By John Baskerville Bagnall
Arthur Shannon was my uncle (my mother was Gladys Shannon, Arthur’s younger sister). The family story is that Arthur Shannon was ‘Mr Weet-Bix’ and the inventor in Sydney during the 1920s of the famous breakfast biscuit now manufactured and marketed by the Sanitarium Health Food Company (SHF).
My great-niece Phoebe Cheung was intrigued by the story of ‘Mr Weet-Bix’ and went searching online to find out more. She found entries in Wikipedia and Timespanner which suggested a different beginning for Weet-Bix. She was challenged and perhaps affronted by the various stories on line which largely ignored her ‘famous’ great-great uncle, Arthur Shannon. She asked me through her grandmother, GF Ann Powrie, to clarify who did invent Weet-Bix and what role Arthur Shannon played in the early history. The answer may surprise us all.
The very beginning
The Weet-Bix story needs to be understood in the context of 19th-century American social and religious history, especially the early history of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church and its two prominent leaders Mrs Ellen White and Dr John Harvey Kellogg. White was considered a ‘messenger of the Lord’ and wrote on religion and health reform from about 1863. Her health reform message and his medical training were given practical application by Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, USA.
The early and mid parts of the 19th century in the USA saw a religious fervour or awakening driven by William Miller and his interpretation of Biblical prophecy. Miller taught that Christ would come and the present world end in October 1844 based on his understanding of the Biblical books, Daniel and The Revelation. He believed the ‘cleansing of the sanctuary’, a phrase from the book of Daniel, applied to the cleansing of the earth at the second coming of Jesus. He and others led a movement which stirred many including Ellen White and her family to accept his teachings.
Christ did not come in 1844 and the excitement passed with disappointment for and ridicule of the so called ‘Millerites’. Many fell away and returned to their former churches or lost their faith. A few studied the scriptures anew and they determined that the ‘cleansing of the sanctuary’ in fact referred to the cleansing of a heavenly sanctuary prior to the second coming which would take place soon but not on a particular, known date.
These believers were enthused anew to preach their understanding of scripture and by 1862 many were organised into a movement known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church . The new name proclaimed their fundamental beliefs in the binding nature of the Biblical Ten Commandments and the seventh-day Sabbath and the Second Advent or Coming of Christ.
SDAs were active promoters of a healthy lifestyle and especially a healthy diet including vegetarianism. Ellen White wrote extensively on health reform in The Ministry of Healing and in Testimonies, which were later compiled in Counsels on Diet and Food. Kellogg, an early SDA physician, famously ran the Battle Creek Sanitarium where ill, distraught and overfed citizens were given health treatments, an exercise regime and a healthy vegetarian diet. Kellogg treated many of the rich and famous in the USA at the end of the 19th century. White and Kellogg eventually disagreed over theology but they had a remarkable and symbiotic relationship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America and Australia.
Health food production in the USA
Kellogg was keen to produce healthy breakfast foods to replace the unsuitable diet of most Americans of the time. Kellogg and his brother, William Keith Kellogg, usually known as Will, started at Battle Creek to use grain cooked, rolled and baked, to make various healthy foods promoted as suitable not only for breakfast but for other meals as well. The products were of course served at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. These pre-digested foods were aimed to reduce dyspepsia in many of the Battle Creek patients. The Kelloggs’ most famous product still associated with their name, is Cornflakes.
However, their first product was a mixture of grains called Granola . In 1894, the Kellogg brothers discovered by accident that if moisture was allowed to move evenly through the cooked grain then the grain could be easily rolled with the individual flakes preserved, ready for baking. The new flaked product they named Granose . Kellogg, on 31 May 1894, patented the process of preparing flaked cereals from wheat, barley, oats, corn and other grains. In addition, with wheat the rolled flakes were pressed into biscuits and baked. This invention by Kellogg changed the eating habits of the Western world. Cereals appeared on the breakfast table and were even advertised as suitable for every meal and indeed as a snack between meals.
SDA message to Australia
The SDA Church sent missionaries from the USA to Australia and New Zealand to preach the distinctive Adventist message – the soon coming of Jesus, the Sabbath, the state of the dead, and health reform including abstinence from tobacco and alcohol and the adoption of a healthy, mainly vegetarian diet. The missionaries arrived in Sydney on 6 June 1885 and rapidly progressed to Melbourne. There they made converts and started the Bible Echo Publishing Company. In 1888, a new group of SDAs arrived in Sydney mainly from New Zealand, and in late 1890 an SDA minister, Pastor David Steed, arrived in Sydney from Tasmania. Pastor Steed commenced meetings in the Newtown Town Hall that drew large crowds. Pastor Steed was assisted by Pastor Arthur Grosvenor Daniells. Included in those who joined the Sydney church of SDAs were Robert and Sarah Shannon, the parents of Arthur Governor Daniells Shannon and the grandparents of the author. The Shannons and the Daniells had become firm friends and Arthur Shannon was named in honour of Pastor AG Daniells, but ‘Grosvenor’ somehow became ‘Governor’ in the baby’s name.
The Adventist pioneer and messenger of the Lord, Ellen White, was invited in 1891 by the Foreign Mission Board of the SDA Church in the USA to visit Australia and New Zealand, which she did. She was by then a widow and was accompanied on the journey by her son William C White. She arrived in Sydney on 7 December 1891.
Health food production in Australia and the Sanitarium Health Food Company
The word of Kellogg’s health food products reached the early SDAs in Australia. They were keen to have non-meat products available and were encouraged by Ellen White and her son in healthful living. In 1897, they received 20 cases of health products to be distributed through the publishing company, the Bible Echo. The need for local production was obvious because of the tyranny of time and distance to bring products from Battle Creek.
Willie White, as he was known, was instrumental in establishing a health food factory to make and place upon the market Granola and Caramel Cereal. These were followed by Granose biscuits and a general line of healthful biscuits and other foods. Edward Halsey, a Kellogg baker from Battle Creek, came to Melbourne to supervise the manufacture of the products and, on 27 April 1898, the Sanitarium Health Food Agency was registered as a business.
However, the products produced in Melbourne did not include Granose. The first Granose mill was purchased from Willie White, who had secured one when he was in the United States. He brought it into Australia and it was stored in the Melbourne plant. It was not used until it was installed in Cooranbong, NSW, late in 1899. The move to Cooranbong was authorised by the denomination’s Health Food Committee as the Church had already established a Missionary College there. SHF had to import a biscuit cutting machine and a Granose biscuit press from America to add to the Granose mill. Now all was in place to manufacture and market Granose and other health foods for the new century.
