Celebrating the Spirit of the Cracker Packers

Celebrating the Spirit of the Cracker Packers

Women wearing uniforms, stood at tables in a factory, making biscuits.
Women working in Carr's biscuit factory

Heritage Grants

CARLISLE, Cumbria, North West
Carlisle City Council - Regeneration Team
This inspiring community heritage project explores the fascinating lives of Carlisle’s ‘Cracker Packers’ through the ages

Carlisle City Council’s Regeneration Team was awarded a grant to bring to life the stories of the Carr’s / McVitie’s factory in Carlisle and those who worked there. In particular, the female factory workers who were affectionately known as ‘Cracker Packers’.

In 1831 Jonathan Dodgson Carr, son of a Quaker grocer walked from his home in Kendal to Carlisle and established Carr and Company in a shop in the centre of the City of Carlisle. Six years later Mr Carr bought a plot of land in Caldewgate, built his factory and began making biscuits, eventually becoming a global brand.

The project worked alongside current women workers and the pensioners group at the McVitie's Factory to design and develop an interpretation panel at the site of a commemorative ‘Cracker Packers’ statue. Archive material from the Factory, Tullie House Museum and Carlisle Archive Centre was collected and oral history workshops allowed for engagement with the local community.

The project shared the heritage more widely through the creation of a website and an exhibition which will tour eight public venues. The exhibition ‘The Spirit of the Cracker Packers’ will be on tour until February 2019, find out more here.