I didn’t get much pocket money when I was a child – but that was normal at the time. We children had to work out the balance between having a few expensive sweets and a larger quantity of not so satisfying treats. One of my favourites was a Sherbet Fountain – which provided hours of fun, dipping the licorice stick into the fizzy powder in the tube.
and these – well, who didn’t?
What I didn’t know when I was choosing these sweets in the little newsagent across the road from my school – Rokesley Junior – is that they were made just up the road in Wood Green by one of the biggest and most successful sweet making companies in British history – Barratts.
The site is now known as The Chocolate Factory – but it must have been amazing to smell the real thing when it was a hive of activity, back in the good old days when we didn’t know sugar was so bad for us.
The Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society have an interesting article on the history of Barratts which begins:
Barratts occupied a site of over 5 acres in Wood Green and no other manufacturing confectioner in the country offered such a wide variety of sweets — about 200 lines were listed as in production in 1950 — and some of these were made in very large quantities. To quote from a company handbook they produced everything from ‘lollipops to sherbet fountains, liquorice allsorts to brandy balls, sweet cigarettes to dolly mixtures, boiled sweets and toffees of all kinds, jelly babies and pastilles and nougat to love hearts lozenges — everything, in fact, that fills the confectionery counter with luscious colour and the heart of a child with longing’. Thus the firm of Barratt & Co was a household name for about 130 years and in the really ‘big league’ for 100 years of that time. The article that follows is a history of the firm and description of the factory and some of the processes from the founding of the company by George Osborne Barratt to the final closure of the site in 1980.
If you’re interested in reading a great article on barrats follow this link. The author worked there as Deputy Chief Engineer in the mid-1950s. http://www.glias.org.uk/journals/8-b.html