In May 1899, Halsey, the American baker, started at the Cooranbong factory and by July 1899 he produced and sold the first Granose biscuits ever made in Australia. By 1910, there were six full-time workers and seventeen part-time student workers. Production from the factory included 45 tons of Granose and another Granose mill was in place to cope with the increased demand. The Great War brought both difficulties and opportunities to the SHF. The price of wheat, the main ingredient of Granose, rose substantially and wheat supplies were uncertain, but Granola and Granose were also bought by the Australian government to help feed the troops. This introduced Granose to a wider market.
There was a remarkable growth in Granose output during and after World War One. From the end of the war until the mid 1920s production at the Cooranbong factory increased substantially thanks to a rebuilding of the plant. There is a contemporary description of the factory in the Australasian Record of 30 October 1932:
The entire ground floor of the food industries is given over to the storing of raw materials and machinery for manufacturing. This includes three large revolving ovens and several flaking mills, besides Granose presses, mixers, biscuit-stamping machines etc. Two of the ovens are used mainly for making Granose. The largest is capable of baking ten thousand Granose Biscuits at a time and the smaller one about half the quantity. These ovens are usually revolving day and night, three shifts a day, six days a week. When fully working, the quantity of biscuits averages about eighteen tons per week.
In the years from 1923 to 1926-27 new mills and presses were ordered to supply an increasing demand for Granose. But also after the war and into the 1920s, rival health food or breakfast cereal food companies appeared on the horizon.
Competition for the SHF
At some time between 1919 and 1922, CV Rowell and JB Aulsebrook went into business to manufacture cereal and grain foods at 3 Parramatta Road, Concord, NSW. Production was based on Rowell’s discovery of a method to produce ‘puffballs’ of wheat or rice. The Cerix Puffed Wheat Company Limited (Cerix) was formed in July 1922 to take over the business of Rowell and Aulsebrook. Cerix did not make flakes or biscuits but nevertheless provided competition in the instant breakfast food market. Another competitor in cereal foods was Purina Grains.
An important competitor for the wheat biscuit market was established in Sydney in about 1923. The company was Cereal Foods Limited. Its product was Vita-Brits. The sales manager for Vita-Brits was JH Camp, who had been until then the general secretary of the SHF. As general secretary, he was the manager over all the company business and would have known the company’s trade secrets, but he had a falling out with church leaders and left the SHF. Roy Cross summed up Camp precisely: ‘He knew biscuits so he offered his services to Cereal Foods and they took him on.’ Surely Camp brought with him more than just marketing skills because the new product was very like Granose, only sweeter.
Other rivals included Kelloggs, making breakfast cereals in Sydney from 1924. Their main product was Corn Flakes but they later added a wheat biscuit to their cereal lines.
Grain Products Limited
The company that was to provide SHF with its greatest competitor to Granose in the 1920s was Grain Products Limited (GPL). SHF, with its emphasis on the healthy nature of Granose, had eschewed the use of sugar in the manufacture of the Granose biscuit. This avoidance of sugar was no doubt linked to Ellen White’s writings on the subject. White wrote:
Sugar is not good for the stomach. Far too much sugar is ordinarily used in food. Sugar clogs the system. It hinders the working of the living machine.
Granose biscuits were wholesome and healthy but lacked the flavour to turn them into the breakfast of a nation. The genius of the men behind GPL was to take the Granose formula, add sugar and malt in limited amounts, and thus produce a more palatable and saleable product. In the chapter on the Sanitarium Health Food Company in Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific, Robert Parr states:
It is also believed that the idea of a sweetened malted biscuit was first discussed at a camp meeting in Sydney about 1922 and that Shannon was involved in those discussions.
Those involved in the discussions were probably four men: Bennison Osborne, Norman Jeffes, Frederick Foots and Arthur Shannon.
All were practising Seventh-day Adventists and probably all attended the Stanmore SDA Church, where Shannon was the senior elder (lay leader) of the congregation. Norman Jeffes’ son, Donald, states that his father had got to know Shannon and that Shannon asked him to help make a sweet cereal biscuit similar to Granose. Jeffes resisted the idea as he saw it as going in opposition to the church, but when Cereal Foods started Vita-Brits in 1923 that objection was removed and so Jeffes helped Shannon to produce Weet-Bix.
Shannon and his wife Natalie were overseas in North America and Europe in 1925. In North America, their travels took them through the USA and into Mexico and Canada. In a letter to family at home, he writes of attending many Adventist churches and institutions including Pacific Press and Loma Linda Sanitarium in California, Hinsdale Sanitarium near Chicago and, significantly, Battle Creek where he inspected the new tabernacle and visited the Battle Creek Food Company and the WK Kellogg Food Company. This suggests that by 1925, Shannon had a real interest in starting a breakfast food business. By the time the letter was published, Sarah Shannon, Arthur’s mother, had died and he and Natalie cut short their travels in Britain to return home in August 1925.
It is likely that after Shannon’s return, he established Grain Products Limited in late 1925 or early 1926. Don Jeffes thinks that the year was 1925 . Certainly, the Sydney Morning Herald of 29 October 1926 published the results of the second Weet-Bix Missing Words Competition and by 11 May 1927, the Evening Post in New Zealand carried large advertisements for Weet-Bix. So my preference is for an establishment date as early as 1925 and not later than the first part of 1926. The Shannon family provided the finance and although no records exist, it is likely that the totality of the shares in GPL were owned by the Shannons.
Arthur Shannon was born in Sydney on 4 May 1894. He was the third child and second son of Robert and Sarah Shannon. He attended a day school located in the Stanmore SDA Church hall and later he undertook a course in mechanical drawing in the years 1910, 1911 and 1912, with the Technical Education Branch, NSW Department of Public Instruction. He went thereafter into the family business.
In 1917, Arthur Shannon married Natalie Ellison Bridgett (born 1896 in Rockhampton, Queensland), who with her family attended the Stanmore SDA Church where Shannon was already by this time an active member and lay preacher. From 1919, when Arthur Shannon ran a lay mission with Egbert Adderton in the Fairfield area, there were other missions in the Ashfield, Haberfield and Leichhardt areas in which Arthur Shannon would preach. He was assisted in the missions by Stanmore members including Jeffes and Osborne. Allan Forbes remembers that Arthur Shannon helped Pastor George Marriott run two missions in Sydney. One would preach at a one mission while the other was at the other meeting, and then the next night they would change over. Shannon was a very good layman and very interested in the church and its progress. He was also a very good businessman.
