The Anonymous Widower

A Real Soap Opera

Last week, in Waitrose I bought some liquid soap for the kitchen.  It was organic and it was in rather a plain bottle.  But it was made in Chorley in Lancashire, by a company called Droyt.

And then my housekeeper raved about it!

As the bottle had a small symbol that said Minsk 1893, the company needed a bit of investigation.  Did they have a tale to tell?

Yes!  And how!

The history is detailed in the Lancashine Evening Post.

The business prospered in Minsk under the name of The Victoria Fine Soap Works, the name reflecting the close ties Russia had with England at the time through its royal families.

It grew over the succeeding years and in 1913 a new factory was established in Saratov, on the banks of the Volga River.

Current managing director Chris Effendowicz remembers the tales his great uncle Pavel would regale them with, of standing as a child in Moscow and watching as Lenin and Trotsky swept past.

After the revolution, the factory workers were allowed to vote on who should continue to run the business and they elected to keep the family in charge.

That didn’t go down well with the revolutionaries and in 1921 the Danischewskys were forced to flee for their lives.

They perhaps didn’t make the best choice in that they chose to go to Germany.

With historical hindsight, and as the family were Jewish, Germany wasn’t a safe place to be. Particularly as Chris’s great aunt Helena, a journalist, wrote articles in the 1930s of the truth about the rise of Nazism and Hitler’s true plans. She was on his personal hitlist but despite this, was the only political correspondent of the time to have a one-to-one interview with Italian Fascist leader Mussolini.

The family came under increasing threat from the Nazi authorities. As Jewish employers they found themselves under more and more Gestapo checks.

So they moved to Chorley just before the Second World War and have been there ever since.

I hadn’t come across the company before, but as a child I did have one of their PC49 novelty soaps.  Many kids did! One is shown on Droyt’s history page.

September 24, 2009 - Posted by | Business | ,


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