The Edwardian Confectionery Company is currently run by Mr M Barnett. Michael became a skilled sugar boiler from around 1959, so was able to keep up this firms traditional production methods. Hand crafting a widely popular range of boiled sweets and rock still used copper boiling pans for mixing ingredients before a hand rolling process upon huge cooling tables. A Barnett family interest has since been expanded by relations adding city retail outlets branching out The Treat Kitchen.
Folk anywhere around Huthwaite will fondly reference this small factory pronouncing its dialect spelt title. Company name actually reflected its founding Edwards surname. By chance or clever design, it still manages to market fact how they proudly continued an old traditional process of hand manufacturing their sweet products. It also seems beyond coincidence to find a Mrs Henrietta Sarah Elizabeth Edwards last listed 1941 amongst six established confectioners. But from marital home in New Zealand, Mrs Shirley Ward is unable to link earlier relatives, when explaining her father Alan joined uncle Harold to begin this family based venture.
Harold Edwards apparently served out his apprenticeship at a confectionery firm believed situated in Kirkby. When jobs became hard to find after the Second World War, Harold suggested his brother Alan could join him in trying to supplement both their incomes by boiling up and making sweets themselves. They claimed apple sugar filled initial glucose demands when sugar imports were still rationed, which soon began reaping reward.
Building upon growing success, the brothers eventually sought premises from which to establish this viable enterprise. A spacious plot made available by extending far end of Barker Street still gives current address. At first though, that only sited a large wooden shed erected to simply serve as their workplace fronting the roadside. Shirley shares earliest memories from year 1952, as three year old Miss Edwards stood upon a crate helping mum bottle sweets. And packing foil lined tea chests destined for British Guiana reveals how Edwardian Confectionery had largely been established through early years by exports far beyond local sales.
Harold eventually built a modest sized bungalow aside the factory unit, addressing 79 Barker Street. Allowing Alan to do likewise, would firstly demand relocating their factory shed to its present position at far rear corner that plot. That old wooden shed was replaced however, by joining up two Nissan Huts to create a much larger floor space. Brothers once explained they'd managed to cheaply acquire a couple of ex army prefab units, leaving little doubt now, they were redundant remnants of a Huthwaite Prisoner of War Camp, from when the Common Road site had been converted into a Crisp factory.
Accessing the factory yard openly remains between those two bungalows since completing the layout circa 1960. Lacking a visible sales frontage did mystify many customers looking for our
Tuffy Factree shop. For many who attended a later Secondary Modern School sited behind, the sweet summer smell wafting through open class windows soon led us through the factory door. Cheerfully welcomed at a tiny entrance counter, they happily fulfilled local sales by serving smaller bags of boiled sweets. Manufacturing a wide variety ranged from Pear Drops and Little Fishes favoured by smaller children, through to individually wrapped soft centred flavours treating adult tastes. But factory profits really came by selling wholesale.
Their reputation was not widely asserted until pit workers could afford annual seaside holidays. The British custom of returning with small gifts turned into bidding them a happy holiday when sending them off with expectant cries
Bring us back a stick of rock!. The Edwardian Confectionery company became best associated with traditionally made sticks of rock when names running through it rather boastfully proved wealth from its origins. Fruit and aniseed flavours were not just kids coastal treats. Mint was the appealing choice elsewhere giving manual workers a pleasant quick energy boost. Their unique winning formula was found however, by individually wrapping mouth sized pieces. Appreciated no doubt by toothless elders, it really meant no more sticky handling when often kept in the underground heat of coal miners snap tins. Stopping crafty pit ponies from eating it first was not entirely solvable.
Huthwaite Toffee Factory initially turned into an entire family concern. Brothers employed their own wives, father, plus any other close relations. Harold, being the skilled sugar boiler would chiefly take charge over production. Alan mainly kept their accounts as book keeper, but could fix the rather antique sweet wrapping machines between delivery driving. Employing more staff hardly caused problems because mutual friendships easily found most willing ladies neighbouring within same street. Throughout those productive years, Huthwaite folk gradually replaced inevitable loss in turn of each family member.
After losing his wife and seeing off his daughters own family emigration, Alan ultimately faced next saddening death of his brother. He managed to continue the business alone, maintaining trusted loyalty to both customers and staff whom he prioritised when deciding upon retirement. Approaching another well reputed and similarly long trained sugar boiler, he offered Mr Barnett the established company name as a going concern, finally gifting a financial deal difficult for him to refuse. Martin also purchased the fronting bungalow, mutually agreeing part of their agreement. Making that his own home, he's also proven true to his word by keeping a very genuine interest and equally high company standards from guesstimated year about 1986.
Mr Alan Edwards made basic plans for a comfortable retirement - to be reunited with family. Mrs Shirley Ward expressed much pride, and thankfulness her father managed to share his last fifteen years with them all in New Zealand.