Utopia Britannica - British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

The Fels Factor



Somewhere in a list including Salt, Cadbury, Leverhulme, Rowntree and Clark should appear the name of Joseph Fels, Naptha Soap baron and philanthropist extraordinaire. The reason his name is not mentioned in the same breath as the above is that Fels left behind no Port Sunlight or Bournville to be remembered by, but his utopian achievements are no less striking for having no bricks and mortar monument to them.


The Fels were a Jewish family in Halifax County Virgina,USA. Joseph was the youngest of a four surviving children. Lazarus Fels ran his own small soap manufacturing business

At the age of 14 Joseph and one of his brothers were running a kite making business from the family cellar

Fels Naptha Soap



AGM of the Vacant Land Cultivation Society July 1910 Guildhall London

Women Packing cos lettuce Fels Fruit Farm Mayland Essex 1908 (British Library)


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