Fiona McLelland meets Jim Little of The Caurnie Soaperie

WHEN Jimmy Little first started experimenting with soap recipes in 1922, little did he realise that his products would adorn the bathrooms of Holywood's A-list 80 years later.

THIS week sees the second of our new weekly feature in your Herald - Wednesday People - when we turn the spotlight on local people in the news.

And with the help of our Getting To Know You file, our featured personality tells us a little more about themselves.

This week Fiona Mclelland meets Caurnie Soaperie owner Jim Little:

WHEN Jimmy Little first started experimenting with soap recipes in 1922, little did he realise that his products would adorn the bathrooms of Holywood's A-list 80 years later.

The small factory in Eastside, which is manned by four staff, can include Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston and Mariah Carey as fans of its soaps.

One of the oldest soaperies in the world, the Caurnie factory is now owned and managed by the co-founder's grandson, Jim Little.

He said: "My grandfather and a partner started the business in Woodhead Avenue, but by 1924 he was the sole owner and the factory had moved here, to Canal Street. When he started it up there were 23 other soap makers in the area.

"He was a chemist after the first World War and worked for a while in the Nickel Works but was made redundant."

After that, Jimmy decided to get into the soap-making business, and the Caurnie Soaperie has the original books which were used to devise the winning formula that is still used today.

The business was passed down to Jimmy's sons, Ian and John, and then onto grandson Jim, who was introduced to the soap making process very early on.

Jim explained: "I've known the factory since I was four, when my father first brought me down as wee boy, and now I'm 45.


"I remember that my grandfather always smoked - smoke and soap don't go together, they created a terrible smell."

When he was a little older Jim started working for the company on a Saturday and helped deliver the soap.

He said: "For the first 50 years, the soap was sold directly to people's houses. Every four weeks the "Caurnie Man" would come round on the motorbike and sidecar.

"My family would go out to the regular customers with the motorbike laden with soap. On the hill going into Stepps, it had to build up enough speed going down so that it could make it back up the other side."

By the swinging 60s, the soaperie had attracted some big name buyers.

"We used to make stuff for Biba in the 60s," said Jim. "It was the real happening place at the cutting edge of fashion at the time.

"We now make soap for Heal's - it's an exclusive store in London, a lot fancier than Harrods - and for Liberty and for Conran.


"I think it's just the quality of the products that has kept us going all this time. When people find out how good it is, they stick to it. Some people have been using it for 80 years."

Jim and his wife have two boys and two girls - aged from four to 13 years - and the family involvement in the traditional soap-making look set to continue, as they already like to help out.

And the Caurnie soaperies' use of herbs in

the products also catches

their imagination.

Jim grows herbs, such as

jasmine, peppermint, lemon thyme, lavender and oregano, around the factory and in his garden at home.

They are used to create different soaps and shampoos which are popular all over the world, as well as in the many farmers markets around Scotland.

The quality of the natural handmade soaps have also helped the Caurnie Soaperie come out tops in the Good Shopping Guide, which rates products on their environmental and human and animal rights "friendliness".

Do you have any memories of the Caurnie Man or his soap?

CAURNIE Soaperie has been making some of the best soap in the world using traditional methods for over 80 years.

It's a very natural product, made with essential oils and is sure to add a bit of luxury to any bathroom.

Jim Little, the owner of the soaperie, is giving away a hamper of soap, which should keep the family clean for about a year, in a special Memories competition.

Jim would like to hear from anyone who has used the product for years, or anyone with a good story to tell about the factory, soap or the Caurnie Man.

If you have any Caurnie Memories, send them - with your name, address and telephone number, to: Caurnie Soaperie Competition, The Kirkintilloch Herald Series, 11 Dalrymple Court, Kirkintilloch, Glasgow, G66 3AA.

Entries should reach us by Wednesday, June 25, and Jim will pick his favourite "memory" and present the winner with a fabulous hamper of Caurnie Soap.

Getting to Know You

First record you remember buying: Carly Simon "He's So Vain"

Your first car: Mister Bean-like Mini Minor

Favourite holiday destination: Lake Garda in Italy

What is your all-time favourite TV programme? Still Game or Time Team

What book are you currently reading? History of Symbalist Art

Which famous person would you most like to meet? Bob Dylan