The Sugar Girls: Tales of Hardship, Love and Happiness in Tate Lyle’s East End by Duncan Barrett`Delightful, a terrific piece of nonfiction storytelling, and an authoritative and highly readable work of social history which brings vividly to life a fascinating part of East End life before it is lost forever. --Melanie McGrath, author of Silvertown and Hopping
‘On an autumn day in 1944, Ethel Alleyne walked the short distance from her house to Tate & Lyle’s refinery on the shining curve of the Thames. Looking up at the giant gates, Ethel felt like she had been preparing for this moment all her life. She smoothed down her frizzy hair, scraped a bit of dirt off the corner of her shoe and strode through.
She was quite unprepared for the sight that met her eyes …’
In the years leading up to and after the Second World War thousands of women left school at fourteen to work in the bustling factories of London’s East End. Despite long hours, hard and often hazardous work, factory life afforded exciting opportunities for independence, friendship and romance. Of all the factories that lined the docks, it was at Tate and Lyle’s where you could earn the most generous wages and enjoy the best social life, and it was here where The Sugar Girls worked.
Through the Blitz and on through the years of rationing The Sugar Girls kept Britain sweet. The work was back-breakingly hard, but Tate & Lyle was more than just a factory, it was a community, a calling, a place of love and support and an uproarious, tribal part of the East End. From young Ethel to love-worn Lillian, irrepressible Gladys to Miss Smith who tries to keep a workforce of flirtatious young men and women on the straight and narrow, this is an evocative, moving story of hunger, hardship and happiness.
Tales of adversity, resilience and youthful high spirits are woven together to provide a moving insight into a lost way of life, as well as a timeless testament to the experience of being young and female.
For more information, pictures and audio clips, as well as the Sugar Girls blog, visit: http://www.thesugargirls.com
A tour of Tate & Lyle’s raw sugar mountain
Rhiannon Long. The raw sugar shed, which can hold up to a week's worth of the UK's sugar, 50, tonnes. Picture: Ken Mears. The Thames sees around 20 vessels carrying up to 45, tonnes of sugar every year. Journeys can last six weeks, with boats arriving from Fiji, Mozambique, Guyana and Belize. Henry Tate opened his Silvertown refinery in , specialising in sugar cubes. The factory has never closed its doors, even during the wars.
It was originally a sugar refining business, but from the s began to diversify, eventually divesting its sugar business in It specialises in turning raw materials such as corn and tapioca into ingredients that add taste, texture, and nutrients to food and beverages. Nick Hampton became CEO on 1 April , replacing Javed Ahmed , who stepped down from this role and from the board, and retired from the company. Henry Tate established his business in in Liverpool , later expanding to Silvertown in East London. He endowed the gallery with his own collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Abram Lyle , a cooper and shipowner, acquired an interest in a sugar refinery in in Greenock and then at Plaistow Wharf, West Silvertown, London.
Photography: Sam Bush. Here, piles of a brown and white sandy substance rise higher than the average house and then some. It looks like a slightly sticky and uneven brown sugar. If you ate some, he concedes, it would taste like sugar. As if to underline his point, a pigeon flaps around high up in the roof space.
Else Kvist. The Common Agricultural Policy CAP was set up in to protect European farmers and food supply after the founding members of the European Community emerged from more than a decade of severe food shortages during and after the Second World War. But the policy has proved controversial with member states where agriculture makes up only a small part of the economy such as the UK, who say it favours the French and German. Henry Tate had established his business in in Liverpool before expanding to Silvertown in Abram Lyle acquired his interest in sugar refinery in Scotland and later had a factory at Plaistow Wharf. By contrast, sugar beet is grown in Europe where some of the biggest producers are France, Germany, Poland, and Holland. It grows in tropical and semitropical regions.