With his brothers William and Reuben, Shannon by the 1920s had taken over the management of various family property and business interests, especially Shannon’s Brick Tile and Pottery Company Proprietary Limited, in both Sydney and Brisbane, as their father Robert Shannon became more elderly. The properties and businesses were owned jointly by the five children of Robert and Sarah Shannon, either as individuals or through family companies.
Robert Shannon had been an immigrant bricklayer from Ballynahinch, Co. Down, Northern Ireland who became a builder and property developer and the founder of the brick and tile manufacturing company in Sydney and Brisbane. Arthur Shannon had himself started other businesses on behalf of the family. The various companies happily employed many new Seventh-day Adventists who had been thrown out of work elsewhere for choosing to observe the Saturday Sabbath in accordance with the Ten Commandments and SDA teaching.
Bennison Osborne was born in Newcastle, NSW in 1895 and died in NSW in 1980. His parents were English migrants to Australia, with some of their six children. His father Henry married Mary Elizabeth early in 1883 in Yorkshire, so Bennison was named for his mother’s family. In Australia the family became early members of the SDA church.
As a young single man, Osborne was in church employment as a canvasser (book salesman) in outback Queensland from March 1919 to December 1920, when he came to Sydney to continue his church service, probably as a Bible worker. He ultimately left church employment to join GPL, essentially in sales. He was by then about thirty years old, still single and an experienced salesman. He is mentioned only once by Parr and Litster in ‘What Hath God Wrought!’, as ‘managing the operation’ , being a reference to GPL. He is also mentioned in Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific as one of the four men who in the early 1920s started to manufacture flaked biscuits in Sydney and as the general manager. Alan Evans worked for GPL and remembers Benn Osborne as ‘on sales’.
Osborne, as a member of the Stanmore Church signed, along with other church members, an album given to Arthur and Nat Shannon when they travelled overseas in March 1925. At Stanmore Church he was a close friend of George Hardwicke, whose mother Isobel later worked for a time at the Weet-Bix factory to help put George through medicine at Sydney University.
In the Weet-Bix entry in Wikipedia, a bold claim is made that Weet-Bix was ‘invented by Bennison Osborne’ and that ‘Benn set out to make a product more palatable than Granose’. This is an over-simplification of what actually happened. Osborne played a part in the development of the new and more palatable biscuit, but his skills were largely in management and sales. The trademark and name ‘Weet-Bix’ was owned by GPL and not Osborne as claimed in the Wikipedia entry.
The sales area of GPL was strengthened by Malcolm Ian Macfarlane, from New Zealand. Macfarlane married Mabel Anderson at Lower Hutt, New Zealand, according to the rites of the SDA Church in 1926. He probably came to Australia and joined GPL soon thereafter. He was a friend of Osborne and Macfarlane is described in the Wikipedia entry as ‘a brilliant marketeer’. Macfarlane and Osborne will make later appearances in the Weet-Bix story in New Zealand, South Africa and the UK.
There is utter confusion in a string of entries in Timespanner: A journey through Avondale, Auckland and NZ history. It reproduces an article said to be from the Auckland Sun, 21 December 1921 – note the date! The article has Weet-Bix as a New Zealand product, invented 2 or 3 years ago, i.e. 1918 or 1919. The truth is that the Auckland Sun was only published for a short period from 1927 to 1930, after which it was incorporated into the Auckland Star. So, the article in the Auckland Sun cannot have been published in 1921 and Weet-Bix was not a New Zealand creation.
Weet-Bix were imported into New Zealand from Sydney and manufacturing was started by GPL in New Zealand but not until 1927 or 1928. Although Weet-Bix was not a New Zealand invention, it prospered as a popular breakfast food in New Zealand. In Timespanner, the Osborne descendants claim again that ‘Daddy [Bennison Osborne] invented Weetbix [sic] in NSW’. As previously stated, Osborne did play a part in the development of Weet-Bix and no doubt his nieces and nephews, some of the children of his two brothers and two sisters, did test the product, but it is too bold a claim to say he ‘invented’ Weet-Bix.
There are two more names to be considered: Norman Jeffes and Frederick Foots.
Norman Fisher Jeffes was born 24 September 1896 at Enmore, NSW, and died in South Africa on 3 June 1963. He was a Seventh-day Adventist. At the age of eleven years he had joined the SDA Church. His mother became familiar with the Advent message by reading a church paper, Signs of the Times. Jeffes had two sisters, Evelyn and Sybil, and a brother, Clement. He attended the Australasian Missionary College (now Avondale College), a Church educational institution at Cooranbong, NSW. Jeffes left college and started a confectionary business in Sydney funded by Arthur Shannon. He married Ivy Linda Sonter on 26 June 1918. Ivy and her family were early members of the Epping Seventh-day Adventist Church, which had been established in 1902.
Jeffes and his wife attended the Stanmore Church and were friends with Arthur and Natalie Shannon and the author’s parents, William and Gladys Bagnall (nee Shannon). In fact when the Jeffes moved to South Africa, Gladys continued a regular correspondence with Ivy. Jeffes’ confectionery business was driven to the wall by larger competitors with predatory pricing. Thereafter, Jeffes went to work for Cereal Foods helping to make Vita-Brits. No doubt as a student at Avondale he would have worked at the SHF factory making Granose and so he had good experience in the production of breakfast biscuits.
Sonter, Jeffes’ brother-in-law, makes the claim that: ‘It was while he was with them [Cereal Foods] that he thought out the Weet-Bix formula’. Once again this is a family member’s claim to the invention of Weet-Bix by his relative by marriage but it does have a ring of authenticity, bearing in mind his practical experience both at SHF (Granose) and Cereal Foods (Vita-Brits). Sonter acknowledges that Shannon funded Jeffes again to get GPL going. Sonter gives the date of 1927 for the establishment of GPL but acknowledges that ‘I am not sure of the dates’. Glynn Litster says that ‘Shannon also was able to employ Norman Jeffes, an engineer, who was able to prepare and operate the biscuit-making machinery’. Don Jeffes’ story is that Shannon asked his father to help make a sweet cereal biscuit similar to Granose but that he resisted this as he saw it as going into opposition with the church until Cereal Foods started Vita-Brits in 1923. This story supports the view that the idea for a sweetened biscuit was around before 1923 and gives credence to the camp meeting story of 1922.
It is not possible to determine whether Jeffes took the idea of a sweetened biscuit to Shannon or whether Shannon had the idea and asked Jeffes to assist in the manufacture. There is no doubt, however, that both men were closely involved with the development of Weet-Bix. Weet-Bix was described in contemporary advertising as being the result of ‘much thought and scientific study’ and using ‘the choicest wheat the Colonies grew’. We will return to Jeffes as the subsequent story of Weet-Bix unfolds.
