Spooner Vicars Bakery Systems can offer a complete turnkey solution to its customers, starting from the initial bakery plant design to full installation and commissioning of the equipment.
Spooner Vicars was established in 1849 have been associated with the baking industry for more than 150 years and credited with many technical innovations and firsts…
A history of “firsts” for the Biscuit & Snack Industry and of Baking Excellence. As some of you know T & T Vicars dates back to 1849. The company started in Liverpool as a partnership, which involved two cousins both called Thomas, their engineering business was geared to the local shipbuilding industry. Another of the local industries also focused upon the needs of our seafaring nation: the bakery business. More precisely this involved a number of small bakeries which generally operated from basements and cellars and which manufactured the so-called “hardtack biscuits” which were designed to withstand long sea voyages without becoming stale.
Baking conditions were crude and simple and the Vicars enterprise soon realised that here was an opportunity to design and build machines to give quicker and easier production. Thus was born the firm of … T & T Vicars Biscuit Machinery & General Engineers. The cousins were always looking for new ideas and ways to improve the biscuit making process and soon their portfolio grew to include hand operated dough mixers, dough brakes, simple biscuit-cutting machines and brick-built ovens.
The boom in this particular industry couldn’t last forever and with the advent of the steam ships meant reduced voyage times which in turn resulted in less need for “hardtack” or hard “long life” biscuits. This created a new challenge for the Thomas’s – how to continue growing their business in this changing market – this is a situation many of us reading this know only too well in today’s business environment! The answer was to innovate and design equipment to produce other types of biscuit, initially they concentrated upon sweet biscuit varieties, which were a novelty to the public.
Faster and faster applications became the order of the day and Vicars established a reputation for the quality of its soft dough cutters, although demand for hard biscuits (for pet food) continued. By 1856 the company had built the first travelling plate oven and this was followed by a travelling chain oven, some 180 feet in length. At this period its cutting machines were capable of processing 1.5 tons of biscuits a day. In 1877 T & T Vicars was granted Patent Number 623 by Queen Victoria’s Patent Office for “Improvements in and connected with ovens used in the bakery of biscuits and the like”.
This was an extremely prestigious document attached to Queen Victoria’s official seal – a wax ring some 7 inches in diameter. Mainly due to the reputation for innovation and good solid engineering international trade was by now booming at T & T Vicars so the company relocated to a much bigger factory some 10 miles away, our present site in Earlestown.
By around 1890 Vicars had designed and built the first machine which could automatically sheet both hard and soft doughs and within a decade it had added another first, an embossing and cutting machine, capable of 80 cuts a minute. These had the effect of widening the company’s product range and created even more demand for Vicars’ equipment. Garibaldi biscuits also benefited, as did wafers: from the single hand tong application grew the first mechanically-operated oven by the close of the century. The first travelling Wafer Oven was introduced in 1899 and wafer saws and wafer creamers followed in due course. The company’s Rout press machine could produce extruded lengths of varied design by forcing dough shapes through apertures in a brass bar; wire cutters imparted a ripple to the biscuit (as an option) and fig bar equipment was yet another innovation to be launched.
The advent of the Great War put a temporary brake on further biscuit equipment development, aside from bread contracts for the armed forces. But peace did return – and with it, in 1922, came the company’s first gas-fired traveling oven. T & T Vicars formed a close co-operation with Peak Freans – the major British biscuit manufacturer of the day – to ensure industry required designs, and together they enhanced the automation possibilities of all its machines. In 1928 the fruits of this liaison led to the introduction for the first time of an automatic and continuous running, high-speed cutting and embossing machine linked to the new gas-fired oven with two steel bands, along with biscuit cooling, stacking and packing. Through T & T Vicars the era of true automation for the Biscuit industry had arrived.
By 1935 Vicars had completed an automatic swiss roll plant to add to its list of achievements. A re-organisation was prompted by the Second World War and this saw Vicar’s tooling and machinery utilised for less peaceful products. When the hostilities ended there was a boom in the requirement for biscuit equipment world-wide and as a result we are extremely proud of the fact that Vicars equipment has been supplied to virtually every country in the world.
Although the company produced the industry standard reciprocating and embossing machine, developments were made to reduce noise and maintenance. These developments led to T & T Vicars introducing the first rotary cutting machine for cracker and hard biscuits, this is still the basis of today’s machines.
In 1960 Vicars became a member company of Simon Engineering, a multi-faceted engineering group, containing a food division, which over the next 25 years allowed Vicars to further advance their technological edge. During this time the number of firsts continued and include the patented “Sprag” mixer developed with the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association. Which greatly improved dough consistency and speeded up the mixing process. The patented Weighmix system which enables the ingredients to be weighed extremely accurately within the mixer itself thus eliminating “in flight” losses of ingredients and therefore ensuring that the baker starts the process with a consistent dough mix every time, and the patented Vertical Cut Laminator was introduced in 1970 and again was a major breakthrough in space saving and product weight control.
The next big development came in 1991 when the Bakery Business Area was formed; this comprised many well-known and respected British company names including Spooner, Vicars, Asser, Oakes, Jahn and Klimatank. This combined expertise enables us to produce equipment for the biscuit, bread, cake, pie, pizza, quiche and snack industries. In April 1992 this Group became a part of SASIB SpA and was fully integrated with four other illustrious names those of G P A Orlandi of Verona Italy; Meincke of Copenhagen Denmark; Ricciarelli of Schio Italy and SPS of Navaro Italy, thus forming the Biscuit & Snack division of SASIB Food & Beverage machinery, to serve all the needs of the industry.
2001 saw a change of direction for Sasib and Spooner-Vicars, Meinke and SPS became the Dry Foods Company – still concentrating on total commitment to the customer. Today the company offers equipment and systems capable of mixing, forming, baking, cooling, sandwiching and packaging to produce every type of Biscuit & Snack baked product and so continue the tradition of being the innovative, leading edge technology supplier to our world-wide industry. As you can see the above is a brief history bringing us through the last 150 years.
2012 – SVBS were bought & integrated in to the Middleby Food Group of Companies ( a major global supplier of all types of Service kitchen & Baking Systems for the major fast food chains).
Also 2012 saw the creation of a new Food Processing Division, split in to Meat and Bakery sub-divisions. see www.middleby.com for more details.
SVBS prove to be a pivotal company , along with Stewart Systems (Bun Track Plants), Baker Thermal Services (Tin Bread Lines), and Auto-Bake – Serpentine Baking Lines for muffins etc).
Today we enter the challenges of a new millennium as a strong and growing organisation, operating in an ever changing and challenging marketplace. Now, as throughout the proceeding 160+ years, it is the people who make any organisation strong and successful; it is the people who produce and develop the ideas, and it is the people who implement these ideas turning them into reality. We are fortunate to have a great team