A Heanor firm, known as the world’s oldest Christmas pudding maker, doubled its workforce in the run-up to December 25.
The Matthew Walker factory on the Heanor Gate Industrial Estate employs around 160 employees, rising to around 350 at peak Christmas time. But the firm work away all year to make around 25 million puddings which are nearly all eaten on just one day of the year – Christmas Day.
The Matthew Walker name has been trading since 1899, starting out from a small factory in Exeter Street, Derby, where the puddings were manufactured until 1967 when the business moved to a purpose-built factory in Heanor.
Marketing executive Matthew Wildsmith said: “Despite producing vast amounts of the puddings, the production process maintains very low levels of automation.
“The majority of our ingredients that arrive at our factory are sorted and weighed by hand which ensures we know only the finest ingredients have gone to make our puddings before they are mixed and filled. Some of our more artisan puddings with hidden centres and toppings are all filled by hand to ensure they look the best when they arrive at the table on Christmas Day.
“These production methods have changed little from when the puddings were being produced over a hundred years ago.”
The business was established in the early 1880’s, by Matthew Walker, a local farmer’s son who started to make and sell his mother’s recipes of pudding and jams. In addition to the UK market, vast numbers of puddings are shipped abroad to countries like Australia, South Africa and the USA. The business has diversified into production of other Christmas fare over the years including mincemeat, preserved, cakes and mince pies however the focus of the business today is around Christmas and sponge puddings.