Frederick ‘Footes’ is included in a photograph, circa 1920, as one of the bakers in the SHF factory at Cooranbong. He was born in 1882 in Young, NSW, and married Angelina Fifield in 1909. His birth was registered as ‘Footes’ but he was married as a ‘Foots’ and the latter is the spelling generally adopted by the family and used in official records. Foots also worked as a baker for SHF in New Zealand. According to Glynn Litster, Foots knew the recipe for Granose. Litster interviewed Stan Faull, a former SHF employee. Faull says ‘Fred W Foots worked at Cooranbong and knew the way biscuits were made and then went and helped Weet-Bix get set up’.
Foots with his family left for New Zealand on the Manuka on 10 September 1921. He moved from the Health Food Factory at Avondale to the Health Food Factory in Christchurch, and he was by then an experienced and senior biscuit maker. He returned to Sydney for health reasons, as his wife could not stand the winter cold of Christchurch. In Australia, he was unemployed and not taken back to work for the SHF, so he took his family to the country to be cared for by his wife’s sister, Charlotte, and her family in Parkes, NSW. Foots and his son Mark, then a twelve-year-old, walked and hitched their way from Parkes to Sydney to look for work. He was a Seventh-day Adventist and met up with Shannon, Osborne and Jeffes at the Stanmore Church. According to Roy Cross: ‘Foots joined them and showed them how to make Weet-Bix. This was for Shannon’. At his funeral in 1968, Foots was described as ‘having worked out the recipe for Weet-Bix’
Who invented Weet-Bix?
So what then can we say about the question ‘Who invented Weet-Bix?’ Weet-Bix was a great success and as the proverb says: ‘Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan’. My view is that each of Shannon, Osborne, Foots and Jeffes contributed to the success of Weet-Bix. If credit has to be given to ‘inventing’ Weet-Bix, then I would say Foots and Jeffes deserve recognition for developing and manufacturing the product, and Osborne for marketing Weet-Bix. But it would not have happened without Arthur Shannon. Glynn Litster in the Signs of the Times states: ‘Weet-Bix was the brainchild of Arthur Shannon’. He had the genius of bringing them all together and then providing the finance and the corporate structure and management. It is Shannon who has rightly gone down in history as ‘Mr Weet-Bix’
The Tavener’s Hill factory
The Grain Products factory producing Weet-Bix was at 659-661 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt, NSW. The premises were not far from the Stanmore Church and the Shannon family had extensive property holdings along Parramatta Road. Next door to Grain Products Ltd and at 663 Parramatta Road was Retailers Paper Bags Mfg. Co., owned and operated by Shannon’s. It is not known whether the factory was built specifically for Grain Products or whether Arthur Shannon took over an existing building for the new enterprise.The GPL building was on Parramatta Road between George Street and Upward Street. The factory stretched from a frontage on Parramatta Road to a back entrance and yard off McAleer Street. Arthur Shannon had a listing in the Sands Directory for the years 1926 to 1929 inclusive, for either 657 or 659 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt.
The factory was basic, although it must have had grain presses and mixers and ovens. It is not known where Shannon obtained these items. The marketers described the factory as ‘equipped with the finest and most up-to-date plant obtainable’. Alan Evans worked for GPL at Taverner’s Hill, Leichhardt. He remembers the machinery as very crude. To get the bags of wheat from the ground floor to the top floor, the bags were hitched to a rope through a pulley and the other end was pulled by a horse that walked out into the yard. When the bag of wheat reached the top, it was pulled into the cooker floor by the cooker. Evans recalls that for a time he lived with Shannon at his home and that Shannon ‘paid my fare to work as I was so poor’.
Shannon had a reputation for kindness to his staff and fellow-believers. That kindness was also recalled by Thelma Brown, nee Cappe. Thelma lived with her parents and four younger siblings in Rowley Street, Camperdown, and the family attended the Stanmore SDA Church after Pastor Marriott’s mission in 1918. Shannon asked her mother how old Thelma was, with a view to her starting work at the factory. Because of her age, she had to have a doctor’s certificate to say she was strong enough to work in a factory. She was born on 9 October 1912 and began work at Grain Products aged 14 years and 3 weeks, early in November 1926.
Her recollection was that Weet-Bix was still in its experimental stages and she described herself as ‘the first outside girl’ and ‘the first employee to work there outside the family’. By November 1926, the production of Weet-Bix was well under way and beyond the experimental stage for the manufacture of regular Weet-Bix. Thelma Brown told her daughters, Janice and Elaine, that experimentation was carried out on ‘Date-Bix’ but this was unsuccessful as the biscuit was so soft that it did not hold its shape. So this is probably the ‘experimental stages’ that Thelma Brown referred to in her recorded conversation.
At first, she remembered making up boxes, folding the cardboard boxes. But at another time, Norman Jeffes the manager had her removing trays of Weet-Bix from the oven. She wore an apron and big gloves to protect her body, hands and arms from the heat of the revolving oven. It was described by Thelma as ‘automatic’ and when the oven stopped ‘you had to take the trays out and put them on a conveyor belt’. The trays were too heavy for a slightly built girl to manage easily and she was a bit slow removing them from the oven. Struggling to keep up she dropped a tray and Norman Jeffes shouted at her. ‘I took off me apron and went home,’ she said. When she reached home her father was sitting outside and asked: ‘What are you doing home, girl?’ ‘And I said Norm Jeffes spoke to me like a pig.’
The following morning, a car pulled up outside and the driver, Bob Schrowder, came to ask her to go to see Mr Shannon to find out what had happened. She was reluctant, but her mother told her:
I had to go down to the office to see what Mr Shannon wanted when he was good enough to send the car for me. She said I didn’t have to go back to work there if I didn’t want to. They were going to bring me back home. I told Mr Shannon why I walked out, he believed me, I was telling the truth. He called in Norm Jeffes.
Shannon treated her very courteously and had Jeffes put her back at a task she was able to handle. She never forgot the pleasure of sitting up in style to be driven to meet with Mr Shannon, nor the respect he had for her fragile dignity. She worked there for about twelve months and looking back thought she should have stayed because ‘Arthur Shannon wanted to train me’. Thelma Brown also recalled a ‘Weet-Bix bus picnic’ where seats were put across the tray of a motor lorry to transport the employees from the pick-up point near Stanmore Church. She took two of her brothers with her on the picnic.
