4th August 1906. Soft Soap.

Soap was traditionally made from an alkali of calcined ashes, used in conjunction with animal fat in a process called saponification. Alkalis feel soapy to the skin, but concentrates are corrosive and attack metal.



One of the first soap companies-‘Soapy Joe’s’- was founded in 1830 by Joseph Watson in Leeds locating on the west basin of the canal and near the River Aire, for importation of palm-oil, and the railway for distribution. By 1893 the company was one of the largest in the country producing 600 tons a week.

Watson epitomised in a practical, hard-headed, business way the ideal of self improvement, determination and public benefaction through Leeds Infirmary where there is a monument to his memory.


By the new century raw material price increases saw a move in 1906 to create a monopoly Soap Trust of 20 companies, when Today Joseph Watson and William Lever met in the Grand Hotel London. (1)

However they hadn’t reckoned on The Northcliffe Press which through the Daily Mail campaigned against the Trust backed with a cartoon in October.(2)

As a result of the campaign the Trust was abandoned which had already caused a sales decline in Lever’s Sunlight Soap.



The Watson Family had started in hide-tanning in Leeds, moved into glycerine for dynamite, and became one of the biggest manufacturer of soap rivalling Lever who as a grocer had bought soap from Watson, which he branded ‘Sunlight’. By 1917 Levers had bought the company.

Watson as an associated company introduced Eve Shampoo in 1935. By 1971 the company had become Elida Gibbs which was later to merge with Lever Bros, part of Unilever.(3)


(1) By then Watson had sold most of his shares in the company.

(2) On 22nd October 1906.

(3) Another soap manufacturer Joseph Crosfield, a Quaker was taken by Brunner Mond in 1911, then in 1919 by Levers, in 1929 a subsidiary of Unilever and in 1997 became part of ICI.

Crosfield became part of private capital Ineos Capital (International Ethylene Oxide Sales) in 2001.


Rainwater and distilled water is ‘soft’ and contain fewer ions than ‘hard’, which have high mineral content leached into water from minerals such as limestone which contain Calcium (Ca), and Magnesium (Mg) ions. These have a low froth formation, but can be removed by water softeners.

Limestone contains calcium and forms calcium carbonate (Ca CO 3), and chalk, calcium sulphate (Ca SO 4)


webofevil.livejournal.com/Pic of Sunlight.

The Times 13.10.1906.

leodis.net/discovery.Pic of Venus.

gracesguide.co.uk/watson_and_son.Pic of Matchless.and Eve Shampoo.

The Times 12.4. 1935.

wikipedia.org/baron_manton/Pics of Matchless Women and Cartoon.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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