By the end of the 19th century, three successful companies in Bath combined to form Cater, Stoffell & Fortt, who would go on to become one of the most important retail businesses in the city.
The company’s interests included a wine and spirits business, a cutlery shop, a delicatessen, a soft drinks factory, a restaurant, an outside catering business, a biscuit factory, and a bottling plant for the city’s mineral water at the Roman Bath spring. The firm boasted that it offered everything “from fishfingers to foie gras and custard powder to caviar.”
It appears that Cater, Stoffell & Fortt Ltd. traded until some time in the 1980s.
Cater’s biscuit factory produced the popular Bath Oliver biscuit. It was a hard, dry biscuit made from flour, butter, yeast and milk, invented by Dr. William Oliver in c.1750. When Oliver died he bequeathed the recipe for the now famous Bath Olivers, to his coachman Mr. Atkins, along with £100 and ten sacks of flour. Atkins promptly set up a factory to make the biscuits, and quickly became rich. The Oliver biscuit recipe eventually passed on to James Fortt and when he joined the partnership of Cater, Stoffell & Fortt, the company continued with the production of the biscuit.