John Thomas Morton established a company in Aberdeen in 1849 as a provisions merchant, subsequently building up a large trade in canned and other preserved foods.
The company moved south of the border to London in 1872, establishing a cannery and processing plant at Millwall on the Isle of Dogs. The new factory recruited workers from across the UK, though a large number followed Morton south from Scotland. The factory in Millwall became best known for the production of jam.
As business prospered, J. T. Morton expanded by opening a herring cannery in Lowestoft and a depot in Cubitt Town.
John Thomas Morton died in 1897 and his two sons took control of the company which was renamed C. & E. Morton.
C. & E. Morton’s main trade was overseas. It supplied food to the Polar expeditions led by Shackleton and Scott, and was one of the principal suppliers of canned food to the armed forces during the First World War.
After the War the company lost ground to foreign and colonial competitors and had to turn to the home market. Mortons continued to be best known for its jam and also produced a variety of processed foods and confections, including jelly, chocolate, custard and liquorice.
In 1945 the company was taken over by the Beecham Group and the Mortons business was concentrated in Lowestoft, producing canned vegetables and fruit fillings. The Millwall works were gradually run down before being demolished. The site is now occupied by appartment buildings.