A historical milestone was celebrated on Friday 11th November in Oporto, Portugal. This date marked the 200th anniversary of the repossession of The Factory House in 1811 by the British Port Merchants following the liberation of Oporto by the Anglo-Portuguese Army under General Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington) from the invading Napoleonic forces. The British, Dutch and Portuguese had ‘Factory’s’ in many parts of the world, but all disappeared in the 19th century. This famous Oporto Institution is the only remaining ‘Factory’ anywhere on earth.
The Oporto Factory House was originally built in 1790 by the British Port Shippers using a private fund created from a voluntary levy on their own wine exports from Portugal. During the French occupation of Oporto by Marshal Soult’s forces in 1809, the house was sacked and most of the contents disappeared.
In 1811 the members met at the Factory House at 11am on 11 November to reestablish the Association of British Port Shippers. Exactly one hundred years later in 1911 John Hatt Noble, the then Treasurer, held a Centenary lunch with 11 members, sitting down at 11am on 11th November to a lunch of 11 courses with 11 wines. On the 150th anniversary of the liberation of the Factory in 1961, the then Treasurer Maurice Symington held another anniversary lunch to mark this occasion.