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Home > Bird Feeding Blog > It all started in 1937

It all started in 1937

Friday, 25th May 2018

We might not be here if it wasn’t for a neighbour’s tin bath. I’ll tell you why…

It all started in 1937

My grandfather, John ‘Ted’ Haith was the Head Keeper of Grimsby Zoo and was in charge of the bird collection. His one constant frustration was that the bird seed he purchased was never of consistent quality and it was always uncleaned. As an experienced bird-keeper, he instinctively knew that his birds would fare better if they had access to clean, high-quality bird food. So, his search began…
He searched and searched for a reliable supplier of clean cage and aviary bird seed but to no avail – none were forthcoming.
But that wasn’t going to stop Ted – he had a reputation for getting the job done.
In the 1930s, there were many things to think about and few (apart from my grandfather) were daydreaming about clean bird seed – others were reading news about the Great Depression in the United States and the rise of Nazi Germany in Europe; that Al Capone was imprisoned for tax evasion, and Amelia Earhart had become the very first woman to have flown solo across the Atlantic. In the year that King Edward VIII abdicated, Ted was hatching a plan and had decided to take matters into his own hands.
So he set about experimenting – he created all manner of contraptions to help him remove the dust and debris that accompanied each seed shipment. When others thought he was wasting his time, Ted thought he was getting closer and closer to finding the solution to his seed cleaning dreams.
There must have been moments, however, when he felt he would fail.
Thankfully he didn’t give in, and when inspiration finally struck it came in the guise of a tin bath borrowed from a neighbour! Exactly what he did to the tin bath to create clean bird seed remains a secret to this very day. The tin bath was his eureka moment, though, and - within days - he had the very first Ted Haith seed cleaning system, which he guarded closely.
Before and after cleaning the bird seed
Now reinvigorated, Ted set immediately to work introducing the clean seed to his own birds and ultimately to the zoo’s collection. The improvement in health was almost immediate and Ted’s perseverance was rewarded with some of his most successful bird-breeding periods.
Ted introduced seed to his own birds
However, the bird-keeping world and zoo community is very small and it wasn’t long before other zoos and other bird-keepers were turning up on Ted’s door to access his clean seed supplies. He’d regularly be interrupted by relative strangers asking to buy some of his clean seed. Things were no different at the zoo, where queues would form – not necessarily for the zoo, but for Ted Haith’s clean seed supplies.
Ted quickly found out that there’s a limit to how much seed can be cleaned in a tin bath; this was a turning point for the Head Keeper of Grimsby Zoo – originally, he’d set out to improve the welfare of his own birds and the zoo’s; however, Ted’s bird seed now had a reputation for quality and was helping birds all over the country. But he knew things couldn’t continue as they were. He knew he had to choose either the zoo or his growing seed business.

This must have been a huge moment for my grandfather; taking the leap to set up and found Haith’s must have been very scary. To leave the relative safety of his job as Head Keeper must have tested his nerve. But jump he did – and it was made all the easier because fellow hobbyists (bird-keepers) were not prepared to let him stop supplying their seed.
War damaged three story chapel in cleethorpes
In 1947, my Grandfather bought a war-damaged three storey chapel in Cleethorpes to expand the growing bird seed business. He spent many months repairing the bomb damage and strengthening the building with new steel stanchions, he laid new floors ready for the installation of state-of-the-art seed cleaning machinery. Let’s remember that only ten years prior he’d been cleaning seed in a bathtub and the only scaling up he’d done was to purchase more tin baths.
As the business grew offices were built

As the business grew over the following years, offices were built on the site of an old army Nissen Hut next to the factory and an old storeroom was used as a machine room for repairing cotton sacks, which at that time were used to send out the seed. These sacks were then returned by customers for credits on their next orders.
British Rail

Customers’ orders at that time were delivered by British Rail to Royal Mail sorting offices and Royal Mail vans delivered the orders directly to customers’ homes.

Mixing clean bird seed

Packing room

Through the years cleaning, mixing and packing seed from the Factory in Cleethorpes has been our family business. We work hard to echo my grandfather’s founding cornerstones of quality, service and value.

However, as the size of the vehicles delivering the raw ingredients increased, our factory, the old chapel, in the centre of a residential area in Cleethorpes, was beginning to cause problems for neighbouring properties and it restricted us from cleaning bird seed to the SUPERCLEAN level that we’re so proud of today. The 40ft containers were trying to negotiate a mini roundabout causing traffic problems in all four directions.

It was a wonderful place with happy memories for many, but we knew the time had come to move.
Our new home Europarc Grimsby

So the search began, we looked for a suitable site for a purpose-built factory with a seed cleaning plant built to our own specification. Finally, after about four years of searching, we found our new home – Europarc in Grimsby. The site offers a reliable bus route, cycle lanes and car parking spaces for our staff, an attractively landscaped pond area with well-maintained pathways to encourage lunchtime walks to enjoy the wildlife.

Continuing to suppliy the highest quality seeds that my Grandfather insisted upon all those years ago.

This has given everyone at Haith’s the opportunity to continue seed cleaning, blending and packing to the highest standards available to ensure our customers receive the Quality, Cleanliness and Service that my Grandfather insisted upon all those years ago.

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  • Comments

" Comment" by
24 Jan 2021

I am Cleethorpes born and bred but having been in Nottinghamshire for 60 years now but I think your seed has been my staple for all those years! Keep it up Haiths

" Comment" by
30 Jul 2019

Nice write up Dave x

Haith's customer services:

Hello Emma,
Thank you for your comment on the blog piece, it is greatly appreciated.
All the best,

" Comment" by
23 Jan 2019

Can I purchase products from the factory on europarc

Haith's customer services:

Yes you can purchase products direct from our outlet on Europarc in Grimsby.
Our opening hours are Monday to Friday 8am - 4.30pm
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Best wishes

"Mr" by
02 Nov 2018

In the 1950s I helped my grandfather who kept budgies in a "flight" in the garden as a hobby and to show. I think it was me who persuaded him to buy Haith's bird food. Now, at 70, I buy it for our garden birds.

Haith's customer services:

Dear Barry,
Thank you for your comments, it is lovely to hear about your story on how you started with Haith's and still continue to do so. It is our aim to provide the best quality seed to our customers.
Best wishes,

" Comment" by
08 Jun 2018

Very interesting reading. The product is excellent. My garden birds have feasted on it for years and are clearly very happy with it.

Haith's customer services:

Hello Mrs A. Hamilton,
Thank you for the kind words, it is our aim to ensure that the birds are not without quality food.
Best wishes, Haith's

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