Farewell, Reading

Once the Liverpool factory was in full operation, Huntley & Palmers began an expensive plan of improvement at the Reading factory. Despite this financial commitment Huntley & Palmers profits were in decline. By the 1970s the King’s Road factory was felt to be too cramped for necessary modernisation and in 1972 the closure of the factory was announced. After many years of being run down, biscuit production at Reading was finally discontinued in 1976.

Before the curtain goes down

The Reading factory did have one final role to play before the curtain fell. In 1975 it provided the location for the bar scenes in the Hollywood movie ‘Bugsy Malone’ with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.

lan Parker, the writer/director of the 1975 movie 'Bugsy Malone', with child stars Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. The bar scenes in the film were filmed in the Huntley & Palmers factory at Reading (REDMG : 1997.130.309)

New owners

In 1982 Huntley & Palmers - by then part of Associated Biscuits, was purchased by Nabisco, the North American multi-national and the last members of the Palmer family left the board of directors. In 1983 the factory in Liverpool was closed and the Reading factory was gradually demolished and redeveloped. The 1930s offices were the last to go in the early 1990s.

A 'preservation picnic' was held on 30 July 1994 at the former Huntley & Palmers factory garden on King's Road in Reading to protest against plans to demolish the only remaining factory building opposite the garden. (REDMG : 2009.577.1)

Last building standing

One building - the old recreation club headquarters - resisted demolition and was converted into social housing for the people of Reading. The Huntley & Palmers sign was restored and the building can be seen today on the banks of the canal, a lasting remnant of what was once a great biscuit factory.

The Factory Bridge carries the King's Road over the Kennet and Avon canal with the Recreation Club building behind in about 1938 (REDMG : 1997.130.622)

Continue exploring

Return to the Huntley & Palmers homepage, or head on to the next section.