Gawith’s One Big Happy Family Again After 150 Years: Merger Confirmed

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James Foster & Kevin Godbee
Rumors have run rampant in forums and social media all week about the merger of Samuel Gawith and Gawith Hoggarth. Now they are confirmed. exchanged email and spoke on the phone to Bob Gregory, the Managing Director of Samuel Gawith.

The official release states:

After months of deliberation and negotiation I am pleased to advise that the House of Samuel Gawith and Gawith Hoggarth will merge on March 18th.

The men and machinery of SG will move to the larger and more adequate factory of GH. The men will be the same as will the machinery. The brand will be made in exactly the same way as it has been since 1792 with no change to blend, water or branding.

We see this move as a good move particularly in view of the fact that exactly 150 years ago, in 1865, the two brothers, Samuel and John shook hands and went their separate ways to pursue their own dreams in Kendal. Both SG and GH have co-existed in a peaceful, friendly but competitive way to this day.

Both companies have pledged to continue production in their own, unique ways and both companies see this merger as a positive way forward lending strength to both brands.

Bob Gregory
Managing Director

So, the two companies that started as one will now be under the same roof, but still producing their separate brands.

For those that aren’t familiar with these products, some pretty unique pipe tobaccos come from these two brands. They have a huge, devoted fan base, and some pipe smokers might have a love / hate relationship with some of the tobaccos. This is because of Gawith’s own unique way of making some of their blends using an essence that gives the tobacco a perfume-like and / or soapy-type of flavor. You either love it or hate it. Apparently enough people love them as they have been around for over two centuries. One of the unique tobaccos is Bob’s Chocolate Flake. It is a Latakia aromatic—and an aromatic that you can actually taste the chocolate flavor in.


The Gawith houses are also well-known for making some quite strong tobaccos, such as 1792 Flake, which is strong both in flavor, and with a hearty nicotine punch. Bracken Flake is another one that is packed with flavor and nicotine.

Gawith is also skilled at making great sweet Virginias, like Full Virginia Flake.

Another thing that the Gawith tobaccos are famous for, or should way say infamous for, is that they are not always in ready supply. The catch-22 is that these tobaccos are still made with the same machinery from over 200-years ago. The old traditional formulas and methods are also part of what makes the products special. Employing newer equipment to increase production would not result in the same tobaccos being produced … And then there’s the hoarding, which makes the situation even worse, but that’s another story.

History Lesson
(Note: Some of the information here is a little different in this account from The Stricklandgate House Trust, but it is still quite interesting.)

It all started in Kendal, England in 1792. Thomas Harrison was a successful snuff maker. Jane Harrison Thomas’s daughter, eloped in 1838 to a young man of Kendal, Samuel Gawith.

When Mr. Harrison died in 1841, he left the business to his daughter and son-in-law, and over the years Samuel Gawith continued to prosper.

In 1865, Samuel Gawith died prematurely at the age of 48. His eldest son, also called Samuel, was only 22 and his father had wisely left the firm in the hands of three trustees, one of whom was this son.

The elder trustee was Henry Hoggarth, a boyhood friend and neighbor in Lowther Street who had founded a Kendal firm of land agents and surveyors.

In 1878, Samuel and his younger brother, John Edward Gawith decided amicably to go their separate ways and so the two Gawith firms came into being.

Samuel took over the snuff mill and business at Mealbank, and John stayed on in Lowther Street.

Samuel’s business, Samuel Gawith & Company, thrived and, in 1881 he had a new factory built near Canal Head, calling it Kendal Brown House, in honor of the firm’s most famous brand of snuff.

Photo from

The firm in Lowther Street went through some troubled times but, in 1887, a new partnership was founded between Samuel’s youngest brother, William Henry, and Henry Hoggarth junior, to be known as Gawith Hoggarth Company.

Gawith and Hoggarth soon set up a new watermill for grinding snuff at Helsington Laithes, just south of Kendal, which has since been dismantled.

Gawith Hoggarth Company continued to manufacture tobacco products and snuff at the Lowther Street works until 2009, when they moved to new business premises.

And now, in 2015, the two companies will be back together under one roof.


Here is’s James Foster’s telephone conversation with Mr. Gregory.

For posterity’s sake could you briefly describe why the two brothers split companies to begin with?

The two brothers John and Samuel – they both made snuff and tobacco, one decided he preferred to make snuff, and the other wanted to make tobacco, so they shook hands and parted company. Funny enough then they were both making snuff and tobacco before long. There was no family argument – there was a rumor for a while that one of the boys parted ways because he was a bit too familiar with the others wife, but that was unfounded. It was very amicable. Shake of the hand, pint of good English beer and they went off to do their own thing.

