Shredded Wheat.

Posted on 04/02/2018 By

Shredded Wheat: The doomed factory.

Shredded Wheat:

Bet you can’t eat three!

Last week, we promised you ducks. Only one was available. Dusty Duck. Seen here with Bobby and his virtual sweetheart, Merrill. Dusty lives at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. (WWT). In two weeks time we are going back to the Cotswolds and hoping to spend a day at Slimbridge. Headquarters of the WWT. The duck blog will come from there.

Shredded Wheat: ... probably best not to ask ...

… probably best not to ask …

But this week, a seemingly sad event has led to an impromptu blog. They are knocking down the Shredded Wheat factory at Welwyn Garden City.

Bobby loves the stuff. When he heard the news, he knew the time was ripe to tell the world of Mindfully Bertie just how much he had to owe to a breakfast cereal.

Shredded Wheat: The doomed factory.

The doomed factory.

As far back as he can remember he has had Shredded Wheat for breakfast. The most healthy cereal of all. No additives. No salt. Just wheat. Cold, full milk and a little sugar. A six feet six inch giant , he could so easily have been a 5’5” wimp but for this cereal!

All those years volunteering on Skomer Island you had to take enough food for a week. Plus a little spare if you were marooned by bad weather. Shredded Wheat was easy. 4 times 9 = 36. Which does bring into question those famous adverts years ago. “Bet you can’t eat three”. Diddley was so impressed by his consumption that she told the world he ate SIX every day. Well now and again this was true if he felt extra hungry. But four is the norm. Remember those famous adverts?

Henry cooper

Northern Soul

Botham

Jaws

Over the years many sports people were used in these adverts. Look at the archive adverts further down the blog.

Time for a confession. He gets fed up with Shredded Wheat. No! Honestly. He really does get fed up with it. Regular forays into Weetabix, Monster Puffs. Even Lidl Mini Fruity Shreddies. But, inevitably, he will slip down the cereal isle in Waitrose and once again succumb to the best cereal of all.

Shredded Wheat: A Veritable Feast.

A Veritable Feast.

Back in his young days there were far fewer brands. Shredded Wheat, Weetabix, Kellogg’s Cornflakes, Quaker Puffed Wheat, Grapenuts. Older readers may remember others but these were the main ones. Interestingly we found out later that Bobby’s favourite cereal was made in Southern England at Welwyn Garden City. Weetabix in the Midlands in Northamptonshire. Kellogg’s Corn flakes up North in Manchester. Distribution in the war was crucial and led to the cereals dominating their home area to save transport costs.

Bobby had one big ambition. There were many other ambitions, but only one BIG ONE. He wanted to go to the Shredded Wheat factory at Welwyn Garden City. Passing the iconic building on trains right back to his young days he longed to see it being made. Eventually he was promised that on his 50th birthday his dream would come true. Sadly it evaporated on the back seat of a Red Vauxhall Carlton. Ten years later, the new incumbent of the matrimonial title had tried to make him really happy and arrange a tour for his 60th birthday.

“I am really sorry, Bobby. They don’t do tours any more. Elf and safety.“ Bobby was devastated.

That may well have been that if he had not been a keen participant in the British Heart Foundation’s London to Brighton bicycle ride. 27,000 riders. He loved it. Arriving at Clapham Common for the start at 06:00 for the 2005 ride, he discovered that the main sponsors were Shredded Wheat. They had their own marquee. And most desirably, a cycling team shirt. Bobby lusted after it. They told him it was for the factory team only, but he persisted and they eventually gave him one. It is still a treasured possession. That first year arriving in Brighton, the Shredded Wheat stand stood and applauded – not realising he was an impostor. But in Surrey, half way to Brighton, he had been rumbled.

Shredded Wheat: London to Brighton 2005 06:00!

London to Brighton 2005 06:00!

