OVER several decades, Cephos was the relief many people turned to treat their colds and flu. First made in powder form and later in tablets, too, it was manufactured here in East Lancashire, in Blackburn.

After featuring an old advert from the 1940s on our Bygones pages, which promoted the Cephos name as a treatment for winter ills, we asked if anyone knew its history and, as always, you told us.

The story goes that Blackburn cotton manufacturer Harry Livesey developed malaria after visiting India on business and was given a prescription by a doctor back home in England.

Mr Livesey had this made up by a local firm of manufacturing chemists and found that the powder also gave effective relief for headaches, colds and rheumatic pain.

We believe that this manufacturing chemist was a Harold Miners, or Minor, who was producing a chemical used in the finishing process for cotton, from premises on Shear Bank Road.

Ellen Pickles, nee Smith, who was in her teens in 1916 and is now 97, remembers her father being a friend of Harold and engaged to ‘do his books’ from his office in Richmond Terrace.

In 1917, the powder was named Cephos, after the Greek word for head and a limited company was formed for its manufacture, The Cephos Co.

Ray Smith, from Blackburn Historical Society says the business operated from above the premises of Robinson Bros, at 100 Darwen Street in the 1920s.

New girls and young women started off sticking the duty stamps on the finished, envelope-type sachets, before progressing to filling and folding by hand the distinctive and well-remembered paper packets.

Promotion to machine filling was then possible, which greatly improved the weekly piece-work wage packet.

At that time Ellen’s elder sister, Margaret, was employed there on packing and later, her younger sister Hannah would join also.

When Margaret died, aged just 19, Harold sent word that if there was another daughter ready to start work, she could have her late sister's job – and so it was that Ellen began her employment at Cephos, aged 16.

Ellen has unearthed this large photograph of the company workforce, showing the women packers all wearing white, nurse-type headgear and recalls that the first young lad recruited was an Arthur Fawcett, as a traveller (salesman) and whose sister Lily also worked for the company.

Ellen was probably the youngest there at the time, and quite possibly is the last one alive today!

She thinks the picture was taken in the early 1930s, possibly in the garden of Harold’s large house at the top of Buncer Lane.

His gardener is on the back row, left and the handyman on the front row, right.

Part of the garden was handed over for plots, as part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign, during the Second World War.

Some of the names Ellen can recall are Mrs Matthew, who was over the girls, Ella McTrusty, Vera Wright, Peggy Catterall, Margaret Bowers, Laurie Banks, Madge Heslop, Doris and Alice Holt, Kathleen McGarry, Raine Reece and Miss Knowles.

Of the office staff, shown sitting on the front row, is Miss Ainsworth, who is wearing a tie and whose brother was a traveller — he's on the second row from the back, on the left.

Also on the front row is Harold, Harry Livesey and his son, Mr Livesey junior, and his daughter, who Ellen remembers also marrying one of the travellers. In the middle is secretary Miss Aspin.

Ellen is on the back row, third from the left, while her sister Hannah is on the second row from the back, third from the left, wearing a check dress.

Ellen worked for Cephos with several sisters and other siblings joining the workforce and there were a few marriages, too, among the employees.

When Mr Livesey junior married a girl from Manchester, the whole workforce was taken there for the wedding.

She remembers that while Harold would don a white coat each day and disappear into his laboratory, Mr Livesey senior would walk around the production floor, ensuring that everybody and everything was all right.

On one such round, he noticed a girl coughing rather badly and at once insisted she be sent to see a doctor but she later died of consumption.

In 1935, Cephos was based in Shear Bank Road where Edinburgh House is now situated. The last address was known as Southfield Laboratories.

The company was eventually sold to Beechams in 1959, but the Cephos product was phased out a few years later.