Maynard, Charles Riley (1856-1926)

The Primitive Methodist who invented Wine Gums!

Charles Riley Maynard was born in Islington in 1856, the son of a gardener. The family shared the house with their grandparents and a lodger.

In 1880, Charles and his younger brother Tom started making sweets in their kitchen. When Charles married Sarah Ann Alexander in 1882, she began selling the sweets to customers in their first sweet shop, helped by her sister, who came to live with their growing family.

The confectionary business was a success, and as demand for the sweets grew, in 1896 the brothers formed their own company – Maynards.

In 1906, the sweet making moved to a new factory in Vale Road, Harringay.  As their business grew Charles and Sarah Ann Maynard moved with their six children to a large house, with 10 rooms, called ‘Dawlish’, in Northfield Road, Stamford Hill, where they could now afford to employ a servant.

The Maynard family were also committed members of the Primitive Methodist Church. Charles Riley Maynard was a Circuit Steward at Stoke Newington, and Sarah Ann presided over the women’s meeting at a Jubilee Missionary Festival in London, and was in great demand to open Bazaars.

In 1909, they were able to send their 12 year old son Cephas Alexander Maynard to Elmfield College, the Primitive Methodist boarding school, where he was a pupil for three years.

Maynards Wine Gums

Meanwhile the two eldest sons, Alfred Amos and Charles Gordon, joined the family firm.  It was Charles Gordon who came up with a suggestion for a new line of sweets called ‘wine gums’.  His father was outraged by the idea.  As a strictly teetotal Primitive Methodist Charles Riley would not countenance the use of alcohol.

However, he eventually changed his mind, when his son persuaded that, despite their name, the new sweets would not contain alcohol.  In 1909, Maynard’s Wine Gums went on sale for the first time.

Their popularity has stood the test of time, and they are still on sale today today, although in 2016 the brand joined with Bassett’s to create Maynards Bassetts.

Elmfield scholarship

By the time Charles Riley Maynard died on Christmas Eve 1926, he was a wealthy man. He was now living at ‘The Moorings’, Queen Anne’s Place, Bush Hill Park, Enfield.  He left a personal estate of £44,292, and his sons were now company directors.

Despite this, Charles Riley and Sarah Ann knew their share of sorrow. One of their sons, Cephas Alexander was killed in action in 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. He was just 20 years old.

After the war, Charles and Sarah set up a scholarship in his memory, which was reported in the Primitive Methodist Leader, 13 May 1920.

‘Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Maynard and their family a permanent scholarship has been created, by which a fatherless or orphan boy, from one of our Orphan Homes can be sent to Elmfield College or some similar institution for two or three years, and, in the event of his showing exceptional ability, he may go forward to the university. The gift will be known as the “Cephas Maynard” scholarship, in memory of their beloved son, who gave his life for his country. Mr. Maynard, after a long, strenuous business life, is now on a visit to America.’

Passenger lists show Mr C R Maynard arriving on 8 July 1920 at Southampton on the Cunard Line’s Mauretania, having travelled 1st class. There is a glimpse here of the demands of the business Charles had started with his brother all those years ago.  He and his sons had several trips abroad, seeking new markets for their products.

A major local employer

Maynards was now a major local employer, and their sweet manufacture had expanded to other sites, including a toffee factory near Newcastle. From the sweet shop Sarah set up in the front of their house, there were now 140 sweet shops.

The name lives on, and you can still buy a packet of wine gums today!

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