Spratt's Patent Limited factory, Poplar
Patent House, Fawe Street, Explore #19, March 7, 2008.
Located in Poplar, East London is the former factory site of dog-food pioneer James Spratt, built in 1899. An American electrician, Spratt saw the chewy gristle meal that London market porters made for their dogs and realised the commercial potential for canning and baking his own versions. Brands such as Bonio resulted, and the business also diversified into food for other pets. Before 1914 the factory also made food for human consumption under the "Poplar" brand. In the Boer War 4 million biscuits a week were made for the British Army.
Spratts was one of the most heavily marketed brands in the early 20th century, with heavy recognition of the brand through clever logo development, lifestyle advertising and support through devices such as cigarette cards.
Today, the factory is a well-preserved site with about 100 live-work units called Limehouse Cut, after the canal running along the northern edge. Much of the original markings are visible on the buildings, with names painted on the DLR track-side walls, and on the small chimney visible from Morris Road.