solici-
tude for the comfort of their visitors. Like a true son of
Scilly, Captain Frank hated waste, and as there was always
plenty of offal knocking about the hotel he kept a pig. It
was one of the lop-eared, long-sided, white varieties, well
known from Waterford to Tipperary for their fattening
qualities, and for the superior brand of bacon they pro-
duce. With a thoroughness born of his sea-training,
Captain Frank took great delight in this pig, and devoted
much attention to its housing and feeding. It was
scrubbed every morning with Mill Bay soap, and massaged
until its skin shone like a piece of pink coral, and its coat was as fine as silk. As he leant over the sty smoking his matutinal pipe, Captain Frank was wont to speculate on the dead weight of his protege when fit for the butcher, and to indulge in similar reflections to the Irishman, who opined that if we were all as fit to die as ” the gintleman that paid the rint,” what a blessing it would be !

Unfortunately, the practical jokers decided that Captain’s pig’s legs should be painted with a dye and, to keep the story short, the Captain had the pig slaughtered immediately and only found out when the post mortem was conducted that the discolouration was just dye.

“…. culminating in sixteen score of good, honest pork, had been cut prematurely short, great were the lamentations. Captain Frank never forgave the perpetrators of the crime, and to his dying day, it was always a very sore point to remind him of the fate of his favourite porker. “

Mill Bay Soap Liquidation

Mill Bay Soap went into voluntary liquidation in 1908, their liquidation notice being published in the newspapers thus:

Mill Bay Soap, Alkali and Soda Company Limited

At the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the above named Company, duty convened, and held at the Company’s Works, Plymouth, in the county of Devon, on the 18th of July 1908, the following Special Resolutions were duly passed; and at a subsequent Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the said Company, also duly convened, and held at the same place, on the 31st day of July, 1908, the following Special Resolutions were duly confirmed:-

1. “That it is expedient to effect an amalgamation of this Company with the New Patent Candle Company Limited, and that, with a view thereto, this Company be wound up voluntarily.”

2. “That Mr. Robert George Laws, of George-street-chambers, Plymouth, Stockbroker, be and he is hereby appointed Liquidator for the purposes of such winding up.”

3. “That the draft agreement submitted to this Meeting be approved, and that the Liquidator be and he is hereby authorised, pursuant to section 161 of the Companies Act, 1862, to enter into an agreement with the New Patent Candle Company Limited, in the terms of the said draft, and to carry the same into effect with such (if any) modification as we may think fit.”
F.B. WESTLAKE, Chairman

As Newquay emerged as a tourist hot spot soap and cleanliness went hand in hand with the high quality hotels and boarding houses springing up. Hotels would have wanted their patrons to see they used fine products and tourists could be persuaded to change brands and “buy local” as a reminder of their enjoyable holidays. Advertising was as important then as it is today for companies to grow and prosper.



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