The naming of Weet-Bix
There are two stories about the naming of the new product as ‘Weet-Bix’. Our family story is that Iris Clarke, who later married Arthur Bagnall, the author’s paternal uncle, cast the deciding vote in a family discussion in favour of naming the new breakfast food Weet-Bix.Iris was born 22 June 1912 at Lithgow, NSW. As an 11-year-old girl, Iris lived with her family next door to Arthur and Natalie Shannon at Abbotsford and the Shannons took her to church with them. Shannon had asked the Clarkes to help him find a name for the product and they came up with ‘Weet-Bix’.
Alan Evans recalled that:
when Shannon came to name it, he brought two packets into the factory and showed the girls that were packing it. The two names that I remember were Sun-Bix and Weet-Bix. He held up two packets and though the Sun-Bix packet was a nicer looking packet the staff thought that because the biscuit was made of wheat, the name Weet-Bix was the better name. The majority put their hands up for Weet-Bix. I can still see them doing it whilst they were packing.
There is perhaps no conflict between the stories as Iris’s story implies a choice of names, although if Iris was only eleven years old when she chose Weet-Bix as the name, it places the development of a sweetened malted biscuit as early as 1923, following the camp meeting discussions in 1922 referred to earlier. It could be that Evans recalled a time when the packaging was to be changed, or even a new name contemplated. Surely the product the girls were packing must have had a name and the packages a label.
The marketing of Weet-Bix
Shannon and Osborne decided to develop a new way of marketing Weet-Bix. Rather than requiring grocers to pay up front for the product, they would sell on consignment. Ten Chevrolet trucks were put on the road and sent throughout the suburbs. With little storage space at Taverner’s Hill, Weet-Bix were made and then delivered the next day. The salesmen would collect the cash for goods sold in the previous week and at the same time deliver fresh supplies. Parr and Litster noted that: ‘The Shannon method was especially appealing to grocers, and so was his product’.
One story from Alan Evans confirms the popularity of Weet-Bix. A grocer in Bay Street, Brighton-le-Sands rang up to say he was out of Weet-Bix:
He asked that we get him some right away as his customers wanted more. The men (probably Jeffes and Osborne) knew that I went that way home at Allawah (a nearby suburb to Brighton-le-Sands) and told me to get off the train, take a tram to Bay Street and deliver a dozen packets of Weet-Bix to the grocer. This was the first extra sale that the company made apart from the weekly delivery by van.
As to marketing, Evans recalls that one of the advertising ideas that was used was ‘dodgers with rhymes and jingles’. People had to complete these and send them in to GPL. The entries were all put in a wheat bag and the first one pulled out that was good, was the winner. In the Sydney Morning Herald on 29 October 1926, there is a list of winners of the Weet-Bix Missing Word Competition. The salesmen took the competition entries to the grocers and customers guessed the missing words and returned the entries to GPL. The winners in the October 1926 competition were mostly in the suburbs around the factory at Taverner’s Hill. On 8 February 1928, there was in the SMH an advertisement for the ‘Johnny Weet-Bix’ competition. It was a poem with missing words to be completed by the contestants. The entries were to be returned to GPL at 659 Parramatta Road, Leichhardt.
In the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 22 June 1927, there is a report that at the local Show, Thomas Brown and Sons had a display of Cerix Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice, and Weet-Bix, and Eta Peanut Butter. So it had not taken too long for the product to go interstate. The price of Weet-Bix in June 1928 was 2 pound packets (full weight), 1 shilling and sixpence. Weet-Bix were so popular in Rockhampton that a horse entered in the Hack Handicap at the Easter Race meeting on 29 March 1928 was named ‘Weet-Bix’. Whether the horse was fed Weet-Bix as well as chaff we will never know!
Weet-Bix was also being sold in New Zealand. In the New Zealand Evening Post of 27 July 1927, there is an advertisement for the ‘Weet-Bix Annual Competition’. The decision of Grain Products in selecting the winner was said to be final. In the same newspaper of 19 December 1927, Weet-Bix were advertised with ‘coupons in the packet’, the ‘Johnny Weet-Bix Missing Words’ competition, and the results of a recipe competition. These advertisements clearly suggest that the marketing of Weet-Bix was keen and effective on both sides of the Tasman, a credit to Bennison Osborne and those in charge of sales.
Grain Products’ impact on SHF
Weet-Bix was clearly hurting the sales of SHF’s Granose biscuits and there was some attempt by SHF to adopt fresh marketing techniques and advertising. The loss of market share caused consternation to the SHF management and more importantly in the hierarchy of the SDA Church. This displeasure with Weet-Bix in the SHF and the Church is referred to in ‘What Hath God Wrought!’, where Parr and Litster say:
Others wanted to know why Arthur Shannon had to muscle in on the breakfast food market and still others declared that Shannon’s Grain Products was a stab in the back.
Perhaps also some were offended by the pragmatic adding of sugar despite what Ellen White had written about the adverse effects of sugar in the diet. Parr and Litster defend Shannon from these attacks saying: ‘This loyal and generous man had every right to make a breakfast food if he wanted to, without impugning his integrity.’
To maintain and grow their share in the grain products market, SHF improved its sales methods but, more significantly, SHF decided to try and buy out its immediate competitors in Australia and New Zealand. They bought the business of Cerix Puffed Wheat Pty Ltd in 1929-30 after protracted negotiations with the proprietors (see Cerix Puffed Wheat for more). The price paid was £26,148 for the business, but not the premises at 3 Parramatta Road, Concord. The proprietors of Cerix do not appear to have had any connection with the SDA Church, nor was the business ever owned by Shannon, though perhaps the factory premises were.
The purchase of GPL and its iconic brand Weet-Bix was for the SHF a significant step in its growth. In fact, Parr and Litster say that the purchase of Weet-Bix from Arthur Shannon ‘proved to be the greatest step forward the company (SHF) had ever taken’. Here is how it happened.
The Weet-Bix business was, in 1928, a great success. The product was popular, the selling was well-targeted and the factory, although primitive by today’s standards, was manufacturing sufficient product even though it did not operate on the Sabbath. This was from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday in accordance with the SDA beliefs of Arthur Shannon and the others. GPL provided many SDAs, including new converts, with Sabbath-free work. It was difficult at the time to find regular employment that did not require attendance on Saturday morning and many new SDAs lost their jobs when they joined the Church.
Shannon was no doubt aware of the hostility of some in the SHF and the Church generally towards Weet-Bix because of its success and the impact of that success on Granose. Also, he may have offended some of the health-reform advocates in the Church by adding sugar and malt to the ‘pure’ product Granose.
