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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ovaltine at Kings Langley

 Cruising through Kings Langley past the modern residential homes overlooking the canal it`s hard to imagine the activity many years ago.
Scenes like the one to the right of working boats un-loading coal onto what was once a very busy wharf. The biggest clue has thankfully been retained but from the canal is completely hidden.
It is the Art Deco facade of the Ovaltine building  I have pictured below.

Ovaltine, a drink made up of Barley Malt, egg, cocoa and milk, has been in the UK since 1909. Now sold in over 50 countries worldwide it came here to Kings Langley in 1913. In 2002 production was transferred to Switzerland and the site was cleared making way for 300 houses and flats. I say the site was cleared but in fact the art deco front of the building was listed and had to remain.

Two local farms, totaling about 460 acres, were purchased in the 1920`s.
It became Ovaltine Farm producing barley, eggs and milk from it`s award winning herd of Jersey cows. Around 50,000 pullets laid the eggs.

Ovaltine had it`s own fleet of boats that brought coal from the Warwickshire coalfields to power the factory. Eventually oil replaced coal and the only boats left are like this one I pictured on the Thames.

In 1935 the club called `the Ovaltineys` started. It was a childrens club and had in 1939 five million members. All members had 7 rules.
 Number one;
 I promise to do the things my parents tell me to-because they know what`s best for me and i want them to be proud of me.
There were secret signs and signals as well as a very secret password......ok but just for you and do not divulge it "Ovaltiney-Ovaltiney". Now I`m bound to get kicked out of the club.

In 1915 production of Ovaltine started in Villa Park Illinois USA. Production ceased in 1988 and at present Nestle have the Ovaltine US rights.
The building was used by homeless people until in 1997 it was sold and converted to apartments that were completed in 2003. 

The picture with the factory in the background on the right is dated about 1955.

Over on the right is the present day view at Villa Park. As in the case of the UK site the building has been converted into apartments.
 A 2 bed can be rented for around $1600 about £987 per month.

If you decide to rent here you might have some haunting experiences included in the rent.

The Ovaltine building at Kings Langley during demolition.

The present day view (below left) and the site now contains 300 flats and houses.Now one of the top floor " bed flats pictured above is for sale at £340,000 - $550,000.

On the sales page is a mortgage calculator and if you tap in £340k minus 10% deposit = 306k at 5% interest over 25 years the payment comes up as £1788-$2,914 per month.

The same purchase figures in the U.S. I find confusing as they quote fees I have no knowledge of. UK readers take note the rate remains fixed for the length of the mortgage unlike here when just a half % rise in the bank rate can push payments up by almost £100-$162 per month. When you look back at past rates here in the UK it is frightening to imagine what could happen.
A 2 bed rental here is £1250-$2,025

The egg farm with the railway line bottom right
Egg farm lower right. Factory next to tall chimney. Canal can be seen coming in to left of chimney.
View to the rear of factory backing on to canal. Two pairs of boats can be seen.
Link to some old pictures of the Ovaltine (A. Wander) factory

Link to a ladies memories of working on the farm in the war years


Anonymous said...

I do miss Ovaltine! The US stuff is not the same...far more sugar. I used to drive 5 hours to get it in Canada and 5 hours back. I once had an Ovaltiney mug that played the tune but I put it in the microwave!! Big mistake and it plays no more. Thanks for the memories.


Unknown said...

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin is the interurban line pictured. he Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad (CA&E), known colloquially as the "Roarin' Elgin" or the "Great Third Rail", was an interurban railroad that operated passenger and freight service on its line between Chicago, Illinois and Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, and Elgin.

As for Ovaline itself, find it foul tasting..

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sally
Seems the two ingredients that the U.S. loves to put in food are salt and sugar.
If you miss your mug just keep playing the video.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Bryce
Sounds a bit like Marmite, you love or hate it.
Always sad to see rails disappearing.

Keith Lodge said...

I can remember the Ovaltine boats still working to the factory when I started on the canals, along with the coal boats delivering to Croxley Paper Mill and the sewerage works at Harefield :) Only the sewerage works now remain, the Croxley Mill has also had a housing estate built on it.

Ann nb Oakfield said...

Wow, what a fantastic blog about Ovaltine with fab pics too.
We have seen a couple of narrowboats with the Ovaltine logo painted across their cratchboards.
Reminds me of when I was a schoolgirl and helped on the milk delivery round. The milkman always had a thermos of Ovaltine made with Jersey milk to share for elevensies, luvly jubbly!
BIG thank you too as I know blogs can take quite some time to compose!

The Mechanic AKA. Mick Lomax said...

Hi Les and Jaqs

Hope you are both well?

When I was working for UPS, I use to deliver into the Kings Langley site every day.I have not been through there since before they started to demolish the factory, so I will need to pop along there to have a look to see the changes. I use to see the building work going on as I drove past on the M25 bridge nearby and you get a good view of the finished site even now.

Happy sailing to both of you and I'll try and see you soon.


Trademark Solicitor said...

This is such a fascinating insight into Ovaltine, you write so passionately and I haven't seen a lot of these images before!

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs