The lozenge which took over the world

Fisherman’s Friend is a world famous brand. But it all started in Fleetwood, in 1865,

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 9:02 am
Doreen Lofthouse

James Lofthouse, a pharmacist from the port, was talking to three deep-sea fishermen one evening in November and they told him about their catch of the day. Or rather they tried to, because all three could hardly say a word. Instead of amusing tales from the high Seas, all he heard was a croak. This gave him an idea ...

The next day he presented the three fishermen with a mixture of liquorice, eucalyptus and menthol - carefully packed into three small bottles. The fishermen were thrilled - and from then on everyone could actually understand their stories again. And yes, you read that correctly, Fisherman's Friend was originally liquid - but since not only the throats were rough, but also the sea, they often broke.

But James had another brilliant idea:

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He thickened the tincture and made handy little lozenges out of it.

Fisherman's Friend in its legendary form was born and a breathtaking success story would begin.

Originally sold in the local Lofthouse Chemist shop in Fleetwood Fisherman’s Friend now produces over five billion lozenges annually in the Fleetwood factory on Copse Road, sold in over 100 countries around the world.

It's a proud part of Fleetwood’s history, from its humble beginnings to thriving business today - it has really helped put the port on the map.

Fishermen would take the mixture with them on freezing trips to the North Atlantic - providing them with relief from problems caused by prolonged exposure to the hostile, stormy conditions.

But because it was difficult to take liquid in glass bottles on stormy seas, Mr Lofthouse came up with a lozenge fishermen could take instead.

In the late 60s, the Lofthouse family realised the huge potential of Fisherman’s Friend, as letters from holidaymakers showed there was big demand for the product.

They started selling them to shops in surrounding towns in the North West from their van.

As the demand increased, packaging of Fisherman’s Friend moved to a newly-converted tram house and in 1974, the product started to be exported to Belgium and Norway.

The aniseed flavour was launched in 1977 and the product began producing its sugar-free mints in 1979.

In 1983, it was given the royal seal of approval when it was awarded the Queen’s Award For Exports.

By 2000, the Fisherman’s Friend had expanded from 34,700sq ft in 1980, to 600,000sq ft.

Without seeking publicity or praise, the Lofthouse family has quietly helped and ploughed millions into community projects in Fleetwood for many years. In 1999, Doreen Lofthouse - now head of the empire - saw one of her dreams come true when a 17ft replica of the Eros state in London, she gifted to the town, was installed at the Nautical College roundabout on Amounderness Way.

Mrs Lofthouse became only the third person to receive the freedom of the borough, in 2003.

In January this year Doreen was Fleetwood thanked by Wyre Council for the crucial part she played in helping to restore one of the town’s best known features.

She gave a personal donation of Ł1m to kickstart the restoration of the whole Mount site.

The project, completed just before Christmas, saw key renovations to the Mount pavilion, the gardens, and railings.

In November last year Fleetwood Museum appealed to the public for memorabilia ahead of a planned exhibition about Fisherman's Friends.