We’ve been crafting quality biscuits using perfected recipes since 1886.
From when John Cooper Furniss opened his first teashop in the centre of Truro, to Furniss becoming the only company in the world licensed to make The Original Cornish Fairing™ – learn about the history of Furniss by experiencing our story through an interactive timeline.
John Cooper Furniss purchased premises in East Bridge Street and Duchy Wharf, Truro, where he installed ovens.
Furniss Island is a quiet park on the banks of the River Allen just before it meets the Kenwyn in Truro, and is a short walk from New Bridge Street and Lemon Quay.
It was named after the Furniss biscuit factory which once ran its factory in Truro overlooking this green area.
John Cooper Furniss opened his first tea shop in the centre of Truro. Every night, he would work into the small hours, preparing delicious gingerbread and celebrated Fairings ready to serve fresh the next day.
His passion for using only the best ingredients, sourced locally where possible, and exacting attention to detail quickly secured the Furniss teashop a reputation for serving up the tastiest biscuits in town. Soon orders were pouring in from surrounding areas and Furniss had no choice but to expand. Within a decade, Furniss biscuit boxes with their distinctive logo were a standard feature in grocers and provisions shops across Cornwall.
“John Cooper Furniss left a legacy of Furniss shares (later converted to Charibonds) to a small municipal charity – known in Truro as ‘Furniss Coal’. The Trustee of the Fund is Truro City Council and it annually gives coal to disadvantaged households within the parish of Truro. Each November advertisements appear advising people to apply to a number of councillor ‘agents’, each assigned to a number of streets. They issue ‘Furniss Tickets’ at their discretion. Whilst demand for coal as a domestic fuel is rapidly reducing, current recipients include both elderly and younger who rely on coal for heat.”
“In the meantime, the Furniss Coal Charity quietly celebrates the industry, philanthropy and common sense of John Cooper Furniss and operates each year.”
(Source: Truro City Council – www.truro.gov.uk)
“Mr Furniss was a fair employer and a philanthropist. As well as donating significant sums to build Truro Cathedral, he discreetly provided a royalty on every tin of Tom Trot’s humbugs to the victim of a site accident when Mr Glanville lost both legs as a ‘bosun’s chair’ lift ran away from the western towers and crashed. Mr Furniss died towards the end of the C19th but left both an enduring product and a good business behind.”
(Source: Truro City Council – www.truro.gov.uk)
Tom Trott tin – (as provided by John Husband who wrote about the history of Furniss).
The name Tom Trott for a variety of toffee occurs all over England and dates back several centuries. I imagine John Furniss adapted the traditional recipe for his product, in the same way as he did for the fairings. The man who lost his legs in the cathedral accident was called Richard Granville, and his picture appears on the tin. After the accident Mr Furniss paid the family a royalty for every tin sold.
On July 8th 1908 a serious accident took place, the only one occurring during the building work. A steam lift had been raised to the top of one of the western towers to take the construction workers to the bottom after their morning shift, but the safety device had not been applied correctly. As the men stepped into the cage their weight caused it to plummet 70 feet to the ground with six men inside. Five escaped with less severe injuries, but 51 year-old Richard Granville sustained damage to both legs which had to be amputated. He was given artificial limbs but was unable to work again and received £300 in compensation. He also received assistance, and also achieved a degree of fame, from a local businessman (see John Cooper Furniss), and lived for another 25 years.
This 1950’s video shows just how cutting edge Furniss was at the time! Although the bakery equipment has been replaced over the years, we still operate using many of the same processes, including a ‘Wire Cut’ to shape the biscuits and a ‘Travelling Oven’ to bake them in.
Furniss bakery relocated to Redruth, and renamed “Furniss of Cornwall”
The Furniss iconic biscuit brand was rescued by local Cornish pasty company Proper Cornish Ltd., following Furniss falling into administration.
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