Henry Jones was born on the 19thof July 1862. His parents John and
Emma were originally convicts who were sent out two years apart and served their sentences separately and ended up getting married some time later. At the age of
12 young Henry Jones started work for George Peacock his first and only
employer. Working six days a week, ten hours a day Henry Jones pasted
labels on jam tins. At the age of 27, he purchased a share of the factory and
then from these humble beginnings, rose to fame as an entrepreneur spanning
five continents with interests in jam, fruit, timber, mining and shipping.
George Peacock began business in Hobart as a jam manufacturer in 1861. He
bought Nos.31 and 33 Hunter Street,
a pair of dilapidated warehouses in 1869, expanding to No's.27
and 29 by 1882 and a reinforced concrete warehouse was built in 1911. The
fabric of the largest part of the building is of reinforced concrete and is
founded on timber piles under the greater part of its area. When it was built, the technology of
reinforced concrete was quite new and this was one of the ﬁrst constructions
using the material in Australia.
Later just before 1895, George Peacock transferred his jam making
interests to Henry Jones – one of his employees.
originated in the buildings now comprising the HenryJonesArtHotel.
This group of buildings is located on what was once HunterIsland
which was used in 1804 by Lieutenant David Collins, for landing and receiving
of stores. The island was connected to the foreshore by a causeway in about
1820 and a warehouse was erected shortly after. The line of the causeway is
marked by bronze markers in front of the present buildings. Because of insufficient
depth and difficult docking conditions for vessels under sail, shipping
transferred to the NewWharf at Salamanca Place.
However, with the coming of steam, shipping returned and HunterIsland
was developed with land reclamation.
Over the next forty years the premises of the Jones & Co. jam
factory extended in both directions along Hunter Street. In 1903 the two warehouses
next to No.33 were either substantially altered or demolished to make way for
the Ice works and the Cool Store.In 1911, the remaining old
warehouses at the eastern end of Hunter
Street were demolished and replaced by the large
concrete building now occupied by the Centre for the Arts. An article published
in 1922 attributed much of the company’s success to the self-contained nature
of the company as everything required by the company was produced by it, from
the timber for the packing cases to the equipment necessary to manufacture the
specialist machinery used in the factory.
The old warehouses at 27-33 Hunter Street
were used primarily in the production of the tin containers used for canning
jam, preserved fruit and fruit pulp. The 1922 article described the tin-making
operations as they were then practiced in considerable detail and discussions
with past employees suggest that the processes varied little over the years.
Henry Jones and Co’s company motto ‘IXL’ dates from about 1895
and, it is said, derived from Henry’s own quote “I excel, in all the products I
make”. As a brand name this motto was an inspired choice soon forming part
of Tasmanian and Australian folklore. It became instantly recognizable with the
man, his factories and his products. He was the largest private employer in Tasmania and at the
time, the head of the largest private company in the world exporting jam to
countries throughout the world. A comment in the press of the day stated “The
works are comprised in a splendid block of buildings situated on the OldWharf,
including newly-erected brick premise, having 160 feet frontage by 80 feet
depth, with iron roof and splendidly lighted and ventilated.
The works were
almost entirely refitted in 1898 and only the most modern and up to date
machinery was now used in all departments. A new 50-horse power boiler was
erected by Kennedy and Sons of Hobart, and there was another boiler of 30 horse
power, the two supplying the motive power for driving all the machinery
including that employed in the manufacture of packing cases, tins etc. The
entire premises were constructed of stone and brick, of three storeys, with a
frontage of 300 feet by a depth of about 290 feet, and a floor space of 140,000
In the boiling room there were seventeen large copper boilers in
which the jam was made. It was said that during the fruit season, the room
would be thick with steam and the air full of the fragrance of boiling fruit.
The smell wafted into the city and Hobart
residents might knowingly remark “Yes, it was apricot jam today”. Messrs H. Jones
& Co. used no fewer than 2,000,000 tins each season, which were all made on
the premises. The IXL factory employed between 150-350 workers, according to
the season of the year…’
Henry Jones died in 1926 and over 5,000 mourners went to his
funeral. Jam however was made through to 1979 when the factory closed down and the brand had become synonymous with quality Australian jams & preserves. The IXL
business was purchased by Elders to become Elders IXL. Much of the factory area
still stands in Hunter St
and parts have been converted into cafés, art galleries, office space and the HenryJonesArtHotel.