hartlepool history logo

Egg Imports

The following is an extract from 'HistoriclalNotes and Personal Recollections of West Hartlepool and its Founders', by Major Robert Martin (1924):
"At one time West Hartlepool enjoyed the reputation of importing and preserving more foreign eggs than any port in the kingdom. 10,000 tons of eggs were imported every year from foreign countries. Worked out at eleven cases to the ton and 1,440 eggs to each case gives the enormous total of 158,400,000 (one hundred and fifty eight millions four hundred thousand) eggs, the value of which was approximately £400,000 [the equivalent of just over £21 million in 2015]. They were retailed at sixteen to eighteen a shilling.
These eggs were landed in large warehouses on the docks. The two principal firms doing the business were Messrs. Thomas Robinson and Sons (who moved to Hull in 1904), and Messrs. J.T. Medd Ltd. Mr. Medd has been a merchant at the port for over forty years, and still carries on a most extensive trade in eggs and fruit, his business extending to all the great centres of population throughout the kingdom. A number of cases of each brand were opened and the contents examined by the importers and the bulk of each brand judged from those inspected. Railway trucks were run into the warehouses on the quay, and those which proved satisfactory were loaded up and sent all over the country.
The eggs were drawn chiefly from Russia, Germany (including Austro-Hungary), Poland, Belgium, France and Canada. Despite the long distances over which they were carried the eggs arrived in excellent condition, indeed their freshness at certain seasons of the year has been demonstrated by the fact that "fanciers" have repeatedly succeeded in hatching strong, healthy chickens from specimens taken at random out of cases opened for inspection. Millions of eggs were preserved during May and June, when the supply was most plentiful, for use in the autumn and winter months, when the importations were comparatively small.
This imortant business was practically crippled by the war, and it will be some time before the most important countries have a sufficient surplus again for export. During the war, Irish and Egyptian eggs formed the bulk of the importations, and the enormous advance in prices may be judged from the fact that Egyptian eggs, which were formerly sold at 4/- to 4/6 per 120, and retailed at twenty-four to thirty for a shilling, were sold during the war and after at 28/6 per 120, and retailed at threepence each, the price fixed by the Food Controller."

Related items :