Established in 1849, Spooner Vicars (T & T Vicars) started in Liverpool as a partnership involving two cousins called Thomas. Their engineering business was geared to the local shipbuilding industry. Another local industry focused on the needs of our seafaring nation: the bakery business. More precisely, this involved several small bakeries that operated from basements and cellars and manufactured the so-called “hardtack biscuits,” designed to withstand long sea voyages without becoming stale.

With nearly 180 years in the baking industry, Spooner Vicars is credited with many technical innovations and firsts for the Biscuit & Snack Industry and with Baking Excellence:

Baking conditions were crude and simple, and the Vicars enterprise soon realized there was an opportunity to design and build machines for quicker and more accessible production. Thus, the firm T & T Vicars Biscuit Machinery & General Engineers was born. The cousins always sought new ideas and ways to improve the biscuit-making process. Soon, their portfolio grew to include hand-operated dough mixers, dough brakes, simple biscuit-cutting machines, and brick-built ovens.

The boom in this industry couldn’t last forever, and the advent of steamships meant reduced voyage times, resulting in less need for “hardtack” or hard “long life” biscuits. This created a new challenge for the Thomas’s – how to continue growing their business in this changing market –a situation many of us know only too well in today’s business environment! The answer was to innovate and design equipment to produce other biscuits. Initially, they concentrated on sweet biscuit varieties, which were a novelty to the public.

Faster and faster applications became the order of the day, and Vicars established a reputation for the quality of its soft dough cutters. However, demand for hard biscuits (for pet food) continued. By 1856, the company had built the first traveling plate oven, followed by a traveling chain oven, some 180 feet long. Its cutting machines could process 1.5 tons of biscuits daily during this period. In 1877, T & T Vicars was granted Patent Number 623 by Queen Victoria’s Patent Office for “Improvements in and connected with ovens used in the bakery of biscuits and the like.”

This extremely prestigious document was attached to Queen Victoria’s official seal – a wax ring some 7 inches in diameter. Due to the reputation for innovation and sound solid engineering, international trade was booming at T & T Vicars. Hence, the company relocated to a much bigger factory some 10 miles away, our present site in Earlestown.

By around 1890, Vicars had designed and built the first machine that could automatically sheet both hard and soft doughs, and within a decade, it had added another first embossing and cutting machine capable of 80 cuts a minute. These widened the company’s product range and created even more demand for Vicars’ equipment. Garibaldi biscuits also benefited, as did wafers: from the single-hand tong application, the first mechanically operated oven was developed by the close of the century. The first traveling Wafer Oven was introduced in 1899, and wafer saws and wafer creamers followed in due course. The company’s Rout press machine could produce extruded lengths of varied design by forcing dough shapes through apertures in a brass bar; wire cutters imparted a ripple to the biscuit (as an option), and fig bar equipment was yet another innovation to be launched.

The advent of the Great War put a temporary brake on further biscuit equipment development, aside from bread contracts for the armed forces. But peace did return – and with it, in 1922, came the company’s first gas-fired traveling oven. T & T Vicars formed a close cooperation with Peek Freans – the principal British biscuit manufacturer of the day – to ensure industry-required designs, and together they enhanced the automation possibilities of all its machines. In 1928, this liaison’s fruits led to the introduction of an automatic and continuous running, high-speed cutting and embossing machine linked to the new gas-fired oven with two steel bands and biscuit cooling, stacking, and packing. Through T & T Vicars, the era of true automation for the biscuit industry arrived.

By 1935, Vicars had completed an automatic Swiss roll plant to add to its list of achievements. The Second World War prompted a reorganization, which saw Vicar’s tooling and machinery utilized for less peaceful products. When the hostilities ended, there was a boom in the requirement for biscuit equipment worldwide. As a result, we are incredibly proud that Vicars equipment has been supplied to virtually every country in the world.

Although the company produced the industry standard reciprocating and embossing machine, developments were made to reduce noise and maintenance. These developments led to T & T Vicars introducing the first rotary cutting machine for crackers and hard biscuits; this is still the basis of today’s machines.

