Ainsley Cannery

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Summary
Business

Cannery
Main Location

Campbell, CA
Active

1894-1934
Brands

Pansy, Mikado, Ainsley's, J.C. Brand, Colden Morn, Foxglove, Campbell, Tartan, Spartan, Dreamland, Claravale, Edenvale, Beryl
Successors

Drew Canning Company, Hunt Brothers Packing Company
Ainsley Cannery, circa 1900, Alice Iola O'Hare photo

The Ainsley Cannery was a long-lived cannery in Campbell California founded by John Colpitts Ainsley, a British immigrant. Ainsley worked with family to preserve fruit in California for export and sale in Britain, with production starting at 1,000 cases in 1891. Ainsley's cannery did significant export business throughout its lifetime. In 1902, they billed themselves as "packers of selected California Fruit". In 1920, J.C. Ainsley was president, and E. Swope, secretary[1]

The Ainsley cannery as along the railroad tracks north of Campbell Avenue, and was an obvious landmark when approaching the town from the east.

The cannery expanded and modernized over the years, with new canning equipment arriving in 1918[2]. Even as late as 1922, Ainsley was still canning in its premium glass jars[3].

Ainsley trucked apricot pits from the cannery; a 1923 news article describes an accident where the Ainsley truck crossed the railroad tracks after a freight train, but failed to notice the southbound passenger train behind it. "The truck was loaded with apricot pits which were destined for cracking and chemical reduction into oil, dyestuffs, and charcoal."[4]

The cannery was supposedly closed between 1931 and 1934[5]. However, the local newspaper reported its on its imminent reopening in 1932[6], declaring the cannery was starting its pack of 1932 apricots on Friday, July 1, followed by pears and peaches, "all of which will come from the Santa Clara Valley... On account of the depressed business conditions throughout the world, the run this year, as is the case with all other canneries, will be considerably lighter than usual. It is not the intention to open the camp and as far as possible preference of employment will be given to those who have worked there during previous seasons, and to local residents." Another article in August stated that the Ainsley cannery "reopens today when Ainsley's packing company starts production, the cannery will be in production until about the first of September working on peaches and pears."[7]

The cannery was sold to the Drew Canning Company in March 1934; some reports say $200,000, but the official records claim that the sale was completed on March 13, 1934 for $150,000. At the time of the closure, John Colpitts Ainsley was president, with W. H. Lloyd as secretary. The cannery property included 470 feet of frontage on Harrison Street, and 52 feet on Campbell Ave[8]. Ainsley had previously transferred the cannery from the "Ainsley Packing to the "Ainsley Corporation" in December 1933[9]. Ainsley apparently had a deed of trust on part of the Security Warehouse and Cold Storage[10].

The "Ainsley Corporation" was still operating in Campbell as late as 1939 when the corporation requested a camp permit for its workers[11].

Mrs. Margaret Murdock, who had run the cannery's cafeteria for eight years before the 1931 closing, regained control of the cafeteria in 1934[12]. Drew later sold the plant to Hunt Brothers Packing Company in 1946. Railfans remember small 0-6-0 switchers shuffling boxcars at the canneries in the 1940's[13].

The buildings of the Ainsley cannery were starting to be torn down by the 1960's[14].

Locations

Location Years Address Details
Campbell, CA 1894-1934 Harrison Ave north of Campbell Avenue
Mayfield 1918 Maraschino cherry plant[15]

Photos

Campbell downtown Pomona Public Library

Ainsley Packing Co. Alice Iola Hare Photograph Collection, Bancroft Library, University of California Berkeley

Details

1895: August 9, 1895 San Francisco Call notes that Ainsley cannery just completed canning 200,000 cans of apricots. Should also put up 75,000 cans of peaches, 120,000 cans of pears.

1895: December 23, 1895 San Francisco Call notes Ainsley shipped six carloads of fruit to San Francisco for shipment to London in the previous week, and oputput is double that of last year.

August 13, 1898 Pacific Rural Press: Santa Clara. Ainsley Cannery.—Campbell Visitor, Aug. 7: The Ainsley cannery started again yesterday. It has haudled about 400 tons of apricots this year, which is about double the amount of last year. Owing to the high price few peaches will be canned. The English market calls for about 40 per cent pears, 40 per cent apricots and 20 per cent peaches, while the American market will run about 50 per cent peaches, 25 per cent apricots and 25 per cent pears. Mr. Ainsley has contracted for 450 tons of pears, and altogether the cannery will probably double the business it did last year.


References

  1. J.C. Ainsley Packing Co: California Food Products directory. 1920, A. Marks, San Francisco.
  2. California Canneries: August 1918 Western Canner and Packer.
  3. December 1922 Western Canner and Packer. Delared Ainsley as selling fruit salad in 24 oz glass jars, FOB Cannery. $8/case.
  4. Workers Have Narrow Escape in Bad Crash: July 27, 1923 San Jose Evening News.
  5. Probably Campbell Interurban Press article on the Drew purchase in 1934
  6. June 30, 1932 Campbell Interurban Press.
  7. August 4, 1932 Campbell Interurban Press.
  8. Santa Clara County Deeds, book 675, pg. 554. Any unpaid sales price requiring interest at 5% a year.
  9. Santa Clara County deeds, book 670, pg. 321, December 27, 1933.
  10. Santa Clara County deeds, book 669, pg 387, dated July 1, 1928.
  11. Contract on Road Let By Board: July 17, 1939 San Jose Evening News. "Application of the Ainsley Corporation of campbell for a camp permit for its cannery employees was granted."
  12. Probably 1934 Campbell Interurban Press.
  13. Postings on train orders.com.
  14. Aerial photo of Campbell in 1960's. From February 2015 Les Amis de Sourisseau newsletter. The same issue features a photo of the Ainsley cannery during the 1911 floods.
  15. California Canneries: May 1917 Western Canner and Packer. "The Mayfield cannery of the J. C. Ainsley Company commenced operations on cherries during the first week of June. A large pack is expected."