Slough Nostalgia: The town’s history with Elliman’s Embrocation

As the darker nights are drawing in, we might be feeling slower off the mark in the morning.

Perhaps we all need a dose of Elliman’s Embrocation invented in the 1800s as a muscle rub used by people and animals – and another example of Slough as a town of inventors and pioneers.

The Elliman family came to Slough in 1845, and James Elliman Senior set up a drapery business while he developed his soon-to-be-famous embrocation, which he had been experimenting on for years before deciding to market it.

The embrocation was first sold in 1847, as a rub for animals.

By 1850 it was being sold for use by humans, as an aid for aching muscles and joints.

The success of the embrocation persuaded Elliman to close his drapery and open a factory dedicated to the production of the embrocation.

He claimed that his success was down to two things – firstly, the quality of the product, and secondly to his policy of spending half of his profits on advertising, an unusual move in those days.

The advertising slogan was ‘An Excellent Good Thing’, and Elliman, Sons & Co is credited with being the first company to use a cartoon strip in its advertising.

James Elliman Senior made both his sons, James Junior and Samuel, partners in the company, and they took it over following his death in 1870, opening a new factory in Chandos Street.

The company continued to flourish, and by 1911 the embrocation was being sold in 42 countries. There were two products – ‘Universal Embrocation’ for humans, and ‘Royal Embrocation’ for animals – but there was no difference between the two.

The embrocation was made from eggs, turpentine and vinegar. When the turpentine was added to the mix, the fire brigade had to be on alert!

James Elliman Junior died in 1924, but the company remained a family business until 1961.

A version of Elliman’s Embrocation is still made today – although just for animals.

Slough Observer | News