The impact of Weet-Bix on the SHF reached the highest levels of church administration. Pastor CK Myers, an ordained minister of the Church and Vice-President of the General Conference of SDAs in the USA, came to Australia in 1928 and it was he who persuaded Shannon to sell. Myers said that GPL was ‘hurting the work’. This was a reference to the work of the Church and its health food arm, the SHF. Alan Evans recalled the events in an interview with Glynn Litster:
CK Myers who had been in Australia had gone to the General Conference, came out to Australia, and because he was friendly with Arthur Shannon he had a talk with him saying that this was going against God’s work with a sweeter more popular biscuit. Shannon was a good member and so he sold the business to the denomination.
So Shannon sold out. Parr, in Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific claims that ‘Shannon was not averse to having an offer made for the business.’ But Parr offers no evidence, apart from the sale itself. Similarly Litster states that Shannon ‘willingly sold his Australian business to the SHF.’ It is equally likely that Shannon sold under some duress from Myers. After all, he and the others had established, within just a few years, a very successful business.
Weet-Bix was a flourishing business making the most popular breakfast biscuit on the market at the time. It was sold very cheaply by Shannon and on generous terms, including an option to purchase the New Zealand business which was a distributing agency. The deal was especially good for the SHF when compared with what the company paid for Cerix (£26,148) at about the same time. Cerix was a small enterprise and was in debt to its distributors at the time SHF took over Cerix. The official date of the sale of GPL was 30 October 1928.
SHF continued to manufacture Weet-Bix in the premises at 659 Parramatta Road, Taverner’s Hill, for some years. They paid rent of £15 per week to Shannon, who continued ownership of the factory. The author’s brother, Arthur Henry Bagnall, recalls going as a child with our father William Henry Bagnall, to the factory to collect the rent for Shannon.
Weet-Bix in New Zealand
For some time prior to October 1928, GPL had been marketing Weet-Bix in New Zealand. Parr notes that at the time of the sale of Weet-Bix in Australia, GPL had also branched out into New Zealand. It is likely that prior to 1928, GPL marketed Weet-Bix in New Zealand using a manufacturer’s agent, who imported the product and distributed it to the grocers.
There were advertisements in the New Zealand press for Weet-Bix. In the Evening Post of 30 July 1927, an advertisement appeared for the Weet-Bix Essay Competition, for which competitors were to write an essay on Weet-Bix not to exceed 200 words. The entry was to be accompanied by a cut-out of the jug on the Weet-Bix packet. The results were also announced of the previous week’s ‘Riddle Competition’. In the Evening Post of 12 November 1927, Weet-Bix was described as the ‘Health Biscuit De Luxe’ and a prize of 2 guineas was offered for the best recipe ‘showing how Weet-Bix can be served’.
Joan Macfarlane states that Malcolm Macfarlane, her uncle, brought Weet-Bix from Australia to New Zealand. He did not live in New Zealand but came over to New Zealand from Australia. It is probable that he set up the manufacturer’s agency in New Zealand. The name of the agent given in the New Zealand advertisements for Weet-Bix is ‘Burch & Co. Ltd. Distributors’.
With the sale of the GPL business in Sydney, Norman Jeffes went on behalf of GPL and Shannon to start manufacturing in Christchurch. Wheat from the Canterbury Plains near Christchurch was considered the best in New Zealand. In an interview with Glynn Litster, Sonter states that when SHF took over Weet-Bix Norman (Jeffes) went to New Zealand and started there. Don Jeffes, Norman’s son, thought that the year was 1927 but it seems more likely to have been 1928. A factory in the South Island provided a significant expansion in the quantity and availability of Weet-Bix in New Zealand.
Norman Jeffes was probably pleased to continue working for Shannon rather than transferring his allegiance to SHF. Don Jeffes said ‘My father always worked for Shannon and was loyal to him’. Later in 1928, Jeffes went from Christchurch to Auckland and set up a factory there. He is listed in “What Hath God Wrought!” as Auckland factory manager 1928-1930 (Grain Products). From early 1929 there are news items in the Australasian Record concerning the Auckland SDA Dorcas Society. In the depths of the depression the society was assisting some of the ‘thousands being out of employment’ and the officers of the society thanked the Grain Products Company and Norman Jeffs (sic) for ‘his good gifts of Weet-Bix which we received each week for the poor.’
Bennison Osborne stayed on for a short time as an employee of Grain Products after the July negotiations between ACA Ltd and Shannon. The ACA Ltd minutes 24 September 1928 show Ben Osborne as a bank signatory for Grain Products now effectively owned in Australia by the SHF. In the Sands Directory for 1930, at 256 Parramatta Road, Petersham, are three entries, namely ‘Shannon’s Brick, Tile & Pottery Co Ltd, Shannon A., manufacturer, and Osborne B., estate agent.’ The Directory information was often collected in one year and published the next so from about 1929 Osborne was working as an estate agent out of Arthur Shannon’s office and probably the agency was owned by Shannon’s. That Shannon had an estate agency is confirmed by Thelma Brown who refers to visiting Shannon there as late as the 1950s. Subsequently Osborne went over to New Zealand and took on the management of the Christchurch factory. It was here that he met and married his wife Dorothy, who was sixteen years his junior.
We do know that Fred Foots, after the sale of Weet-Bix to SHF in October 1928, left their employ altogether. Foots had worked for SHF in New Zealand prior to 1926, but on his return to Australia he was not offered SHF employment and thus he was available to Shannon. Foots may have had no loyalty to SHF because of his treatment by the company and the company may have had no time for Foots as a former Shannon employee. Instead, Foots went to work for better wages at one of the other cereal manufacturing companies. That company was possibly Real Products, the producer of another wheat biscuit called Weatalls. The Weatalls company was bought out and closed down by the SHF and Cereal Foods, the manufacturer of Vita-Brits, in 1932. Foots would likely then have gone to work for Cereal Foods (Vita-Brits) or Kelloggs. He remained there until his retirement. After his death on 2 November 1968, it was noted in his obituary that following his baptism in 1908 by Pastor W S Britten, ‘he was a faithful and active member through all the passing years, for upwards of fifty years being a member of our Stanmore church’.
Ian Malcolm Macfarlane, who was a salesman for GPL and a friend of Bennison Osborne, also went to New Zealand after October 1928. He and Osborne made and sold Weet-Bix from the Belfast Street, Christchurch factory. Norman Jeffes was already in Auckland at the Randolph Street factory. All three still worked for Shannon.
