Tagged: Tate and Lyle

Who would have believed 50 years ago that there would be no Tate and Lyle in Liverpool and that the company would no longer be in the sugar business? Last week’s news that the sugar business had been sold brings to an end a company history that started in Liverpool in 1859, when Henry Tate became a partner in a small sugar refinery in Manesty’s Lane (just off Hanover Street). My own business career started back in 1973 in a warehouse owned by Tate and Lyle on the site of the original refiners (although the warehouse was built in the 1870s and demolished in the 1980s).
The history of sugar in Liverpool is, I imagine, likely to cause more than a few readers to stifle a yawn – but, pay attention at the back, as teachers used to say in school, it really is an interesting part of the city’s history. Along with tobacco and cotton, the wealth of the city was built on the import of goods from the New World. Sugar had its own spin-offs. The famous Everton toffee mentioned in an earlier post was the fledgling start of a much bigger confectionary industry (Barker and Dobson amongst others) as well as providing the basic ingredient for the massive Hartley’s jam business.
The Love Lane Refinery was completed in 1873 and in its time employed thousands from the surrounding Vauxhall district. Other local refineries such as Farrie’s and Macfie’s could not compete with Tate’s and were absorbed into the sugar empire. Henry Tate, himself, was a benefactor on a significant scale – building the Hahnemann Hospital on Hope Street, providing the funds for Liverpool University’s library block, as well as generous donations to the Royal Infirmary and Liverpool Institute. His biggest gift was to found the Tate Gallery in London – now with its Liverpool offshoot. Ironically, the opening of the Tate Liverpool came only a few years after the closure of Love Lane in that brutal period in the early 1980s which also saw other great names including British American Tobacco pull the plug on their Liverpool bases.