“Why are you wearing that shirt? You don’t work for us!” Bobby replied “I bet you don’t eat half as much Shredded Wheat as me. In fact, you should give it to me as a trophy!” Cheryl (as he found out her name was later) and Bobby cycled together for a few miles, during which he told her of his disappointment in never seeing the inside of the factory. Clearly impressed by his candour, she said. “My name is Cheryl. I am a supervisor. Ring me and I will arrange a special tour just for you and your wife.” And she did. On Diddley’s Birthday. 19 August 2005. And what a day it was!

The Tour of the Shredded Wheat Factory A pictorial record.

Shredded Wheat: Diddley and Cheryl (note the railway lines from when grain was delivered by rail).

Diddley and Cheryl (note the railway lines from when grain was delivered by rail).

Shredded Wheat: Reception. A wonderful Art Deco museum piece - and a receptionist who told us she was 80. The room full of the history of Shredded Wheat advertising. All those famous sports people. What memories.

Reception. A wonderful Art Deco museum piece – and a receptionist who told us she was 80. The room full of the history of Shredded Wheat advertising. All those famous sports people. What memories.

Shredded Wheat: The Welcoming Sign.

The Welcoming Sign.

Shredded Wheaat: Diddley & Bobby in front of a poster depicting the factory over the decades.

Diddley & Bobby in front of a poster depicting the factory over the decades.

Shredded Wheat:

Shredded Wheat: The factory throughout the decades poster - without Diddley & Bobby standing in the way!

The factory throughout the decades poster – without Diddley & Bobby standing in the way!

Shredded Wheat: Advertising over the years.

Advertising over the years.

Shredded Wheat: Closeup of some of the adverts Bobby remembers.

Closeup of some of the adverts Bobby remembers.

Shredded Wheat: Some famous faces.

Some famous faces.

Shredded Wheat: Elf and safety decreed full hygiene clobber. (Cherry Healey & Greg Wallace east your hearts out!)

Elf and safety decreed full hygiene clobber. (Cherry Healey & Greg Wallace east your hearts out!)

Shredded Wheat: "Leading the way".

“Leading the way”.

Shredded Wheat: Diddley with Bob. He had worked there for 25 years and watched one million Shredded Wheat go past his gaze every day.

Diddley with Bob. He had worked there for 25 years and watched one million Shredded Wheat go past his gaze every day.

Shredded Wheat: Production line.

Production line.

Shredded Wheat: Packets of the biscuits making their way along the production line before being boxed.

Packets of the biscuits making their way along the production line before being boxed.

And, finally, we were given lots of freebies. A folder of the history of Shredded Wheat that came from America to Welwyn Garden City in 1935. A bright yellow hold-all. Umbrellas and…

324 Shredded Wheats!

324 Shredded Wheats!

And finally – for many friends the best picture of the two of them ever taken. It was pouring with rain, and Cheryl wanted a picture for their website. She gave them the two umbrellas and they “Sang in the Rain”.

Shredded Wheat: Diddley & Bobby Singing in the Rain!

Diddley & Bobby Singing in the Rain!

It was a wonderful day. In the years that followed, Bobby rode the London to Brighton Bike Ride many times. Always in his Shredded Wheat cycling shirt!

Shredded Wheat:2006 Tommy, Matt and Becky.

2006 Tommy, Matt and Becky.

Shredded Wheat: 2007 Tommy.

2007 Tommy.

Shredded Wheat: 2008 Andrew.

2008 Andrew.

Shredded Wheat: 2009 Andrew, Tommy, Becky, Brinto.

2009 Andrew, Tommy, Becky, Brinto.

Shredded Wheat: 2010 Jonathan.

2010 Jonathan.

Shredded Wheat: 2011 solo.

2011 solo.

Shredded Wheat: 2012 - the last one. When he realised that tide and time stay still for no man. Knackered, after years of finding it so easy. (And getting fatter).

2012 – the last one. When he realised that tide and time stay still for no man. Knackered, after years of finding it so easy. (And getting fatter).

