A lasting legacy from the ‘Honey Monster’ factory: the Quaker Oats Limited archives and artefact collection



In 2016 the historic 1930s ‘Honey Monster’ factory in Southall, Ealing, London closed. The property with contents was sold to developers in April 2017.

Developers were set to demolish the factory and create almost 2,000 homes in 2020.

The developer’s heritage consultant found records in the factory before demolition. They contacted the Crisis Management Team (CMT) in Autumn 2019. The derelict building posed risks to the material from poor environmental conditions and theft.

The CMT, archivists and Heritage Consultant surveyed many floors, rooms and cabinets. Records and artefacts to keep were moved for collection.

Local and specialist archivists helped decide where to preserve the archive. In February 2020 it was agreed to transfer the collection to Gunnersbury Park Museum. The Museum collects archives and artefacts relating to Ealing and Hounslow.

Honey Monster factory entrance
Cereal packaging samples
Boxes in foyer
Boxes in factory basement
Honey Monster paw
Gallery of Gunnersbury Park Museum
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Lessons Learnt

  • Successful rescue of heritage of well-known and much-loved food brands, including sugar puffs.
  • The collection includes:
    • cereal packaging 1950s-1990s
    • wartime ledgers
    • international product patents
    • building plans
    • marketing material
    • the Honey Monster’s foot!
  • Heritage consultants and archivists recognise historic value where original owners cannot:
    • Significant as there is no legal rule to keep business records long-term as archives
    • The original creator of the records and artefacts, Quaker Oats, did not need the records. The developer’s focus was on demolition and building work deadlines
  • Good notification allowed time for surveys and transfer of the material to safekeeping
  • Collaboration between heritage services in finding this mixed archive/artefact collection a home
  • Positive outcome for Gunnersbury Park Museum’s Archive. They could receive a fascinating and sizeable collection 18 months after reopening. This was following a four-year closure for Heritage Lottery Funded renovations
  • Case highlights the
    • value researchers such as heritage consultants play in saving archives
    • need for a heritage sector which unites in making practical decisions in a crisis. Together they helped preserve the memory of a much-loved household food brand.

Special thanks to case study author Stephanie Chiang, BAC volunteer, and to Gunnersbury Park Museum.