The SHF attempted to counter the Weet-Bix expansion in New Zealand by developing their own sweetened biscuit which was called Sweetweets. The SHF were by now pragmatic and no longer reluctant to include sweetening and malt in their biscuits. But the sweetening was honey. Sweetweets were advertised in New Zealand as ‘Sweetweets – wholeweet, malt and honey’. This product had some success in New Zealand against the re-invigorated Weet-Bix with its two production plants strategically in Christchurch and Auckland. In 1929, Shannon decided that he was no longer interested in continuing his flake biscuit operation in New Zealand. SHF had negotiated an option to purchase the New Zealand business and with Shannon as a willing seller they exercised the option. The price was £30,000 for the purchase of GPL and Grain Products Distributors New Zealand. Parr describes it as ‘the dawn of a golden morning for SHF’.
So once again Jeffes, Osborne and Macfarlane had to choose to seek employment with SHF or look elsewhere for work. Perhaps they were not wanted by SHF as it is likely that feelings ran high in New Zealand between employees and management of SHF and GPL with their competing products.
Weet-Bix in South Africa and the move to the United Kingdom
The result was that Jeffes, Osborne and Macfarlane moved to South Africa in about 1930 and established a wheat biscuit business at Wynberg. Jeffes was the manager and Macfarlane and Osborne were in sales. Shannon again provided the financial backing and for years regularly visited South Africa to check on the progress of the new company. The name and product ‘Weet-Bix’ were trademarked in South Africa by the new company. Osborne and Macfarlane were dissatisfied with the arrangements in South Africa and felt they could make more money on their own. So they headed for the UK with two South Africans, Scutton and Vermass (probably also salesmen), to establish a breakfast biscuit industry there under the name British and African Cereal Company Pty Ltd, registered in London.
Jeffes stayed on in South Africa and described Osborne and Macfarlane as ‘not loyal to Shannon’, and ‘so they left us and went to England.’ Trademarks for the recipe for Weet-Bix and the name were held in South Africa and in Australia and New Zealand by others. Nevertheless, Osborne and Macfarlane proposed to use the recipe and the name Weet-Bix for their UK operations. Shannon got wind of their plans and according to Allan Forbes, took the matter to Scotland Yard, presumably suggesting that Osborne and Macfarlane were potentially committing a fraud.
Shannon, however, found a more effective way of dealing with the treachery of Osborne and Macfarlane. Osborne and Macfarlane were not very financial and so to establish the business in the UK they floated the shares in British and African Cereal Company. This meant that the shares were for sale to the general public and Shannon, through middlemen, purchased a significant parcel of shares, in fact over 50% according to a story told to Ross Forbes by his father Allan. Shannon learned details as a shareholder of a company meeting that was to be held in the UK and resolved to attend unannounced to face down Osborne and Macfarlane.
Shannon set out from Sydney on a line voyage to the UK. En route in Melbourne he met by chance Allan Forbes. Forbes was a friend of Shannon and had been a member of the Stanmore Church. Shannon told Forbes that he was on the ship to England as he had heard that the men Osborne and Macfarlane were having a company meeting. He planned to walk in on them and he did. Their astonished response was ‘Brother Shannon what are you doing here?’ To which he replied: ‘I bought your shares and own most of them but go ahead with your meeting anyway. But you cannot call the product Weet-Bix’. By chance, Forbes also met Shannon on the return journey so he obtained accurate details of the meeting directly from Shannon. Forbes’s summary was that ‘the fellows (Osborne and Macfarlane) freaked out’ when Shannon appeared at the meeting. Forbes, who held Shannon in high regard, said that Shannon ‘never held it against Osborne and Macfarlane. He (Shannon) was a refined man and very gracious.’
So the English product was called Weetabix – a new name and a modified recipe. The formula is to this day different to the real and original Weet-Bix. Weetabix have finer flakes, rounded corners on the oblong biscuit and a different texture and taste to the original. Weetabix are described as smaller, sweeter and more brick-like in appearance than Weet-Bix. The changes have not improved the biscuit, to my taste.
In South Africa, Weet-Bix operated very successfully under the direction of Norman Jeffes. Don Jeffes says that his father after many years offered the business to the SDA Church in South Africa but that the church declined to purchase the company. This must have astonished Jeffes as he had seen the Australian branch of the church buy out Weet-Bix both in Australia and New Zealand. Don Jeffes says his father sold the Weet-Bix company to a large wheat-farmers co-operative. Jeffes was probably acting on behalf of Shannon, as Food Review May 2007 states that in October 1948 Shannon decided to sell the Weet-Bix factory in South Africa. Both factory and business were bought by the Farmers’ Co-operative known as Bokomo, which is short for Bolandse Koperatiewe Molenaars. So Bokomo became the new owner of Weet-Bix in South Africa. The purchase is described in Food Review in this way: ‘The decision was Bokomo’s gain.’
It was a term of the sale that any SDA employees were always to be given Sabbath privileges, that is, not to be required to work between sunset Friday and sunset Saturday. Jeffes was followed in management by his son Allen. Norman Jeffes died 3 December 1963 in South Africa, a much honoured and respected businessman, citizen and church leader. In a death announcement he was described as ‘the founder of a breakfast food company, a prominent Rotarian and a member of the SDA Church’.
Weetabix – the end game
Now to return to the Weetabix treachery in the UK. From shipping records, Shannon travelled to and from the UK in both 1932 and 1936-1937. Arthur and Natalie Shannon left the UK on the Armadale Castle on 23 July 1932 for Capetown, South Africa. It seems likely that the notorious meeting of the shareholders of the British and African Cereal Company took place in early 1932. Osborne and Macfarlane did not stay long in South Africa having left New Zealand in 1930. They became joint managing directors, with Osborne controlling production and Macfarlane marketing. The factory was established at Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, UK, in premises known as the North Water Mill or Wallis’s Mill. Production started in 1932.
There is a confusing account of the Weet-Bix and Weetabix story in Wikipedia. However, it does say that Macfarlane left the business and that Osborne stayed on until 1936 when he sold out to the other directors and went to the USA. Shannon, this time without Natalie, went to the UK again in 1936, probably when he learned of the financial difficulties of the British and African Cereal Company which led to Osborne leaving the company. Shannon left the UK on 20 February 1937, so he was there in the depths of winter and without his wife. This would suggest that it was a business trip rather than a tourist trip to England.