In 1960, Vicars became a member company of Simon Engineering, a multi-faceted engineering group containing a food division, which, over the next 25 years, allowed Vicars to advance their technological edge further. During this time, the firsts continued, including the patented “Sprag” mixer developed with the Flour Milling and Baking Research Association. Which significantly improved dough consistency and sped up the mixing process. The patented Weighmix system enables the ingredients to be weighed extremely accurately within the mixer itself, thus eliminating “in flight” losses of ingredients and, therefore, ensuring that the baker starts the process with a consistent dough mix every time. The patented Vertical Cut Laminator was introduced in 1970 and again was a breakthrough in space saving and product weight control.

The subsequent extensive development came in 1991 when the Bakery Business Area was formed; this comprised many well-known and respected British company names, including Spooner, Vicars, Asser, Oakes, Jahn, and Klimatank. This combined expertise enables us to produce equipment for the biscuit, bread, cake, pie, pizza, quiche, and snack industries. In April 1992, this Group became a part of SASIB SpA and was fully integrated with four other illustrious names those of G P A Orlandi of Verona, Italy; Meincke of Copenhagen, Denmark; Ricciarelli of Schio, Italy and SPS of Navaro Italy, thus forming the Biscuit & Snack division of SASIB Food & Beverage machinery, to serve all the needs of the industry.

2001 saw a change of direction for SASIB and Spooner-Vicars; Meinke and SPS became the Dry Foods Company – still concentrating on total commitment to the customer. Today, the company offers equipment and systems capable of mixing, forming, baking, cooling, sandwiching, and packaging to produce every biscuit and snack-baked product. So, continue the tradition of being the innovative, leading-edge technology supplier to our worldwide industry. As you can see, the above is a brief history of the last 150 years.

In 2012, SVBS was bought & integrated into the Middleby Food Group of Companies (a major global supplier of all types of Service kitchens and baking Systems for major fast food chains). Also, 2012 saw the creation of a new Food Processing Division, split into Meat and Bakery sub-divisions. Visit the Middleby website for more details. SVBS proves to be a pivotal company, along with Stewart Systems (High Volume Bread & Bun), Baker Thermal Solutions (Complete Baked Products Systems), and Auto-Bake Serpentine (Fully Automated Industrial Baking Ovens & Systems).

Today, we enter the challenges of a new millennium as a strong and growing organization operating in an ever-changing and challenging marketplace. Throughout the past 170+ years, the people who make any organization solid and prosperous, the people who produce and develop the ideas, and the people who implement these ideas, turning them into reality. We are fortunate to have a great team.

1849 T&T Vicars Biscuit Machinery & General
1849 Engineers – First Purpose Biscuit Lines
1856 Coal-Fired Travelling Plate Oven
1890 Automatic Sheeting Line
1897 Mechanical Wafer Oven
1902 Embossing & Cutting Machine
1922 Gas-Fired Travelling Oven
1924 Dough Extrusion Machine
1930 Continuous High-Speed Line
1935 Automatic Rotary Moulding
1945 High-Speed Mixer
1948 First Forced Convection Tunnel Oven
1960 First Cut Sheet Laminator
1981 4.0m Wide Bread Oven & Prover
1984 1600mm Wide Cracker Line
1987 First Cantilever Depanner
1985 Total PLC Controlled Line
1989 First 1600mm Wide Hybrid Oven DGF / Convection
1992 First RF/Convection (A.R.F.A.) Oven
1994 Continuous Oven & Prover for Bread
1994 First Small Footprint Cut Sheet Laminator
2001 First 4.5m Wide Forced Convection Oven
2003 New Design Continuous Proof & Bake System
2005 New Design Biscuit Sandwiching Machines
2007 SVBC purchased by Stewart Systems Inc.
2012 SVBC purchased by Middleby Group
2015 SVBC Workshop and Offices Relocated to Wigan
2017 First 4.75m wide Direct Forced Convection
2017 Bakery Oven for Bread
2018 New Apex Forming Line
2019 New Vortex High-Speed Horizontal Mixer
2020 New Rotary Moulder
2021 New High-speed wire Cut
2022 First 1.8mt wide Laminating Line & Hybrid DGF /
2022 Forced Convection Oven
2022 New Design Hydraulic Deflection Roller
2023 New CompaX (compact) Laminating Line
2023 First Hygienic Gluten Free – Mixer,
2023 Sheeting Line & Oven
2023 First Hybrid Oven with Heat Recovery System
2023 New Fully Electric Ovens Direct Electric Fired
2023 & Electric Force Convection Designed