logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 34 - September 2003.





“Blanco” – Made in Sheffield
by Albert Jackson

In 1842 John Needham produced a polishing paste for the cutlery and Sheffield Plate industries from his home and premises in Harvest Lane, assisted by his niece, Harriet Needham.

Harriet then met Joseph Pickering the son of a silversmith and they wed. The couple inherited the business, changing the name to ‘Joseph Pickering late John Needham’ and built the ‘Polish Works’ just around the corner in Mowbray Street.

The ‘Polish Works’ were damaged In the Sheffield Flood and Joseph started planning the ‘Albyn Works’ on Burton Road. In time the business became Joseph Pickering & Sons, and son John Needham Pickering developed new products, including the famous – ‘Blanco’.

Albyn Works expanded to produce Blanco and employed over 100 workers. By 1875 they had a sickness and benefit club and a row of houses in Percy Street, let to his workers at special rents.

Joseph’s sister Hannah married Isaac Truelove and his daughter Mary married Isaac’s brother Arthur Truelove. Arthur provided some of the tin packaging used by Joseph Pickering & Sons and in 1900 Joseph brought together the two companies and they were incorporated as Joseph Pickering & Sons Limited.

In Moore Street, a new factory for the production of cartons was built in 1906. Faced with terracotta tiles it was designed by city architect – C & CM Hadfield.

For three quarters of a century, ‘Blanco’ was the companies’ major product, sold to the Military in over sixty countries. However with the end of conscription production of Blanco and other polish products ended and the cardboard box business become the lifeline.

Both factory sites were sold and carton production switched to new premises in Little London Road. The factory is still owned and operated by descendents of the original founder, the current Chairman, Christopher John Pickering is the great-great grandson of Joseph Pickering.

Did you or any member of your family or friends work at Pickerings or in Neepsend – do you have any stories of Blanco during military service or playing sport? Tell the Messenger.

email: messenger@burngreave.net


Pickering family graves in Burngreave cemetery.

Copyright ©Albert Jackson