The Wikipedia entry under Weet-Bix portrays Weetabix in the hands of Osborne and Macfarlane as a financial powerhouse not needing an offer from Shannon to finance an expansion of the business. Wikipedia says that cash flow was such that additional finance was not necessary. In contrast, Len Sonter says that the company started in the UK did not do as well as the South African enterprise. The Burton Latimer Heritage Society has an excellent history website and in an article entitled ‘The Mills of Burton Latimer’, the author John Meads says when writing about the North Water Mill:
In 1928 both T & J Wallis Ltd and Whitworth Bros. were shown as millers at Burton Latimer but soon afterwards the mill was disused. About 1932 four South African Seventh Day Adventists, Scutton, Vermass, MacFarlane and Osborne set up the British and South Africa Cereal Company to market a product they called Weetabix and which they had been selling in South Africa. They rented the disused buildings from Whitworth Bros., buying the wheat for the ‘biscuits’ from the same source. The South Africans did not make a success of the venture and after a few months an advertising agency took them to court for a £1,000 bill, they also owed Frank George, of Whitworth Bros., money for wheat and he eventually took over the company as a bad debt.
The new owners named the company Weetabix Limited, so perhaps Shannon lost his money invested in the British and South African Cereal Company started by Osborne and Macfarlane, although he may have salvaged something in the forced sale to Whitworth Bros. Macfarlane left Weetabix in the UK to ‘go overseas’. In about 1977, whilst in England, Joan Macfarlane, his niece, tried to contact her uncle Malcolm. He cancelled their appointment by letter and when Joan was interviewed in 1991, she had not seen or heard of him since.
Osborne went to the USA and after time there returned to Australia in 1946 with his wife and three daughters, Benita, Yvonne and Virginia, one born in the UK and two in the USA. There is a connection by marriage among the Foots, Allum and Osborne families. Foots’ grand-daughter Lynnette Gray recalls that Osborne was ‘an uncle of my cousins’.
Bennison Osborne’s sister Evaline married Francis Allum, and together they were SDA missionaries to China. They had six children and their fourth child was Wilma, who was the second wife of Mark Foots, Fred’s son. Lynnette Gray visited Osborne and his family at Newport near the beach in the late 1940s or early 1950s. She describes Osborne as an entrepreneur, lively, joking, and an interesting person. After their return to Sydney, Osborne and his wife Dorothy lived at Sans Souci and he was an estate agent. By 1954, Bennison and Dorothy had moved to 45 Mahratta Avenue, Wahroonga and he was back in manufacturing. Osborne died in Sydney in 1980.
Arthur Shannon after Weet-Bix
In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Shannon continued to operate and develop the various businesses and properties on behalf of the Shannon family. In later years he was assisted by his nephew Keith Shannon. There were two substantial family companies and ultimately the businesses were incorporated on the Stock Exchange as a listed company Shannon’s Ltd. Arthur Shannon in the 1930s ceased to be actively involved in the Stanmore SDA Church but he remained a believer in the Advent message, perhaps now at some distance. He kept contact with old friends from Stanmore church days, including the parents of Glynn Litster who recalls visiting Arthur and Nat Shannon with his parents before World War Two.
Shannon also remained friends with Allan Forbes who became the manager of the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital (the San) in the 1950s. Forbes encouraged Shannon to give money for the development of the hospital and, in turn, the San named a wing of the hospital Shannon Ward. Shannon suffered a stroke in the 1960s and spent the last years of his life as a patient on Shannon Ward. He died on 18 December 1968. His wife Natalie had predeceased him by a few months. There were no children of the marriage.
So ends this early history of Weet-Bix. I conclude that whoever else may claim to have invented Weet-Bix, Arthur Shannon remains forever ‘Mr Weet-Bix’.
Dr Glynn Litster, the researcher of the Sanitarium Health Food Company history and the co-author with Robert Parr, of ‘What Hath God Wrought !’ The Sanitarium Health Food Company Story has been an inspiration and a great source of information about Weet-Bix. My debt to him is gratefully acknowledged. My wife Carlene Bagnall has been a prodigious researcher and advisor. I thank her for her love and support. Also, I recognise the valuable editorial assistance provided by my daughter, Dr. Kate Bagnall.
Thelma Brown, Noelene and Phil Cappe, July 2000 – Interview with John and Carlene Bagnall
Pastor Garth Bainbridge, February 2011 – Interview with the author
Noelene Cappe nee Hardwicke, July 2000 – Interview with the author
Roy Cross, 20 July 1990 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Alan Evans, 13 July 1990 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Stan Faull, 25 July 1990 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Allan Forbes, 9 July 1990 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Lynnette and Ian Gray, 26 February 2011 – Interview with the author
Don Jeffes, 19 April 1991 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Glynn Litster, 2010 – Interview with the author
Joan Macfarlane, 24 March 1991 – Interview with Glynn Litster
Len Sonter, 6 August 1991 – Interview with Glynn Litster
SDA Church publications
Australasian Record, 3 October 1921, p. 8
Australasian Record, 13 July 1925, p. 3
Australasian Record, 30 October 1932
Australasian Record, 9 December 1968, p. 15
Reg Brown, Beginnings Down Under, Signs Publishing Company, 2005
Mrs E Hare and Mrs H McKeown, ‘The Auckland SDA Dorcas Society’, Australasian Record, 23 September 1929, pp. 4–5
Mrs E Hare and Mrs H McKeown, ‘Auckland Dorcas Society’, Australasian Record, 27 October 1930, pp. 6–7
Glynn Litster, Australasian Record, 31 October 1998, p. 9
Glynn Litster, Signs of the Times, date uncertain, p. 22
Robert Parr, ‘The Sanitarium Health Food Company’, in Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific 1885–1985, ed. Noel Clapham, Signs Publishing Company, 1985
Robert Parr and Glynn Litster, ‘What Hath God Wrought!’ The Sanitarium Health Food Company Story, 1995
Arthur L White, Ellen G White Vol. 4, The Australian Years 1891-1900, Review and Herald Publishing Association 1938
Ellen G White, Counsels on Diet and Foods, comp. E G White Estate
Evening Post (Wellington, New Zealand), 31 March 1927, p. 21
Evening Post, 31 March 1927, p. 27
Brisbane Courier, 15 June 1928
Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, 29 March 1928
Sydney Morning Herald, 30 November 1933, p. 6
Timespanner: A journey through Avondale, Auckland and New Zealand history:
John Meads, ‘The Mills of Burton Latimer’, 2005, on http://www.burtonlatimer.info/industry/themillsofburtonlatimer.html
South African Food Review, May 2007, http://foodreview.imix.co.za/
‘Weet-Bix’, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weet-Bix
Commonwealth Electoral Roll, 1949 and 1954
Correspondence with Emerson Vandy, Papers Past Service Manager, National Library of New Zealand
Email to the author from Noelene Cappe after her discussions with Janice and Elaine, 20 February 2011
Immigration Records, National Archives of Australia
NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
Sydney and New South Wales, Sands’ Street Directory for 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930