The Cherry Blossom Story

Paul Allen takes a look at brothers Dan and Charles Mason's Chiswick legacy

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Cherry Blossom were the first and now the only UK manufacturer of shoe polish.

Started in Chiswick in 1906 by brothers Dan and Charles Mason, Cherry Blossom polish was born from a need to use wasted tin plate left over from making their soap company containers.

Appreciating the growing demand for wax boot polish, the brothers realised that this discarded tin plate could be used to make small tins ideal for polish. They therefore employed a chemist to come up with the right formulation and launched in 1906.

The iconic “one penny tin” with its original “butterfly” twist opener was introduced in 1907 as was the name “Cherry Blossom Boot Polish”.

In 1912 they sold off the soap company and concentrated on the manufacturing of polish. Padawax, a major step forward for convenience, was introduced in 1960. You could now apply polish with just the sponge and buff with a cloth.

Growing the company inline with the demand for the product meant that in 1923 they acquired land on Dukes Meadows from the Chiswick Urban District Council to build their Tinplate Printing and Cardboard box factory, for approximately £13,000.

Taking on more and more staff to help maintain the growth the Mason brothers were increasingly aware and passionate about the welfare of the companies employees and in the coming years introduced groundbreaking new schemes and systems to aid them in achieving the best for both Cherry Blossom and its work force.

In1918 the company was one of the first to introduce a five day working week of 44 hours. Other early innovations included a pension scheme, and a "dispensary" made up of a main surgery, rest rooms, a dental clinic and a chiropody clinic, all supervised by qualified personnel.

In 1925 Dan & Charles Mason presented to their employees, a ten acre sports ground on Dukes Meadows Chiswick, that included a Pavilion with changing rooms and a tea room. This was followed by the first occupancy of the 50 semidetached houses built adjacent to the Cherry Blossom tinplate printing works in Staveley Gardens.

They then went on to buy Boston House and adjoining buildings in Chiswick Square. Boston House was used as a social club for the female employees and the other buildings were rented to company employees as homes. Extensive grounds to Boston House were laid out for all types of games, including a bowling green, eight grass tennis courts and four all-weather courts, plus a well equipped sports pavilion

They also bought the property known as Afton House in Bourne Place, thoroughly renovated it and refurnished it, letting it to the club (The Chiswick Memorial Club) at a peppercorn rent. Afterwards it was handed over to trustees to remain perpetually a club for ex-service men

Finally the Mason brothers greatest work of all as far as Chiswick is concerned was, the establishment of the Hospital, which he later endowed. From it's small beginnings in Burlington Lane it broadened out into the former Hospital in The Mall. For this purpose they purchased Rothbury House and behind it erected the Hospital which has been added to in the course of time.

Today the Cherry Blossom shoecare range is manufactured in Alfreton, Derbyshire, and as the materials used in the manufacturing of shoes have changed to include suede, nubuck, corduras and canvas as well as the traditional leather, so too have the products on offer from Cherry Blossom.

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June 10, 2010