Shredded Wheat: While some have notches on their bedpost, he has medals.

While some have notches on their bedpost, he has medals.

Diddley, with her graphics expertise, made him many cards. The very first being a Shredded Wheat one. The first experience he still has of her extraordinary handwriting.

Shredded Wheat: Front of the card.

Front of the card.

Shredded Wheat: ... and the handwriting.

… and the handwriting.

One day she came home with a centenary bowl from a charity shop. 100 years! 1892-1992. Bobby didn’t even remember the offer, but loved the bowl. Encouraged by consummate eBayer son Andrew, he eventually landed up with six. One from Philadelphia.

Shredded Wheat: The famous bowl!

The famous bowl!

Shredded Wheat:

Guardian of the valuable collection.

Guardian of the valuable collection.

Shredded Wheat: The offer on the package. What a bargain.

The offer on the package. What a bargain.

We hope you can read the offer on the package. These bowls are still used every single day. And there are still lots for sale on eBay at modest prices.
– – – – – – –

I Don’t Believe It

Victor Meldrew "I Don't Believe It"!

I Don’t Believe It!

How sad it is then that, just three years after our visit, production ended in 2008. A succession of takeovers had led to Cereal Partners, part of Nestlé, taking ownership and moving production to Staverton in Wiltshire. Welwyn Garden City was synonymous with the cereal.

Demolition.

The following are pictures taken from the internet of the current destruction of what was a listed building and the state it was in shortly before.

Shredded Wheat: Shredded Wheat: Shredded Wheat:

Shredded Wheat: A dereliction enthusiast! He took the pictures of neglect.

A dereliction enthusiast! He took the pictures of neglect.

Shredded Wheat: A statement by Welwyn and Hatfield.

A statement by Welwyn and Hatfield.

Shredded Wheat: English Heritage vs Big Company...

English Heritage vs Big Company…

Shredded Wheat: So much for being listed!

So much for being listed!

Lighting a Candle to Diddley.

And to Shredded Wheat. To the British Heart Foundation. And to the years you think will never end of the London to Brighton Bike Ride.

Shredded Wheat: Shredded Wheat:

Shredded Wheat    


  1. Bernard says:

    Very well put together, interesting read.

  2. FLISS says:

    That photo of you and Di with the umbrellas is one of my favourites. You are both so carefree and happy in that photo. It’s how I love to remember Di. Xx

    • Bertie says:

      Even more poignant now that the building is going. Those scenes of dereliction are so sad given our day there.

  3. Rob says:

    What an advert for Shredded Wheat. Peter Shilton and the equally famous Bobby Ballcock both consumers. If Peter Shilton had eaten as many, and grown as tall as Bobby, we might have won the the 1986 World Cup.

  4. Baby Ball says:

    Hang on. Where’s the best bit of the story? About you bidding for the ultimate prize on eBay – a Shredded What square bowl – getting hot under the collar when another bidder almost pipped you to the post, and the glory of a no-expense-spared win. Only to find that it was Di upstairs bidding against you! Or is this just urban myth…? 🙂

  5. katherine says:

    that factory looked so wonderfully english.. and i love the 80 year old receptionist.. Bob you have such an eye for detail and memory for important things. Thanks for sharing your shredded wheat stories..

    • Bob says:

      Lot of nostalgia in the story. I forgot a very funny incident buying the bowls. Bidding on eBay for one we discovered we had been bidding against each other ha ha ha

  6. kristian paxton says:

    no ones a bigger fan of shredded wheat 😀 I remember youd eat 4 at a go during your visit here

  7. Bertie says:

    I have wonderful memories of California with you and the family. Eating Shredded Wheat in your kitchen while Dave showed me “aluminum wheels” as opposed to aluminium.

  8. […] British Heart Foundation (BHF). You saw last week all those London to Brighton bike rides in his Shredded Wheat shirt to raise funds for the BHF. In more recent times, the BHF have had a Valentine’s Day fund […]

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