Our Heritage

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From small beginnings in 1889, the Whitaker family has always been dedicated to driving high standards and producing quality chocolates.  For what started as a grocer’s shop in the village of Crosshills over 125 years ago has now grown into a business of worldwide renown.

From Small Beginnings…

The Crosshills grocery shop was started by husband and wife John and Rebecca Whitaker, and staffed with the help of their children Reg and Ida.  Ida trained as a baker at Morecambe and on her return persuaded her father to change his grocer’s shop into a baker’s and confectioners.  Ida began making chocolates in 1903, taught by the wife of the vicar of Kildwick.

The Move to Skipton

In 1926 the shop was transferred to its present site at Skipton High Street and a restaurant was opened above it.  In 1934 Reg married Claire Smith, an employee of the Company,  and they went on to have four children – John, Fred, Peter and Susan.

In 1940 the restaurant was closed for the duration of the war and Ida decided to leave the firm.  She died in 1957.

Post War.

After the war the family decided not to re-enter the restaurant business and leased the premises above the shop to other operators and it has remained this way to the present day.

After Reg’s death, Claire spent most of the rest of her life running the family shop in the High Street as well as overseeing the development of chocolate manufacture on the site of the old bakery in Skipton, forming Whitakers Chocolates Limited in 1961.

John Whitaker

John entered the family business in 1955, aged 19, and helped develop the chocolate operation.  Gradually this began to expand through sales to pubs, hotels, restaurants and shops.

In 1964 Claire and John decided to expand the business and set about developing the chocolate side further. One of the chocolates selected for automation was a mint flavoured product derived from an old nougatine recipe used by Claire’s sister, Mrs Margery Smales, who had worked for the Company previously.

Eventually this product became an international winner and was exported to more than 25 countries as well as being served with coffee in thousands of outlets in the UK.

Foiled Products

In 1988, foil wrapped products were introduced and today more than 50 percent of Whitakers products are foiled, primarily crèmes, crisps, truffles and neapolitans which can be personalised.

The distinctive Whitakers foil design consists of a candelabra with three lighted candles, an idea inspired from the piano of Liberace, and the restaurant environment where our products are often enjoyed.

Today

Today fourth generation chocolatier William, Johns eldest son, is Managing Director and Williams son Robert joined the Company in 2014 to oversee the website, social media and digital marketing developments.

The Whitakers story continues!

Interested in finding out more about the history of Whitakers Chocolates? Check out THIS brilliant article courtesy of Kennedys Confection.