So what is the reasoning for this merger?

We honestly need more room for both companies and we’re are with the same mind, we know we can work very well together, so the machinery is going and the men are going and the raw leaf is also going. There will be no layoffs or consolidation of employees. As far as the brand is concerned – the only difference is it will be made under a different roof. The men and machines will be the same.

Could you elaborate on the rumor that you will be doing a museum at one of the facilities?

We are leaving the Kendal Brown house. What will happen after that is it will be turned into a snuff museum where people will be able to come and see the machinery working and see how snuff is made. The other location they will be making all the tobacco and snuff of course.

I also hear tell of a merger "blend" to celebrate 150 years?

It’s an obvious thought, its furthermost from our minds though- I would love to do it, we’d name it "150" or "reunification blend" but its a ways off. Don’t look for it any time soon because we have bigger fish to fry.

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17 Responses

  • What a great piece of pipe tobacco history in the making, and going back to the Eighteenth Century as well. I always wondered what it was with these two similarly named outfits, and now I see the tale unfolding, again. May they continue to produce their hearty/hardy blends into the future and in some cases ghost our pipes as well. I’ve been to their Lake District and count my days there as among my happiest. Wordsworth lore and old English music hall and sunset after ten p.m. in the summer. Ah.

  • Very cool. I had read some of the history on SG’s website. I am a big fan of their BBF and Balkan Flake,and enjoy the Navy Flake as well. I have never ventured into G&H brands – I had the impression that they were more known for “Lakeland” essence than SG.I need to have a good gab with someone who is knowledgeable about those blends before I venture.

  • Excellent article, I enjoy both companies products, and I’m looking forward to see what will become of this.

  • Great history. And I love both SG and GH. Thanks to all for explicating a long and wonderful heritage and dispelling some myths.

  • Super article and great news. Logical too to have this merger. As a fan of their blends, I look forward to them continuing in the traditional manner for many more years to come and hope they will forge new paths ahead for all of us. A great article and read. I’ve met Bob Gregory and he is a dedicated ambassador for both his company and the snuff/pipe smoking trade.

  • It’s a wonderful thing! They both become stronger as one in a time where the industry struggles with regulation. I, for one, enjoy both companies products and will be elated to support it …

  • This merger isn’t anything I ever expected to see. Separate they made some very good tobacco, and together their synergy might make better tobacco still.

  • Wonderful article chocked full of info. I enjoy tobacco from both companies and certainly wish them well.
    The bad thing about mergers/buy outs is that things change. No matter the intentions of the parties things change. Sooner or later some bean counter will say “It’s too expensive to make these two blends that are very similar”.

  • Both of these companies make blends I just love. I sure wish them all the success in the world.
    What will their new name be??
    One thing about mergers is that nothing is final until the accountants weigh in. The people doing the merger can stand around trumpeting “nothing is going to change”, “there will be no lay-offs” and “there will be no consolidation of product lines”, but until they stand up to the accountants chirping about how they have two men doing what one man could do and the company is making several blends (in their opinion) that are identical. If nothing else how can you afford to have two heads of the company??

  • Interesting article for sure.
    I hope everything works out well and hope that it improves availability of some of my favorite blends.

  • As for their tobaccos being perfume/soapy tasting, there is a quick cure for this. All of their tobaccos come WET when you first pop the seal on the tin, so remove/rub out (if needed) how much ever you plan to smoke, be it a single bowl full or a days worth. Place this on a sheet of paper (or whatever), and let it dry out for at least a half an hour or more depending on how dry you like your tobacco. As the tobacco dries out, the perfume/soap taste will disappear and you won’t taste it at all.
    I once recommended “Grousemore” to a good friend and he couldn’t stand it-he said it tasted like his wife’s bath soap!! I told him let the stuff dry out and you’ll love it-he did and now it’s part of his regular rotation.
    I prefer my tobaccos from S.G./G.H. a little on the dry side, so I let them sit for an hour or more. Just make sure to keep an eye on it as it will also dry (in some cases) very quickly since it hasn’t any glycerin in it.
    Hope this helps some of you who have been afraid to try their tobaccos…

  • It would be nice to have more production from the Samuel Gawith side of the business where so many of their blends are gone within minutes that they hit the shelves. Next to the American tobacco manufacturing Company of McClelland, these two British Tobacco Companies are the finest in the world IMO.

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