In 1816 Thomas Hazlehurst senior (27 February 1779–18 February 1842) established a soapery (a factory making soap) on the north bank of the Bridgewater Canal between the canal and High Street in Runcorn, called Camden Works. Initially the alkali necessary for the production of soap would have been made from natural sources, such as kelp. However by 1830 it was manufactured synthetically by the Leblanc process. In 1836 an enormous chimney at least high was built at the factory to disperse the pollution resulting from the use of this process. The business was very successful and in 1832 it was in the top 20 of the soap-making businesses in the United Kingdom. Thomas Hazlehurst senior died in 1842 and the business was continued by his four sons, William (c. 1801–2 August 1859), John (12 March 1803–29 August 1885), Thomas junior (17 April 1816–14 July 1876) and Charles (27 November 1819–14 December 1878).
William retired from the business in 1849 and John retired in 1857 leaving Thomas junior and Charles to run it. The day-to-day business was conducted mainly by Charles, while Thomas junior concentrated on his religious interests (see below). It continued to thrive and in 1866, their best year, each brother 'took home' a profit of £11,570. Following the deaths of Thomas junior and Charles the business was run by a board of directors. In 1891, in common with most of the other factories using the Leblanc process, the firm became part of the United Alkali Company. The firm's soaps continued to win awards at various international exhibitions until in 1911 the business was sold to Lever Brothers. Soap and alkali making then ceased and the factory was taken over and used as a tannery (Camden Tannery). The trade name continued to be used by Lever Brothers until the 1930s.
While Thomas junior concentrated mainly on religious matters, his father and brothers were all involved to a greater or lesser degree in the civic concerns of the town. Thomas senior was a member of the Select Vestry and involved with numerous committees responsible for running the town. William and Charles were both appointed as Improvement commissioners when the Board of Commissioners (effectively the town council) was instituted in 1852.