William Neilson

William Neilson




Class of 1994

William Neilson, a millwright of modest birth, was founder and President of the William Neilson company.

William was almost fifty when he began producing the products that would make his fortune – ice cream and chocolate. Driven by boundless courage and optimism, William failed many times in his attempt to earn a living. In 1891 he was barely supporting his family through door to door sales of milk produced by the family cows.

One day William happened upon three worn out cream makers. Fascinated with machinery he bought and repaired the equipment that brought his fame. With surplus cream from the milk business, customers tasted the first Neilson’s ice cream in 1893.

William added chocolate confections to his line of products to provide year round employment for his ice cream workers. By the 1920’s William’s company had become the largest manufacturer of ice cream in the British Empire and a world leader in chocolate products. Milk sales became a secondary business.

After William’s death his son Morden ran the company. He was first to introduce automatic wrapping machines and fast freezing systems to the industry. In 1947 the company was purchased by George Weston Limited and continues as two separate companies, Neilson Dairy and Neilson Cadbury.

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