Royal Baking Powder

Royal Baking Powder factory, Jan van Riebeeck Drive - Drakenstein Heemkring, Gribble Collection

Royal Baking Powder factory, Jan van Riebeeck Drive, Paarl – (Gribble Collection, AG771)

The Royal Baking Powder company was founded in the USA by the brothers Cornelius and Joseph C Hoagland in 1866, who in 1888 registered the Royal Baking Powder trademark in South Africa. At the time Paarl was at the centre of the Cape’s wine industry, and was a natural choice to establish a company that required large quantities of cream of tartar. By the 1930s Royal Baking Powder was one of the four largest industries in Paarl. The building depicted on the photograph was completed in 1932 and was designed by the architects Robers & Small in Cape Town. Note the Cape Town – Paarl – Wellington railway line in the foreground.

Paarl companies like Royal Baking Powder and R Bonafede & Co bought up cream of tartar – also known as wine stone – from farmers to produce baking powder. Tartar is a sediment that is formed in wine tanks during the fermentation process. Before the advent of large cooperative wine cellars, most wine farmers fermented wine on their farms in large cement tanks.

There were craftsmen who specialised in removing the tartar from these cement tanks. Prior to the grape harvest they would visit the farms, clean out the tanks and seal the interior with a wax preparation. After the wine making season, they would return to scrape the tartar covered wax off the walls of the wine tanks. The tartar was then sold on to companies like Royal Baking Powder. The craft has all but disappeared.

Lid found among the effects of a SA soldier killed during WWI - Wikimedia Commons

Lid found among the effects of a SA soldier killed during WWI – Wikimedia Commons

In May 1932 the Royal Baking Powder factory had plans of expanding and a representative of the company visited the KWV and wine farmers in Wellington and Paarl to inform them that they had discovered ways of extracting cream of tartar from wine lees, and had plans to export surplus cream of tartar.

In the 1950s – based on diagrams from the Surveyor General Office – the factory site included a tartar factory, warehouse, pump station, office building, a mill room, a “dop” (wine skins) plant and a lees drying and storage area.

Today the Royal Baking Powder trademark belongs to the Kraft Foods Group.

Sources:
Paarl Post 7 May, 1932 – Royal Bakpoeier Mspy se nuwe stelsel
Paarl Post 9 July, 1932 – Indrukke van ‘n bakpoeierfabriek
Paarl Valley 1687-1987, ed AG Oberholster, HSRC, Pretoria 1987
Wynland, April 2004 – Wynsteen en bakpoeier

2 thoughts on “Royal Baking Powder

  1. My ouma het destyds die staaltjie vertel van die vrou wat (in die Paarl) gearresteer is vir deelname in ‘n betoging in die 1960’s / vroër 1970’s.
    Dit gaan basies as volg:

    Staatsaanklaer: “Mev xxx – u word daarvan beskuldig dat u in ‘n protes optog deelgeneem het en “Black Power” geskree het.”

    Beskuldigde – “Nie Djou Honour, ek het “Bakpoeier” gaskree, ek dag die Bakpoeier fabriek is aan die brand…..”

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