In 1822, Joseph Huntley founded a bakery under the name of J. Huntley & Son in London Street, Reading. Joseph's shop was situated opposite a coaching inn as London Street was on the main stagecoach route between London and Bristol; therefore Joseph decided to sell the coach travellers his biscuits to sustain them during their long journeys. As the biscuits were prone to breakage during transit Joseph sought a way to package them safetly. Co-incidentally, Joseph's yougest son - also called Joseph - had opened a tin manufacturing and ironmongery shop opposite his father's bakery, so father and son joined forces to make specialist tins to sell the biscuits in.
Soon business was booming and Huntley's biscuits were becoming well-known to a wider public, but ill health forced Joseph senior to retire from the company leaving the eldest son, Thomas, to manage the business. Three years later, Thomas invited a distant cousin, George Palmer, to become a business partner in the re-named Huntley & Palmers company. This proved to be an excellent move, as George's business accumen propelled the company to acheive national recognition via appointing agents across the country to sell and promote the company's biscuits. After outgrowing the original London Street shop, the business moved to another factory premises in Reading in 1846.
By the mid-nineteenth century, Huntley & Palmers had become synonymous with biscuits, earning Royal Warrants from both British and European royal families. The root of the company's success was their wide variety of products and pricing range. Huntley & Palmers supplied both standard and specially made biscuits for Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1911, and also supplied the armed forces in both World Wars.
In 1921, Huntley and Palmers formed the Associated Biscuit Manufacturers Ltd. with rival company Peak Frean, with Jacob's joining in 1960. The Reading factory was used as a location for the Bugsy Malone film in 1975, but was closed down a year later and all production ceased at the Reading factory. The Associated Biscuits Manufacturers Ltd was sold to Nabisco in 1989 and then to Danone; it is now privately owned.