In the late 1920s poor old Mr W. S. Galloway from Seaford had very bad feet, but rather than complain about his ailments he decided to do something about it. He began to experiment with various solutions in order to relieve and remove his corns. Some accounts (possibly libellous) say that he used as a base, a paste which had been developed to clean the brass buttons on soldiers uniforms.
His corn paste seemed to be effective, if rather caustic (apparently if it touched any nearby skin it removed that too!) and soon he was able to open a small factory called the Union Jack Paste Company in a house called “Hughenden” in Claremont Road This new Seaford company exhibited at the 1929 British Industries Fair in White City, London. They exhibited on stand M88 under a sign proclaiming “Manufacturers of Ointments for Hard Skin on the Feet, Chilblains, Cuts, Chaps, Cracks, Scalds and Burns, etc” He had also taken the precaution of obtaining a patent so that his formula could not be copied.
The paste was carefully packed in a small cardboard container which had the registered trade mark of a picture of a forget-me-not flower and the words ‘Apply a little twice daily to corns and hard skin’ and the formula which was a mixture of ‘Salicyl’ (a local anesthetic) and a mystery ingredient called Coloph’
By 1934 the factory had moved to a small unit in Brooklyn Road and small china pots were used to contain the paste. Mr Galloway was a good salesman and was able to sell his paste throughout the country, including in chains such as “Boots the Chemist” He became quite wealthy and was able to have a local builders (probably Morlings) construct a big house for him in Hartfield Road. Bearton House had large grounds (five houses have since been built in the garden) and older residents may remember that it had ten large pillars lining the driveway to the front door.
Whilst Mr Galloway travelled the country promoting his ointment, his wife ran the factory in Brooklyn Road. Four boys were employed at the factory and although Mr Galloway could be difficult to work with, his wife was kindly and bought bicycles for each of the boys to make sure they got to work on time. One of the boys, Roy Larkin, remembers mixing the ingredients, putting the concoction in a small round pot and fixing a label to it. He recalls that the label was illustrated by a Union Jack flag.
Mr and Mrs Galloway regularly donated prizes to children at the Sunday school held at the Baptist Church in Broad Street, remembering that their child, Maurice was killed in Givenchy in France during the Great War. To remember him they provided St Leonard’s Church with a beautiful stained glass window decorated with a sleeping soldier who is said to resemble their teenage son.
Although the Union Jack Company was severely affected by the outbreak of the Second World War, the factory continued until the late 1960s. Seaford Museum have several packets of Union Jack Paste but I am afraid to report that it is not for sale to the public!