The Sheffield legend has love for a bottle of the brown stuff.
“There are things that define a city; there are also things that can unite or seriously divide a city. You also get things such as rubbish architecture which can try to hide what a city is really about. Sadly, Sheffield has the latter in great abundance, although I’m told there have been steps taken of late to correct this. Either way, good or bad buildings can’t hide what is really ace about Sheffield: its people and its parks, the Peak District and the odd pub, too! On the whole, we are friendly folk – unless we’re talking about football, of course. There’s always division (and literally, a whole division this season) between Wednesday and United supporters. Speaking of seasons (or should that be seasoning?) there’s one thing that defines and I daresay unites us all; that’s Henderson’s Relish.”
Richard Hawley speaks fondly of his affection for Henderson’s brand. He was of course the first real ‘name’ to go public with his love for the sauce. Hawley found fame as a member of 90s Britpop band Longpigs, before later going on to join fellow Sheffielder Jarvis Cocker in Pulp for a short period. Those early days of relentless touring with Longpigs during the height of their fame took their toll on Richard, and he recalls how the taste of Henderson’s Relish helped him to settle in upon returning home.
“I spent most of the 90s on tour somewhere in the world and got to the point where I couldn’t even remember my name at times. I’m not knocking it – it beats working for a living, you know what I mean? Anyway, I got back from being in the States with the Longpigs for nine months and was in a mess. When I finally got home, I just walked into the house and sat down. My wife had cooked tea for when I got in and I sat there, and didn’t speak or anything. She put the plate in front of me – sausage and mash and gravy, with Hendo’s on. I took one mouthful and burst into tears – the taste of Henderson’s was the one thing that proved to me I was home at last.”
Richard would later go on to demonstrate his talents as a solo artist: releasing seven studio albums, and embarking on a number of successful tours. Famously, his self-titled first album had its launch party in the yard of the old Henderson’s factory, although details have always been scarce – due to the lack of photo evidence from the evening in question. A photo booth was set up to take a picture of each guest with a bottle of Henderson’s, but camera film issues meant that only half of the pictures ever materialised.
Other than photograph issues, the rest of the event went without a hitch. As the guests mingled in the yard, Jarvis Cocker – who had offered to DJ so he could see the inside of the factory – provided the entertainment by spinning a few tracks from the decks.
However, Richard’s working relationship with the brand didn’t end there. In 2005, Richard commissioned his own specially labelled bottle to promote the release of his Mercury Prize nominated album, ‘Coles Corner’. Fans were able to purchase the limited edition bottles after live shows, and the move proved so popular that Hawley released another commissioned label upon the release of his following album, ‘Lady’s Bridge’.
The Sheffield crooner has always remained loyal to his roots, and can often be seen around the city centre – sometimes nipping for a pint in Fagan’s pub or heading to the shops to stock up on his favourite spicy condiment. Richard, like many others in the city, accepts Henderson’s Relish as a part of daily life for Sheffielders – a constant feature of the family life which has been passed down through generations.
“There are not many Sheffield households I’ve been to which don’t have at least one bottle in the cupboard. All of my family love it. I tell my sons, ‘That’ll put hairs on thi chest that will, kid.’ Funnily enough, I’ve never said that to me daughter! I hope people enjoy this cook book as much as our city has enjoyed Henderson’s Relish for well over a century.”