John Witherington has been in touch to share his memories of delivering sweets from Forest Gate. He writes:
I started work for Trebor in February 1960 as a van boy at Forest Gate with Tommy Lawley as my driver. Mr Braithwaite was the transport manager. I went on to become a driver and actually drove the van in your picture with the lollypopman outside the factory (see below). I left the company in 1964 but still have many fond memories of my time working there. I visited many of the factories under the Trebor umbrella – such as Sharps, Clarnico, Jamesons Chocolates and of course Woodford – but alas the van boys were never allowed to go to Chesterfield with the drivers, which I deeply regret.
Here’s a picture of me as a van boy from around 1961. I’m standing in front of our then new van, while delivering to the back entrance of a shop in Hastings.
These two other photos (which appear on the website as part of /pictures/factory life/Forest Gate in the 60s) are from a year or so later. Both vans are backed onto a portable conveyer belt which we used to unload the crates of empty jars, which fed down through a hole in the wall into the jar wash in the basement. The smaller van (of which we had two) was one I later drove. Van boys who became drivers could only drive these two vans until they reached 21.
The other van is an ex Sharps van with the trailer repainted in the new Trebor colours and was mainly used for running goods between Forest Gate and Woodford. Opposite the factory, on the other side of the road, the vans were washed, refueled and parked ready for the next day’s deliveries. The two end loading bays (which you can just see in front of a van) were the export bays, where sweets going to Chesterfield and exports for Woodford were loaded and goods coming from Chesterfield and Woodford were unloaded.
During my time as a van boy our area was mainly the south coast, from Hastings through to Portsmouth, which usually involved a couple of nights away from home each week. We went out on the Monday with around 20 plus drops, back Tuesday, then a day run on Wednesday to a wholesaler in Southwick by the name of J Tollhurst, then another two day run Thursday and Friday.
I remember many social events. There was the annual Directors’ dance where they hired the Ilford Palais and the whole factory was invited with a guest to let their hair down for the evening. I very much remember Mr Kenyon, who is mentioned in your book, as being the life and soul of the party; he was a well respected man while I was there. Other events included car rallies, socials in the canteen and one where they took all the van boys and young lads in the factory for a weekend in Yorkshire.